AGRICULTURE AND NUTRITION ACT OF 2018--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 107
(Senate - June 26, 2018)

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  AGRICULTURE AND NUTRITION ACT OF 2018--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of the 
important legislation before us, and that is the 2018 farm bill. This 
is critical legislation for Nebraskans and for all Americans. It will 
provide the certainty and predictability agriculture producers need to 
do their job of delivering abundant, high-quality, nutritious food to 
our Nation.
  My husband, Bruce, and I have a family ranch in the Sandhills of 
Nebraska. That is our home. That is where we live, and that is where we 
work. I know firsthand that being a farmer or rancher is more than just 
a job. It is a way of life, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is one 
of life's most noble callings to care for the land and God's creatures, 
to be stewards of our natural resources, and to feed the world.
  As a State senator of the Nebraska legislature and now as a U.S. 
Senator, commonsense agriculture policy has been a top priority for me. 
This year, I was honored to have the opportunity to join the Senate Ag 
Committee, where I am the voice for Nebraska agriculture as we work on 
this vital legislation for our State.
  I want to thank Chairman Roberts for welcoming me to the committee 
and for his excellent work on this bill. I also want to thank him for 
making a trip to the ``good life'' this past May. Together, we held a 
roundtable at the Nebraska State fairgrounds in Grand Island and toured 
a soybean processing plant in Hastings. During these visits, we heard 
feedback and input from Nebraska ag producers that we brought back to 
Washington as the committee crafted this bill.
  Production agriculture is the economic engine of Nebraska. Across our 
State, there are more than 47,000 farms and ranches. From the panhandle 
to Central Nebraska, to the city streets of Lincoln and Omaha, 
Nebraskans understand the monumental role of agriculture as our State's 
No. 1 industry. One in four Nebraska jobs is tied to agriculture, but 
we all know there is a lot of anxiety in farm country today.
  Current net farm income is down by over 50 percent compared to 5 
years ago when we passed the last farm bill. While uncertainty 
surrounds international trade and biofuels policy, we are looking at 
experiencing depressed commodity prices and tight margins. Since the 
beginning of June, Nebraska cash corn prices are down roughly 11 
percent. Cash soybean prices are down 14 percent. This has resulted in 
over $1 billion in potential lost receipts to corn and soybean 
producers. Farmers and ranchers are worried.
  For many years, I traveled the State of Nebraska to meet with and 
listen carefully to folks about their ideas to address the issues they 
face. I hosted several ag roundtables with local producers, Nebraska 
stakeholders, government officials, and agriculture industry experts 
about how we can boost our rural economies.
  Many of our discussions explore the relationship between the 
``internet of things'' and agriculture. A key point that has been 
consistently made is the need for high-speed internet connectivity on 
farms and ranches. I hold a number of these roundtables every year, and 
it is always good to hear straight from producers about these important 
issues. I also bring leaders in our government to Nebraska so that they 
can develop a better understanding of our State and familiarize 
themselves with the challenges producers deal with on a daily basis.
  On a snowy day in May last year, I welcomed the Secretary of 
Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, to our family ranch. The Secretary joined me 
in hosting a roundtable discussion with more than 60 of our neighbors 
and our friends. He heard about our suggestions on trade, marketing our 
products, broadband deployment, and other concerns we as ag producers 
have.
  Working together with my colleagues here in the Senate, we have had 
some great successes rolling back Federal regulations that have hurt 
farmers and ranchers. For example, Congress worked with the 
administration to halt the harmful waters of the United States rule, 
which would have expanded the Federal Government's jurisdiction over my 
State's water resources.
  Earlier this year, as a part of the government spending bill, 
Congress passed and the President signed into law a permanent fix, 
which I championed. It ensures that farmers and ranchers are not 
treated like superfund sites under those EPA regulations. Additionally, 
we made some progress in eliminating regulations meant for oil 
refineries that were unreasonably affecting producers who use on-farm 
fuel storage tanks.
  Leading up to the 2018 farm bill, I was pleased to work alongside the 
USDA and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to lift a 13-year ban 
on U.S. beef shipments to Israel. I have also been outspoken about the 
value of the South Korean market to Nebraska's high-quality agriculture 
products. I advocated for our country to stay in the KORUS Free Trade 
Agreement, and I visited with both the U.S. administration officials 
and South Korean officials to stress the importance of the trade 
relationship between our two countries.
  I was pleased to see that the administration made a good trade deal 
with South Korea. This is a step in the right direction. It will expand 
opportunities for our producers and for the State of Nebraska.
  These were big wins for our producers, but we can, we should, and we 
must provide the predictability our producers need, especially during 
these tough times. That means passing the farm bill and enacting it 
into law.
  Traveling around our State, a common theme that I hear is the 
continued need for a strong farm safety net that upholds the integrity 
of the crop insurance program. This is a critical risk management tool 
that works for farmers. From the very beginning, I have

[[Page S4386]]

made safeguarding crop insurance my top priority throughout this 
process, and I appreciate that the farm bill will enhance this vital 
program for producers in my State and across the country.

  This farm bill also recognizes the importance of our trade promotion 
programs. Nebraska producers have demonstrated that they can excel in 
the global marketplace. The bill before us merges the Market Access 
Program, the Foreign Market Development Program, the Emerging Markets 
Program, and the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops into one new 
Priority Trade Promotion, Development, and Assistance Program.
  This new priority trade promotion program will ensure that the 
baselines for these important programs will be upheld while allowing ag 
organizations to leverage these critical dollars to promote our high-
quality ag products around the world. Moreover, the program will allow 
the Secretary of Agriculture to address immediate trade needs 
effectively to ensure that valuable market access is prioritized.
  What is more, this bill takes major steps to expand broadband so that 
our rural communities, which are harder to reach, are not left behind 
in this digital era. There is no stronger example of the benefits of 
innovation than the influence of internet access on the agriculture 
industry. Today's rural areas are experiencing increased productivity 
because of the advanced technologies fueling U.S. agricultural growth.
  Just recently, I had the honor of welcoming the FCC Commissioner, 
Brendan Carr, to Northeast Nebraska to further address this issue. 
Together, we visited Northeast Community College, where we learned 
about their fascinating precision agriculture curriculum, which focuses 
on familiarizing students with new farming technology. Advanced 
information technology and the data these systems gather help our 
amazing agriculture producers make effective decisions as they feed the 
world.
  The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act was included in the Ag 
Committee's managers' package during the markup of the farm bill. This 
would create a task force at the FCC charged with identifying breaks in 
high-speed internet connectivity across America's farm and ranch land.
  Additionally, in the committee markup for the farm bill, I was also 
pleased to sponsor several amendments that were adopted unanimously in 
the managers' package. My amendment encouraging producers to utilize 
efficient water irrigation conservation technology directs the USDA's 
Natural Resources Conservation Service to recognize the use of remote 
telemetry data systems for irrigation scheduling as a best management 
practice.
  The 2018 farm bill will also provide some much needed relief for our 
ag haulers. It is clear that the hours of service regulations for truck 
drivers are inflexible, and they fail to consider the realities that 
impact our livestock haulers.
  I filed an amendment with my colleague, the senior Senator from 
Arkansas, which would expand the definition of livestock to include 
llama, alpacas, live fish, and crawfish. With this expanded definition, 
agricultural haulers would receive exemptions for these products from 
the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's hours of service 
requirements.
  This legislation addresses many important issues for Nebraska's 
producers, but it is not perfect. Pesticide applicators in Nebraska are 
being forced to deal with redundant Federal regulations that provide no 
environmental or water quality benefits, yet they are putting a 
financial strain on producers. This is a bipartisan issue, and it needs 
to be addressed. In fact, the EPA, under the Obama administration, 
supported this fix.
  I wish this bill did more to cut redtape and to provide relief for 
our farmers and their families.
  Additionally, I was disappointed that the bill doesn't include 
commonsense flexibilities for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. 
That is why I am a cosponsor to an amendment that would provide our 
children, no matter where they live, with access to fruits and 
vegetables, regardless of form. This bipartisan amendment would ensure 
that the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program does not use our taxpayer 
dollars to pick winners and losers based on product categories. 
Instead, this amendment would provide our schools, particularly those 
in the most rural areas of our country, with more flexibility to 
provide their students with canned or frozen produce that is 
nutritionally equivalent.
  I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
  I am proud to fight for farmers, ranchers, and producers in the 
Senate. Our ag producers are God's gift to Nebraska and to the world. 
They are my neighbors and my friends. They are my family.
  By coming together to pass this pro-farmer, pro-agriculture farm 
bill, we can secure a better future for our producers and for our 
country.
  Again, I thank Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for their 
good work on this bill. The House has done their job, and now it is our 
turn.
  I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.


                     National Great Outdoors Month

  Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, for Montanans, nothing beats getting 
outside and getting outdoors for hunting, fishing, skiing, backpacking, 
snowmobiling, you name it. It is our way of life in Montana. That is 
why I am excited to announce that June is National Great Outdoors 
Month.
  The outdoor life in Montana has a very special meaning for me. I grew 
up fishing, hunting, hiking, and skiing, in fact, all over the State of 
Montana. In fact, in July of 1986, I proposed to my sweet wife Cindy 
after we hiked to the top of Hyalite Peak, just south of Bozeman. It is 
a peak a little over 10,000 feet. Seven and a half miles from the 
trailhead to the top and back was a long 15-mile day, and I am grateful 
she said yes.
  In fact, during the summer, I spend a lot of time backpacking in the 
Beartooths with our family. We bring along our mini Australian 
shepherds and bear spray. It is good practice.
  In Montana, outdoor recreation isn't just our way of life; it is also 
our economy. In fact, outdoor recreation directly supports some 71,000 
Montana jobs and generates $2.2 billion in wages and salaries and an 
estimate of over $7 billion in consumer spending.
  We see it every summer, every winter, and now every shoulder season 
that people from around the Nation and around the world come to visit 
America's great outdoors, but in Montana, it is all right here, in our 
very own backyard. Whether it is hiking in Glacier, fly fishing in the 
Gallatin, Jefferson, Madison, Stillwater, Yellowstone, Missouri, the 
Big Horn, or skiing in places like Big Mountain, Red Lodge, Bridger, or 
Big Sky, or floating in whitewater float trips, we are lucky to have 
all of that right at our fingertips.
  That is why it is important to recognize the value of the outdoors 
during National Great Outdoors Month. I think, when you spend time 
outdoors, you are not only experiencing Montana's great outdoors, but 
you are giving back to our local economy and creating jobs. For our 
young people, getting them outside, off their phones, and out into the 
wilderness is a good thing.
  I encourage everybody to recognize National Great Outdoors Month by 
joining me in getting away from the TV, away from the phones, and 
getting outside--get out there and experience all that the outdoors has 
to offer.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.


                           Family Separation

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, last Friday, I visited Heartland Alliance, 
a nonprofit organization in the city of Chicago, which, for more than 
two decades, has provided care for immigrant children who are 
classified as unaccompanied children.
  The day I visited last Friday was my second visit to one of their 
nine facilities in the city of Chicago. Very few, if any, people in 
that city--a great city, and I am proud to represent it--even know that 
Heartland Alliance exists. The children are kept in residential 
neighborhoods, in places that look like ordinary homes. The only 
giveaway is the security fence around the building is a little higher 
than most of the

[[Page S4387]]

fences in the neighborhood. That is the only difference. In the busy 
neighborhood, there is a house with dozens of children inside.
  On the day I was there, Heartland Alliance of Chicago had 66 children 
under their care who had been separated from their parents by our 
Federal Government over the last several weeks. They were separated 
under President Trump's zero tolerance policy. Two-thirds of these 66 
zero tolerance children were under the age of 13. Twenty-two of the 
children--zero tolerance children, separated from their parents--were 
under the age of 5.
  I went into the facility's nursery, where the infants and toddlers 
were being held, and I couldn't imagine for a moment what it must have 
been like when someone reached over and took that infant out of the 
arms of that mother and decided to transport that baby thousands of 
miles away. That is what has happened.
  I met two little girls. I will not use their names, but their ages 
are 5 and 6. When these tiny, little girls walked into the room 
together, holding hands, I thought immediately they were twins. They 
had a Bamm-Bamm hairstyle--maybe somebody will remember what I am 
referring to from the old television show--and they were as cute as can 
be. They were holding hands as they walked into the room. I thought, at 
first, they were twins, and then I realized one was a little bit older 
than the other. So I started asking them questions: their names and 
their ages and where they were from. They were answering for one 
another.
  At the end of it, we asked: Are you sisters?
  They said: No, ``amigas''--friends.
  They, like so many other kids in this situation, were clinging to 
anything that created a connection in their desperate little lives.
  I brought with me some handmade cards that kids from my staff and 
friends had made to give to them. They were just pieces of construction 
paper with stickers inside, the kind kids love to make and love to 
receive. I went around, and I asked each of them if they would like to 
take one. They took them like they were Christmas toys, and they hung 
on to them--another connection in a life that, sadly, has become 
disconnected from the reality of their family.
  I asked the staff at Heartland Alliance about these zero tolerance 
kids. I said: Could you find the parents of these kids if you needed to 
for a medical emergency?
  They replied: Well, we could try. In some cases, we could, but in 
many cases, it is like a scavenger hunt.
  You see, their parents may be moved from place to place, and if 
something happened, a medical emergency, it would be difficult to find 
that parent. I thought about that.
  My little granddaughters and grandson are 6, 7, 8 years old. If they 
were brought into a hospital with some serious medical condition, the 
first thing the doctor wants to know is, what is the history? Has this 
child had a problem before?
  These people don't know. There are no files that are coming with the 
children that have their medical history, and, in many cases, there is 
no way to contact their parents in an emergency situation.
  This was a gut-wrenching visit. It is still with me today. It is just 
hard to imagine that the Government of the United States of America 
would forcibly take children away from their parents--parents who are 
seeking a chance at asylum and safety from violence and persecution.
  I am angry too. I am infuriated that not only have these families not 
been reunited, but there doesn't seem to be an effective plan in place 
to bring these kids back to their parents.
  How did we reach this point? How, in the history of this country, did 
we reach the point, where, on April 6, Attorney General Jeff Sessions 
announced the Trump administration had created a new zero tolerance 
policy for prosecuting border cases?
  There is no requirement in law to prosecute every border case 
criminally--none. These cases could be handled under civil law and 
families can be kept together under the law, but this administration 
chose to call every person at the border a criminal, even those who are 
fleeing violence and death threats and seeking a chance at asylum. As 
soon as they allege that the adult at the border is a criminal, then 
they can rationalize separating the children from these possible 
criminals, but, in most cases, the overwhelming majority of cases, the 
only possible crime was the fact that they showed up at the border.
  As far as we know, more than 2,300 children have been taken away from 
their parents by the U.S. Government as a result of the zero tolerance 
policy. They have been transferred to facilities in places far away, 
sometimes thousands of miles away, like Chicago.
  If the Federal Government separates children from parents while the 
family is in custody, I believe the government has the solemn 
obligation to ensure that each child can be located and properly 
reunited with their parents. Isn't this basic? But what we hear from 
advocates and the media is that the administration's handling of the 
reunification process is a mess.
  We are at a real risk of lost children, lost in a bureaucratic 
system, adrift in a bureaucratic sea, who are delayed for who knows how 
long from seeing their parents again. That is because this was done so 
quickly, without any real thought to the impact it would have on the 
children, the impact it would have on the mothers and dads, and the 
impact it would have on the image of the United States around the 
world.
  The Trump administration needs to make it an immediate priority to 
ensure that children who are separated from parents are brought back 
together again quickly.
  Over the weekend, the Department of Homeland Security said the 
Federal Government ``knows the location of all children in its custody 
and is working to reunite them with their families.'' I question that, 
but I accept it. If it is true, there is no excuse for delay.
  No law required the administration to separate these families, and we 
don't need any new laws to be passed in this Chamber to reunite them. 
We just need this administration to act, and we need Congress to exert 
its oversight to verify that the administration is doing what it 
promised.
  I have worked for most of my Senate career to pass bipartisan 
legislation to fix our broken immigration system. Time and again, 
bipartisan efforts, supported by a majority of Americans, have been 
blocked by a minority of vocal Republicans.
  I worked for 6 months with John McCain and six other colleagues to 
write a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which we brought to the 
floor of the Senate and passed with an overwhelming vote. It would have 
cured this problem and many others, but the House of Representatives 
refused to even consider it.
  Yesterday I sat down with several of my colleagues--Republicans and 
Democrats--to discuss whether we can find a way to pass a law or state 
of policy to stop the administration from separating families in the 
future. I am always happy to sit down, on a bipartisan basis, roll up 
my sleeves, and try to write a law that might serve the purpose of 
making this a better country, curing the problems we face, and doing it 
with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but Pennsylvania Avenue 
is a two-way street, and over the past few days, President Trump has 
made statements about immigration reform that do not help at all and I 
believe are contrary not only to the law and the Constitution but the 
values of our country.
  Last Friday, President Trump said Republicans should stop ``wasting 
their time on immigration until after we elect more Senators and 
Congressmen/women in November.''
  Also, on Friday, he said the stories of children separated from their 
parents were ``phony''--``phony.'' I have seen these kids. These aren't 
phony kids, and they aren't phony stories.
  On Sunday, the President tweeted:

       We cannot allow all of these people to invade our country. 
     When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges 
     or court cases, bring them back from where they came.

  That was the President's tweet. Statements like that and the 
President's tweet make a mockery of our Constitution and its solemn 
guarantee of due process of law.
  The due process clause of the Constitution doesn't just apply to 
citizens; it applies to all people in the United States. The idea of 
abandoning due process when people seek asylum at

[[Page S4388]]

our borders and having, as the President said, ``no judges or court 
cases,'' is antithetical to the Constitution and its principles.
  I will continue to work in good faith with my colleagues to see what 
Congress can do, but as long as President Trump is listening to 
advisers like Stephen Miller and making statements like these, it is 
hard to see how any bipartisan agreement can be reached on immigration.
  While Congress works on this issue, the administration has a moral 
obligation to immediately reunite all families they have separated 
under that zero tolerance policy. They also have to make it clear that 
the President's Executive order last week will continue to be followed, 
and they will not separate any more families.

  The third thing that we clearly need to do is to find a way for those 
who present themselves at the border to be brought to their hearings in 
a timely fashion to determine whether they are eligible for asylum. It 
is that basic. We don't have to detain them for long periods of time to 
achieve that.
  We know there are three ways to get over 90 percent of these people 
to the hearings as scheduled: No. 1, provide them with the advice of 
legal counsel; No. 2, provide them with case management, such as those 
provided by Lutheran services, Catholic services, and others, which are 
willing to counsel them and work with them and tell them what the legal 
system in America requires; No. 3, in extreme cases, ankle monitors. 
Over 90 percent of the people show up for hearings with those three 
basic things. We don't need to build multimillion dollar detention 
facilities and internment camps for these families. For goodness' sake, 
we can do this in a humane and constitutional way.
  Then, we need to address some root causes of this issue. On Friday, 
in Chicago, the regional head of the Drug Enforcement Agency came by to 
sit down with me, and we talked about the flow of opioids, the flow of 
heroin, and the flow of fentanyl into my State of Illinois. I am sure 
it is as true in Ohio as it is in Illinois. There is no town too small 
and no suburb too wealthy not to be hit by this drug epidemic that we 
are currently facing.
  I was shocked to learn that in any given month, 2,000 pounds of 
fentanyl come into the city of Chicago--2,000 pounds--and the Drug 
Enforcement Agency is lucky to intercept 20 or 30 pounds. The rest of 
it is going to be consumed and distributed from that city.
  Where is a lot of it coming from? It is coming from the cartels in 
Mexico. It isn't the people from Honduras at the border that pose the 
threat to America's security--not nearly as much as this drug epidemic.
  Keep in mind that it is a two-way street in this drug epidemic. Not 
only are these Mexican cartels sending these drugs to the United 
States, killing our kids and killing our neighbors and friends, but we 
are sending back to them laundered drug money and guns so these cartels 
can take control in Mexico, in Honduras, in El Salvador, and in 
Guatemala. When these gangs take control and threaten the lives of 
people, they flee to the United States looking for protection. It is an 
endless circle that should be broken by breaking the supply of drugs 
coming into this country.
  Any other President would be sitting down with the leaders of Mexico, 
El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, addressing this drug issue head-
on. We have seen the tweets about kids who he calls ``phony'' coming to 
our border. We need to truly have a meeting of Central American and 
North American leaders to discuss this drug problem and all of the 
problems it is creating not only in their countries but in ours.
  We also need to move forward and pass the Dream Act. I have been 
trying for a long time here--almost 17 or 18 years now--to pass the law 
that will allow those who were brought to this country as children a 
chance to earn their way into legal status. Almost 90 percent of 
Americans support it. We need to pass it here.
  Finally, I haven't given up on comprehensive immigration reform. For 
goodness' sake, we see these problems every day--piecemeal problems, 
one at a time, trying to address one here and one there. Isn't it time 
that we take a look at the whole immigration system and concede that we 
cannot accept everyone from all over the world who wants to come. We 
just can't open our borders for everyone. We need security on our 
borders. We also need a clear and humane system when it comes to 
dealing with the current border crisis.
  I hope this is a goal that even some Republicans can agree on, and it 
doesn't take a new law to first reunite these kids with their parents 
and to take a positive step forward.
  Let's get this done before the Fourth of July. Let's reunite all 
2,300 of these children with their parents so we can have the peace of 
mind that we are dealing with this in an American way.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.


                               Healthcare

  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, when I am back home in Wyoming, as I am 
every weekend, people will often tell me about how they have suffered 
under the healthcare law known as ObamaCare. I have been able to give 
them some very good news recently about things that Republicans in 
Congress and this administration have done to help people get out of 
the ObamaCare problems they have been having and escape some of the 
problems that have been caused by the law.
  This is a headline in the Wall Street Journal from June 20: ``Exit 
From ObamaCare.'' It is something that I have been working on ever 
since the law was passed. What I have been able to tell people at home 
in Wyoming is that we have now scrapped the law's terribly unpopular 
individual mandate. We did that successfully this past year so that 
people aren't forced to buy insurance that may not be right for them or 
their families and, certainly, much more expensive than they would like 
to pay.
  That individual mandate was part of the law that said that every 
American--everyone--had to have insurance, not that worked for them but 
that Washington dictated, even if it wasn't the right choice for them 
or their family.
  I have told people about the work we have been doing to expand 
people's options, their choices, and their freedom to use what are 
called short-term, limited duration health plans. These are less 
expensive health plans. They are free from the expensive, intrusive, 
and burdensome regulations that ObamaCare has placed on the insurance 
that they have been forced to buy.
  Thanks to President Trump, I am now able to point to the latest thing 
that Republicans have done to help millions of Americans get the care 
they need from a doctor they choose at a lower cost to them.
  Last week, the Department of Labor expanded the availability of what 
have been known as association health plans. This Wall Street Journal 
editorial called ``Exit From ObamaCare,'' I believe, is the best 
example of it.
  The idea is very simple. Large employers in this country can offer 
their workers a variety of good health insurance plans, and they can do 
it because they have the negotiating leverage that comes with a large 
group of employers. Well, small businesses and people who work for 
themselves don't have that same ability, that same leverage. Their 
workers are often stuck looking for expensive coverage, and the place 
where it seems to be most expensive, certainly, that I see, is in the 
ObamaCare markets.
  So an association health plan lets these groups of individuals, or 
just individuals themselves, band together and negotiate as if they 
were one big business. They get much better deals. So maybe it is like 
all the Lyft drivers or Uber drivers or independent truck drivers 
working in a State or working across State lines all joining together 
or the small businesses that are members of the city's chamber of 
commerce--all of those small businesses doing that. We have seen that 
in Las Vegas, where the chamber of commerce there has been providing 
opportunities for all of the small businesses to come together. They 
have done it for over 30 years, but it was outlawed by the Obama 
healthcare law. Once again, these businesses can now join together to 
offer the same opportunities for coverage that the healthcare law 
reserved only for people who worked with big businesses. It is a way 
for people now--small businesses and their workers--to escape the 
ObamaCare marketplace that has failed so many people across the 
country.

[[Page S4389]]

  According to one estimate, Americans who sign up for one of these 
association health plans could save close to $10,000 a year on their 
premiums compared to the individual ObamaCare market. The plans would 
come with the same protections people get if they do work for large 
companies and they have the same protections for people with 
preexisting conditions, which, to me, is critical. My wife is a breast 
cancer survivor--multiple operations, chemotherapy. It is important 
that we continue to protect people with preexisting conditions, and 
this does it.
  We have all the same protections against losing coverage if someone 
in the family gets sick, but it just allows them to join together in a 
group to have much better buying opportunities and lower costs. They 
will have the same protections for people who want to cover their adult 
children up to 26 years of age. They will have the same bans on 
lifetime limits for how much the insurance will pay.
  Where I live in Wyoming, most of the businesses we have are small 
businesses. It is the nature of our State. It is a rural economy. They 
are the small shop owners, ice cream stores, and florists on the 
corners. When I talk to people in Wyoming, every one of them considers 
themselves a small business in the sense that they don't really use the 
word ``small'' very much because they just think of themselves as 
businesses in our State, businesses in our communities, businesses that 
our families rely on and go to and shop at regularly. These are people 
who want to do right by their workers, and they want to offer a lot of 
the same benefits that bigger companies have and offer their workers.

  So this new move by the Trump administration really does give all of 
them a chance to do that, specifically when it comes to health 
insurance and benefits for their employees.
  So Republican policies have been so successful at creating a thriving 
and growing economy that we now have more job openings in America than 
we actually have people looking for work. That is how strong this 
economic recovery has become.
  Small businesses really do need to be able to offer these better 
health benefits in order to compete for workers. They need to be able 
to compete to provide affordable insurance so they can afford to 
provide it for their workers. At the same time, people who own 
insurance have seen prices more than double under ObamaCare. We need to 
help those people get back to more reasonable rates so they are getting 
the care they need from a doctor they want at a cost they can afford.
  When Democrats wrote the healthcare law and passed it on straight 
party-line votes, they actually targeted small businesses and forced 
them to pay more. That is hard to believe, but it is true. So 
Republicans are leveling the playing field.
  Under this new plan--this exit from ObamaCare--it has been estimated 
by the Congressional Budget Office that 4 million Americans will sign 
up for this new option--4 million Americans. That is how popular this 
is going to be. For people who don't have insurance right now because 
they can't afford it, they are saying that 400,000 more Americans who 
currently don't have insurance will be able to get insurance because it 
will now be affordable for them. So they will finally have a chance to 
get the high-quality insurance they couldn't afford under the mandates 
of ObamaCare.
  This isn't something that anyone is going to be required to sign up 
for. It is something about which people will have the freedom to make 
decisions and choices and the flexibility to see what works best for 
them. That is what it is about--freedom and flexibility and choice. 
People can decide for themselves if one of these association health 
plans is the best option for them, the best option for their workers or 
for their families. They will choose one of these plans only if they 
decide it gives them better coverage and better value. Isn't that what 
people want? They want choices and value for the money they spend.
  It is interesting that just as a result of the fact that these 
associated health plans came out and the options were provided, 
Democrats don't seem to like the fact that Americans will have this 
kind of choice. Washington Democrats like to talk about the benefits of 
union workers being able to get together to negotiate for things like 
better healthcare, but the same Democrats here in the Senate oppose 
this new action by the Trump administration that just lets workers get 
together to negotiate for better, more affordable healthcare coverage. 
The only difference here is that the Republicans want to give this 
opportunity to people who are self-employed or who work for small 
businesses.
  It does seem to be that the Democrats want to reserve the right only 
for the union members--the big unions--and maybe they are the ones who 
fund their Democratic campaigns for reelection.
  There is nothing in the new association health plans that tries to 
lure younger, healthy people away from ObamaCare plans. It just says 
that here is a choice. Nothing requires people or businesses to 
participate. It just provides millions of Americans with a choice: 
ObamaCare or an association health plan. That is the difference. You 
take a look and see what works best for you. See what you find value 
in, where you are going to get value for your dollars, and make that 
decision.
  Republicans are for opportunities and options. Democrats seem to be 
more for mandates and restrictions. We like to offer options, 
opportunities, and openness. I think the American people prefer options 
in this land of opportunity.
  Democrats are going to go out on the campaign trail and claim that 
what we have done now with these association health plans is to 
sabotage ObamaCare. I have heard them talk. Don't believe it. If the 
only way ObamaCare can survive is to force millions of hard-working 
Americans to pay too much for their health insurance, then, ObamaCare 
is the problem. Democrats don't seem to want to admit that. They also 
don't really want to change any of the things that are broken in the 
American healthcare system. They want it to stay broken so they can 
push the plan for what we have heard some of the Democrats refer to as 
a single-payer health plan. That is a completely government-run 
healthcare system, where all of the bills are paid by the taxpayers. It 
has become the liberal litmus test for the Democrats.
  We are going to hear them a lot more talking about that in the weeks 
and months ahead. When I look at that as a doctor who has practiced 
medicine for 25 years, as an orthopedic surgeon taking care of families 
in Wyoming, and having taken care of people from Canada, where they 
have a single-payer system--a government-run system--what I have seen 
from the patients I have taken care of who have come from Canada to the 
United States for care--why did they come if it is free in Canada?--is 
that they came because they couldn't afford to wait as long as they 
would have to wait to get the care.
  So when we look at what has been proposed by a number of the 
Democrats, cosponsored by many--a single-payer healthcare system, a 
government-run insurance plan--we are talking about a program with 
higher taxes, longer lines, and fewer choices. I believe that is not 
what the American people want. What they want is an exit from ObamaCare 
into much more affordable insurance, something that works for them, 
something where they have an opportunity to make their own choices and 
have the flexibility to evaluate what is best for them and their 
families.
  We are offering real solutions to improve healthcare in this country. 
We are giving families more freedom and more flexibility to choose what 
works for them, not what Washington dictates.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. 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.
  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I rise to speak about the farm bill--
something that we have in common, something that both of our States 
know is very important for this country's economy. This legislation is 
one of the most important chances we have in this Chamber to address 
one of the

[[Page S4390]]

most pressing issues in rural parts of our country right now.
  I want to speak about two of my most urgent priorities for this 
year's farm bill, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting 
them.
  The first is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which 
most of us call SNAP. There are more than 40 million Americans who rely 
on SNAP every day. More than 40 million people would go hungry if they 
didn't have access to SNAP. Many of these Americans are disabled. Many 
of them are elderly and retired. Nearly half of them are children. 
Millions of them--and I truly mean millions--are working.
  Congress should not take SNAP away from hard-working Americans just 
because they don't fill out monthly paperwork. Last week, the House 
passed its own version of the farm bill that would do just that. That 
is shameful.
  Here is the truth about SNAP. The vast majority of able-bodied adults 
on SNAP are already working. They are already working. They have jobs. 
Many of them work several jobs. They are doing everything they can to 
get ahead, just to have a small slice of the American dream. They still 
need SNAP. They need SNAP because their wages are too low.
  To be clear, they already have to follow the work requirements. There 
have been work requirements in place since 1971. But the farm bill 
would just add more redtape, more paperwork for struggling families 
just so they could eat dinner.
  This is the difference between the House farm bill and the Senate 
farm bill: The Senate farm bill got it right; the House farm bill has 
created this terrible requirement of paperwork just to get SNAP. One of 
our House colleagues said that it is to promote ``self-sufficiency,'' 
as if low-income workers on SNAP aren't already working every waking 
hour just to scrape by. The House plan is a blatant example of how out 
of touch Congress is about poverty in this country. It is shameful that 
some Members of the House from my own State would even support this 
cruel plan when so many New Yorkers rely on SNAP every single day. I am 
happy that the Senate farm bill has more heart than that.
  The bill that came out of committee shows respect for all hard-
working families who need SNAP, and now we need to take it a step 
further to do even more to help hungry children. I am submitting an 
amendment to the Senate farm bill called the SNAP for Kids Act. It 
would increase the amount of SNAP funding that families with kids in 
school are allowed to receive. If we pass this amendment, we will help 
families stretch their food budgets just a few more days at the end of 
every month when they need it the most, before the next paycheck comes 
in, and we will help keep millions of children in this country from 
going hungry. That should be a priority here--protecting children--for 
all of us.
  I have two young children, and I know that many of our colleagues in 
this Chamber also have young children. Our children will never have to 
have access to SNAP to get basic nutrition. They will never know what 
it is like to wake up hungry because their parents didn't have enough 
food to feed them a nutritious dinner. I believe at my core that we 
need to care about other people's children as much as we care about our 
own, so I urge my colleagues to do what is right and support the SNAP 
for Kids Act. Let's reject the House of Representatives' cruel plan and 
commit ourselves to protecting SNAP instead of destroying it.
  The second issue I want to talk about today is dairy prices. My home 
State of New York is one of the biggest dairy-producing States in the 
country. We are blessed with thousands of dairy farms and even more 
hard-working men and women who wake up before the Sun rises every 
single day to produce the milk that keeps our families healthy.
  Unfortunately, over the last few years, our dairy farmers have taken 
a serious hit from persistently low dairy prices. Many of our dairy 
farms are operating below their cost of production. Over the last 
decade, dairy farms all over New York have actually had to shut down 
because of this crisis. Many are currently on the brink of failing.

  This is what one dairy farmer said:

       It's stressful. . . . Do I want to wake up and lose $30,000 
     a day?

  Imagine the pain our dairy farmers and their families suffer when 
they wake up before dawn, every day, without a break, and they still 
can't make ends meet and provide for their own children. Imagine the 
heartbreak and the depression of the last dairy farmer in a family--the 
one who has to sell the farm despite generations of hard work because 
he just can't make ends meet.
  This is a crisis right in our backyard. It is hurting our 
agricultural economy. It is hurting our rural communities, and, most of 
all, it is hurting our farmers and their families. One big reason is 
that our dairy insurance program didn't work.
  I have heard from dairy farmers all across New York who have been 
essentially ripped off by the dairy insurance program because the 
program failed to cover our farmers when they needed it the most--when 
milk prices have plummeted.
  Our dairy farmers need a lifeline, and I was very proud to add a 
provision to the Senate farm bill for $77 million of those premiums to 
be returned. This is great news for our dairy farmers, but there is 
still so much more we can do. I have asked the Secretary of Agriculture 
for emergency funding to address this issue now, but he refuses to help 
our dairy farmers.
  I am submitting an amendment that would require the Department of 
Agriculture to help our dairy farmers with emergency funding now. I am 
asking the Secretary of Agriculture for the exact same amount of 
funding he just gave cotton farmers across this country when they were 
struggling.
  The USDA should be fair and treat our dairy farmers with the same 
support. I want this emergency funding to go directly to those farmers 
who need it so they can keep producing milk--without going bankrupt--
long enough for the industry to come together to balance supply and for 
Congress to create a more fair milk pricing system.
  I urge my colleagues to support this amendment too. It affects all of 
us. I know you believe our farmers work hard every day. They need our 
support. I urge all of us to stand with them.
  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. HATCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                    Remembering Charles Krauthammer

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, allow me to say a few words on the passing 
of a dear friend, Charles Krauthammer. Charles was a giant in the 
conservative intellectual movement and community. With his passing, we 
have lost not only a first-rate political mind but a model of civility. 
As testament to his decency, leaders on both sides of the aisle paid 
tribute to Charles over the weekend. Today, I know I speak for people 
of all political stripes when I say we will miss him dearly.
  Few were as formidable in debate as Charles Krauthammer. Although his 
body was confined to a wheelchair, his intellect was boundless. With 
even keel and gentle voice, he could carefully deconstruct the views of 
his opponents, expressing his own ideas with preternatural eloquence.
  In a political landscape marked by anger and acrimony, Charles stood 
for reason and respect. Indeed, he was a voice of temperance in 
intemperate times. While he never backed down in debate, he was also 
well practiced in the subtle art of disagreeing without being 
disagreeable. In so many ways, Charles showed us how political 
discourse should be: balanced and rational, measured and informed, with 
emphasis on facts over feeling.
  I think we can all agree that civility took a beating this weekend, 
but perhaps the biggest blow was losing Charles Krauthammer--a man who 
embodied civility in his very being. At different times throughout our 
history, we have been called upon to heed the better angels of our 
nature. Charles was one of those better angels. He represented what we 
could be if we listened to our better selves and if we listened to each 
other.
  As a nation, we have much to learn from the example of Charles 
Krauthammer. In celebrating the life of an extraordinary man, we must 
do

[[Page S4391]]

more than pay lipservice to his legacy; we must honor it through our 
actions. We can do so by being strong in our convictions but soft with 
our words, by being principled in our positions but respectful of other 
views in this world. In a word, we can be more civil.
  Open the newspaper, scroll through Twitter, or simply turn on the TV, 
and you will see that this Nation suffers from a deficit of civility 
quite unlike anything I have ever seen. The problem is bad. It is 
getting worse, and both sides are to blame. Both sides are at fault for 
escalating the rhetoric to irresponsible levels.
  I have said this many times before, but it bears repeating: Our words 
have consequences, and in an age of retweets, viral videos, and 
shareable content, those words often echo well beyond their intended 
audience and context. It is incumbent upon all of us--from the 
President, to Congress, on down--to be responsible for our speech.
  With that, I ask my colleagues, is there a better way to honor the 
life of Charles Krauthammer than to follow the example of civility he 
leaves behind? May we all, then, recommit ourselves to civility by 
living as Charles lived. May his memory be a blessing to us all.
  My wife is a wonderful person. She is a farm girl. She grew up on a 
farm and really has earned everything she has ever had. She had a 
brother named Ramon. Ramon was an athlete when he got struck--right 
before the solutions to his illness were arrived at--and he became 
crippled. Ramon was one of the finest men I ever met in my life. He was 
very hurt by this malady that came upon him, but I can remember what a 
decent, honorable, kind person he was and how he went on and got his 
master's degree. He went all the way through undergraduate and got a 
master's degree at Utah State University and then became a major 
electrical engineer in Las Vegas. I remember one time carrying him--he 
was so light--in my arms through the Los Angeles Temple of the Church 
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was one of the finest men I 
have ever known at any time, anywhere.
  That is one reason why I recognize Charles so well. Charles 
Krauthammer is one of the finest men I have known too. He and Ramon 
were heroes of mine, people who took on the ramifications and 
difficulties of life and beat them.
  We are going to miss Charles Krauthammer. Not only was he brilliant, 
but he was somebody who made sense. He was somebody who really could 
relate to everybody. He was a really good person, just like my brother-
in-law, Ramon, was as good a person as you could have ever thought. I 
think we all should stop and think about these two lives and recommit 
ourselves to being more reasonable to our colleagues. We might all 
realize there is more to this Earth than just fighting, finding fault, 
and advancing our own cause. I believe this is the greatest of all 
legislative bodies. We have come close to doing that--to doing what is 
right, to showing respect for each other--but we don't always get 
there. I am not sure you can always get there. Sometimes you really 
have to speak out and you have to speak bluntly.

  I just want to remind people that Charles Krauthammer and my brother-
in-law, Ramon Hansen, were two people who literally lived very good 
lives, set very good examples, and overcame the challenges of being 
crippled and terribly hurt to rise above and to do things that really 
made a difference in this world.
  I wish the Krauthammer family the very best. I care for them. I hope 
they come and visit once in a while. We lost a great person this 
weekend; I just wanted to say a few words about it.
  This is a great body. We have great people on both sides. I would 
like to see us work better together and accomplish more together in the 
best interest of the greatest country on Earth. If we do that, I think 
we will all, when the time comes, leave this place knowing we had done 
our best.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Flake). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill 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. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Agriculture 
Improvement Act of 2018, also referred to as the Senate's farm bill.
  As a member of the Senate Ag Committee, I was proud to work with 
Senator Roberts and our ranking member, Senator Stabenow of Michigan, 
to pass a strong farm bill out of committee.
  Times are challenging in ag country. Commodity prices are low, and 
our farmers and ranchers face numerous challenges. Net farm income is 
down 52 percent from where it stood 5 years ago, and bankruptcies are 
up more than 39 percent from 2014. Moving this farm bill through the 
Senate will help reduce uncertainty for our ag producers and will 
benefit the broader economy.
  I would like to say and I often say that good farm policy benefits 
every single American every single day. Think about that. Our farmers 
and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in 
the world, in the history of the world. So every single day, every 
American benefits just in that respect and in other respects in terms 
of the employment that is created, the positive balance of trade, the 
innovation, and so many other things. In fact, the crops we grow and 
the livestock we raise are used not only for food but also for fuel and 
fiber.
  But simply the fact that every single American benefits every day 
from the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world means 
that when we pass the farm bill, providing good farm policy that helps 
support our farmers and ranchers so they can continue to provide that 
food supply for Americans, we really are doing something for all 
Americans and something that affects their lives, obviously, in a very 
big way every single day.
  I am pleased we were able to draft a bill that will give our farmers 
and ranchers the support they need to continue to produce that food, 
fuel, and fiber that make our country go and provide the same things to 
so many in other countries throughout the world.
  Leading up to consideration of the farm bill, we worked diligently to 
gather input from farmers and ranchers in my State and across the 
country. Over the past year, I have held roundtables back home. I have 
hosted Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue so that he could hear directly from 
our great farmers and ranchers about their priorities for this farm 
bill.

  I am grateful that the bill includes many of these important 
provisions and that it will support the great work done by our farmers 
and ranchers in North Dakota and across the country. I just want to 
highlight a few of those measures.
  We have worked hard to ensure that the bill maintains and strengthens 
crop insurance, which is the primary risk management tool for our 
producers. Let me emphasize that again. Crop insurance is the No. 1 
risk management tool used by our producers across the country.
  The farm bill also includes a provision based on a pilot program I 
have put forward to improve the fairness of ARC, which is the 
Agriculture Risk Coverage Program, which is a very important part of 
the countercyclical safety net for our farmers and ranchers. So we have 
ARC, or the Agriculture Risk Coverage Program, and PLC, the Price Loss 
Coverage Program, which comprise that safety net--that countercyclical 
safety net--for our farmers, so that when prices are low, they get 
help, and when they are high, they don't. That is the whole idea--to 
help them through the tough stretches, along with, as I mentioned just 
a minute ago, crop insurance.
  The pilot program we incorporated into the bill really allows RMA 
data, which is the Risk Management Agency data, to be used in addition 
to the NASS data, or the National Agricultural Statistics Service data, 
which has been used historically and provides flexibility so that you 
get a good, commonsense result when you are applying that ARC Program 
across the country to many different farmers in many different 
circumstances.
  The legislation also includes increased authorization for the Water 
Bank Program that I advanced, which provides compensation for farmers 
and landowners for flooded land through 10-year, voluntary conservation 
agreements.

[[Page S4392]]

  In addition, I supported measures to help address risks to animal 
health, livestock export markets, and industry economic stability. That 
is why I am glad this bill includes a new Animal Disease and Disaster 
Response Program, as well as a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank. 
That protects the animals, and that protects all of us as well.
  This farm bill also prioritizes ag research, including supporting 
important work done at North Dakota State University and at the North 
Dakota Extension Service, which are working to enhance crop genetics 
and production. The ag research done in our State and in our other 
agriculture universities across this Nation have really revolutionized 
farming and ranching. We can grow crops that are disease resistant and 
raise livestock that is healthier and stronger because of the amazing 
things that have been done in research. We need to continue that 
because we not only supply food for this country but really for the 
world. We are doing things that we never even dreamed of years ago 
because of the amazing advancements in ag research.
  In order to allow our producers to continue to compete and excel in 
the global marketplace, the bill creates, expands, and maintains 
critical export programs that support U.S. ag products. I am pleased 
that the bill we passed out of our committee preserves the no-cost 
sugar policy, which ensures that American producers can compete on a 
level playing field with sugar from around the world.
  The bill also includes measures important to Tribal communities, 
including almost all of the provisions of the Cultivating Resources, 
Opportunity, Prosperity, and Sustainability for Indian Country Act, or 
the CROPS for Indian Country Act. The CROPS for Indian Country Act is 
bipartisan legislation that I introduced and that we passed out of the 
Indian Affairs Committee, which I chair. There are very important 
provisions in that bill that we included in this farm bill. I thank 
both the Ag Committee chairman and the ranking member for working with 
us to include those provisions in the farm bill.
  During committee markup, we were also able to strengthen the bill in 
other ways as well. Another good example and something that we worked 
very diligently to improve is legislation in regard to the NRCS. 
Particularly, this legislation will improve NRCS wetlands determination 
and ensure that NRCS is working more closely with our producers--by 
that I mean in a more farmer friendly way.
  The committee included my amendments to increase the participation of 
Tribal producers on international trade missions, as well as to give 
Tribal colleges and universities access to certain grant programs.
  Another area about which we heard from many concerned farmers and 
ranchers is access to credit. As they go through these challenging 
times, they need access to credit. So I offered an amendment in 
committee, which we passed. It increases the amounts for FSA, or the 
Farm Service Agency, loan guarantees from about $1.39 million up to 
about $1.75 million. That is under the guarantee program. We also 
increased the direct loan program from $300,000 to $600,000 on a 
chattel-type loan and $400,000 on operating loans. Again, this is about 
making sure farmers and ranchers have access to credit.
  This was advocated for by not only the ag community but also by the 
financial community as a way to make sure that we can help farmers 
through tough times but also so that we can help our young farmers get 
access to the credit and the capital they need to get into the business 
of farming.
  The average age for a farmer now is 60 years old. That is the average 
age for our farmers across the country. So we have to continue to work 
to help with the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program so 
that we get young people into the business of farming. It takes more 
capital to do that, and that is why these programs are so important.
  I am convinced the farm bill we are considering this week will give 
our farmers and ranchers the tools they need to succeed in the next 5 
years and beyond.
  Congress has not enacted a farm bill in the same year it was 
introduced since 1990. So I urge my colleagues on both sides of the 
aisle to support this farm bill so that we can continue to provide our 
ag producers with the tools they very much need.
  I am going to conclude with something I said at the outset and which 
I try to remind people of every chance I get, and that is, again, that 
good farm policy not only benefits our farmers and ranchers, but it 
benefits every single American every single day with the highest 
quality, lowest cost food supply in the world.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I just want to take a moment to thank my 
friend from North Dakota for his leadership and the valuable input and 
hard work that he provides to the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry 
Committee. We have worked together now on two farm bills and now have 
worked on the ARC Program and on conservation, trade, and research, but 
also on the important Tribal provisions that I think are going to have 
a very positive impact. So I just want to thank Senator Hoeven for all 
of his hard work.
  Mr. HOEVEN. Will the Senator yield?
  Ms. STABENOW. I am happy to.
  Mr. HOEVEN. I thank our ranking member. This is truly a bipartisan 
bill that we brought out of committee through the hard work and the 
leadership of both our chairman and ranking member. So I appreciate all 
of her diligent, good efforts on the bill.
  Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). The Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, agriculture is the lifeblood of my State of 
South Dakota. More than 43 million of our State's roughly 50 million 
acres are given over to farming and ranching. In fact, cattle actually 
outnumber people in South Dakota. We have more than four times as many 
cattle in our State, which is a pretty good example of just how 
fundamental ranching is to South Dakota life. We routinely place in the 
top 10 States for production of a number of crops, including soybeans, 
corn, and wheat. Agriculture isn't just part of the South Dakota way of 
life, it is the South Dakota way of life.
  While I am one of those South Dakota residents who doesn't farm a 
ranch, I have always considered it one of my great privileges to know 
South Dakota farmers and ranchers and get to represent them in the U.S. 
Congress. That is why, when I was in the House of Representatives, I 
chose to serve on the House Agriculture Committee, and that is why I 
serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee today.
  Our biggest job as members of the Senate Agriculture Committee is to 
work on producing farm bills. These bills set the rules of the road for 
farmers and ranchers. They govern safety net programs like crop 
insurance and livestock disaster programs, which are so essential for 
individuals working in an industry where bad weather can wipe out a 
year's work and place a family farm at risk. They set the rules for 
conservation programs. They cover farm loan programs and much more.
  This year's farm bill is particularly important as farmers and 
ranchers are facing a tough ag economy. Commodity prices have plunged, 
and net farm income is half of what it was 4 or 5 years ago. Now more 
than ever, farmers and ranchers need to know with certainty what the 
rules of the road will be so they can plan well for the future.
  The farm bill we are considering this week is the fourth farm bill I 
have had the chance to work on during my time in Congress. While there 
are a handful of things I would like to improve further, I am pleased 
with the product we have on the floor today.
  Given the variety of programs and priorities they cover, farm bills 
are always a big production. That is why I got a head start on this 
year's farm bill last March when I introduced legislation that created 
a new income protection program for farmers. That bill was the first of 
nearly a dozen pieces of legislation I introduced over the past year. I 
figured that starting the process early would allow us to not just 
reauthorize agricultural programs but to strengthen and improve them, 
and I am pleased the bill before us today does exactly that.
  I am also pleased several of my proposals are included in the bill, 
although the credit for that goes to the

[[Page S4393]]

farmers and ranchers who helped inspire these much needed policies and 
policy changes. The fact is, nobody knows more about what works and 
what doesn't work when it comes to agriculture policy than the people 
out there every day working to make a living at farming and ranching.
  That is why I make it a point to meet regularly with South Dakota 
farmers and ranchers to hear how things are going directly from them. 
They let me know which agriculture programs are working, which aren't, 
and which can be improved. Many of my proposals for this year's bill 
are the direct result of conversations with farmers and ranchers back 
in South Dakota.
  Perhaps the prime example of that is my proposal to help improve the 
accuracy of the U.S. Drought Monitor. In April of this year, I held an 
agricultural roundtable in Rapid City, SD. During this event, several 
ranchers shared their concerns about accurate precipitation 
measurement. Accurate precipitation measurements matter to ranchers 
because this data is used to determine whether ranchers qualify for 
grazing loss assistance and livestock forage loss assistance when 
weather conditions threaten their feed supplies and the well-being of 
their herds.
  Ranchers have been frustrated by inconsistent rainfall and drought 
determinations at the Department of Agriculture.
  This spring, after last summer's drought, for example, the U.S. 
Forest Service determined that some Federal grazing lands in western 
South Dakota were too dry and consequently reduced the number of 
livestock ranchers can graze on U.S. Forest Service lands. That left 
ranchers struggling to find sufficient grazing lands for their cattle.
  However, last year, the Drought Monitor classified that same area as 
not dry enough to trigger eligibility for the Livestock Forage Program, 
which provides assistance to ranchers whose pastures have suffered 
grazing losses due to drought. Obviously, this kind of inconsistent 
monitoring and resulting inconsistent Federal assistance is a problem, 
and the ranchers in April let me know just how much of a problem it can 
be.
  So I came back to Washington and worked with my staff to develop 
legislation to improve the accuracy of the Drought Monitor and to 
require the Department of Agriculture to use consistent precipitation 
monitoring data across its programs. I am happy to report that my 
Drought Monitor legislation was adopted as part of the farm bill that 
is before the Senate today.
  I am also proud that the farm bill includes authorization for a 
program I proposed that would strengthen soil health by reducing 
farmers' crop insurance costs.
  All farmers are familiar with the Conservation Reserve Program, or 
CRP, which provides incentives for farmers to take environmentally 
sensitive land out of production for 10 to 15 years, but a lot of 
farmers have told me they don't want to retire portions of their land 
for a decade or more, and they don't want to place expensive seed, 
fertilizer, and other inputs on their poorest land, especially now, 
when prices are at such low levels.
  To address this, in March of last year, I offered a bill to create a 
new program called the Soil Health and Income Protection Program. This 
program would provide a new, short-term option for farmers that would 
allow them to take their worst performing cropland out of production 
for 3 to 5 years instead of the 10 to 15 years required by CRP rules.
  In return for taking this land out of production, farmers would 
receive a modest rental payment and increased crop insurance premium 
discounts. This program would accomplish the dual goals of protecting 
the environment while improving the bottom line for farmers. I am very 
pleased that the authorization for the Soil Health and Income 
Protection Program was included in the farm bill we are considering 
today.
  A number of other proposals I introduced also made it into the bill, 
including proposals to improve the Agriculture Risk Coverage Program, 
proposals to provide pasture, rangeland, and forage insurance premium 
assistance for Native American ranchers and proposals to increase the 
approval rate of the Livestock Indemnity Program applications.
  One proposal I am still working to get included in the bill is a 
proposal to allow more flexibility in the Conservation Reserve Program 
haying and grazing policies. The CRP program plays a significant role 
in South Dakota's economy. It provides a major portion of the habitat 
for pheasants, which bring in about $200 million each year to South 
Dakota's economy.
  Farmers have spent years frustrated with the Department of 
Agriculture's management of the CRP program, particularly the program's 
sometimes excessive restrictions on land use and requirements to 
destroy vegetative cover under midcontract management, even in drought 
years when feed supplies are short.
  The proposal I am working to get included in the final bill will 
allow haying on one-third of all CRP acres and limited grazing on most 
CRP land. This commonsense reform, along with other CRP reforms I have 
proposed that are included in the bill in front of us today, will 
address some of the farmers' major concerns with current land use rules 
for acres that are enrolled in the CRP program.
  As I mentioned, there are a few areas where I think we could have 
done more or gone further to make improvements. I have proposals to 
further increase CRP acres and proposals to make additional 
improvements to the Agriculture Risk Coverage Program--or the ARC 
Program.
  I think we have a strong bill before us today. I am grateful for the 
leadership of our Agriculture Committee chairman, Senator Roberts, and 
the ranking member, Senator Stabenow. All too often these days, 
measures that should be collaborative fall victim to partisanship, but 
the debate over the farm bill was collegial and collaborative, and we 
produced a strong bipartisan bill as a result.
  It takes a special kind of person to be a farmer or a rancher. There 
are no set hours and no paid vacations. Bad weather isn't just an 
inconvenience, it jeopardizes your entire livelihood. Your job is 
filled with late nights and early mornings. You can sit up all night 
with a sick calf and then have to get out there sleepless the next 
morning to work a full day in the fields. The work is physically 
demanding, and it is performed no matter what the weather--blazing Sun, 
freezing cold, or blowing snow or rain. Believe me, we have all of the 
above in South Dakota.
  We don't see the backbreaking work, the sweat and tears that have 
gone into the production of that gallon of milk we pick up at the 
grocery store on our way home, but every time we go to that grocery 
store, we are the beneficiaries of the courage, the dedication, and 
hard work of our Nation's farmers and ranchers. They feed our country, 
and they literally feed the world.
  I am grateful so many farmers and ranchers call South Dakota home, 
and I hope the bill that is before us today will help make their jobs 
just a little bit easier in the future.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I just want to take a moment before the 
senior Senator from South Dakota leaves the floor to thank him for his 
leadership on so many provisions of this bill. I think the soil health 
provisions are really important, the changes in ARC, and I am really 
glad we were able to work together to address many of the issues the 
Senator from South Dakota raised on the Conservation Reserve Program. I 
very much appreciate all of his hard work in getting us to a place 
where we have a good bill.
  I know the Senator from South Dakota has other thoughts as well. We 
will continue to work together to continue to improve it, but I very 
much appreciate all of the Senator's hard work.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.


                        EPA Administrator Pruitt

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, as I rise for my 209th ``Time to Wake 
Up'' climate change speech, I return to a familiar subject: disgraced 
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.
  Not that long ago, I was here discussing the baker's dozen of ethical 
scandals swirling around Pruitt. From his $43,000 ``cone of silence'' 
phone booth to the millions he spent on a 20-

[[Page S4394]]

person security detail, to his lights-and-sirens escapades, to fancy DC 
restaurant Le Diplomate, Pruitt has come to personify the swamp 
President Trump promised to drain. And he just keeps on getting 
swampier.

  In just the few weeks since my last speech on Pruitt, we have learned 
that he used one of his closest aides to plan his vacations, hunt for a 
Washington apartment, and, most bizarrely, solicit a used hotel 
mattress from the Trump Hotel. The aide did many of these tasks on 
government time when she was supposed to be working for taxpayers. That 
is a clear violation of Federal employment rules. Federal rules also 
bar officials such as Pruitt from accepting gifts from their 
subordinates, including these kinds of personal services even on 
personal time. So one way or the other, this was pretty swampy. We also 
learned, in a scene worthy of the finest banana republic, that Pruitt 
had his staffer approach the founder of the fast food chain Chick-fil-A 
about securing a franchise for Pruitt's wife.
  As the New York Times recently wrote, ``Grifters Gonna Grift.'' But 
with all deference to the editorial writers at the Times, I would add 
that Pruitt's actions aren't just matters of grift; they also reveal 
his servility to the interests of his fossil fuel backers over the 
interests of the American public. My Republican colleague, Senator 
Ernst of Iowa, recently said that Pruitt's efforts to undermine the 
renewable fuel standard, including the abundance of waivers for 
refiners, amount to broken promises to American farmers. ``He is about 
as swampy as you get here in Washington, DC,'' she said. Amen.
  You would think that someone so corrupt would not be long for a 
President's Cabinet. You would be wrong. Just last week, in the face of 
all of Pruitt's latest scandals, President Trump reaffirmed his support 
for his EPA Administrator, saying that the Agency is doing really, 
really well under Pruitt. The President doesn't see anything wrong with 
having someone as scandal-plagued as Pruitt in his Cabinet. What he can 
see is that the fossil fuel industry is solidly lined up behind its 
servant, Pruitt. He has oil company interests and the front groups they 
fund telling him to keep Pruitt on the job because Pruitt is rolling 
back regulations polluters don't like.
  Let's look at how well Pruitt is really doing for the polluters. 
Let's start with Pruitt's record in the courts.
  A number of EPA's regulatory actions or its failures to regulate have 
been challenged in court.
  Republicans continue to rubberstamp Trump's activist, extreme-
rightwing, and polluter-friendly judicial nominees, but American courts 
nevertheless remain a forum in which outright lies are not countenanced 
and in which regulatory agencies such as EPA have to demonstrate the 
scientific, technical, economic, and legal basis of their regulatory 
decisions. An agency whose political leadership dissembles or doesn't 
do its homework won't do well in court.
  So how has Scott Pruitt's EPA fared in the courts? In two words, not 
well. Our Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member, Tom 
Carper, recently released a report analyzing Pruitt's record in court. 
As you can see from this chart, 66 cases have been filed against 
Pruitt's EPA in relation to ethics and transparency. I know this comes 
as little shock, given Pruitt's numerous and continuing ethical 
shortcomings. Of the 14 of these ethics cases that have already been 
decided by a judge, EPA lost 13 of them. That is a 7-percent success 
rate for Pruitt. The other 79 cases challenge EPA's regulatory actions 
or inactions.
  This is what Pruitt is supposed to be there for--rolling back rules 
protecting public health and the environment to make his fossil fuel 
patrons happy. This is why he still has industry support. This is why 
he is still running EPA despite all the scandals. You can be corrupt in 
this administration as long as you are corrupt for the right people.
  Of the six of these cases that have been fully reviewed by the 
courts, Pruitt's EPA lost four of them, succeeded in delaying arguments 
on one, and got another dismissed on mootness grounds after withdrawing 
the challenged rule. In other words, Pruitt is zero for six before the 
courts when it comes to defending his regulatory rollbacks. Pruitt is a 
former baseball player, so he will understand it when I say that he is 
batting way below the Mendoza line.
  The courts have blocked Pruitt's attempt to delay the implementation 
of a rule curbing methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. 
Methane, of course, is a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to 
climate change. The courts also blocked Pruitt's effort to slow-walk 
EPA's revision of lead paint standards. Pruitt wanted another 6 years 
to revise the standards, and the courts gave him 90 days.
  Many of Pruitt's biggest deregulatory actions, after a splashy 
announcement, have yet to even be finalized, so they aren't yet ripe 
for judicial review. But even on these half-baked rollbacks, Pruitt is 
making mistakes that will provide ample ammunition in court for those 
who will sue him.
  Take Pruitt's rulemaking to rescind the Clean Power Plan--President 
Obama's blueprint to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector. As 
Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sued three times to block the Clean 
Power Plan. He has a long record against the Clean Power Plan in the 
press, at industry conferences, and on social media. Many of the same 
fossil fuel industry donors who have bankrolled Pruitt's political 
career are on the other side, suing to block the Clean Power Plan.

  Pruitt has not even revealed the full depth of his fiscal engagement 
with the fossil fuel industry because he has never fessed up to who 
gave money to his dark money political operation, so it is actually 
probably worse than we know.
  Well, here is where America's rule of law kicks in. America's rule of 
law provides that those who are interested in an agency rulemaking 
``have a right to a fair and open proceeding; that right includes 
access to an impartial decision maker.'' Here, given Pruitt's strident 
opposition to the Clean Power Plan as attorney general, combined with 
his sickeningly close financial and political ties with the industry 
opposing it, can there be any doubt that Pruitt possesses what under 
law one would call an unalterably closed mind when it comes to the 
Clean Power Plan? Courts will take notice of that sort of thing.
  Then there is Pruitt's effort to exclude certain scientific studies 
from consideration in rulemaking. Pruitt claims it is to boost 
transparency. That couldn't be phonier. It is an effort to boost two 
industries that are big donors to his political operations--fossil fuel 
and tobacco.
  For decades, fossil fuel and tobacco have pushed to prevent 
regulatory agencies from considering scientific studies that rely on 
people's medical records. They have figured out that because people 
like their medical records to be private and because public health 
studies rely on private medical records, if they can cook up the notion 
that that is somehow a transparency problem, they can take the entire 
corpus of public health science based on medical records and put it in 
the bin. Blocking that public health evidence is a way for these 
industries to screen out the most damning evidence in actual Americans' 
actual health records of the effects of tobacco smoke and air pollution 
on human health.
  Pruitt's own Science Advisory Board isn't buying that one. He 
rebuffed the Board's request for information about this proposed rule 
and issued it without the Board's input. When he claimed that his 
proposed rule was consistent with the position of various scientific 
journals and groups, those journals and groups stood up and said: Oh, 
no. They were quick to correct the record. And EPA's Science Advisory 
Board just voted unanimously to examine the policy anyway.
  You might think that such a rule may also exclude some industry-
funded studies, but never fear--internal emails obtained by the Union 
of Concerned Scientists show that Pruitt's lackeys, themselves former 
industry lobbyists, knew they had to make sure industry studies could 
still be considered by EPA.
  It would be great to take all of the real public health studies that 
rely on real healthcare information, pretend that is a transparency 
problem, shove them off to the side, and then have industry-funded 
studies left to rely upon. Well, the Pruitt lackeys pulled a little 
trick and put in the proposed rule that

[[Page S4395]]

the Administrator can include any study he likes, regardless of what 
the rule may require, opening up a nice, safe harbor for his industry 
sponsors' industry-funded studies.
  All of this sounds pretty arbitrary and capricious to me. And 
``arbitrary and capricious'' by the way, is the legal standard courts 
will use to evaluate challenges to this phony baloney rule.
  Pruitt's drive to weaken fuel economy standards also looks to be on 
shaky legal ground. They cobbled together a 38-page document in April 
announcing Pruitt's intention to roll back the 2012 auto fuel 
efficiency standards. That cobbled-together report is devoid of the 
type of serious, detailed analysis that courts typically look for in 
such a rulemaking. Half of that little document is just quotes from car 
companies objecting to the rule. By comparison, the Obama 
administration assembled a 1,217-page document justifying those 
standards, chockful of real scientific, technical, and economic 
analysis--all of the stuff the Pruitt EPA is allergic to.
  Once again, Pruitt's work product looks pretty arbitrary and 
capricious--short on facts, short on analysis, long on giveaways to 
industries that fund him. It is entirely understandable that the 
interests to which Pruitt is beholden would be fighting for him to keep 
his job. They love this. For them, Pruitt running this public health 
agency into the ground is a feature, not a bug, of the Pruitt tenure. 
They are just in it for the regulatory rollbacks.

  I hope they recognize a lot of Pruitt's work is so sloppy that, 
ultimately, it will likely not stand up in court. I hope President 
Trump understands the guy he thinks of as his great deregulator isn't 
very good at deregulating.
  Only time will tell how long Scott Pruitt can survive the mounting, 
swirling, ethical ordeals of his own making. We will also see how his 
industry friendly regulatory record fares under the scrutiny of honest 
courts. Something tells me I will be back here in the not-too-distant 
future with more to say about the troubled and disgraceful tenure of 
Scott Pruitt.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                           Family Separation

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, over the past few days, the issue of 
family separation has reached a fever pitch. All you have to do is look 
at the daily newspapers or cable television, and you know that is true. 
This is a crisis that has been brewing since the surge of young 
migrants across our border way back in 2014 and is just now reaching a 
new peak.
  I have said it before, and I will say it again: I find it ridiculous 
to suggest that members of my political party--the Republican Party--
somehow support the idea of separating families. No one wants families 
separated. No one wants to see families exploited. To suggest otherwise 
is to feed the frenzy that has been whipped up over the last few days.
  Lost in this frenzy is the reality that the only groups standing to 
truly benefit while America is divided are smugglers, drug cartels, and 
human traffickers. They know about the weaknesses and loopholes in our 
current immigration law, and they aren't afraid to use those weaknesses 
and loopholes. For these people, it is all about profit. Smugglers, 
drug cartels, and human traffickers don't care about human lives.
  In 2015 and 2016, I questioned the Obama administration's Department 
of Homeland Security after receiving reports that human trafficking was 
increasing, and some smugglers weren't being arrested even after 
smuggling people across the border dozens of times. The lack of 
consequences emboldened these smugglers.
  At that time, I also asked the Obama Department of Homeland Security 
about a dangerous tactic used by smugglers to pair kids with unrelated 
adults to create the appearance of a family unit. The word 
``appearance'' is key here.
  Knowing the legal loopholes better than most, these smugglers knew 
that our laws, like the Flores settlement agreement, prevented family 
detention.
  Flores vs. Reno effectively prohibits the government from maintaining 
custody of immigrant children even when they are with their families. 
Through this agreement, the government had sent the message that if you 
come alone, you will be detained, but if you come with a family, and as 
a family, you will likely be released. Understanding this, these smart 
smugglers knew they could sell this false freedom and build a cruel new 
business model.
  In 2015, I was horrified to learn that human smuggling rings were 
exploiting children and selling them to the highest bidder to get to 
the United States and avoid detention. That is right. Smugglers would 
use kids like pawns in an effort to help adults avoid detention when 
coming across the border. To truly help families, any solution we come 
up with must protect against this evil stunt by the smugglers.
  Department officials reported that kids were being kidnapped, or 
adopted, and then smuggled with their unrelated adult so-called 
``family member'' to the United States.
  U.S. Government officials work closely with foreign officials, trying 
to locate and safely return these kidnapped children to their mothers 
and fathers. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. For example, a 
woman paid a smuggling organization in Brazil $13,000 in fees to 
smuggle her to the United States. She flew from her home country of 
Brazil to Mexico, where she was paired with a minor child. She was then 
instructed to claim the child as her own upon arrival to the United 
States.
  After learning about this scam, ICE intervened, and the woman was 
removed. The child, however, was never found. She will never be 
reunited with her real family. She is likely separated from that real 
family forever. That is all because the flaws in our current 
immigration system permitted--and even encouraged--her to be 
trafficked.
  I heard just yesterday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has 
temporarily stopped referring cases for criminal prosecution, but that 
is exactly what the Obama administration did during their tenure. It is 
exactly why we are dealing with this terrible situation that separates 
children and families in the first place. Failure to refer cases for 
prosecution will only give a green light to these smugglers, once more 
putting at risk the very kids we are worried about protecting, and we 
ought to be worried about protecting them.
  This tactic of creating fake family units isn't new and isn't limited 
to just a one-time deal. Last week, Secretary Nielsen reported that 
this tactic is still being utilized. She stated:

       In the last five months, we've had a 314 percent increase 
     in adults and children arriving at the border, fraudulently 
     claiming to be a family unit. This is, obviously, of concern.

  These fake family units are often provided with fraudulent documents 
to support that the group is actually a family unit when we all know it 
is not a family unit. There is a whole industry that exists to create 
fake birth certificates and many other documents that show a familial 
relationship. As the tactic to create these fake family units has 
become more popular, the underground market has exploded. Smugglers are 
very smart, and many of them are masters of gaming our immigration 
system.
  Let me reiterate that the way the Flores vs. Reno agreement is 
currently applied, the government can't keep immigrant children even if 
they are with their parents. Flores discourages the Federal Government 
from keeping families together in Department of Homeland Security 
custody. If we remedy this situation, not only would we be able to keep 
families together, but we would also be telling the smugglers who 
profit from this that their days of making millions of dollars off the 
most vulnerable are over. The most vulnerable--the kids we are talking 
about--aren't getting the protection they ought to get when they are 
separated from their parents.
  To me, the answer to this problem appears to be very simple. We 
should repeal the Flores decision only as it applies to accompanied 
children so that the Department of Homeland Security

[[Page S4396]]

can keep families together in family residential centers. That is very 
simple, and that is very quick. That is why, last week, I worked hand 
in hand with Senator Tillis to produce a bill that would do just that.
  Senator Tillis's thoughtful bill, in addition to repealing parts of 
the Flores decision, would also allow more immigrant court judges to be 
hired and would provide for detained families to have their cases heard 
first.
  Senator Tillis's bill would immediately end this crisis and wouldn't 
return us to the failed catch-and-release policies that even the former 
Obama Department of Homeland Secretary, Jeh Johnson, has acknowledged 
are poor public policies.
  I hope my colleagues will join with Senator Tillis and this Senator 
to fix this problem. The American people are counting on it. Thousands 
of families are depending upon it.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                             A Living Wage

  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, we know Americans work harder and longer 
than ever before and have less and less to show for it. Hard work 
doesn't pay off the way it used to. Workers in Ohio have known that for 
a long time--that their paychecks don't stretch far enough. This month, 
the State's second largest newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch, reported 
on just how bad things are for far too many Ohioans.
  The Dispatch reported on a new study by the National Low Income 
Housing Coalition and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio 
that found--get this--that only 2 out of the 10 most common jobs in 
Ohio pay enough for one to be able to afford a modest two-bedroom 
apartment.
  Think about the number of people who work in fast-food restaurants. 
Think of the number of people who clean hotel rooms. Think of the 
number of people who are orderlies in big hospitals. Think of the 
number of people who do clerical work or who are bank tellers who 
simply don't make enough to live any kind of a lifestyle which, when 
they were kids, they expected to live.
  Look at it this way. Average renters in Ohio earn just over $13 an 
hour--$2 less than the $15.25 an hour they need to rent a basic two-
bedroom. Now, that is statewide, but in Columbus, which is the State's 
largest city, it is worse. You need to earn $17.50 per hour to rent a 
basic two-bedroom apartment.
  Policy Matters Ohio has also done great work in shining a light on 
working Ohioans. Its report this spring found that last year, 6 of the 
10 most common jobs in our State paid so little that workers would need 
food stamps to feed a family of 3. Six of the ten most common jobs in 
Ohio paid so little that workers would need food stamps if there were 
three in the household.
  Think of what this means. These are Ohioans who are doing everything 
we have asked. They hold down jobs. They get up every day. They go to 
work. They serve their communities. They are holding up their end of 
the bargain--the bargain we are supposed to have in this country. Yet 
the corporations they work for don't pay them what they are worth. It 
is not just the workers in these jobs who get hurt by this, it is 
obviously their families, and, interestingly, it is the taxpayers.
  Here is why: When corporations refuse to pay workers living wages, 
when they refuse them opportunities to save for retirement, when they 
refuse to provide decent healthcare, they create a drag on the economy. 
Do you know why? It is because taxpayers pick it up. Someone has to 
pick up the tab when corporations pay $9 and $10 and $11.
  I was at my high school reunion a couple of years ago. At dinner, I 
sat across the table--my wife and I did--from a woman who has worked 
for a bank, for a very well-known, huge national bank. She had worked 
there for 30 years as a teller, and she made $30,000 a year, after 30 
years, working as a teller.
  So what happens to people like her? The taxpayers end up helping to 
finance their, generally, barely adequate standards of living. I will 
get to that in a second.
  No one who works 40 hours should be forced onto food stamps or 
housing vouchers or Medicaid or other government aid just to stay 
afloat. American citizens--American taxpayers--shouldn't be forced to 
subsidize wages for megacorporations. Yet that is what is happening in 
Ohio, what is happening in Wisconsin, and what is happening around the 
country.
  If people are making $10 an hour, they are probably getting their 
insurance from Medicaid, which is paid for by taxpayers. They are 
probably getting the earned-income tax credit, which is a refundable 
tax credit that is provided by taxpayers. They are probably getting 
food stamps, which are provided by taxpayers--the SNAP benefit. They 
are probably getting housing vouchers. What this means is, because a 
company only pays $10 an hour, taxpayers have to provide the rest, so 
taxpayers are fundamentally subsidizing them.
  Think of these huge retail operations in this country. Think of these 
huge fast-food restaurants. Think of the executives for those 
corporations who are making $2 million, $5 million, $10 million a year. 
They are not paying their line workers anything close to their economic 
value. Do you know what happens then? It means taxpayers are 
subsidizing these huge companies with their exorbitant executive 
salaries.
  This month, the Dispatch talked with a home health aide who lives on 
the east side of Columbus. Her name is Karon Taylor. Ms. Taylor works 
hard to support her daughter and grandchildren. She only makes $11 an 
hour, which is well below the $17 I mentioned that you need in Columbus 
to be able to afford a family apartment. She relies on federally 
subsidized housing.
  She told the Dispatch:

       I know how to budget, and I can stretch $20 really far. 
     Wages--that's the problem.

  She works hard, and she does her part, but she needs help to make 
ends meet because companies refuse to pay workers like her a living 
wage. It doesn't have to be that way.
  Last year, as some in this body remember, I introduced a bill called 
the corporate freeloader fee. It works this way: If you are a huge 
corporation--I am not talking about a mom-and-pop restaurant, and I am 
not talking about a lawn care service with 10 employees or about one 
who is self-employed or about one with 30 employees or even 100 
employees; I am talking about large corporations, if you choose to pay 
your workers so little that they are disproportionately forced onto 
government assistance so that they are eligible for all of these 
programs--again, food stamps, Medicaid, the earned-income tax credit, 
subsidized housing--you need to reimburse American taxpayers.
  You are a huge corporation. Your executive vice presidents make $1 
million; the senior executive vice president makes $5 million; the CFO 
makes $7 million; the CEO makes $10 million. Yet you are paying your 
workers $10, $11, and $12 an hour, and they go onto government 
assistance. Do you know what? Instead of passing the Senate tax bill 
that gave all kinds of tax benefits to the rich--the bill that was 
negotiated down in the majority leader's office, where all of the 
special interest lobbyists scurried in and out when you turned the 
lights on--if we had passed the tax bill with my patriot employer tax 
credit, which I will talk about in a moment, and with the corporate 
freeloader fee, we would have seen a very different tax bill. We would 
have seen a tax bill that would have said to these companies: Pay your 
workers a little better, and you will get a little better of a tax 
break.
  If you are a huge corporation and you pay your workers so little that 
they are forced to go onto government assistance, you reimburse 
American taxpayers. That is the corporate freeloader fee. On the other 
hand, if you are a company like a whole lot of companies in my State 
and you pay good wages--if you pay $15 an hour or more--and offer good 
benefits and if you keep jobs in this country and production in this 
country, if you don't offshore your production to Mexico or China, then 
you get a tax cut. That is the patriot employer tax credit.

[[Page S4397]]

  Months and months ago, I spoke to the President of the United States 
in a discussion with about 10 Senators--in the Cabinet room--about 
these two ideas. The President said he liked the patriot employer tax 
credit, giving tax benefits to those who do the right thing. 
Apparently, he seemed to like the corporate freeloader fee also, 
punishing those corporations that don't do the right thing and making 
them simply pay a fee to the government for that. In the end, the 
President of the United States joined the majority leader and the 
Speaker of the House in writing a tax bill, whereby, 5 years from now, 
80 percent of the benefits in that tax bill will go to the richest 1 
percent of the people in the country.
  Imagine instead if that tax bill had actually been written like 
this--in a way that would have seen wages go up and the standard of 
living go up. Instead, the special interests went to work. Instead of 
tax reform that would have given companies real incentives to invest in 
workers, we got a tax cut that will lead to billions in stock buybacks 
that will benefit corporate executives.
  In that meeting at the White House, the President also said: Our tax 
bill is going to mean a $4,000 to $9,000 raise for the average American 
worker per year.
  I am like, really?
  Nothing even close to that has happened. Instead, what companies have 
done is they have taken their largesse that has been provided by 
middle-class and working-class taxpayers--the 80 percent of benefits 
going to the 1 percent wealthiest people in corporations--and they have 
done stock buybacks. They have increased their own executive 
compensation. Workers have gotten almost nothing. Workers have gotten 
squeezed on both ends, whereby paychecks haven't grown fast enough, 
corporations have paid poverty-level wages, and housing has gotten more 
expensive.
  Think of this. One-quarter of renters--one-quarter of the people who 
rent in my State, who are not much different than those who are 
anywhere else--pay half of their income in housing. There are 400,000 
renters in Ohio who pay half of their income or more in housing. Do you 
know what that means? It means, if the car breaks down, it means if a 
kid gets sick, it means if you miss work for 2 weeks for some reason, 
you are probably going to get evicted. It happens every day in every 
city, in every community, in every rural area in my State.
  We know we need to do more to preserve and grow our stock of 
affordable housing in this country. Instead, the administration is 
making it worse. It has proposed to hike rents by 20 percent for almost 
all Ohio families who receive housing assistance.
  In going back to Ms. Taylor in Columbus, OH, she is a home health 
aide. She still isn't paid enough. Average rents for Columbus families 
would go up by a projected 22 percent. Do you think her company is 
going to pay her 22 percent more or even 10 percent or 5 percent more? 
Her housing costs would go up because of a decision by Dr. Carson--
ratified by the White House--to cut that help, to reduce that help. 
Housing, healthcare, education, gas, and transportation are all getting 
more expensive. Workers wages aren't keeping up because corporations 
don't value workers.
  We know one solution to this problem--giving workers a voice in the 
workplace. A single worker can't take on a corporation. A single worker 
can't take on the CEO and can't take on the behemoth in the executive 
suite. That is why you need collective bargaining.
  Last September, 400 security officers in Columbus got raises--from as 
low as $9 an hour to a minimum of $12.45 an hour. They signed their 
first union contract with the Service Employees International Union, 
Local 1. That union card bought them a minimum $2.50 raise. That is 
still below what workers need, but it is progress. They joined 
together, and they demanded a unified voice in the companies they 
helped to build. It is not just unions. We need stronger workplace 
standards to make sure workers get the pay they earn.
  In Columbus, OH, 2 years ago, I stood with the Vice President of the 
United States and the Secretary of Labor, and we announced an overtime 
rule, wherein 130,000 Ohioans would get a pay increase or would work 
fewer hours for the same amount of money.
  Here is how it works: If you are the supervisor on the night shift at 
a fast-food restaurant and you are making $35,000 a year and your 
company--a fast-food restaurant, a big national company--decides to 
call you management, it can make you work 50 hours, 60 hours, 70 hours 
a week and pay you not a cent of overtime. So this updating of the 
Federal overtime rule that we did--that the Secretary of Labor did, 
with Vice President Biden and President Obama, 2 or 3 years ago or so--
said that 130,000 Ohioans would get paid time and a half for that 50th 
or 55th hour, instead of going straight salary just because the company 
classified no overtime.

  Unfortunately, the folks in the White House--the folks who promised 
to drain the swamp--have sided with the fast food restaurants and with 
the big employers, and they are trying to strip away that overtime rule 
so those workers will continue to have to work 50 or 60 hours and not 
get a dime for it, meaning less time for their children, less time with 
their families, less leisure time, less pay--all of that.
  So, fundamentally, whose side are these people on? They are always on 
the side of the wealthy. They are always on the side of the richest 
corporations. They are always on the side of the privileged. They are 
never on the side of people who fight, work, and struggle just to stay 
above water. At the same time, we need to go after corporations that 
misclassify their workers. They pretend they are independent 
contractors so they can avoid paying into Medicare and Social Security 
and paying their share of taxes and wages. From housing to wages to 
workers' rights, we need to change how we think about these issues.
  It is not multinational corporations that drive the economy. It is 
workers. Since 2010, since the auto rescue, every single month from 
2010 until this month at least, June 2018, we have had an increase in 
the number of net jobs created in this country--every month since 2010. 
Granted, the President's comments notwithstanding, the growth in jobs 
in 2017 was less than the 5 years before. We have had a slowly 
increasing economy where job growth isn't as big as we want and wage 
growth certainly isn't as big as we want, but we have seen it because 
in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, the government understood that you grow 
an economy from the middle up. You don't give tax cuts to the richest 
people saying it is going to trickle down. You give tax breaks and 
focus on growth in the economy in the middle level, so that workers 
making minimum wage get raises. As I said, it is not multinational 
corporations that drive the economy, it is workers making the minimum 
wage, workers paid in tips, workers on factory floors, workers behind 
desks, workers in hospital wards, in restaurant kitchens, and in 
classrooms, and workers on salary and workers punching the clock. It is 
about fighting for the little guy, whether she punches a clock or 
whether he works in an office; fighting for the little guy, whether she 
works construction or whether he works in manufacturing; fighting for 
the little guy, whether he sits behind a computer terminal or whether 
she is midlevel management in a fast food restaurant. You grow the 
economy from the middle class out.
  But if you don't value work, Americans can't earn their way to a 
better life for their family, no matter how hard they work. That is 
what people around here don't understand. I sat at this desk watching a 
very close vote last year where 49 of my colleagues--49 out of 100 
colleagues--all of whom have government-paid health insurance, stood on 
this floor and voted yes to taking away insurance from 900,000 people 
in my State, and in Wisconsin from 400,000 or 500,000 people. People 
who have government insurance paid for by taxpayers, who are U.S. 
Senators who have these jobs, who have these titles, who have this 
income and these benefits, were willing to take insurance away from 
millions of people, and hundreds of thousands of people in my State 
alone.
  Again, if work isn't valued, if my colleagues in this body don't 
understand the value of work--and they don't seem to, frankly, with the 
way so many of my colleagues vote--Americans can't earn their way to a 
better life for their families--again, no matter how hard they work.

[[Page S4398]]

  That is what we have to change. Until Wall Street, corporate 
boardrooms, and Members of the Senate respect a hard day's work, we 
will continue to see the consequences. The gap between Wall Street and 
Main Street will keep growing, it will be harder and harder for workers 
to afford housing and other expenses. Our middle class will continue to 
shrink, as it has, and our economic growth will continue to lag behind. 
We can work together to fix that.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. ROBERTS. 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. ROBERTS. For the information of our colleagues, the Senate will 
proceed to the bill tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., and the amendment 
process will begin.
  After Senator Stabenow and I offer the bipartisan substitute, the 
first amendment offered on this side will be the Thune amendment on the 
Conservation Reserve Program.
  There will be no further rollcall votes tonight.
  I yield to my distinguished colleague, the ranking member of the 
committee, Senator Stabenow.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I am pleased that we are moving forward 
and looking forward to the first amendment we will be voting on, 
Senator Thune's amendment, of which I am very supportive. I am looking 
forward to working with my colleagues as we move through the bill. 
Hopefully, we are on the road to getting this done this week.
  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. DAINES. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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