DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2019; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 140
(Senate - August 22, 2018)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages S5793-S5815]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 6157, which the clerk will 
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 6157) making appropriations for the Department 
     of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and 
     for other purposes.


       Shelby amendment No. 3695, in the nature of a substitute.
       McConnell (for Shelby) amendment No. 3699 (to amendment No. 
     3695), of a perfecting nature.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Thank you, Mr. President.
  It has been 11 years since a Labor, Health and Human Services, and 
Education appropriations bill has been considered on the Senate floor, 
so let me begin my remarks this morning by commending the chairman and 
ranking member of the full Appropriations Committee, Senators Shelby 
and Leahy, for their determination to report each and every one of the 
appropriations bills so they can be considered, fully debated, and 
amended in the regular order. I also commend the subcommittee chairman, 
Senator Blunt, and the ranking member, Senator Murray, for their 
leadership in creating a bipartisan bill.
  This bill will make critical investments in medical research, opioid 
abuse prevention and treatment, the education of our students, and 
strengthening America's workforce.
  I appreciate so much that the subcommittee accommodated so many of my 
priorities in crafting this bill. It has my very strong support. I am 
particularly pleased that the bill includes another $2 billion increase 
for the National Institutes of Health. Robust investments in biomedical 
research will pay dividends for many American families struggling with 
disease and disability, just as such research has enabled us to 
prevent, treat, or cure other serious illnesses.
  Notably, this year, for the first time, the bill reaches the 
milestone of providing at least $2 billion a year for Alzheimer's 
disease research--the amount that the advisory council to the National 
Plan to Combat Alzheimer's Disease has calculated is needed to find an 
effective treatment for this disease by the year 2025. Tomorrow, I will 
join Senator Blunt and others of my colleagues delivering separate 
remarks dedicated to this milestone achievement, but I did want to 
briefly highlight that investment now.

[[Page S5794]]

  As founder and the cochair of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, I am also 
pleased this bill continues to recognize the importance of investing in 
diabetes research. Since founding the caucus in 1997, funding for 
diabetes has increased more than sixfold, from $319 million in 1997 to 
$2 billion in 2018, and that is only appropriate. We know treating and 
caring for older people with diabetes consumes approximately one out of 
three Medicare dollars, so this is a very expensive disease as well as 
one that causes a great deal of heartache and damage to those who are 
diagnosed with type 2 diabetes later in life. I have also worked very 
hard with the Juvenile Research Diabetes Foundation on type 1 diabetes, 
which is usually diagnosed in childhood and is a lifelong disease. The 
investments we have made have helped us make real breakthroughs in 
diabetes treatment. The bill provides a $60 million increase for the 
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders at 
NIH. As the NIH's lead agency for diabetes research, this continued 
investment is critical to preventing diabetes, improving the lives of 
more than 30 million Americans, including 12 million seniors already 
living with the disease, as well as providing the foundation to 
ultimately discover a cure for type 1 diabetes.
  This bill provides $3.7 billion in the fight against the opioid 
epidemic that is gripping our country. Sadly, in my State of Maine, the 
crisis has actually worsened with drug-related overdoses claiming the 
lives of 407 people in Maine last year, according to the new statistics 
from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
  The crisis in Maine shows no signs of abating. Indeed, the 
contamination of heroin with fentanyl has made this crisis even worse, 
taking the lives of even more who are in the grips of addiction. While 
I am very hopeful the Senate will consider a comprehensive opioids 
package put together by the Senate HELP Committee, to which many of us 
contributed in the weeks ahead, it is imperative that the funds 
provided in this appropriations bill reach our communities without 
  This legislation also funds key priorities for vulnerable seniors, 
including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which I know 
is of interest to the Presiding Officer because he represents the State 
of Alaska, and that program is critical there, as it is in the State of 
Maine. It funds the State Health Insurance Program, Meals on Wheels, 
and other essential programs that make such a difference to our 
  As chair of the Senate Committee on Aging, I am particularly 
delighted that this bill provides a $300,000 increase to the 
administration for community living for the establishment of the family 
caregivers advisory council. This council was created by a bipartisan 
bill that I introduced with Senator Baldwin, the RAISE Family 
Caregivers Act, and it will help develop a coordinated strategic plan 
to leverage our resources, promote best practices, and expand services 
and training for our Nation's caregivers.
  I am sure everyone here has had the experience of a parent who is 
already older taking care of a disabled spouse--perhaps someone with 
Alzheimer's disease, which is 24/7 for that caregiver. Caregivers need 
more support and assistance. They need to know where to go. We need to 
expand respite care, which is the No. 1 concern I hear from caregivers. 
Respite care in rural areas is extremely difficult to find. The 
hearings we have held in the Aging Committee have also put a spotlight 
on the mobility challenges that many seniors face as they age, such as 
difficulty climbing steep staircases that can lead to devastating 
falls, performing routine household chores, taking care of themselves, 
or being able to drive. This bill provides a $4 million increase for 
the creation of a new aging and technology program to support the 
development of assisted technology for seniors with disabilities in 
rural areas. The University of Maine Center on Aging is doing such 
interesting work in this area after collaborating with assisted living 
facilities and talking directly to older Americans to find out what 
they need. Sometimes it is merely a matter of renovating a bathroom or 
putting up grab bars, installing sensors to make sure the refrigerator 
door is being opened regularly so you know the older American is eating 
properly. Sometimes it is more complicated than that. This center will 
help us explore how technology can allow more of our seniors to age in 
place and stay in the comfort, security, and privacy of their own 
homes, where many of them long to be.
  Maintaining access to care in rural areas is essential, and, thus, I 
also support the inclusion of $71.5 million for the Rural Health Care 
Services Outreach Grant Program. This bill also calls on the Federal 
Government to remove arbitrary barriers around collaboration between 
rural and nonrural health providers that could inadvertently close off 
opportunities. We have seen that happen in my State, where a community 
health center that is located in Bangor, ME, is trying to help a very 
rural community, Jackman, ME, which unfortunately recently lost its 
nursing home and was using the local hospital for assistance. We need 
to have more collaboration and not let arbitrary bureaucratic rules 
prevent that kind of cooperation. It is paramount that we do not 
discourage innovative approaches in healthcare.
  On a related note, I also applaud the inclusion of increased funding 
to support community health centers, which serve approximately 27 
million Americans, including upward of 186,000 individuals in the State 
of Maine. Community health centers will only continue to play a larger 
role in healthcare delivery as we seek to reduce overall healthcare 
costs, as well as provide greater access to behavioral health and 
substance use disorder prevention and treatment services.
  In addition to key health and aging priorities, this bill also 
supports essential programs at the Department of Education. Notably, 
this bill provides increased investments in title I, which helps our 
public schools serve low-income students. The student support in 
academic enrichment grants, which help to provide students with well-
rounded education, is an important program that brings art, music, and 
technology to our rural community schools. I also strongly support the 
increased investment in the Individuals with Disabilities Education 
Act, IDEA, which has provided opportunities to children with 
disabilities and helped many of them reach their full potential. Across 
the State of Maine, superintendents, principals, and teachers tell me 
that one of the most effective ways we can support education overall is 
to better fund the Federal share of IDEA. That would help every single 
school district.

  When IDEA became law in 1975, Congress set a goal of providing 40 
percent of the excess cost of serving students with disabilities. I 
regret to say, we are nowhere near reaching that goal, but this 
increase in funding for IDEA represents a step forward toward 
fulfilling that commitment, and I hope we can do more next year.
  This bill also funds teacher and school leader professional 
development, and the Rural Education Achievement Program, a law that I 
coauthored several years ago to bring additional resources to small and 
rural schools. Students in rural America should have the same access to 
Federal dollars and a good education as those living in urban and 
suburban communities. REAP has helped to provide equity for small rural 
schools in Maine and across the country. It has helped to support an 
array of activities, such as new technology in classrooms, distance 
learning opportunities, and professional development.
  Here is a great example. REAP funding has helped Maine's small island 
schools connect together to create an island reading program using 
video conference technology that this program made affordable. In other 
parts of Maine, REAP has helped schools acquire new technology 
hardware, software, and to expand teacher training.
  Having worked at a Maine college before I came to the Senate--Husson 
University--I know firsthand this bill's important investments in 
higher education, including Pell Grants and the TRIO Programs. The 
University of Maine is one of those institutions that has a great TRIO 
Program. It will help low-income and first-generation students access 
college education. TRIO often makes the difference in a student's 
ability to attend and complete a college education.
  Funding for apprenticeships and workforce development programs are

[[Page S5795]]

also key priorities that will strengthen Maine's workforce, preparing 
people with the skills and experience they need to succeed.
  I could go on and on, but there are many others seeking recognition. 
Let me just end by urging my colleagues to support the fiscal year 2019 
Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill. It 
is good and much needed legislation.
  Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, before I talk about what I came here to 
talk about, let me add my congratulations once again to the vice 
chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy, and to Senator 
Collins, both of whom are critical members of the Appropriations 
Committee. They have gotten us much further than we have gotten in the 
last 15 years when it comes to the appropriations process.
  I am optimistic that we will be able to wrap this up tomorrow. If we 
do, the Senate will have voted to fund 87 percent of discretionary 
spending. The last time we sent him an appropriations bill, the 
President told us: Don't send me another omnibus. He is exactly right. 
Omnibus appropriations bills are the worst way to do business; maybe 
close behind that is a continuing resolution.
  We are not doing our job if we don't act in a bipartisan way to move 
these appropriations bills forward, especially since we have agreed to 
the spending caps.
  I would just congratulate all the members of the Appropriations 
Committee--Chairman Shelby and all of the committee--for their good 

                          Army Futures Command

  Mr. President, tomorrow I will be heading back home to Austin where, 
on Friday, I will be attending the activation ceremony for the new Army 
Futures Command. The establishment of this command, which began 
operations last month, is the most significant Army reorganization 
since 1973. Its new headquarters is in the capital of Texas--Austin. It 
will make that the epicenter of Army technology development.
  So what does the Army Futures Command do? How does it fit into the 
existing organizational structure? Why is it necessary?
  Let's start with what it does. It seeks to modernize the Army, 
period. It will do this by leveraging commercial innovation, science 
and technology, and delivering them to warfighters in useful, cutting-
edge ways. In a world with rapidly evolving threats distinct from 
others we have faced throughout our Nation's history, the Futures 
Command could not come at a more pivotal time.
  The Army chose Austin because it wanted to be close to a hub of 
innovation, which Austin certainly is these days. It has roughly 6,500 
high-tech companies nestled among what is affectionately referred to as 
``Silicon Hills.'' We have Silicon Valley and Silicon Hills.
  There are major academic institutions nearby, like the University of 
Texas in Austin, St. Edward's, Texas State, and Texas A&M, with 
thousands of students graduating each year with degrees in STEM 
fields--science, technology, engineering, and math.
  It is also worth noting that Austin has become a hub for startup 
culture and is ground zero when it comes to useful talent, 
technological ingenuity, and path-breaking ideas that are changing 
industries, institutions, and what our normal ways of doing things were 
in the past. What sometimes people refer to as ``disruption''--
certainly, we have seen that.
  But Austin, let's not forget, is also a military city. We know Camp 
Mabry is there, the headquarters of the Texas Army and Air National 
Guards, and the Texas State Guard. Not far away is the ``Great Place'' 
called Fort Hood, as well as Joint Base San Antonio to the south.
  Those military installations will now be joined by the Army Futures 
Command in Austin, giving the bustling, live music capital of the world 
an entirely new brand and reason for attention. If San Antonio, my home 
town, is ``Military City, USA,'' you might call Austin ``Military 
Innovation City, USA.''
  You might be wondering how the Army Futures Command fits into the 
existing organizational designs of our military. In short, it 
complements the Army's three other four-star headquarters: the Forces 
Command, Training and Doctrine Command, and Army Materiel Command.
  The first of those trains and prepares combat-ready soldiers. The 
second is essentially the Army's architect. It recruits, designs, and 
builds the Army. And the third sustains the Army by providing the 
necessary equipment.
  Now the new fourth command will modernize the Army by integrating 
technology as it is developed in research labs and other facilities. 
When staffed at full capacity, the Austin headquarters will be home to 
100 soldiers and 400 Department of the Army civilians. That is just a 
  Leading them will be GEN John Murray, who was nominated and confirmed 
just 2 nights ago to be the commanding general of the Futures Command. 
My friend and our colleague, Senator Cruz, said it well. He said: 
``Just as Austin is uniquely positioned to ensure the Army succeeds in 
this new mission, General Murray's long career and dedicated service in 
uniform makes him the right leader for Army Futures Command.'' I agree 
  General Murray and others will help create cross-functional teams 
designed to focus on specific things that the Army wants to build or 
improve--for example, next-generation combat vehicles, soldier 
lethality, or cloud and network capabilities.
  The next question I want to answer is, Why is it necessary? I think 
the only answer is because our country's future military readiness 
depends on it. That is why it is necessary. Our ultimate goal here is 
to increase the Army's lethality against near-peer competitors in the 
global conflicts that could arise at some point down the road.
  So the Army Futures Command is really the hub of modernization 
efforts for the Army. It takes new concepts from the realm of the 
abstract, and it puts them to use concretely in the form of real-world 
technology that the Army can acquire for its own purposes. Then it 
helps the warfighters implement and use these new tools in the field.
  There is a rough consensus in Congress that the Army's acquisition 
machinery needs to operate faster and more efficiently--certainly, more 
cost effectively. It is my hope that the many entrepreneurs, the 
college graduates, and the military reservists collaborating with the 
Army Futures Command in Austin will provide innovative ideas to help 
remedy these problems. The Futures Command could reduce redtape, making 
it easier to make decisions or changes quickly, particularly ones 
involving the purchase or upgrade of equipment and systems.
  In a world still marred by conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, 
strained by escalating cyber security threats, and threatened by the 
increased belligerence of China and Russia, the U.S. military must keep 
pace with evolving technologies in order to maintain our strategic 
advantage and to maintain the peace.
  Modernization is the key to deterring aggression, promoting peace, 
and projecting American strength around the globe. Secretary of Defense 
Mattis has made it clear that this ranks among his top priorities.
  In closing, let me say that the Army Futures Command is aptly named. 
When it comes to our national defense, we should always be looking 
toward the future. It is incredible to think that starting in just 
under 3 weeks, young people born in the aftermath of 9/11 will be 
eligible to enlist in the Army with their parents' consent. That is an 
amazing statistic. That tells you something about the rapid pace of 
modern life and some of the transitions that are occurring right before 
our eyes.
  These young people born right after the terrible events of 9/11 have 
grown up in a world that sees new forms of conflict, as well as 
terrorism, the likes of which the Founders of this great Nation could 
never have imagined. It is imperative, as brave men and women continue 
to answer the call to service, even in such harrowing times as ours, 
that we do our part to give them the tools they need to be successful. 
The Army's Futures Command, therefore, is most definitely a step in the 
right direction.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.

[[Page S5796]]


  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Texas for his 
remarks. I do appreciate the encouragement he has given both Senator 
Shelby and me in getting the appropriations bills through. He has been 
here long enough. He knows this is the way the Senate should work. We 
have done it in a bipartisan way, and we are way ahead of where we have 
been at any time in the past 2 years.
  I also want to applaud the senior Senator from Maine. She sits on the 
Appropriations Committee. We have served together there throughout our 
careers, and she is a valuable member of that committee. She is one who 
has helped put together, with her Democratic counterpart, good 
legislation that is included. In fact, there was nearly a unanimous 
vote in the Appropriations Committee. Most of this has been either 
unanimous or virtually unanimous. I say that because some have felt 
that, in the Senate lately, you could not get a majority vote even to 
say the Sun rises in the East. But here we have been doing majority 
votes on things that involve everywhere from Alaska to Vermont. I am 
pleased with it.

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mr. President, I take the floor in my role as vice chairman of 
Appropriations in managing this bill, but I am going to digress, as 
others have, for a few minutes and speak about something else.
  We are now less than 2 weeks away from Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation 
hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. We are 2 weeks away, and 
according to the National Archives, the committee has received only 6 
percent of his total White House records. This is virtually 
unprecedented--6 percent of his records and not a single one of the 
records we have received has been provided by the National Archives. 
That is because the Archives will not complete its review of the 
limited number of records requested by Chairman Grassley until October, 
which is a month after the majority leader intends to hold a final vote 
on Judge Kavanaugh.

  Actually, to date, every single record that we have received from the 
Judiciary Committee has been hand selected by a political lawyer 
representing President George W. Bush. He is a partisan lawyer who 
reported directly to Judge Kavanaugh in the Bush White House, a lawyer 
who also represents White House Counsel Don McGahn, Steve Bannon, and 
Reince Priebus in the Russia investigation. I mention this because he 
has been very selective in the very few things we have been allowed to 
  I mention this because this is in stark contrast to past precedent. 
Let me talk about the vetting of Justice Kagan, who, like Judge 
Kavanaugh, had served in the White House prior to her nomination. I was 
chairman of the Judiciary Committee at that time. I worked hand in hand 
with then-Ranking Member Jeff Sessions to ensure that we received every 
document of interest to the committee. Certainly, on behalf of the 
Republicans, Senator Sessions demanded an awful lot of records, and I 
worked with him to get them. In fact, when we were 12 days away from 
Justice Kagan's hearing, we had already received a full 99 percent of 
her White House records--99 percent.
  I mention that because now, at the same time with Judge Kavanaugh, we 
are at 6 percent. The Republicans have allowed 6 percent, and the 
Democrats allowed 99 percent. Does this make the confirmation hearing a 
partisan joke?
  In fact, every single one of Justice Kagan's records was provided by 
the nonpartisan National Archives. The 6 percent of Judge Kavanaugh's 
records has been provided by a political, partisan, hyperconflicted 
attorney. I mean that just on the face of it, it does not pass the 
giggle test. The Democrats provided from the nonpartisan National 
Archives 99 percent of Justice Kagan's records. Here we are getting 
only 6 percent of Judge Kavanaugh's records, and they have been picked 
by a political, partisan attorney with hyperconflicts.
  The superficial vetting of Judge Kavanaugh is all the more troubling 
because there are still serious concerns about the last time he 
testified before the Senate. During his 2006 nomination hearing for the 
DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Kavanaugh minimized his work on 
highly controversial issues in the Bush White House, including on 
detainee treatment and warrantless wiretapping. It is now clear that we 
will only know the full truth if we get his full record. With anything 
less, we will be, simply, rushing to a verdict before the trial.
  Based on the very limited documents they have allowed us to see, 
there is an additional reason to be concerned. The committee has 
received new evidence that sheds light on whether Judge Kavanaugh was 
truthful while under oath in 2006. Unfortunately, I cannot even 
describe these documents because they have kept them in a classified or 
confidential forum, and the American people cannot see them. That is 
because nearly two-thirds of the documents the Judiciary Committee has 
received have been designated as ``committee confidential'' by Chairman 
Grassley, following the request of the partisan attorney on whom the 
Senate is relying to do the job of the nonpartisan National Archives. 
To date, that means that two percent of Judge Kavanaugh's White House 
records have been made available to the American people--2 percent--
compared to 99 percent for Justice Kagan, and they have selected what 
that 2 percent is. Golly, what is in the other 98 percent they don't 
want us to see?
  I have served in this body for 44 years. I have been here for every 
Supreme Court nomination since John Paul Stevens. I have voted for a 
lot of Republicans and Democrats on the Supreme Court. For 20 years, I 
served as the chairman or as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee. In those 44 years, I can tell you, frankly, that the vetting 
of Judge Kavanaugh has been the most incomplete, most partisan, and 
least transparent of any Supreme Court nominee I have ever seen of 
either a Democratic or a Republican President. It has not been even 
close. I have taken the experience I have had here with Democrats and 
Republicans as President. In 44 years, I have never seen such 
incomplete, partisan, or nontransparent vetting.
  Yesterday, I met with Judge Kavanaugh--a very pleasant man. I had the 
opportunity to ask him about many issues, including about his work in 
the Bush White House. Following our meeting, I believe even more 
strongly that the documents he authored or contributed to during his 3 
years as White House Staff Secretary should be released and made public 
now. What he wrote is far more important than what his personality 
might be. Let's find out what he wrote. That will tell us what kind of 
a Supreme Court Justice he would be apt to be.
  A vigilant review of the Supreme Court nominee's full record isn't an 
optional matter. It shouldn't be dependent upon which party controls 
the White House or the Senate. Again, in 44 years, I have seen very 
vigilant reviews of Supreme Court nominees by both Republicans and 
Democrats. That is the way it should be, and I have agreed with that 
every single time. Yet never, never have I seen something like this. 
Never, never have I seen one's record hidden the way this one has been. 
It is undeniable that documents of clear public interest are being 
hidden from the American people--documents that will shed light on both 
his views and on his fitness to serve on our Nation's highest Court.
  Wearing blinders in this moment is fundamentally incompatible with 
our constitutional obligation to provide advice and informed consent. 
The Senate is supposed to be the conscience of the Nation. It is a sad 
  The Federal judiciary stands alone. Unlike in any other branch of our 
government, the Justices, for good reason, never face the scrutiny of 
the electorate. Once a Supreme Court Justice is confirmed, he or she 
will serve for life. Barring impeachment, which has happened just once 
in our Nation's history, they essentially serve with no oversight.
  The Senate has no second chance when it comes to vetting a nominee. 
We have to get this right. We can't have a vote now and 2 months from 
now get the records and say: Oh, golly gee, if we had known this, we 
would have voted differently.
  We have to have all of the records now and then vote. There is time 
to do so. The Senate should not be focused on getting Judge Kavanaugh 
confirmed by October 1--some artificial deadline. Instead, the Senate 
should be focused

[[Page S5797]]

on doing its job. That requires allowing the National Archives to 
complete its review of Judge Kavanaugh's record as required by the 
Presidential Records Act.
  At a time when the President is facing unprecedented legal jeopardy, 
it would be an extraordinary disservice to the American people to break 
all precedence and confirm his selection to the Supreme Court without 
there being an actual review.
  Have the review. Then, every Senator--he or she--can make up his mind 
on how he is going to vote. Don't vote blindly without having all of 
the material. The fact that Judge Kavanaugh has a longer record than 
prior Supreme Court nominees--something the President was keenly aware 
of when he selected him--does not excuse the Senate from doing its job, 
because, if confirmed, he is going to shape the lives of all Americans 
for generations to come.
  If, when the National Archives completes its review in October we 
learn that we did not get it right, it will fall squarely on the 
shoulders of this body. If the Senators rush this and find out later 
that there was material there they should have seen, they will have 
absolutely no excuse whatsoever because they will have concurred in the 
rushing. We should set this partisan vetting aside. We should work 
together, as we have in the past, to actually vet Judge Kavanaugh's 
record in a way that honors our constitutional obligation--the job the 
American people sent us here to do.
  I feel honored to be here as a U.S. Senator from the State of 
Vermont. I do strongly believe, as I did when I first came here, that 
this body can be the conscience of the Nation. We aren't following our 
conscience if we don't do the real work to find out what we are voting 
on. We have voted on a lot of things. Some have been routine. This is 
not. This is to vote for a person who will serve on the U.S. Supreme 
Court long after most of us will have left this body. We owe it to all 
Americans--I don't care what their politics are or where they are 
from--to get it right. That is what our oath calls for. That is why we 
are here.
  I have voted more than all but three or four people in the history of 
this country. Every time I vote, I am hoping I am doing it right, and I 
try to do it in an informed way.
  I know we are going to go back now to the appropriations bills, but 
here is a case in which I think we have done things right. Senator 
Shelby is the chairman, and I am the vice chairman. It is one of only 
three committees that has a vice chairman. We have worked very closely 
together, and we have done it in a way to get bills through in a 
bipartisan fashion. We actually work the way the Senate did when I 
first came here, which is the way the Senate has worked under great 
leaders on the Democratic side, like Mike Mansfield, or on the 
Republican side, like Howard Baker, and we have gotten things done.
  I am proud of the Appropriations Committee, but I am concerned about 
the Judiciary Committee. I have had the privilege of serving on it for 
over 40 years and have had the privilege of being chairman and ranking 
member. Yet I have to say that it is not doing its job if it is not 
requiring all of the material to be here. On the Appropriations 
Committee, Senator Shelby and I work to make sure that everybody is 
heard and everybody has the material. We should be doing the same thing 
on the Judiciary Committee.
  I see the chairman of the committee is on the floor, and I have 
spoken on the matter on which I wanted to speak.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, Senator Boozman is here and is scheduled 
to speak before me. So I yield the floor to him and will speak after he 
is done.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.
  Mr. BOOZMAN. Mr. President, I yield to the Senator from Connecticut.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.

             Unanimous Consent Request--Amendment No. 3793

  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, included in the underlying appropriations 
bill are funds to continue the U.S. support for the Saudi-led bombing 
campaign inside Yemen. I will speak about an amendment I have that 
would stop the U.S. support for this campaign pending a determination 
by the administration that we are in compliance with U.S., 
international, and humanitarian law regarding the targeting of 
  At this point, I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending 
amendment and call up amendment No. 3793.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
  Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I just say that the Senator from 
Connecticut has a worthy amendment. We are all concerned about what is 
going on in Yemen. I would have hoped that we would not do it on this 
bill because we are trying to keep out a lot of riders and things, but 
this is something we are going to have to address.
  I and others on both sides of the aisle would like to work with him 
because what has been going on in Yemen is atrocious. I object, though, 
at this point in time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
  The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, of course, I am disappointed by the 
chairman's objection, but I take his commitment to work on this issue 
to heart, and I look forward to doing that.
  I would like to speak for a moment about the amendment and the reason 
I was very hopeful, and remain hopeful, that we may get the chance to 
vote on this before the consideration of this bill is passed because in 
this legislation is substantial funding in order to perpetuate a 
bombing campaign inside Yemen that is making this country less safe. I 
argue that since this bill was debated in the Appropriations Committee, 
some horrifying, new information has come to light that should cause us 
to reconsider whether this is something that is so urgent, we need to 
deal with it now, this week, that it can't wait.
  Unfortunately, these pictures are a dime a dozen. You could find any 
number of them every single day coming out of this theater. This 
picture, in particular, is of a community center that was bombed by the 
Saudi and UAE-led coalition that the United States finances and 
  Inside this community center, a funeral was occurring when it was 
ostensibly targeted and bombed by the United States, the Saudis, and 
the UAE. This is a horrifying scene, in and of itself, but to know a 
funeral was occurring there makes it even worse.
  What we now know is, the targeting of civilians inside Yemen is 
getting worse, not better. The new information I spoke of is something 
that I think is on the minds of many of my colleagues. That new 
information is that last week, the Saudi-U.S. coalition hit a schoolbus 
in northern Yemen intentionally. The Saudi's initial reaction was that 
it was a legitimate military target. There is no way a schoolbus is a 
legitimate military target. That schoolbus was carrying dozens of 
children, dozens of children who are now dead because of a 500-pound 
bomb made in the United States and sold to the coalition.
  Over the course of this year, the targeting inside Yemen has gotten 
more and more catastrophic.
  On June 11, a Doctors Without Borders cholera treatment facility, 
located in the center of a humanitarian compound, with no military 
value, was hit. There is no way this is a mistake. Everyone knew about 
this humanitarian compound with a cholera treatment facility inside of 
it, and the Saudi coalition bombed it anyway. There is no way that is a 
mistake. There is no way that is a military target. That is an 
intentional bombing of a cholera treatment facility.
  Two weeks later, on July 24, a UNICEF water treatment facility was 
hit. I will talk a little bit about the cholera epidemic in Yemen in a 
moment, but the reason there is a cholera epidemic, the biggest in 
recorded history, is because of these water treatment facilities that 
are being taken down by the Saudi-led coalition--another one hit on the 
  On July 28, a water main supply for Yemen's most important port city 
was hit, and then on August 9, as I mentioned, there was the schoolbus 
full of children--kids 6 years old to 11 years old. Forty-four children 
died, and many

[[Page S5798]]

more were left without arms, legs, or had other injuries.
  There was a video and photos of the wreckage. The coalition initially 
denied there were any children on the bus, and they still claim it was 
a legitimate military target.
  The United States is a key player in this bombing campaign. The 
United States has personnel who sit in the targeting center when 
decisions are made as to what sites on the ground will be bombed. The 
United States pays to put planes in the air to refuel the fighter jets 
flown by the Saudis and the Emirates, and the United States sells the 
coalition the bombs that are used.
  In fact, in this Congress, we have authorized, have taken votes on 
several sales of precision-guided missiles. We sell them PGMs because 
we believe they will make fewer mistakes. That probably is right. They 
are probably making fewer mistakes with the PGMs. The problem is, their 
targets are schoolbuses, funerals, water treatment facilities, and 
water mains. They can more effectively hit their civilian targets with 
the bombs we are selling.
  My amendment, which was objected to, would simply say we should not 
continue to fund this bombing campaign until we have a certification 
from the administration that the campaign comports with international 
and U.S. humanitarian laws, humanitarian laws that the United States 
has signed on to.
  These laws effectively say, bombing campaigns such as this need to be 
proportional to the threat, but, most importantly, they need to refrain 
from targeting civilian populations.

  At some point, we need to believe our eyes rather than the reports we 
get from the administration that the targeting is getting better and 
that without the United States in these targeting centers, without the 
PGMs, and without the refueling missions, the targeting would be worse; 
that the civilian casualties would be worse.
  It is hard to imagine it being any worse than it is today. It is hard 
to imagine anything worse than schoolbuses and water treatment 
facilities and cholera treatment centers being targeted by this 
coalition. At some point, we have to believe what we are seeing rather 
than what we are being told by the administration.
  There has been a 37-percent increase in civilian casualties from 
airstrikes in 2018 compared to 2017. Seventy percent of the civilian 
deaths inside Yemen are caused by these coalition airstrikes.
  I can spend time talking to you about the atrocities the Houthis, who 
are on the other side of this civil war, have committed, but the fact 
is, the majority of the civilian casualties are caused by the side we 
are supporting--that we are supporting.
  Lastly, let me make the case to you that even if you don't buy the 
unconscionable nature of targeting civilians with U.S. support, this 
bombing campaign is making the United States less safe every single 
day. What we know is, AQAP is the most lethal arm of al-Qaida. It has 
the greatest capacity to hit the American homeland. It has gotten 
nothing but stronger inside of Yemen since this civil war started. 
There are new reports that our coalition partners, the Saudis and UAE, 
have been cutting secret deals with these terrorist organizations. They 
are not killing or defeating them, but they are just cutting deals with 
them to push them out of the way.
  There are new reports that the UAE is aligning itself with radical 
Salafi militias inside Yemen. They are maybe not groups that are 
technically labeled ``ISIS'' or ``AQAP,'' but they are groups that 
essentially trade fighters back and forth with these groups that are 
aligned with the UAE, aligned with the Saudi coalition on the ground. 
The very people who want to kill us are getting stronger every single 
day inside Yemen--every single day that this war goes on.
  We have been told by the Saudis and the UAE that if we just keep on 
backing their play here, eventually, there will be a political 
settlement. We are getting further and further away from a political 
settlement every single day.
  They are going after Hodeidah now, the humanitarian port. Let me tell 
you, the Houthis are going to fight to the end to protect Hodeidah, 
never mind if there is an eventual assault on Sanaa. So the campaign is 
not expediting a political end; it is simply prolonging the misery and 
giving more opportunity for our mortal enemies there, those terrorist 
groups, to get stronger and stronger.
  Lastly, the rationale we are given is that we have an interest here 
because the Iranians are backing the Houthis. There is no doubt--no 
doubt--that the Iranians are backing the Houthis. There is no doubt we 
have an interest in trying to push back against growing Iranian 
influence in the region, but every single day we participate in this 
campaign, the Iranians go in harder, the Iranians go in stronger.
  The military campaign, which postpones the political settlement, is 
just making the Iranian presence in Yemen worse. They now have more 
advanced weapons than ever before inside Yemen, including short-range 
ballistic missiles, because they are readying to defend Hodeidah, and 
they are readying to defend Sanaa.
  Just remember that when things like this happen, it is not that the 
Yemenis who survive blame the Saudis or the Emirates; they blame the 
United States. The world blames the United States. We are radicalizing 
a generation of Yemeni children against us, and that will have 
implications for U.S. national security for years to come.
  Twenty-two million people inside Yemen today require humanitarian 
assistance. Seventy-five percent of the country cannot live without 
humanitarian assistance. Eight million people are on the brink of 
starvation, meaning they get one meal a day--one meal a day--and 1 
million have been affected by cholera.
  By the way, according to the WHO, we are on the brink of the third 
cholera outbreak in that country in the last year and a half because we 
continue to bomb water treatment facilities.
  The bombing, the humanitarian catastrophe, it just shouldn't be on 
our conscience as a nation to be part of this, but it is making our 
country less safe every single day. Every single day that we continue 
this unchecked, unconditional support for this Saudi-led bombing 
campaign, we are making Iran stronger in the region, we are postponing 
a political settlement, and we are radicalizing Yemenis against us, 
driving them to AQAP, driving them into ISIS.
  I am going to continue to try to convince my colleagues to allow us 
to take a vote on this amendment. Again, I just reiterate what this 
amendment says. It actually doesn't cut off support for this campaign. 
If I were King, I would cut off American support for this bombing 
campaign--I would--but I understand that is not where all of my 
colleagues are, so I am offering an amendment to simply say we should 
require the administration to certify that civilians aren't 
intentionally getting targeted, in contravention of U.S. law, before we 
continue to support this funding.
  I truly think that if we took a vote on this, we would get the 
majority of the body to support the idea that a certification that 
civilians are not being targeted is a worthwhile precondition to 
continuing funding for this brutal military campaign.
  I will continue to press this. I appreciate the support I have gotten 
from many Republicans. A growing number of Republicans are supporting 
the idea that as the facts change, we need to change our approach.
  Before I wrap up, I will finally note that we had come together on an 
amendment to the authorization bill that we thought moved the ball 
forward. In the authorization bill, we actually did require that the 
administration make some of these basic certifications before 
continuing to fund the refueling missions.
  In the President's signing statement, he effectively told us he would 
ignore that section of the authorization bill because he did not think 
it was in the authorizing power of the U.S. Congress to put those 
conditions on the refueling missions. I disagree. I think that is 
clearly within our authorizing power, but there is no way the President 
or the administration can object to conditions on appropriations 
because appropriations are unequivocally in the power of the U.S. 
  Given the fact that we all came together on these conditions under 
the leadership of Senator Reed, Senator Corker, and Senator Shaheen, 
amongst others, this is simply reiterating what we did in the 

[[Page S5799]]

bill--in the appropriating bill--to make sure we are doing our due 
diligence as the U.S. Congress to make sure this kind of horror isn't 
undertaken unnecessarily with U.S. funds.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). The Senator from Arkansas.

                      Purple Heart Recognition Day

  Mr. BOOZMAN. Madam President, I rise to pay tribute to our Nation's 
Purple Heart recipients. The Purple Heart is one of the most 
recognizable medals of our Armed Forces.
  The military decoration, a heart-shaped medal featuring a bust of 
George Washington and his coat of arms, is bestowed upon the men and 
women in our military who are wounded or killed in action. This is a 
powerful symbol of the sacrifice made by our Nation's military 
  This month, we recognized Purple Heart Day, which is observed 
annually on August 7. This day commemorates the anniversary of the 
Badge for Military Merit, the precursor to the Purple Heart created by 
George Washington. Purple Heart Day recognizes those men and women who 
have borne the ruins of battle, and paying tribute to the recipients of 
our Nation's oldest military medal demonstrates our respect and 
gratitude for their sacrifices.

  I have also been working on new ways to honor and acknowledge the men 
and women who put themselves in harm's way in the defense of our 
Nation. In July, Senator Schatz and I introduced the Purple Heart and 
Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018 to expand commissary 
eligibility to Purple Heart recipients and other deserving groups of 
veterans. I am pleased that the recently passed National Defense 
Authorization Act included this language that opens access to Purple 
Heart recipients.
  Additionally, last year Congress passed the Forever GI bill. At the 
beginning of August, several provisions took effect, including the 
eligibility for post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients to receive full 
education benefits for up to 3 years.
  An estimated 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded in our 
Nation's history, and it is symbolic of the price our men and women who 
serve in uniform are willing to pay and the debt of gratitude we owe 
them for their selfless service. The story of these heroes who earned 
this military honor continue to inspire us all.
  Purple Heart Day honors the sacrifice of Aaron Mankin. Aaron joined 
the Marine Corps in 2003. In May of 2005, while deployed in Iraq as a 
combat correspondent, he survived an IED attack near the Syrian border. 
He sustained intense burns and major lung damage. The injury to his 
lungs was so extensive that he was placed on a ventilator. He had 
third-degree burns on his arms and lost his thumb and two-thirds of the 
index finger on his right hand. To date, he has endured nearly 70 
  During a ceremony by the Military Order of the Purple Heart in 
Fayetteville, AR, earlier this month, Aaron spoke about the medal's 
significance to him. He said that his Purple Heart medal reminds him 
that we have those among us who are willing to shed their blood, their 
sweat, and their families' tears to protect the values and ideals we 
hold most dear. He told attendees: ``It is up to us to ensure that we 
are living lives worthy of such a sacrifice.''
  Aaron has faced many challenges, but his contagious enthusiasm for 
life has opened many doors, including selection to serve in the Wounded 
Warrior Congressional Fellowship Program. Seeing how he has fought 
through this tremendous adversity continues to inspire me. It is 
important to recognize and not forget the sacrifice of Aaron and his 
brothers- and sisters-in-arms defending our way of life.
  There are patriots like Air Force TSgt John Chapman, who gave his 
life in defense of this country while bravely fighting against al-
Qaida. Sergeant Chapman exemplified the Air Force's core values of 
integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do, 
during his heroic efforts against the enemy in Afghanistan on March 4, 
2002. He continued his defense against the enemy, saving the lives of 
American rescue team members, despite his own grave injuries. Today, 
President Trump will celebrate this American hero by posthumously 
awarding him with the Medal of Honor.
  We owe all of the men and women killed or wounded in combat our 
heartfelt gratitude for their selfless sacrifice. Although they often 
are not seeking out recognition, awards, honors, or things of that 
nature, they certainly deserve nothing less than our public and our 
private displays of appreciation. The Purple Heart symbolizes their 
patriotism, dedication, and commitment in defense of a grateful nation. 
It is a fitting tribute to those whose own hearts overflow with a 
fierce love for their country and who are willing to defend it with 
their lives.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.

      Land and Water Conservation Fund--Unanimous Consent Request

  Mr. BURR. Madam President, I rise today to talk about the Land and 
Water Conservation Fund.
  Today we have only 39 days until September 30, which is the 
expiration of the current authorization for the Land and Water 
Conservation Fund. I am committed more than ever to getting LWCF 
reauthorized or the authorization across the finish line. I have been 
waiting to get a vote for the entire 115th Congress. I have been told 
to wait, and I was patient for a while. The last time I was on the 
floor, I offered it as an amendment to the last appropriations bill, 
knowing that it was not germane but knowing that the issue needed to be 
brought to the forefront of the U.S. Senate because it is at the 
forefront of the American people. I will reiterate again that I can't 
wait any longer.
  In 2015, it took the expiration of the Land and Water Conservation 
Fund before Congress got serious about reauthorizing the program and 
allowing these vital conservation efforts to continue. I am putting 
this body on notice once again: I will not allow it to expire again.
  Several pieces of legislation have come before this body over the 
previous months, and yet again I am being told by my colleagues--many 
of whom profess, by the way, to be supportive of this legislation--that 
we should wait just a little bit longer, that I can't even receive a 
vote on the matter until then. I have offered my colleagues a very 
simple proposition: Give me one vote on reauthorizing the Land and 
Water Conservation Fund at a 60-vote threshold. I am not asking for us 
to forgo the requirements for a 60-vote threshold.
  I have asked for an amendment for months on any legislation coming 
through the Senate, and I am being repeatedly told no. So I am here 
offering a somewhat different solution. The bill that I will ask 
unanimous consent on shortly is different in that the language hasn't 
been offered as a standalone bill, but it is actually language that has 
been passed by the U.S. Senate--this Chamber--by a vote of 85 to 12. It 
is a bipartisan bill--or it is bipartisan language that was part of the 
energy package that Chairman Murkowski negotiated with the ranking 
member, and it includes reforms that both sides would like to see.
  There is one change that I am offering today; that is, the ability 
for LWCF to be reviewed every 3 years for all future Congresses, if 
they believe it is warranted. It does so by including a joint 
resolution of disapproval every 3 years in perpetuity, meaning an 
individual from this body can come to the floor and, with the 
appropriate votes for disapproval, can eliminate the automatic 
  This is a permanent authorization of LWCF, but every 3 years, the 
Senate as a body can vote to disapprove the automatic reauthorization, 
and, in fact, they would essentially bring an end to the program. The 
provision gives Congress a chance to take another look at the program 
every couple of years, which seems to be in line with a number of what 
my colleagues currently want, given the short-period options that I 
have been offered in the past few years.
  Let me talk about the reason this is permanent, because when LWCF was 
created in the 1960s, its original authorization was for 25 years, and 
when it came up for reauthorization in 1989, we reauthorized it for 
another 25 years. It wasn't until 3 years ago, when it was up for 
reauthorization, that all of a sudden the Senate, in their infinite 
wisdom, decided: Well, we are only

[[Page S5800]]

going to do this in 3-year increments. And even as late as a month ago, 
we were offered a 1-year reauthorization. What does a 1-year 
reauthorization say to the conservation community, which plans for 
generations what programs they will have to work with? It was only in 
2015--after LWCF expired, I might add--that Congress chose a short-term 
  I believe that to embrace what the creators of this program believed, 
we have to get back to a longer term reauthorization, and I will 
propound in this unanimous consent request that it be permanent, with a 
3-year review and the ability to pass a disapproval of that 
authorization. It is a responsible proposal.
  This Chamber agreed to pass these reforms on a bipartisan basis, and 
I am offering even more opportunity to appeal to the concerns of my 
colleagues than we have ever done. I would urge my colleagues to allow 
me to get this bipartisan language passed so that we can concentrate on 
other pressing matters.
  I think it is important, and I can never miss an opportunity to talk 
about what LWCF is. It is a popular and successful bipartisan program. 
There is a House companion bill, which has 233 cosponsors. Let me say 
that again: It has 233 cosponsors.
  LWCF is a dedicated means for the conservation and protection of 
America's irreplaceable natural, historic, cultural, and outdoor 
landmarks. Over the 50-plus years of its history, the Land and Water 
Conservation Fund has conserved iconic landscapes in every State and is 
responsible for more than 42,000 State and local outdoor recreation 
projects. It is far and away the Nation's most important conservation 
  LWCF has protected places like the Great Smoky Mountains National 
Park, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and the Blue Ridge Parkway 
through the Federal programs and places like Whitehurst Forest, Camden 
Community Park, and Four Mile Creek Greenway in Mecklenburg County 
through State and local programs.
  LWCF is already paid for by using a very small percentage of receipts 
off of oil drilling revenues. Let me put that in layman's terms that 
every Member of Congress can understand. It requires no taxpayer money. 
We use a percentage of receipts that we collect off of exploration, and 
that funds the Land and Water Conservation Trust.
  I might add that this doesn't bypass appropriators. I will remind 
everybody that I am not here amending an appropriations bill. This 
requires appropriators on an annual basis to appropriate money. The 
pot, though, is accrued based upon the royalties off of exploration, so 
not a dime of taxpayer money is used.
  I might also add that the current account balance for the Land and 
Water Conservation Fund is $21 billion. This year, the Congress of the 
United States will appropriate roughly $450 million. So if we were to 
appropriate the same thing and never increase the size of the trust 
fund, this program would run well over 30 years on the existing money 
that is in the fund, assuming that there was no increase in the fund's 
balance because of money it might make off of it.
  LWCF helps make access for outdoorsmen easier by purchasing 
inholdings and edge holdings. With changing land use and ownership 
patterns, historic recreational access can be cut off or blocked in 
many areas. Oftentimes, vast expanses of public land are separated from 
roads and towns by narrow strips that are privately held, necessitating 
a long drive to access hunting or fishing grounds only a few miles 
  America's growing population needs more outdoor recreation and more 
access opportunities, not fewer. If we want our children and 
grandchildren to enjoy the same hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and 
paddling opportunities we enjoy today, protection of habitat and 
watersheds must keep pace with the growing population and development 
pressures. This program is widely supported by the outdoor recreation 
industry, conservationists, hunters, anglers, birdwatchers, and all who 
appreciate access to America's unparalleled public assets. The U.S. 
outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending 
and $65 billion in tax revenue.
  North Carolina has received approximately $246.7 million in LWCF 
funding over the past five decades. This is a newsletter I got in the 
mail over the weekend from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. I want to 
highlight a few things in this because this is all about the program.
  The first one is the ``Community of Stewards'' thanking Project 
Parkway volunteers, highlighting the effort where 200 volunteers 
devoted their time to cleanup projects along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  ``High Pass Boogie riders'':

       This spring's High Pass Boogie motorcycle event was a hit! 
     Riders enjoyed a weekend of fun and raised $13,000 for the 

  ``Happy Camper Memories.'' Here is an individual who, as a child, 
actually spent her summers camping in the Blue Ridge Parkway, and this 
is her story of what it meant to her. Talk about a generational impact. 
It is right there.
  ``Overlooks get a clear perspective.'' Some of my colleagues say this 
empowers the Park Service--or somebody--and they limit access. I just 
talked about how we are using this to expand access. But here is one 
where the Park Service took on the opportunity, with private funding, 
to begin to clear the view over overlooks so that people who ride down 
the Blue Ridge Parkway can stop at the overlook and actually see the 
beautiful land that is out there, where it had been encroached by scrub 
trees. Some of my colleagues would never think that the Park Service 
would go in and actually cut down something. Not only did they do it, 
they did it with money that was donated to them by people who use the 
  ``A Fresh Face for Flat Top.'' Flat Top is a property that, when the 
Parkway was created in the 1950s under the jobs program, was a 
residence that was absorbed into the park property. Hopefully, the 
restoration on this will let this property last for another 100 years--
all driven with volunteer dollars, not with appropriations. We know the 
backlog we have with maintenance needs on our parks.
  The last one I will highlight is ``Farm Aid: Repairs to historical 
structures at Humpback Rocks are underway.'' I will just read the last 
sentence of the paragraph: ``This is a much needed transformation and a 
great example of your donations at work!''
  You see, this isn't something where we are trying to pull the wool 
over the eyes of the American people. We are actually highlighting the 
great things we have preserved, and we have an opportunity to use the 
Land and Water Conservation Fund with zero taxpayer dollars to leverage 
these private donations for projects like farm aid.
  The last one: ``Leave Your Mark on the Mountains: Where there's a 
will, there's a way.'' This basically says give to the Blue Ridge 
Parkway Foundation.
  I say to my colleagues, this makes such common sense to me. Across 
this country, we have individual Americans who give of their own money, 
not just to protect but to maintain these valuable pieces of land. 
Here, we have an opportunity to use money that was designated over 50 
years ago, authorized, that we accumulate in a pot, and we use that to 
leverage the private donations. Maybe this is a model for us to look at 
as to how we do park maintenance, where we might be able to leverage 
more private sector dollars to help with park maintenance because this, 
in essence, is maintenance, but it is also preservation of national 
  The program has been so successful that just a decade after its 
original enactment, Congress, in 1977, decided to triple its 
authorization level to $900 million--the level it remains at today. Let 
me just point out for my colleagues, it is authorized to be 
appropriated, $900 million a year; it has $21 billion in its fund, and 
this year we will appropriate about $455 million. I am not here to 
fight an appropriations battle. I will save that for when we have 
permanent reauthorization because I think it is high on the passion 
list of many Members.
  As of March 30, about $21.5 billion is in the LWCF fund. From 1965 
through 2018, about $39.8 billion was credited to LWCF. Less than half 
that amount, $18.4, has been appropriated.
  I want every Member to understand what I am asking today. I am going 
to ask unanimous consent that the Senate take up a bill with an hour 

[[Page S5801]]

and an up-or-down vote that does this: It permanently authorizes the 
Land and Water Conservation Fund. It does not appropriate. It still 
leaves up to appropriators the annual amount that is appropriated. The 
language of this bill is a negotiated, bipartisan reform package led by 
the chairman of the Energy Committee. Most importantly, to those who 
have been uncomfortable with the extension of reauthorization in the 
past, every 3 years the Congress is given the ability to pass a 
disapproval for reauthorization, and if they collect those votes, the 
program is not authorized.
  I am not sure that we have left any concerns that have been raised 
over the past year and a half out of the equation in this bill. I thank 
the chairman of the Energy Committee for her diligent work at 
negotiating the bipartisan language and her willingness to be 
supportive of the reauthorization. I firmly believe that she will have 
to object because, in some cases, that is your job when you chair a 
committee. But before I make my unanimous consent request, I want to 
make a promise to all the Members: If I have to come down here and do 
this morning and afternoon, day after day after day, I will do it. I 
have enough iterations of this bill that I can accommodate the concerns 
anyone may have and find a way to get permanent authorization. It is 
not because I want it; it is because the American people want it. It is 
because the next generation deserves for us to do this. For some 
unknown reason, a small number of people will not even allow a vote to 

                    Unanimous Consent Request--LWCF

  Madam President, at this time, I ask unanimous consent that at a time 
to be determined by the majority leader, in consultation with the 
Democratic leader, the Senate proceed to consideration of my bill, 
which is at the desk, in relation to LWCF; that there be 1 hour of 
debate; and that the Senate vote on passage with no intervening action 
or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Alaska.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Madam President, reserving the right to object, I do 
stand reluctantly and in an unenviable position, as my friend from 
North Carolina has noted. As the chairman of the authorizing committee, 
the Energy Committee, I will be objecting at this time. But I want to 
acknowledge not only the work of the Senator from North Carolina but 
the passion with which he has put himself into this issue, which is 
something I think all of us--whether we are from North Carolina or 
Alaska or points in between, coastal, inland--care about. We care about 
our Nation's environment. We care about the land that supports us. In 
our hearts, I think we are all conservationists.
  When you think about the purposes for which the Land and Water 
Conservation Fund was established, it is to do just exactly what 
Senator Burr has outlined. Some of the good work we see in North 
Carolina; some of the good work we see with stateside LWCF. In my 
State, and in all of our States, I think we have seen that role.
  What the Senator has laid out here today I think is, in fairness, 
very right. It is a very popular program. We have had individuals look 
at it and see the concrete benefits in the places they love. It does 
have good support in both bodies. I think that is an absolute, when you 
look at the cosponsorship, particularly on the House side. Sometimes it 
is a little bit difficult over there to get those strong numbers.
  The Senator rightly points out that the language he has used was part 
of an Energy bill that enjoyed strong, strong support on this floor--85 
to 12--a year or so ago, and the language he has utilized in his 
proposed bill is language that we had included, for the most part, in 
our bill, with the addition of what he has suggested, with the 
opportunity every 3 years to revisit this. So it takes a good core of a 
bill that has already passed and kind of stood the test of fire, if you 
  I think it is important to note, with that Energy bill, that LWCF 
piece was part of a negotiated package that did include other 
components. I think we would still like to see those other components 
moving through. I am certainly committed to working to advance them and 
have told the Senator from North Carolina that is my intention.
  I also believe Senator Burr when he says that he will continue with 
this effort--that he will continue to bring this issue to the fore--
because he believes it is the right thing to do. Permanent 
reauthorization is timely. I will note to colleagues that while this 
authorization does expire September 30, it is important to remember 
that the outlays from the LWCF will continue. So the appropriations he 
has referenced--$450 million for this particular year--still go out. 
But he raises a very valid point that we have an authorization. As it 
is coming due at the end of this next month, this is an opportunity for 
us to act. It seems that we act best when there is a little pressure 
from behind or with a timeline, and my commitment to him this morning 
is to continue this work and continue this effort.
  I appreciate what he has done to address some of the concerns. I 
think we both know there are still outstanding issues that we have with 
some colleagues. In an effort to not only move this across the Senate 
floor but allow it to get to the point at which it is successfully 
implemented into law--I want to work with him to achieve that. But at 
this point in time, I reluctantly will object to the request of the 
Senator from North Carolina.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Indiana.

                             Lead Exposure

  Mr. DONNELLY. Madam President, as a parent, I know there is nothing 
more important than the health and safety of our children. It is the 
most basic desire of any mom or dad to watch their child grow up happy 
and healthy and to achieve his or her God-given potentials. Sadly, for 
too many children in this country, the chance at a healthy life and a 
bright future is stunted by external environmental factors beyond their 
  In some communities, in States like my home State of Indiana, with a 
long history of commercial and industrial manufacturing, the potential 
for exposure to hazardous contamination is a reality that must be 
constantly monitored and carefully managed. For that reason, I would 
like to talk about why our work on this appropriations bill that would 
fund agencies, including the Department of Labor, as well as Health and 
Human Services, is so important.
  Last week, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, also 
known as ATSDR, held a community meeting in East Chicago, IN, to 
discuss the ongoing impacts of lead exposure in particular 
neighborhoods built over an old U.S. Steel lead smelter.
  At the meeting, ATSDR released a report which indicated that in these 
neighborhoods 30 percent of children tested between 2005 and 2015 had 
blood lead levels above the CDC's reference level. That is 12 times 
higher than the national average of 2.5 percent.
  The impacts of lead exposure are dangerous and irreversible. Even low 
levels of lead have been shown to affect a child's I.Q., the ability to 
pay attention, and academic achievement. Think about what that means 
for these children, for their families, for the community, and for our 
  In East Chicago, the fight to combat lead exposure is a team effort, 
and it also includes partners from the city, the State department of 
health, and IDEM, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and 
the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human 
Services at the Federal level.
  It is critical that our Federal partners continue to support these 
efforts by providing the best science, research, and resources to help 
identify and remediate contamination, as well as educate our impacted 
communities. That is why I am pleased that this appropriations bill 
more than doubles the current level of funding for CDC's efforts to 
reduce childhood lead poisoning. This funding is critical for lowering 
blood lead levels and preventing future harm. It also helps educate 
healthcare providers and the public about lead poisoning, monitor 
childhood blood lead levels, and provide funding to States for 
childhood lead-poisoning prevention.
  Another important tool we have to protect the health and safety of 
our communities is Trevor's Law. Authored by my good friend Senator 
Mike Crapo and passed as part of the bipartisan Frank Lautenberg 
Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act in 2016,

[[Page S5802]]

Trevor's Law was designed to provide Federal agencies with the 
authority to help conduct investigations and to take the necessary 
actions to help address factors that may contribute to the creation of 
cancer clusters. Additionally, the law is intended to better enable 
Federal agencies to coordinate with State and local agencies and the 
public in investigating and addressing potential cancer clusters. It is 
the type of commonsense support and coordination Americans expect when 
they face the fear that something may be putting the health and the 
safety of their community and their beloved children at risk.
  For the community of Franklin, IN, in Johnson County, Trevor's Law is 
the type of Federal support they need today as they work with the State 
to seek answers to reports that nearly 50 children have been diagnosed 
with various types of cancers in the last 8 years. Unfortunately for 
these families, many of whom I have had the privilege and opportunity 
to get to know, Trevor's Law has not yet been implemented. That is why 
I am offering a simple amendment. It provides $1 million to fund the 
implementation of Trevor's Law so we can leverage every bit of 
knowledge, research, expertise, and ingenuity to make sure our 
communities are safe places to raise our families.
  We are blessed to live in a great country, founded on the idea that 
our children can grow up to be anything they dream of. Our job is to 
keep that promise for future generations and to give young people every 
chance there is to succeed. I urge my colleagues to join me and Senator 
Crapo in taking this important step to ensure that we employ the very 
best scientific research, knowledge, response, and coordination to 
ensure that our communities remain safe places to raise our children.
  Madam President, I yield back.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mr. WICKER. Madam President, I rise today to support Judge Brett 
Kavanaugh and to join the chorus of Members of the Senate and millions 
of Americans who are coming to the conclusion, as I have, that Judge 
Kavanaugh will be an excellent addition to the U.S. Supreme Court. He 
has outstanding qualifications for the Court, but some of my friends on 
the other side of the aisle are desperately seeking to find an 
argument--any argument--to derail his nomination.
  The latest attempt by my friends on the other side of the aisle is to 
claim they simply do not have enough information about him to make an 
informed opinion. Yesterday, the distinguished minority leader of the 
Senate came to the floor and suggested that Republicans and Judge 
Kavanaugh are hiding something. This raises the question: How much can 
you hide about a distinguished judge who has been issuing opinions for 
12 straight years on the circuit court of appeals? How much can you 
hide about that person's legal philosophy?
  In the past, my friend Senator Schumer has asserted that the best way 
to evaluate judicial nominees was to review their judicial record. 
Perhaps he should follow that advice this year, 2018, in our approach 
to Judge Kavanaugh. In 2009, when considering Judge Sotomayor's 
nomination to the High Court, my friend the senior Senator from New 
York encouraged this body to focus on the nominee's 17-year record as a 
judge rather than engage in what he called fishing expeditions.
  To supplement Judge Kavanaugh's 12-year record of judicial opinions, 
the Senate is receiving a lot of documents--more than 1 million 
documents so far, the largest volume of records ever reviewed for any 
Supreme Court nominee. It is the largest volume of records ever. If our 
Democratic friends want documents, we have them for our Democratic 
friends to read.
  In addition, Judge Kavanaugh has submitted more than 17,000 pages in 
response to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questions. The documents 
that have been turned in from his time in the Bush White House total 
more than 238,000 pages. Most of these were already available to the 
public. In comparison, Judge Gorsuch made available 182,000 pages. 
Justice Kagan, when she was being confirmed, made available 170,000 
pages for review. In comparison, Judge Kavanaugh's number is 238,000 
  What has changed? I think the American people know what is happening 
in this debate. The Senate should not be distracted by these stall-and-
delay tactics. Instead, let's focus on the fact that Judge Kavanaugh 
brings with him a respected reputation and legal record. He has written 
some 300 published legal opinions. Let's use the Schumer rule and judge 
him on those legal opinions.
  Judge Kavanaugh's positions have already been adopted by the Supreme 
Court. No fewer than 13 times, the Supreme Court has adopted for the 
law of the land an opinion put forth at the circuit court level by 
Brett Kavanaugh. I will admit that on one occasion, the Supreme Court 
partially reversed Judge Kavanaugh. To me, it is better than a 13-to-1 
record of being adopted and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  Judge Kavanaugh has earned positive attention and praise for being a 
good mentor, producing a number of clerks who have gone on to work for 
the U.S. Supreme Court itself. One of his former clerks wrote in July: 
``No court-of-appeals judge in the nation has a stronger, more 
consistent record than Judge Brett Kavanaugh.'' Indeed, Judge Kavanaugh 
is known for being thoughtful, principled, and a jurist who will defend 
conservative values and uphold the sanctity of the Constitution. That 
is exactly what the American people want. It is exactly what the 
American people have voted for.
  Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Judge Kavanaugh, like 
many of my colleagues. I found him to be just as his reputation and 
record suggested--smart, genuine, approachable, and well qualified to 
serve on the highest Court of the land. What I have not found in my 
review of Judge Kavanaugh's qualifications is any indication that he is 
radical or outside the judicial mainstream, as some of my colleagues 
might contend.
  It is disappointing to see that negative assumptions about Judge 
Kavanaugh were reached almost immediately after his nomination or even 
before the nomination took place, well before lawmakers could meet with 
him or take a serious look at his background. One activist group 
hastily sent out a press release opposing Judge Kavanaugh before 
filling in his name. It is clear that the message would have been the 
same no matter whom President Trump chose--just fill in the blank: 
Oppose President Trump's nomination of judge blank. He is radical and 
outside the judicial mainstream.
  The American people understand this. The American people also chose 
President Trump in large part, I believe, to fill the vacancy left by 
the late Justice Scalia. This was a decision we preserved for the 
American people on election day. President Trump selected an excellent 
jurist in Judge Gorsuch, and I am certain Judge Kavanaugh will follow 
in the same great tradition.
  The outside noise involving Judge Kavanaugh should not deter the 
Senate from upholding its constitutional duty to provide advice and 
consent on judicial nominees. Frankly, we need to get this done before 
the first Monday in October, when the new session of the Supreme Court 
will meet. If we follow the precedence of the last two confirmation 
processes, we will indeed have plenty of time to do that.
  I look forward to our consideration next month of Judge Kavanaugh. I 
look forward to the hearings, which will deal with his many 
qualifications for the Supreme Court. I think the American people will 
be watching, and they will see that he is a jurist capable and willing 
to do what is right and fair under the law.
  A former professor summed it up very well in writing about Judge 
Kavanaugh for the New York Times. Professor Akhil Reed Amar said this: 
``Good appellate judges faithfully follow the Supreme Court; great ones 
influence and help steer it.'' As a circuit judge, Judge Kavanaugh has 
influenced the Supreme Court, has steered the Supreme Court. It is now 
time for him to be elevated to the highest Court in the land, and I 
support his confirmation.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  What is the pending business?
  Mr. WICKER. Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.

[[Page S5803]]


                 First Anniversary of Hurricane Harvey

  Mr. CRUZ. Madam President, I rise today to recognize the first 
anniversary of Hurricane Harvey's destruction along the Texas gulf 
coast. This Saturday, August 25, marks 1 year since the most 
destructive storm in Texas history made landfall.
  Hurricane Harvey is now considered the second most costly hurricane 
in U.S. history, second only to Hurricane Katrina, but more importantly 
and more tragically, Hurricane Harvey took many, many precious lives. 
Harvey started out as a category 4 storm hitting South Texas, making 
landfall at Corpus Christi, Victoria, Port Aransas, Rockport, Aransas 
Pass, and Refugio, doing devastating damages with 135-mile-an-hour 
  It took down powerlines. It stopped fresh water. It clogged sewage 
systems. It devastated people's homes and people's businesses.
  I visited each of those communities many, many times in the weeks and 
months that followed Hurricane Harvey, and I have seen the transition 
those communities have undergone in dealing with the disaster and then 
  But Harvey wasn't done after making landfall. Then, it moved north 
and east, parking over the city of Houston and just sitting there. Over 
a 6-day period, Harvey dumped 27 trillion gallons of rain over Texas 
and Louisiana, causing historic flooding--flooding that is not a 100-
year flood, not a 500-year flood, but a 1,000-year flood.
  In southeastern Texas, Hurricane Harvey dropped rainfall of more than 
60 inches, which exceeds the annual rainfall on average for that 
region. Over 300,000 structures were flooded in southeast Texas, and a 
half million cars. More than 200,000 single family homes were flooded 
across the State, many of which were not in flood plains and not deemed 
to be at risk of floods.
  But we don't mark this anniversary in a spirit of tragedy--rather, in 
a spirit of triumph. There were many bright lights that cut through the 
darkness of the storm. There were the police and first responders who 
led thousands of families to safety. Some, like Sergeant Perez of the 
Houston Police Department, made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting 
his community.
  There were over 17,000 national guardsmen who answered the call from 
Texas and from all around the country.
  The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 11,022 people and 1,384 pets during the 
storm. There were countless acts of heroism from folks next door, from 
church basements offering shelter to neighbors, people making human 
chains, plucking one another out of the flood waters, and from our 
countrymen in the Cajun Navy, who boldly answered the call with 
memories of Katrina still fresh and vivid, to business owners like my 
friend Mattress Mack, who threw open the doors to give entire 
communities shelter, warmth, and comfort.
  I have never been prouder to be a Texan than I was in the days during 
and after Hurricane Harvey, when you saw ordinary Texans risking their 
lives to save each other. There were no party lines. There were no 
Republicans and Democrats. There wasn't Black, White, Hispanic, or 
Asian. We were simply Texans helping Texans, standing as one, united. 
We were lifted up by prayers from millions across Texas, across the 
country, and across the world.
  I remember one gentleman I met. It was at the George R. Brown 
Convention Center, which had been stood up as a shelter for the many 
who had lost their homes. I was there one morning volunteering, serving 
oatmeal. Next to me, someone else was volunteering, serving oatmeal as 
well, and I said to him, as I tried to say to many, many people 
throughout that tragedy: Thank you. Thank you for the difference you 
are making. Thank you for helping out your fellow Texans. Thank you for 
being here.
  I remember he laughed, and he said: Well, I have to be here. My home 
is underwater. I don't have another place to sleep.
  Even though he had gone to seek shelter, once he got there, he wasn't 
content simply to receive aid and assistance. He wanted to help out. 
That was the spirit and the community that we saw all up and down the 
gulf coast.
  I remember visiting with two young boys. They were 8 and 10 years 
old. They were in their home when water rose to waist level, and they 
had to be rescued by boat. I remember visiting with these boys and 
saying: Was that scary? How are you doing?
  Both boys started laughing, and they said: Are you kidding? We got to 
swim in our living room.
  That kind of joy suffused dealing with the tragedy.
  Since the flood waters have receded, many, many families have 
returned home. Some bravely made a home in new surroundings, and the 
long, important work of rebuilding has continued.
  One year ago, you could take a boat through city streets. I still 
remember riding on a boat down Clay Road, a road in northwest Houston. 
I became a Christian at Clay Road Baptist Church. Clay Road was under 8 
to 10 feet of water, and I remember taking a boat over cars, over 
trucks, going right down the middle of Clay Road.
  Today, our communities are coming back stronger than ever. Our 
businesses are once more a part of the Texas booming economy. Our 
neighborhoods ring with laughter, lawnmowers, and barbecue grills.
  I am humbled and grateful to say that the amazing success of recovery 
has been helped by the willingness of Congress to recognize the 
extraordinary crisis caused by Harvey and to step up in a bipartisan 
manner to address it. Since Harvey made landfall, Congress has 
appropriated over $140 billion in emergency funding to respond to the 
2017 hurricane season and to the California wildfires. Over three 
separate bills, we came together and made it possible to clean debris, 
to open schools, to rebuild homes for families, and to give entire 
towns a new start.
  My colleague Senator Cornyn and I have worked hand in hand on each of 
these relief bills in the Senate, increasing the funds available to 
hurricane victims from those that originally had come over from the 
House, increasing the overall amount of funding for the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers for flood prevention projects, as well as for funding 
other mitigation activities under the Community Development Block Grant 
Program and the Disaster Recovery Program.
  Last month, as part of this funding, the Army Corps announced that 
Texas would receive nearly $5 billion for projects in the State as part 
of its disaster supplemental funding plan--projects dealing with long-
term flood mitigation to prevent this sort of tragedy from occurring 
again and to rebuild in a way that is stronger and more resilient and 
that protects homes and businesses and families. This means that 
roughly half of the relevant Army Corps construction funds will go to 
projects in Texas intended to help to prevent future flooding events.
  The Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded over $10 
billion in community development block grant disaster recovery funds to 
Texas. These crucial funds will go a long way and already have to meet 
the needs of Texans who are continuing to repair and to rebuild from 
  We also joined together to pass an emergency tax relief bill. I 
joined with Senator Cornyn and Senator Rubio, and together the Cruz-
Cornyn-Rubio bill granted over $5 billion in emergency tax relief to 
those who had been impacted by these hurricanes, allowing people who 
had lost their homes or had seen devastating damage to their homes to 
deduct those damages from their taxes and allowing people to take money 
from their retirement savings--their IRAs and their 401(k)s--and to use 
those savings to rebuild their homes without paying the ordinary 10 
percent early withdrawal fee. It also gave a tax credit to employers--
the many, many small businesses who kept the paychecks coming even as 
the businesses may have been underwater and even as the employees 
couldn't come into work because their homes and cars were flooded.
  Until recently, houses of worship had been excluded from Federal 
disaster assistance just for being faith based. That policy was wrong. 
It was discriminatory. Many religious institutions were badly damaged 
or destroyed during Hurricane Harvey.
  I remember visiting a synagogue in Meyerland, a neighborhood of 
Houston, that had been flooded repeatedly and badly. I went to work 
with my colleagues, introducing legislation to fix this problem. A few 
months later, FEMA announced a critical reversal in their policy so 
that houses of worship

[[Page S5804]]

would no longer be discriminated against and would be eligible for the 
same relief funds as everybody else. Then, in February, our legislation 
codified FEMA's decision into law, ensuring that religious institutions 
were not discriminated against. We protected the First Amendment rights 
of our churches, our temples, and our synagogues, which had suffered so 
greatly in Harvey and contributed so much to the relief efforts.
  That was one of the striking things--how many people who were helping 
themselves had been damaged.
  Just over a week ago, I visited Ellington Base, meeting with the 
Coast Guardsmen, the swimmers and pilots who had gone into harm's way. 
For many of them, their own homes were underwater. I visited with one 
Coast Guard pilot who had to walk through waist-high water to get to a 
parking lot where a helicopter could go and pick them up so they could 
fly and save others.
  That story, over and over, was the story of Harvey.
  One year after Harvey's devastation, the work continues. The Texas 
gulf coast continues to recover, and it will take years for the 
rebuilding to be complete, but as the Lone Star State rebuilds stronger 
than ever, we will keep moving forward.
  May we never forget the tragic days that Harvey hit our shores, but 
may we always remember the heroes who triumphed in the midst of the 
darkness, the brave men and women who were a light to their country. 
They are the best of America. They are the best of Texas. God bless 
them all, and may God continue to bless the great State of Texas.
  I field the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Hyde-Smith). The Senator from Rhode 

                        The Military Lending Act

  Mr. REED. Madam President, I rise today to support the Senator from 
Florida, my dear friend Senator Bill Nelson, and to thank him for his 
leadership in working on a bipartisan basis to enact the Military 
Lending Act in 2006, which caps the annual interest rate for an 
extension of consumer credit to a servicemember or his or her 
dependents at 36 percent.
  Because of his efforts, servicemembers and their families have strong 
consumer protections that defend them against unscrupulous lenders who 
unpatriotically, in my view, prey upon these young men and women while 
they are selflessly and valiantly serving this Nation.
  It has been my honor to work with the Senator from Florida in 
enacting, protecting, and strengthening the Military Lending Act since 
  I must say that my experience is not just as a legislator. I had the 
privilege of commanding a paratrooper company in the 82nd Airborne 
Division, and before that I was the executive officer. I spent many, 
many hours with young soldiers who had been taken advantage of by--not 
all businessmen, but, in fact, very few--unscrupulous operators who 
would prey on them, who would leave them in a financial condition that 
ruined their careers and their lives. Because of Senator Nelson's 
efforts in passing the Military Lending Act, we took some steps to 
protect these young men and women who are protecting us, and we owe the 
Senator a great deal of regard and respect for what he has done because 
he, too, has recognized the demands of service to our Nation by men and 
women in uniform.

  For generations, Americans have set aside partisanship and have made 
every effort to provide servicemembers and their families with all the 
resources and protections they deserve. Indeed, it should not matter to 
servicemembers whether the Commander in Chief is a Democrat, 
Republican, or Independent, and there should never be a question 
whether an administration will make every effort to support men and 
women in uniform.
  Unfortunately, this administration is forcing servicemembers to 
question whether the administration has their backs in light of recent 
reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, under OMB 
Director Mulvaney's leadership, will no longer make every effort to 
protect servicemembers and their families under the Military Lending 
Act due to their claim of a purported lack of authority.
  Let me be clear. The CFPB has all the authority it needs, and it 
should not be abandoning its duty to protect our servicemembers and 
their families and ensure that they continue to receive all their MLA 
  We should not forget that the CFPB's routine examination of at least 
one payday lender already uncovered Military Lending Act violations, 
where a payday lender extended loans at rates higher than 36 percent to 
more than 300 Active-Duty servicemembers or their dependents. Let me 
also put this in perspective. The requirements of the Military Lending 
Act set an interest ceiling of 36 percent. In this environment, 36 
percent is more than an adequate return, and the idea that 
businesspeople would be trying to engage soldiers, sailors, marines, 
and airmen in lending arrangements that went beyond 36 percent is, on 
its face, not only deplorable but flabbergasting. That is what CFPB was 
able to further prevent. Because of their supervisory activities, they 
were able to discover these violations, alert the appropriate 
authorities, and stop these individuals from continuing to prey on 
service men and women.
  In an April 2018 DOD letter I received, the Department of Defense 
stated: ``initial indications are the new MLA rules . . . are having 
their intended outcomes . . . the use of high-cost credit products and 
associated readiness problems appear to be decreasing.''
  We are making progress under Senator Nelson's MLA and under the 
leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect 
servicemen and servicewomen. Why would we turn our backs and retreat? 
Servicemembers wouldn't turn their backs and retreat. Why is Director 
Mulvaney suggesting we do that?
  Indeed, DOD has stated that losing a servicemember due to personnel 
issues, such as financial instability, cost taxpayers and DOD more than 
$58,000 for each separated servicemember. Again, recalling my service, 
dealing with young men--and at that time paratroopers were all males in 
the 82nd--dealing with these young men, their whole lives were ruined. 
They were reported for being late for formations or missing formations 
because their car had been repossessed or they were so overwhelmed by 
debt they didn't realize they were accumulating, they couldn't 
function. They could lose their security clearances because one factor 
of maintaining a security clearance is having no credit problems. They 
could be dismissed at a cost to taxpayers of $58,000 per servicemember 
for each separation.
  So in addition to saving the Department of Defense and taxpayers 
money, the CFPB's Office of Servicemember Affairs--again, on a 
bipartisan basis, working with Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, I 
cosponsored legislation that created within the CFPB an organization 
that is exclusively devoted to protecting servicemembers. The first 
Director was Holly Petraeus. She did a superb job. She was succeeded by 
a career JAG officer, Colonel Kantwill, who also did a superb job. This 
organization, the CFPB, with their Office of Servicemember Affairs, has 
all the authority it needs and an obligation to protect the men and 
women in uniform who protect us.
  Their website says it has ``helped return hundreds of millions into 
the pockets of servicemembers affected by harmful practices.'' The 
CFPB, through the Office of Servicemember Affairs, has returned 
hundreds of millions of dollars to men and women in uniform who were 
being victimized by unscrupulous operators, and we are going to stop 
that? We are going to walk away from success? As I said before, are we 
going to turn our backs and retreat on people who don't turn their 
backs and retreat on this Nation? That is why it is frustrating, and it 
is inexplicable that the Trump administration would tout its dedication 
to servicemembers in one breath and roll back military consumer 
protections with the next. To set the record straight, rolling back MLA 
protections prioritizes the interests of predatory lenders over the 
interests of servicemembers and their families. If you can't make a 
decent return with a limit of 36 percent interest, you shouldn't be in 
business--you shouldn't be a legitimate business. This is not what any 
administration, Republican

[[Page S5805]]

or Democratic, should do and certainly not what the CFPB should do.
  As the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and also 
having had the highest privilege of serving this Nation in uniform, I 
stand with my fellow veterans, my colleagues, and all Americans to call 
on the administration to do the right thing, honor our Nation's 
commitment to provide servicemembers and their families with all the 
protections they have earned.
  Again, I thank the Senator from Florida for his efforts. Because 
without his efforts, we would not have the Military Lending Act. 
Service men and women would be victimized even more grievously. So to 
Mr. Nelson, I salute him and thank him and urge him to continue his 
valiant efforts.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. NELSON. Madam President, you can't say it any better than how the 
Senator from Rhode Island has said it. He is a West Point graduate, was 
a company commander, was the executive officer of a brigade--he just 
told us, the 82nd Airborne.
  He has seen what has happened to these young troops. They get their 
pay, they go outside the gates, there are folks who want to give loans 
to them, and then they run up rates as much as 100 percent and 150 
percent. That is why we passed the Military Lending Act back in 2006, 
to cap those rates at 36 percent. That is high enough, but it is a lot 
less than the 150-percent rates given to these poor, unsuspecting 
troops who are being taken advantage of.
  As a former 82nd Airborne member, the Senator from Rhode Island has 
just shared his personal experience of what would happen. Troops would 
not show up for muster because suddenly their car had been repossessed 
or they had people hounding them. What has happened over the years 
since 2006, when we passed the bill, is, in fact, they found ways to 
get around it. Now commanders are receiving harassment calls. They 
found a way to get around the 36 percent.
  What we want to do is lower it down to 24 percent. If someone cannot 
do well in business when getting a return of 24 percent on what they 
are loaning out, then they shouldn't be in business, and especially 
they shouldn't be in business to take advantage of our U.S. military 
  That is why I have introduced the Military Lending Improvement Act of 
2018. That is why it goes into more specifics. It not only lowers the 
interest rate but ensures that auto loans are covered by the Military 
Lending Act. Let's remove any ambiguity there--to prohibit creditors 
from calling servicemembers' commanding officers or improperly 
threatening action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to 
collect a debt from a U.S. military servicemember. It is commonsense. 
It will show members of our military that the law will protect them and 
will go after these shady lenders.
  I urge all of our colleagues to support it. Obviously, this doesn't 
have anything to do with partisanship. This is supporting the troops. I 
urge our fellow Members of the Senate to work with Senator Reed and me 
to get the CFPB leadership off the dime to protect our bravest from 
financial scams. It is just mind-boggling that the Consumer Financial 
Protection Bureau that is set up for the purpose of protecting 
consumers would now turn a blind eye to protecting some of the most 
vulnerable who almost everybody in America would say we want to 
protect. That is because there are the unscrupulous lenders.
  We saw a lot of this in the early years of the wars of Afghanistan 
and Iraq. When a servicemember was overseas in Operation Enduring 
Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, they were being scammed by the 
payday, title loan, and other kinds of lenders, and they were being 
charged those exorbitant rates. It is just morally wrong. That is what 
brought the law in 2006, and now we need to update that law.
  Back in 2006, there was a Department of Defense report that told the 
story of one young servicemember who was charged $100 to take out a 
$500 loan. Using the CFPB's formula, that equates to an annual 
percentage rate of 520 percent. That servicemember was forced to take 
out other loans. He had to do multiple rollovers to pay off the initial 
$500. It snowballed into a cost of $15,000 when it was all said and 
done. The servicemember can't pay that. So the law was passed in 2006, 
but now we need to update it, and before we update it in law, we need 
to get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to act and to protect 
the consumer.
  The law says creditors ``may not impose an interest rate higher than 
36 percent,'' and it says that specifically on servicemembers. There is 
no ambiguity there. So the CFPB ought to enforce that law until we 
update it with this new one. When you have to force a member of the 
military to have to be concerned and harassed and taken away from his 
duties and to file a complaint with the CFPB, it just ignores the law. 
What is there to protect the very people we want to protect?
  Indeed, this is a matter of right and wrong. Indeed, this is a moral 
reason. Let's get the administration to enforce the existing law, and 
then let's update that existing law with even tighter restrictions on 
the lenders that are taking advantage of the very people we want to 
honor and help, the people in uniform who are protecting this country.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. HEINRICH. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mr. HEINRICH. Madam President, I rise today to call on each of us to 
take seriously one of our most important duties as Senators--our 
constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on Presidential 
appointments to the Supreme Court.
  As we all know, over the last 3 years, the longstanding tradition of 
building bipartisan consensus in the Senate around nominees to our 
highest Court was flown into the ash heap of history. The majority 
leader and Senate Republicans completely dismantled the rules that made 
advice and consent real in the Senate--all to steal a Supreme Court 
nominee from our last President. By making nominations to the highest 
Court--perhaps the most consequential votes we take as Senators--
subject to only a simple-majority vote, Republicans rigged the system 
to make it possible for the most extreme nominees to make it all the 
way to the Bench.
  Before they broke the rules, requiring 60 votes ensured that both 
parties would have a real seat at the table and that mainstream 
nominees would be nominated and confirmed with the advice and consent 
of the Senate. Now we have been told that we must accept the resulting 
new normal of a politicalized and completely partisan selection process 
to fill any new vacant seat on the Court.
  I, for one, refuse to legitimize this broken process. Under these 
broken rules, the minority party--even in as closely divided a Senate 
as we currently have today--has effectively zero ability to say: Wait. 
Hold up. There is something about this nominee that is too extreme or 
too disqualifying for a lifetime appointment to the highest Court in 
the land.
  That is not democratic. That is not what the Founders had in mind 
when they created the Senate as a deliberative body. This body was 
intended by the Founders to be the methodical answer to the fiery 
passions of the day, not an amplifier of them.
  I fear that this broken system will create potentially disastrous 
consequences for the health of our democracy as a whole. It has already 
resulted in a crisis of confidence where the public no longer views our 
Supreme Court as independent. Frankly, the public is correct--not just 
because of the precedent it set and hostility that it created but also 
because of the nominee before us.
  Because President Trump knew going in that he would not need a single 
Democratic vote, he went straight to a predetermined list of names 
given to him by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society. 
That meant that the President only considered nominees who fulfilled 
all of the ultraconservative special-interest litmus tests. This 
ensures that each of the judges he considered opposed women's

[[Page S5806]]

healthcare, environmental protections, and workers' rights. You don't 
have to take my word for that; President Trump was very explicit on the 
campaign trail in saying that he would only choose from this list of 
extreme conservatives for the Supreme Court. Without real advice and 
consent, there is no counterbalance and no real voice for Americans who 
don't want to see the country unrecognizably changed forever by his 
ultraconservative Court-packing.
  We have been asked to go through the motions of a broken and partisan 
confirmation process for a nominee with a troubling and dangerous track 
record. If confirmed, a Justice Brett Kavanaugh would be a deciding 
vote on so many important issues that I have no doubt will come before 
the Supreme Court. Would a confirmation process in which both parties 
had a real seat at the table produce a nominee who believes that 
polluters should be able to poison our air and water unchecked; a 
nominee who does not believe women have the right to make decisions 
about their own private healthcare needs; a nominee who has ruled 
against well-established rights of privacy? No. And that is precisely 
the point.
  Judge Kavanaugh's hyperpartisan opinions formed over a lifetime as a 
Republican DC operative will influence his decisions from the Bench. He 
is out of touch with consensus views held by the American people, and 
his extreme views could drastically alter our daily lives.
  Judge Kavanaugh is exactly the type of ideologue and politically 
motivated nominee we can expect to see not just for this seat but for 
all Supreme Court seats moving forward if we allow the Senate rules for 
providing advice and consent to remain in tatters. But I worry that by 
rushing this through on a completely party-line vote, we are enabling 
an even greater threat to our democratic institutions and to our 
Republic itself, and that is because, from what we do know about his 
judicial record, work experience, and writings, Judge Kavanaugh 
believes in giving a disturbing amount of deference to the executive 
branch and to the President of the United States.

  Judge Kavanaugh has written and delivered very clear statements 
saying that he believes a sitting President should not have to face 
prosecution, criminal investigation, subpoenas, or civil litigation. To 
be clear, this judge believes the President is above the law. This is 
the United States of America. No one--I repeat, no one--is above the 
  It really makes you wonder why President Trump would pick him for a 
potentially deciding vote on the Supreme Court, doesn't it. Do I need 
to remind you that our President and members of his campaign team 
remain under Federal investigation for coordinating with the Russian 
Government's interference in our election?
  Just yesterday, the President's longtime attorney and his campaign 
chairman were each declared guilty in eight separate Federal crimes. In 
his guilty plea for campaign finance violations, the President's former 
attorney, Michael Cohen, implicated the President himself in 
coordinating payoffs to women who alleged affairs in an effort to 
influence the election.
  Look, combine all of President Trump's ongoing legal troubles with 
his unbalanced and impulsive style of governing, and there are many 
plausible and even likely questions about the scope of the executive 
branch's authority that could come before the Supreme Court. Especially 
after yesterday's major developments, this is no longer purely 
hypothetical. We don't know enough about how Judge Kavanaugh might rule 
on these questions, but what we do know is deeply concerning.
  Judge Kavanaugh has questioned whether Presidents should be forced to 
answer to civil lawsuits, criminal investigations, or questions from a 
prosecutor while they are in office. That, to me, is unbelievable. In 
another example before he became a judge, Kavanaugh said that he 
thought the Supreme Court had made an ``erroneous decision'' when it 
unanimously ruled that President Nixon needed to turn over White House 
tapes that ultimately proved the role that he played in covering up the 
Watergate scandal. Kavanaugh has also stated that he opposed the post-
Watergate special counsel law and implied that nothing limits the 
President's authority to terminate a special counsel with or without 
  It is easy to see how Judge Kavanaugh's views on Executive power are 
especially dangerous in the current times. This view of an executive 
branch untethered from the checks and balances that form the very norms 
of our political system should terrify Senators on both sides of the 
aisle who believe that the separation of powers is a cornerstone of our 
American democracy.
  On top of this, we need to know more about Judge Kavanaugh's actions 
when he was in the executive branch. As a high-ranking official in the 
George W. Bush White House, Judge Kavanaugh served on the legal team 
and as Staff Secretary to President Bush during controversial abuses of 
Executive power. Senate Republicans have so far obstructed requests to 
review all of the records that would show what role Kavanaugh played in 
determining the legality of President Bush's policies. What side did he 
take as the Bush administration's CIA used illegal torture techniques, 
such as waterboarding? Was he aware of the Bush administration's 
warrantless mass surveillance of Americans' phone and internet records? 
These are unanswered questions until we are able to review relevant 
Presidential records--the same types of reviews we have been able to do 
for past nominees when there was real advice and consent.
  The National Archives told Senator Grassley, the chairman of the 
Judiciary Committee, that it cannot physically process all of the 
relevant records until October. Yet Senate Republicans have scheduled 
confirmation hearings and then a likely confirmation vote for Judge 
Kavanaugh to begin in early September.
  We should never proceed on a confirmation vote for a lifetime 
appointment to the Supreme Court until we have done our due diligence 
in reviewing every relevant document on a nominee's record. We should 
not proceed on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination until we have clear answers 
to highly important questions about his actions in the Bush White 
House. Under a functioning confirmation process, the need to review 
these records would not even be up for debate. It is just plain common 
sense and part of our constitutional duty to carefully, to methodically 
review the qualifications of nominees as part of providing advice and 

  Unfortunately, as is obvious to anyone watching this process unfold, 
the United States is no longer operating under rules that ensure a fair 
process. Instead, Republicans are rushing to push this nomination 
through at a breakneck pace so that they can confirm Judge Kavanaugh 
before this fall's election regardless of legitimate questions about 
his record, regardless of the dangerous consequences of his extreme 
views on so many issues.
  At a time when our democratic institutions themselves are under 
attack--from undermining the free press to there being foreign 
influence in our elections--we should be very careful in weighing who 
sits on this, the Nation's highest Court.
  Once again, I plead with my colleagues that we can do better than 
this. We must restore advice and consent in the Senate before we 
confirm any nominee who will be tainted by this partisan, broken 
system. I call on each of us to work together to create a better system 
and to restore a bipartisan process on which we can build consensus to 
see us through these politically turbulent times. Until we restore a 
fair confirmation process, I will fight alongside the American people, 
who are demanding that we do our jobs that they elected us to do and 
with the seriousness required to get this right.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                       Manafort and Cohen Trials

  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, there have been a number of headline-
grabbing days during the first 18 months of the Trump administration, 
and I think yesterday is going to rank among the

[[Page S5807]]

most extraordinary. But for this Senator from Vermont, it has been the 
most troubling.
  The President of the United States was effectively identified by his 
long-time lawyer and confidant as an unindicted co-conspirator in their 
efforts to commit criminal campaign finance violations. If what they 
are saying is true, what his confidant is pleading guilty to is that 
then-Candidate Trump arranged payments to two women he had affairs 
with, in violation of Federal law, in order to keep those affairs 
hidden from the American people at a most critical time, days before 
the election.
  Further, last night, the lawyer for Mr. Cohen claimed that his client 
also has information relevant to whether President Trump had advance 
knowledge--and even supported--the hacking of Democratic electronic 
files. We know that he gave a speech at one point saying that if Russia 
is listening, they should hack. That crime, which we know was committed 
at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, serves as a basis 
for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
  Also yesterday, within minutes of Mr. Cohen's entering his guilty 
plea, a jury found the President's former campaign manager guilty of 
numerous tax and bank fraud charges. Paul Manafort will now face a 
separate trial concerning his work for a Putin-connected oligarch both 
in Ukraine and here at home. In this second trial, scheduled to begin 
next month, Mr. Manafort has been charged with conspiracy to defraud 
the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent, and money 
laundering, among other charges.
  The clouds of criminal conduct surrounding those close to the 
President are darkening. Directly or indirectly, his campaign manager, 
personal attorney, and multiple aides have now been swept up in the 
Special Counsel's investigation. This probe has resulted in numerous 
guilty pleas and 34 criminal indictments. And it is not complete.
  I have watched, both as a Senator and as a former prosecutor, and it 
is so troubling. I know one thing; it is crucial that the special 
counsel be permitted to complete his investigation and to do so without 
the daily--often hourly--interference from the President. During my 
four decades in the Senate, I have never before seen an investigation 
led by career, apolitical law enforcement officials so personally and 
publicly maligned by a politician--let alone by the President of the 
United States. No one is above the law, and the President should stop 
acting as though he is.
  I would also urge the Majority Leader to immediately bring the 
bipartisan legislation to protect the Special Counsel to the Floor. We 
passed this legislation out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 
bipartisan vote. Anyone who says that the President can be trusted not 
to undermine the Special Counsel has clearly not been paying attention. 
Think of all of the tweets he sent as the Manafort trial was going on. 
Do you think those weren't seen directly or indirectly by those 
involved in the trial? We know that the judge made clear his opposition 
to the prosecution, and the jury also had to listen to the President's 
tweets. Just think of what that does.

  It is equally critical that the Senate reassert its oversight 
responsibility over the Executive Branch--something for which we have 
advocated. If these were normal times, the Senate Judiciary Committee 
would immediately pursue an investigation.
  Indeed, the Judiciary Committee is uniquely situated to investigate 
the allegation raised by Mr. Cohen. The Committee has jurisdiction over 
our criminal laws, including our campaign finance laws. Mr. Cohen's 
lawyer has indicated that he is willing to testify before Congress 
without being granted immunity--pretty extraordinary.
  It is difficult to reconcile the Judiciary Committee's inaction here 
with one of the most critical constitutional crises we have seen--
certainly since I have been in the Senate, and I have been here for 44 
  It is difficult to reconcile the Judiciary Committee's inaction with 
its race to confirm President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court. In 
fact, the timeline the Republicans are pursuing to consider Judge 
Kavanaugh is so aggressive that it will sideline the nonpartisan review 
of the nominee's record performed by the National Archives. That has 
occurred for every Supreme Court nominee since Watergate, whether 
Republican or Democratic.
  I mentioned earlier today that when I was chairman, Justice Kagan was 
up, and the Republicans asked for her records. We got 99 percent of 
them. I went to the Archives. I joined with the senior Republican, Jeff 
Sessions, on the Committee to request them. We got 99 percent of those 
records before the hearing. We have 6 percent of Judge Kavanaugh's 
records. And those were handpicked by a lawyer whose clients include, 
among others, Stephen Bannon and other very partisan clients.
  The Russia investigation is the most pressing national security 
investigation of our time. Here we have a powerful country--Russia--
that is working against us. We know it. We can just pick up the paper. 
Without going to any of the classified hearings that most of us have 
been to, we can read what is in the paper about the hacking Russia has 
done and the billions of dollars it has cost people and the hacking 
that continues to this moment against the United States. This is the 
Russia that the President publicly called upon during a campaign rally 
to hack his opponent's computers. We know from what we have seen and 
what our intelligence community has told us that they did try to 
influence the last election, and we do know they intend to try to 
influence the elections this year, not only in our country but in other 
countries. This is a major problem, and it is being ignored.
  I think history is going to judge all of us in the U.S. Senate very 
harshly if we collectively shrug our shoulders and disregard our 
constitutional responsibility to oversee the Executive Branch in this 
moment. We represent a coequal branch of government. It is time to act 
like it.
  Mr. President, I was going to suggest the absence of a quorum, but I 
see one of my distinguished colleagues on the floor, so I will simply 
yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, I rise in support of the Defense 
appropriations bill being considered by the Senate. With this important 
measure, we are greatly enhancing our national defense by providing the 
actual funds our warfighters need to maintain a decisive advantage over 
our adversaries.
  As home to one-third of our strategic ground-based nuclear arsenal, 
Montana plays a critical role in deterring aggression, enabling 
diplomacy, and maintaining a posture of peace through strength.
  While serving in the U.S. Senate, I have visited Malmstrom Air Force 
Base in Great Falls, MT, several times. I have toured the missile 
fields and the silos. I have had the honor of sitting down and speaking 
with the men and women who maintain this important nuclear deterrent. 
Their hard work and their professionalism are unmatched. We owe it to 
them to support their work and give them the tools they need to be 
  It is so important that we advance the deployment and the development 
of the next ground-based strategic deterrent. This bill achieves that 
goal by replacing Montana's current Minuteman Missile, as well as the 
UH-1N replacement helicopter that services our missile fields. It also 
recognizes the important work Montana's university researchers and 
small businesses do in support of our Nation's military readiness.
  Montanans are quite proud of the critical role our State plays in 
defending this great Nation. This bill strengthens and enhances that 
  As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I am pleased 
to note that it makes substantial investments in emerging technologies, 
such as hypersonics, directed energy, artificial intelligence, and 
cyber security. In particular, we are providing additional funding for 
new cyber units within the National Guard that will be available to the 
States under title 32 authority.
  I worked with my colleagues here in the Senate to secure these 
additional funds because I believe the National Guard will play an 
increasingly important role in defending our Nation against government-
backed cyber attacks from nations like China, Russia,

[[Page S5808]]

North Korea, and Iran. These nations target critical civilian networks 
like schools, hospitals, or private businesses, where the military's 
authority is limited. Only the National Guard has the unique ability to 
provide assistance on request by a State's Governor.
  These new units will fill a critical need and increase the 
effectiveness of our military's existing cyber defense forces. They 
will also bring in new skill sets and new perspectives from citizen 
soldiers who work in cyber-related professions.
  In closing, I wish to urge my colleagues to support the measure 
before us today to empower our servicemen and our servicewomen and 
ensure that our Nation's military capabilities are unmatched by our 
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, Boy Scouts shouldn't get a merit badge 
for telling the truth, and U.S. Senators shouldn't get an award for 
passing appropriations bills. That is what we are expected to do. That 
is what we are here for. That is our most basic responsibility. But I 
think it is worth noticing, especially since the distinguished vice 
chairman of the Appropriations Committee is still on the floor, that 
this is the largest number of appropriations bills passed before August 
since the year 2000. We have already done that with seven bills, and if 
we are successful this week, as I expect we will be, in passing the 
third package of appropriations bills, we will have passed in the 
Senate annual appropriations bills that account for nearly 90 percent 
of the discretionary Federal Government spending. That is the part of 
the government spending that is not automatic--we call that the 
mandatory spending. It is the part of the government spending that is 
under control.
  For the last 10 years, this basically 30 percent of the Federal 
budget that we call discretionary spending that we appropriate every 
year--that has been going up at about the rate of inflation, and over 
the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it 
will go up at just a little more than the rate of inflation. So this 
money we are spending on behalf of our taxpayers, we are spending in a 
budgeted, responsible way, and we are spending it on time--if we 
continue the progress we are making--which makes it easier for our 
military, our National Laboratories, and our agencies to plan and spend 
money more wisely.
  Nothing is more wasteful--almost nothing is more wasteful--than the 
failure of the U.S. Congress to appropriate or decide the amount of 
money that is to be spent every year before the year begins. Too often 
over the last several years, it has been the middle of the year before 
agency managers knew what they could spend that year, and that is a 
wasteful practice. In a military sense, our leaders in the Department 
of Defense tell us it is a dangerous practice in terms of what we can 
count on for our national security.
  I would like to pause for just a moment and reflect on what the 
Appropriations Committee is doing, what the U.S. Senate is doing and 
doing properly--not because we deserve an award or a merit badge for 
doing our most basic responsibility but because it is worth noting when 
we do it because it hasn't been done for so long.
  The following are the seven appropriations bills that have already 
passed the Senate. One is the Energy and Water Development legislation. 
I am chairman of that committee and of the conference that is working 
on that. I am working with Chairman Mike Simpson in the House, Senator 
Feinstein, and Representative Kaptur. We are working together. We hope 
to have that bill--which has already passed the Senate and has already 
passed the House--we hope to come together and have a conference 
immediately after Labor Day so we can complete the bill and send it to 
the President for his signature. That is one of the appropriations 
bills. Others are Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related 
Agencies--we passed that one; the Legislative Branch--we passed that 
one; and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, 
and Related Agencies, and that passed.
  In past years, Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies has been 
very difficult to pass. There are some controversial issues there, but 
Senator Shelby and Senator Leahy have led us, along with Senator 
Schumer and Senator McConnell, to say: We are not going to try to solve 
every controversial issue that we can think of on the appropriations 
bills, because we have learned in the past that practice will sink 
them. So we have tabled a few bills--a few amendments that have come 
before us because they would have kept the appropriations bills from 
proceeding. We can deal with those more controversial ideas and 
amendments at another time.
  Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies 
has been passed. Financial Services and General Government has also 
been passed.
  So there are seven. That is the largest number of appropriations 
bills the Senate has passed before August since the year 2000--18 years 
ago. This week, we are debating the third package of appropriations 
bills, which includes Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and 
Related Agencies and the Defense appropriations bill. That means that 
if we are successful in completing our work this week on those two, we 
will have considered all nine of those appropriations bills under what 
we call in the Senate the regular order. That means we have an 
opportunity to offer other amendments when they come to the floor, we 
debate them, we vote on those amendments, we pass the bills, and then 
we go to conference with the House. In other words, not just the 31 
members of the Appropriations Committee get to work on this; all 
Members of the Senate get to have their say.
  This week, we have already voted on some amendments, and we may get 
to consider more. After we finish these two bills--as I said earlier, 
hopefully tomorrow--the Senate will have passed the annual 
appropriations bills that account for nearly 90 percent of the 
discretionary Federal Government spending.
  Senator Shelby, the chairman, and the vice chairman, Senator Leahy, 
as well as the majority leader, Senator McConnell, and Senator Schumer, 
all deserve credit and our thanks for creating the environment that 
makes this possible. I appreciate their commitment. I want to 
especially commend Senator Blunt, Senator Murray, Senator Shelby, and 
Senator Durbin for their work on the bills that are before us this 
  A few weeks ago, one of my friends in Nashville, one of the major 
contributors to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, came up to me. He 
said: It is a real shame that you guys in Congress aren't funding 
biomedical research.
  So I said to my friend: Well, let me tell you what has happened the 
last 3 or 4 years, and see if you still believe that. The U.S. Senate 
is on track for the fourth straight year to provide record funding for 
biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health in a regular 
appropriations bill.
  This year's bill includes $39.1 billion for the National Institutes 
of Health--a $2 billion increase over last year.
  Over the last 3 years, Congress has increased NIH funding by about $7 
billion. First, Congress increased National Institutes of Health 
funding by $2 billion in 2015. Then, in 2016, we increased it another 
$2 billion. Then, in 2017, Congress increased funding at the NIH by $3 
billion, including $500 million to work on a non-addictive pain killer, 
which, in my view, is the Holy Grail of the fight against the opioid 
crisis--finding some form of painkiller that is not addictive for the 
100 million Americans who hurt and the 25 million who have chronic 
  This year's increased funding for biomedical research will mean more 
medical miracles--new treatments and cures. The reason Congress has 
given this such a priority was very well described by Dr. Francis 
Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health. He calls it the 
``National Institutes of Hope.''
  When he testified before our Appropriations Committee, he talked 
about what we might expect to see during the next 10 years if we 
properly fund the National Institutes of Health. Some of those 
predictions by Dr. Collins were these: Being able to identify 
Alzheimer's disease before symptoms appear; the possibility that we 
could rebuild a patient's heart with the patient's own cells--in other 
words, put

[[Page S5809]]

the transplant surgeons out of business; the creation of a safe and 
effective artificial pancreas, making life easier and healthier for the 
millions of Americans with diabetes; development of new vaccines, Dr. 
Collins said, including for Zika, for HIV/AIDS, and a universal flu 
vaccine; development of a new, non-addictive painkiller, which I 
mentioned; significant progress on the Precision Medicine Initiative, 
which President Obama championed, which aim to map the genomes of 1 
million volunteers so that we can better tailor treatments to patients; 
and new treatment for cancer patients. Those are just some of the new 
treatments, cures, and miracles we might expect, Dr. Collins said, in 
the next 10 years.
  This bill we are talking about also provides $3.7 billion to help 
those on the frontlines of the opioid crisis and help bring an end to 
opioid abuse. Senator Murray and I, as well as about 60 Members of this 
body, have put together a comprehensive opioids authorization bill, 
which we hope to be able to present to the full Senate at the end of 
next week, or shortly after Labor Day, that can be put together with 
the House to address this crisis. But this is the money for the opioids 
initiative; it is in this bill: $1.5 billion for State Opioid Response 
Grants, state grants originally authorized by the 21st Century Cures 
Act; $500 million to develop non-addictive painkillers; funding for 
more substance abuse and mental health treatment services at Community 
Health Centers.
  The other funding bill included in this minibus appropriations bill 
is the Defense Appropriations bill. The Senator from Illinois is on the 
floor. He is the ranking Democrat on that committee. He has also been 
one of the foremost leaders of the effort to increase the biomedical 
research I just mentioned.
  Chairman Shelby and Senator Durbin worked together to produce a bill 
that provides a total of $675 billion to make sure our troops have the 
resources they need to maintain our national defense. The funding 
included in this bill will provide the largest pay increase since 2010 
for the men and women serving in the military, including those who 
serve at Fort Campbell in Tennessee and Kentucky.
  Also, $2.8 billion is provided for basic research at the Department 
of Defense. This is the largest Defense Department research and 
development budget in history.
  It is hard to think of a major technological development since World 
War II in this country that wasn't supported in some way by federally 
sponsored research. Funding basic research at the Department of Defense 
will give the United States an advantage over our adversaries and allow 
us to maintain the strongest military in the world.
  I have suggested to President Trump that he make science and research 
a part of his ``America First'' agenda. We need to do that. Since 2007, 
over the last 10 years, China has increased its spending on basic 
science by a factor of four and may surpass the United States in total 
spending on research and development this year, according to Norm 
Augustine, who, during the George W. Bush administration, chaired the 
bipartisan committee that wrote a report called ``Rising Above the 
Gathering Storm,'' which made recommendations to the Congress on how to 
retain America's competitive advantage.
  Our country needs to continue to be first in the world in basic 
research. The President has already signed into law two consecutive 
appropriations bills that provide record funding for science, 
technology, energy, and biomedical research, and the two appropriations 
bills we are debating this week will provide even more funding for 
basic research.
  I urge my colleagues to support these bills because passing these 
bills means more biomedical research at National Institutes of Health 
for treatments and cures; more Federal help for States and communities 
struggling to combat the opioid crisis; the largest Department of 
Defense research budget in history; and pay raises for the men and 
women who serve in our military.
  Let me say again what I said a little earlier. This funding that we 
are talking about--this record funding for science, technology, basic 
research, supercomputing in another bill, the need for our national 
defense--all of this is within the part of the Federal budget that is 
under control. Over the last 10 years, this discretionary part of the 
budget--roughly one-third or a little less than one-third of the 
budget--has grown at about the rate of inflation, and over the next 10 
years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it is expected to 
grow at just a little more than the rate of inflation.
  So this is not the Federal spending that is causing the big Federal 
deficit. This is spending for national defense, national parks, the 
National Institutes of Health, and national laboratories. This is the 
core of what we need to do in the United States of America.
  We need resolve and courage in a bipartisan way, and the President 
needs to join us, in dealing with the part of the budget that is 
running up a big deficit; that is, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, 
and other entitlements. Nobody wants to touch that. That is a separate 
question. But it is important for people to know that there is no need 
to beat your chest and pat yourself on the back when you cut funding 
for the military, when you cut funding for the National Institutes of 
Health, when you make our national laboratories work less, or when the 
National Parks can't maintain themselves.
  We go the opposite direction here: record funding for national 
laboratories; we are considering more maintenance for National Parks; 
record funding for supercomputing; record funding for biomedical 
research, all within the budget limits, all within our priorities. That 
is what we need to do.
  As I said when I started, Senators don't deserve a merit badge for 
passing appropriations bills any more than Boy Scouts deserve a merit 
badge for telling the truth. That is what we are supposed to do. But 
when we do it and do it properly, as we are doing this year, it 
deserves to be noticed.
  I congratulate Senator Durbin, Senator Leahy, Senator McConnell, and 
Senator Shelby for their roles and their leadership in this.
  I thank the President.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The assistant Democratic leader.

                           Amendment No. 3787

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Tennessee for 
his kind words and thank him for his leadership on so many issues. He 
is chairman of the health and education authorizing committee, and we 
also serve together on Appropriations Committee. It has been a real 
pleasure to work with him over the years on so many issues but 
particularly on the issue of medical research.
  It would surprise a lot of people--maybe even disappoint them--to 
know how bipartisan we are when it comes to this issue. I can say, on 
behalf of Senator Murray on our side of the aisle and Senator Blunt on 
the other side of the aisle, that he and I have created a little team, 
a little cabal, that watches the authorization and appropriations 
  This will be the fourth consecutive year that we have had 5 percent 
real growth at the National Institutes of Health. As Dr. Collins--one 
of the great living Americans--has told us, this is going to reap 
dividends, as the Senator described earlier in his speech, in terms of 
breakthroughs when it comes to dealing with suffering and disease and 
early death that we can do something about in our lifetimes.
  I don't quarrel with the Senator's conclusion in his speech that we 
are talking about the direct appropriations bills here, the direct 
spending of the government, and we are keeping that at a slow rate of 
  On the mandatory side of the programs where we see dramatic increase, 
part of it has to do with the cost of healthcare in America. That cost 
continues to go up. One of the drivers of the cost of healthcare, 
according to insurance companies and others, are the costs of 
prescription drugs. They are going up dramatically.
  We had a hearing yesterday, and a young mother came to tell us the 
story of losing her son who, I think, was about 23 years of age. No, I 
know exactly; I remember now. He was 26 years of age. He no longer 
qualified to be on the family health insurance. He was diabetic, and he 
went to buy his insulin at the drugstore and was told it would cost him 
$1,300. He wasn't going to get paid for 4 days, so he put it off. 
During that period of time, he died from complications of diabetes.

[[Page S5810]]

  The cost of insulin at $1,300 is incredible to me. This is a drug 
that has been available for decades, and that it would go up in cost so 
dramatically that he would be unable to afford it and lose his life is 
scandalous in this country.
  I know the Senator senses this, as well, and believes, as I do, that 
we want pharmaceutical companies to be profitable, we want them to do 
research, and we want them to invest in new drugs. But we cannot step 
back and ignore when their pricing is out of control, and in many 
instances that is the case.
  I have said before on the floor--I have asked the people who gathered 
here to follow our speeches: How many of you have never seen an ad on 
television for a drug? If you held up your hand, I know one thing for 
sure: You don't own a television because the average American sees nine 
drug ads a day--a day.
  Why do pharmaceutical companies buy nine drug ads a day for every 
American to consume at $6 billion a year? So that, eventually, we will 
become so familiar with the names of their drugs that we will ask our 
doctors to prescribe them, and doctors do prescribe them when the 
patients ask. Sometimes the patient may not need that drug. The patient 
may be able to deal with a generic drug that is much cheaper, but the 
pharmaceutical companies want us to reach the point at which we know 
these drugs by name and ask for them, and the doctors prescribe them.
  The most heavily prescribed drug in America today--here is a name you 
are familiar with: HUMIRA. Of course, if you turn on the television, 
you see HUMIRA, which was originally designed to deal with rheumatoid 
arthritis and is now being advertised as a cure for psoriasis. What 
they don't tell you is the information we put at the bottom of this 
display: HUMIRA costs $5,500 a month. Did you know that? You would 
never know it, listening to their ads because they don't disclose it.
  I have an amendment here that is bipartisan, which Senator Chuck 
Grassley and I have offered, to say that on all the drug ads, they have 
to put the price of the drug. It is pretty simple, right? If you knew 
HUMIRA cost $5,500 a month, you might not even consider it for that 
little red patch of psoriasis on your elbow. If you knew that some of 
these drugs they are talking about, like XARELTO--it took about 10 
times for me to figure out how to pronounce it and spell it, but they 
keep coming at you. It is a blood thinner, and it costs $500 or $600 a 
month. All of these disclosures made to consumers would give them more 
information to make a decision and perhaps think twice before they ask 
for a very expensive prescription drug.
  So I have this bipartisan amendment pending on this bill, which would 
say to the Trump administration and the Department of Health and Human 
Services: Develop the rules for putting prices of these drugs on the 
ads. The Trump administration supports it. How about that? Republican 
Senator Grassley, Democratic Senator Durbin, and the Trump 
administration support it. It sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn't 
it? It sounds like just the kind of thing that would pass in the 
ordinary course of business in the Senate. But, unfortunately, it ran 
into a problem. The problem? Pharma. The pharmaceutical companies don't 
want to tell us how much these drugs cost, so they are trying to stop 
this amendment.
  They are trying to stop this amendment. They have one Senator who has 
created many obstacles for me to bring this to the floor. We have had 
everybody on Earth calling him, and we are not getting anywhere. It 
seems that pharma is not ready for putting the cost of the drug on 
their ad.
  It means that when it comes down to it, not only will the American 
Medical Association, which supports our amendment, the American 
Association of Retired People, which supports our amendment, and the 76 
percent of Americans--despite all of the support--we are going to have 
a tough time passing it. Pharma is hard to beat. Pharma is hard to 
  When we talk about the increasing cost of Medicare and the cost of 
healthcare across America, Blue Cross Blue Shield tells me it is the 
driver of the increase in healthcare costs, prescription drugs.
  Blue Cross Blue Shield in Illinois told me they spend more money on 
prescription drugs each year than they spend on inpatient hospital 
care. Think about that--more money than inpatient hospital care.
  If we are going to do something about it, we ought to do the basics. 
The basics would be disclosing to the American people how much these 
drugs cost. You haven't heard the last of it when it comes to this 
  If Pharma is successful in stopping us from offering this amendment, 
and even getting a vote on it, I will be back. I am going to continue 
to return because I think it is important that consumers across America 
get full disclosure of information on these drug ads.
  Incidentally, you know how many countries in the world advertise 
drugs like the United States? Only one other country, New Zealand. New 
Zealand and the United States are the only two, and pharma spends $6 
billion a year.
  When it comes to dealing with increasing costs of Medicare, this is 
one of the things we can do. We also want to say Medicare can bargain, 
just as the Veterans' Administration does, to get a good deal on drug 
pricing. Right now, they can't, but if they could bring down the cost 
of drugs under Medicare, it would help us maintain the solvency of that 
critically important lifesaving program.
  I see the Senator from Tennessee is on his feet.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, if I may, I thank the Senator for his 
remarks and his leadership on this amendment. I think it is important 
to be clear about this. Of course, the Senator has a right to object to 
the amendment, I suppose, but sooner or later this amendment, or 
something like it, is going to become law. I support the amendment. 
President Trump supports the amendment.
  Senator Durbin has worked with Republicans and Democrats, over the 
last 3 or 4 weeks, to think of different appropriate ways to require 
television advertising to state what the price of a drug is. There 
would be different ways to do it. I asked him to take a few weeks to 
help us talk that out. He did that. I think he has come to a conclusion 
that deserves support. I support the bill.
  I am chairman of the authorizing committee, the Health Committee, in 
the Senate. This is going to happen one way or the other. I suggest we 
try to find a way to go ahead and do it now because if the President 
supports it and you have bipartisan support in the Health Committee and 
bipartisan support in the Labor and Health Appropriations Subcommittee, 
it is going to become law. It makes good sense.
  The cost of healthcare is a major issue we need to address, and we 
can't do it all at once. Prescription drugs are a part of it. 
Prescription drugs are 10 percent of the cost of healthcare. They are 
17 percent--we have had testimony before our committee--if you include 
the drugs that are administered in hospitals. There are other factors 
as well.
  Complexity is a big factor. Administrative burden is a big factor. 
Electronic healthcare records and their inadequate operation and lack 
of inoperability are big factors. Overutilization is a big factor.
  Through the Chair, I wish to say to the Senator of Illinois, we have 
had excellent witnesses through our committee from the Institute of 
Medicine--some of the most distinguished witnesses we could have in the 
country--who tell us that as much as 30 percent to 50 percent of all 
that the United States spends on healthcare is unnecessary, wasted.
  We spend 17 or 18 percent of our entire gross domestic product on 
healthcare. We are the richest country in the world. We produce about 
24 percent of all money in the world, and we spend 18 percent of that 
on healthcare, much more than similar countries do, and our own experts 
tell us much of it is unnecessary.
  We can't deal with it all at once, but one way to deal with it is 
competition and transparency and letting patients know the cost of what 
they are buying, whether it is doctors' services or it is a 
prescription drug.
  I believe Senator Durbin and Senator Grassley are correct. The 
President believes they are correct. The Secretary of Health and Human 
Services supports their bill, and we should pass

[[Page S5811]]

it. Consumers should know, when they see a television ad about a 
prescription drug, what the cost of that drug is.
  My hope for the Senator from Illinois is that he is ultimately 
successful with his proposal, and if he is not, I hope he counts me as 
an ally in an effort to continue to see that it gets done.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, let me thank my colleague from Tennessee. 
I value his friendship and professional support on this idea. This is 
basic that Americans know what the cost of the prescription drugs will 
be. Do you know when you discover it? When you go to the cash register, 
that is when you discover it.
  Shouldn't we know in advance? Shouldn't we know so that if Humira, 
which is now at $5,500 per month, goes up to $6,000--and I understand 
it just did--we are aware of that fact? If we can't use transparency in 
competition, what are the alternatives--a government mandate? There are 
alternatives to that, which I think we have come up with.
  Let's let the American consumer know what they are facing when it 
comes to these drugs, and let's use this Congress, as we are elected to 
use it, to reflect the will of the people, who are fed up with the 
spiraling cost of prescription drugs.
  I thank the Senator from Tennessee for joining me on the floor.
  I yield.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. TILLIS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 

            Calling for the Release of Pastor Andrew Brunson

  Mr. TILLIS. Mr. President, I have come to the floor every week for 
the past several months to draw attention to a matter that I think 
should be important to anybody who travels overseas, anybody who does 
missionary work, anybody who can go to a country and potentially get 
detained for false charges and imprisoned for nearly 2 years. I am 
talking about a Presbyterian minister from North Carolina who has been 
in Turkey for the better part of 20 years. He was a missionary that 
entire time. He created a church in Izmir and has lived there 
peacefully and lawfully for two decades.
  In October of 2016, after the coup attempt--an illegal coup attempt, 
and the people responsible for it should actually have to answer to the 
Turkish justice system--they swept Pastor Brunson and thousands of 
other people into the Turkish justice system, and he has been in prison 
since 2016.
  He was in prison for nearly 19 months before he was ever charged with 
anything. In fact, he lost 50 pounds over the course of about a year. 
He was in a cell that was designed for 8 people but had 21 people in 
it. I don't believe any of the others even spoke English. He was then 
transferred to another prison where he was kept in a cell with one 
other person, given virtually no access to the outside world.
  He has experienced medical challenges, as anyone would expect when 
you are in prison without charges, and we found out the charges were 
bogus. That would weigh on you mentally.
  We started working to try to first let Pastor Brunson know we knew 
about him and that I, as a Senator from North Carolina, cared about 
him. I cared enough to go to Turkey to visit him in prison several 
months ago. I told him I wanted to assure him face-to-face that as long 
as he is in prison, I will be working for his release. As a matter of 
fact, we have more than 70 Senators who have signed on to a letter who 
share my concern that he is illegally in prison.
  What have we done? We actually put a provision in the National 
Defense Authorization Act that holds Turkey accountable. They are a 
partner in developing the Joint Strike Fighter. It is a capability I 
sincerely hope someday Turkey may have. There is no way on Earth we 
should transfer that technology to Turkey as long as they are illegally 
imprisoning Pastor Brunson and others whom I will talk about shortly.
  We did make some positive progress a few weeks ago. After he had been 
in prison for nearly 20 months, a little over, he was released on house 
arrest. At least he is now in his apartment near Izmir. He has an ankle 
bracelet on and is not allowed to go out of his house.
  He has had several hearings. I actually attended one earlier in the 
spring. I was in that courtroom for almost 12 hours. I heard some of 
the most absurd claims you could ever allege as a basis for keeping 
somebody in prison overnight, let alone 2 years in October.
  We are working with the administration, and I want to give the 
President a lot of credit for making this a priority. If you have read 
the newspapers recently, it would be hard for you not to hear about the 
Presbyterian minister, Pastor Brunson, and the difference of opinion 
between Turkey and the United States on what should be done.
  When I talk to a lot of the Turkish officials, they say you have to 
respect our justice system; this has to play out, no matter how absurd 
the claims may be. Those are my words, not theirs. I wonder if they are 
sincere. Here is why. Several months ago, President Erdogan, the 
President of Turkey, made a public statement saying: How about this? We 
will give you your pastor if you give us our pastor?
  There is a person living in the United States named Gulen, who they 
believe may have had something to do with the coup. We have an 
extradition treaty with Turkey.
  We said: Honor the requirements of the extradition treaty, present 
credible evidence that Gulen is guilty of having conspired, and then we 
will let our process take its course.
  Let me tell you what is interesting about making that offer in the 
context of the other elected officials, including Erdogan, saying: We 
have to let our legal process play out.
  On the one hand, how can you say your hands are tied but on the other 
hand make a hostage swap request--or what they would consider to be a 
hostage swap request.
  Maybe he just misspoke. Presidents do that from time to time.
  Let's take a look at what we are dealing with now. A week ago, 
instead of offering Pastor Brunson for Mr. Gulen, now there is a new 
exchange on the table: If we drop a case against a Turkish bank, which 
has risen to our level of jurisprudence, the allegations against them 
are going to have to go through the legal process. Apparently, their 
judicial system does allow you to say: Well, if you drop that case in 
the gold standard for judicial systems--that is the U.S. judicial 
system--then, we will release Pastor Brunson.
  Clearly, Turkey has the authority to release Pastor Brunson. Turkey 
has the authority to release a NASA scientist who happened to be 
visiting his family, who has been in prison for almost 3 years now, and 
has a 7-year sentence or another 4\1/2\ years ahead of him. They had 
the authority to release him. The only thing he seems to be guilty of 
is having been in Turkey visiting relatives when the coup attempt 
  They have the authority to release a DEA agent who they said was 
involved in the coup attempt. They have the authority to release a 
number of Turkish nationals who have worked with our Embassy for years. 
All they were doing was their job, and they were swept up, as thousands 
more have been.
  Thank you again for the opportunity for me to come to the floor and 
make sure the American people understand what is at stake.
  Turkey is a NATO ally. No NATO ally in the history of the alliance 
has ever illegally detained a citizen from one of their partner 
countries, but that is exactly what has happened here since October of 
  So I hope this is the last time I have to come to this floor to talk 
about releasing Pastor Brunson. I hope next week I am coming to the 
floor thanking the Turkish leadership for doing the right thing, 
thanking them for letting Pastor Brunson and his wife Norine come back 
to the United States, and advocating for a great relationship with 
Turkey as a NATO partner, which is very important. But none of that can 
happen as long as Pastor Brunson and the others that I have mentioned 
are illegally in prison.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.

[[Page S5812]]

  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 


  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, what the Trump administration is doing to 
sabotage healthcare in our country is a monumental scandal in slow 
motion. What the President promised was better care for all Americans 
at lower cost. What he and his officials have delivered is special 
deals for special interests and rewards for rip-offs.
  It is almost as if you took the clock above the Chamber and turned it 
back. What Americans want--and I heard it at townhall meetings last 
weekend at home in Oregon--is to move forward on healthcare. They want, 
for example, to have strong measures, not empty rhetoric, to hold down 
the cost of their medicines--lifting the restrictions so that Medicare 
can bargain and hold down the cost of medicine and use the smart 
principles of negotiating power that the private sector uses all the 
time. They want to move forward on healthcare, not backward.
  There is no clearer example of the administration's trying to take 
the country back on healthcare than its efforts to give a green light 
to junk health insurance. Junk health insurance represents all of the 
unsavory insurance industry tricks and abuses that the Affordable Care 
Act sought to eliminate. Junk plans exist, literally and figuratively, 
so that companies can prey on the vulnerable and the people with 
preexisting conditions, such as if you have asthma or diabetes, or prey 
on women, prey on older people, or prey on the less fortunate. They 
certainly don't exist to cover the healthcare that Americans actually 
need because that is where they always fall short.
  The centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act was an ironclad, loophole-
free guarantee that no American would ever face discrimination over a 
preexisting condition.
  I note that my friend, the President of the Senate, has joined the 
Chamber. He knows this pretty well because he worked with me on our 
bipartisan effort to ensure that there would be loophole-free, airtight 
protection for Americans from discrimination against those with a 
preexisting conditions. For all practical purposes, we got what we 
worked on in a bipartisan way, when we had eight Democrats and eight 
Republicans. We got that into the Affordable Care Act. Essentially, now 
what the Trump administration seeks to do is to undo that guarantee of 
airtight, loophole-free protection for people who have these 
preexisting conditions.
  I am going to read a question that appears on an application for one 
of these plans that are being marketed now. Under a bold headline that 
says ``Important: You must answer the questions below as they apply to 
You and all other family members applying for coverage,'' the question 
reads: ``Within the past 5 years, have you or any other person to be 
insured been aware of, diagnosed, treated by a member of the medical 
profession or taken [medication] for: cancer or a tumor, stroke, heart 
disorder, heart attack, coronary bypass or stent, peripheral vascular 
disease, carotid artery disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
or emphysema, kidney disorder or disease, neurological disorder, 
degenerative disc disease or herniation/bulge, rheumatoid arthritis, 
degenerative joint disease of the knee or hip, diabetes, Crohn's 
disease or ulcerative colitis, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, any 
eating disorder [or] alcohol abuse or chemical dependency, or does 
anyone listed on the application currently weigh over 250 pounds 
(women) or over 300 pounds (men)?''
  Another question on the same application asks, ``Have you or any 
other person to be insured been hospitalized for a mental health 
condition in the past 5 years or been treated by a member of the 
medical profession for a mental health condition in the past 12 
  Finally, another question asks, ``Have you or any other person to be 
insured ever been diagnosed or treated for Acquired Immune Deficiency 
Syndrome (AIDS), AIDS-related complex, or any other immune system 
disorder such as HIV?''
  I would also note that this part of the application contained a 
number of typos, a mislabeled number, and a mislabeled word. 
Apparently, the scam artists are as bad at editing their documents as 
they are at covering the healthcare people actually need. But setting 
aside the bad grammar, the questions collectively tick through dozens 
of health categories that include hundreds of various conditions and 
illnesses, so we are talking about well more than 100 million Americans 
who would answer yes to at least one of them.
  Americans need to know and they ought to know that the only reason 
junk insurance companies ask these probing questions about your health 
background is to use the information against you and keep you from 
getting meaningful coverage. That forms the basis of the Trump-era 
discrimination against those with a preexisting condition.
  A lot of people have preexisting conditions. What is that? Everybody 
knows folks in Tennessee or in Oregon who have asthma or diabetes. We 
are talking about millions of Americans.
  When my colleague from Tennessee and I were working together--eight 
Democrats, eight Republicans--I said: You know, it is really going to 
be monumental if we get airtight, loophole-free protection for those 
with pre-existing conditions. The reason I said that is that ever since 
I was director of the senior citizens at home, the Gray Panthers, it 
has been clear to me that as long as our country allowed discrimination 
against those with preexisting conditions, healthcare in America would 
basically be for the healthy and the wealthy. If you are healthy, no 
sweat, no preexisting conditions, and if you are wealthy, you have no 
real problems because you can just write out the checks to pay for your 
treatment. But now we are talking about going back to those days--not 
the days when the Senator from Tennessee and I and other Democrats and 
Republicans got together and did something that really was a monumental 
step forward, protecting millions of people with preexisting 
conditions--now we are going backward.
  What are those Americans going to hear in their time of need when 
their cancer comes back or when they face another bout of medical 
illness? What they are going to hear, with policies like the one I just 
read from, is the fraudsters who conned them into buying the junk 
insurance basically saying: You are on your own. And those Americans 
are going to be buried under mountains of medical debt.
  By the way, we are talking about medical debt. I think my friend from 
Tennessee and I have talked about this over the years. Healthcare is 
the great equalizer. For example, in a discussion Democrats ran 
yesterday on healthcare, we had a gentleman who did everything right. 
He worked hard. He was a professional. He was constantly trying to 
better himself and contribute--not just supporting his family but the 
community. He got Parkinson's. All of a sudden, he wasn't able to pay 
his bills. So healthcare is the great equalizer in America.
  When I read about the junk plans, I have to tell you, it takes me 
back to the old days when these scam artists preyed on the seniors who 
needed insurance coverage above and beyond what they got from 
traditional Medicare.
  Mr. President and colleagues, this is something that is very personal 
to me. When I was a young man, I was codirector of the Oregon Gray 
Panthers. I would go and visit seniors in their homes--very often they 
would have a small apartment or something--and they would go in the 
back, and they would pull out a shoebox full of Medigap policies. These 
were policies that insurance salesmen sold them that the salesmen said 
would fill in the gaps in Medicare. Frequently, a senior would spend 
thousands of dollars--this was a number of years ago--on these policies 
that were worth little more than the paper they were written on. They 
often contained--we saw this at our legal aid program for seniors--what 
were called subrogation clauses, which essentially meant that if you 
had another policy that covered it, the first one didn't have to cover 
it. The two of them canceled each other out. So vulnerable seniors with 
serious medical

[[Page S5813]]

conditions would get conned into buying these plans that were 
essentially worthless.
  After years of effort--we began in Oregon in the State insurance 
commission office. I had the honor of getting elected to represent 
Oregon in the U.S. House of Representatives. We began there and 
continued it in the Senate. We acted in a bipartisan fashion to 
eliminate the junk plans. We did that literally decades ago. We drained 
the swamp, to use the lingo of today. We really drained the swamp as it 
related to these rip-off Medigap policies. We got it down to a handful.

  I would be willing to bet that the Senator from Tennessee, the 
Senator from Ohio, and my other colleagues on the floor don't have 
folks at home coming up to them any longer and telling them that they 
have rip-off Medigap insurance. I haven't had a complaint about that 
for years and years. Now the Trump administration is trying to bring 
back junk insurance for an even larger portion of the American people--
more people than just the seniors.
  The bad news with these junk policies doesn't begin and end with 
discrimination and debt. The Trump administration is letting the junk 
insurance companies steal the money Americans pay in premiums and other 
  According to one recent study, half of each premium dollar and 
sometimes as much as two-thirds gets wasted on overhead, administrative 
costs, and profits. The Affordable Care Act had a rule that banned that 
kind of waste. The Trump administration threw it out so that the rip-
off artists can once again pocket unsuspecting Americans' premium 
  What the Trump administration is doing to undermine healthcare is not 
only playing out in what is called the individual insurance market; the 
harmful threat is a threat to the 167 million Americans who get their 
insurance through their jobs as well.
  Worse healthcare at a higher cost--a far cry from what people were 
promised a few years ago--is clearly a growing problem. Worse 
healthcare. Higher costs. A forced march back to the days when 
healthcare in America, as I have said--and it has really been my 
reference point as much as anything--I said: Let's not turn back the 
clock to the days when healthcare was for the healthy and wealthy. This 
junk insurance is unquestionably the kickoff of this administration's 
formal effort to do just that.
  There was an effort in the Affordable Care Act to build a functional 
market that didn't trample all over typical Americans and their 
families. The President and his allies in Congress have done everything 
they can--starting with an Executive order on day one--to empower the 
scam artists and powerful companies to have the ability to make 
healthcare worse and rip off our people. That has been the story from 
day one of this administration. As I said a few minutes ago, it is a 
monumental scandal in slow motion.
  On behalf of those Americans who are hurting, who are not being taken 
care of, many of us are going to do everything we can to make sure--for 
those who are getting hurt, who can't afford these kinds of practices, 
we are going to keep this front and center of the American people until 
we end this consumer scourge.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Corker). The Senator from Ohio.

                     Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, today I want to talk about a huge 
responsibility we have here in the Senate and a great opportunity that 
lies before us. The Senate is asked to confirm nominees both for 
executive branch appointments and for judicial branch appointments. We 
have heard a lot of great debate here on the Senate floor over the past 
1\1/2\ years on some of these nominees. We were able to confirm Justice 
Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, who I believe is doing a superb job. 
That was quite a debate here. In the meantime, we have been able to 
confirm a number of circuit court judges, some district court judges, 
and executive branch appointments.
  That is all important, but once again, we are asked to do something 
that is perhaps our most important task, and that is to fill yet 
another opening on the U.S. Supreme Court. There are only nine of these 
Justices, and this is a lifetime appointment. What the district court 
and circuit court do--it all comes up to this one Court. Our Founders 
created this Court in order to have a place where people could get a 
fair hearing and where we could have a dispassionate look at whether 
what we pass here fits within the Constitution and whether laws are 
being properly interpreted. These are hard and tough issues, and we 
want the right people there to do it. Once again, because of an opening 
that has occurred on the Supreme Court, we have the opportunity and 
responsibility to step up as a body and do that.
  In this case, we are asked to fill the seat of Justice Kennedy, who 
is viewed by many as being an important player in the Court because he 
was often the swing vote. He is a thoughtful guy. I think we are very 
fortunate in that one of Justice Kennedy's law clerks has been 
nominated by the President and has agreed to step forward for this 
confirmation process to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court 
and to fill that ninth spot. My hope is that this can be done in a way 
where we have honest and spirited but fact-driven debate on the floor 
of the Senate.
  I have to tell you that I am probably a little biased in this case 
because I know this nominee personally. I think a lot of him, not just 
as a judge, where he has an amazing record on the second highest court 
in the land, but also as a person.
  This is the third time I have come to the Senate floor to talk about 
him because I feel so strongly and I want to be sure that he gets a 
fair shake. I think that as the American people get to know him better, 
he will see a lot of support around the country for his confirmation 
because people will see that he is the kind of person they would want 
to have representing them, their family, and their children on the 
Supreme Court.
  I worked with him in the George W. Bush White House. He had a job 
there, which we will talk about in a second, called Staff Secretary, 
which is a job where you are responsible for being the traffic cop, 
basically, for the Oval Office. The documents that go into the Oval 
Office and go out of the Oval Office go through that office. It is not 
a substantive job in that sense, but it is an important job to the 
President to have somebody he trusts to decide what he looks at, what 
he doesn't look at, and how this material is then distributed out.
  He is someone who became close to President George W. Bush. President 
George W. Bush, as he has said many times publicly and to me and others 
privately, thinks the world of him. He got to know him very well.
  So I know Brett Kavanaugh more as a person, as a friend, as a father, 
and as a husband, but his legal background is incredibly impressive. I 
don't think anybody is better qualified to serve on the Supreme Court 
based on his legal background and his judicial philosophy. I know some 
of my colleagues have now met with him, as well.
  I am told that as of yesterday, 49 of the 51 Republicans who are here 
in the Senate have now met with Judge Kavanaugh. I am glad to hear 
that. By the way, the reactions have been very positive. I talked to 
most of my colleagues about their meetings with him, and a number of 
them have gone out of their way to speak publicly about how impressed 
they were with him, his demeanor, his background, and his character.
  I am also pleased to hear that several of my colleagues on the other 
side of the aisle have now met with Judge Kavanaugh, as well. I think 
that is really important. I know that this is a partisan town these 
days, and it is tough to get things done, but in this case, I would 
hope that more of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle agree to 
sit down with him and talk to him. I think he needs to have the ability 
to talk one-on-one to some people who perhaps don't know him well, 
based on some of the comments I have seen about him. I think he could 
put some of their concerns to rest.
  For some, that may not be possible. They may have philosophical 
differences with his approach to the law. I get that, but I hope they 
will take the opportunity to sit down with him and talk to him. The 
Supreme Court is going to be faced with a lot of tough issues, and this 
needs to be a serious consideration. I am pleased that we are taking it 

[[Page S5814]]

  Some have said that this is going too fast. I will tell you that the 
amount of time between when he was nominated and when his hearing will 
be--which is scheduled now for the week of September 4--is more time 
than elapsed during the previous few Supreme Court nominations--Justice 
Kagan, Justice Sotomayor, and Neil Gorsuch, about whom I talked a 
minute ago. There has been adequate time here relative to other 
  Second, some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are 
saying they want more documents to review his nomination. I would just 
make this point: More documents have been produced with regard to Judge 
Kavanaugh than any other Supreme Court nomination in history. That is 
what I am told by the Judiciary Committee. Some Democrats have 
suggested they need to review the literally millions of documents that 
passed through his office and passed through his desk when he held the 
job we talked about earlier as Staff Secretary for President George W. 
  Again, this is a job that is sort of like the traffic cop. It is not 
to be substantively giving the President the documents from an agency, 
department, or other White House policy office, but rather to provide 
the documents to the President in a timely way to be sure the President 
is seeing the right documents and to be sure there is coordination. It 
is the flow of the documents.
  So I think seeing all those documents are not relevant, frankly, to 
the confirmation process because they don't relate to him. What they do 
relate to, obviously, are a lot of things that have to do with 
President George W. Bush, which I am sure were very personal documents 
where the President would write in the margin and so on. That would be 
interesting for people to look at. People could probably write a book 
about those things. That is not the purpose here. And that is why I 
think it is a fishing expedition to say: Let's see millions 
of documents that passed through this guy's desk, particularly in the 
context of a confirmation where more documents are being provided than 
any previous confirmation.

  I was told by the Judiciary Committee this morning that 430,000 pages 
of documents are being produced. I don't know how many of my colleagues 
are going to read through 430,000 pages of documents, but they are free 
to do so. By the way, this compares to 170,000 pages of documents that 
were produced with regard to former Solicitor General Elena Kagan's 
confirmation. Think about that: 430,000 versus 170,000.
  Elena Kagan also served as a senior aide in the White House. She 
worked for President Clinton. She had a senior position there--a 
substantive position, actually--in domestic policy. She also, of 
course, was the Solicitor General of the United States--yet 430,000 
versus 170,000. I just hope people keep that in mind when they hear 
about the documents.
  What is really relevant to me is what he has done as a judge. He has 
spent 12 years on the DC Circuit Court, which is viewed by most as 
being the second highest court in the land. He has a lot of documents 
that are related to that. He has authored more than 300 published 
opinions. Clearly, these opinions are relevant. By the way, more than a 
dozen of his opinions on the Circuit Court have been endorsed by the 
Supreme Court, which is an unusually high number and a testament to his 
outstanding judicial record.
  In addition to the more than 10,000 pages of published opinions he 
authored or joined, out of the 430,000 pages of documents I mentioned, 
the Judiciary Committee tells me they have released more than 176,000 
pages of appropriate documents from Judge Kavanaugh's time in the 
executive branch. So there are plenty of documents to look at. I 
encourage my colleagues to do so.
  As I said earlier, based on the traditions that we have here and on 
the amount of time spent between nomination and confirmation and based 
on the number of documents that have been produced, I think it has been 
an appropriate and transparent process. I am glad Chairman Grassley has 
made it so.
  My hope is that from his time on the bench and his time in the 
executive branch, both of these documents will be reviewed--the 
appropriate ones.
  Brett Kavanaugh is very well respected as a judge. He is the thought 
leader among his peers. I am sure you have heard a lot about that. 
There have been op-eds written about him from Democrats and Republicans 
alike saying: I know the guy. I clerked with the guy. I worked with the 
guy. I was one of his students. He is smart. He is thoughtful.
  He has said very clearly that he will be guided by the Constitution 
and the rule of law. He understands that the proper role of the Court 
is not to legislate from the bench. He has respect for precedent. He 
actually wrote the book, meaning he is one of the coeditors of this 
book looking at legal precedent and what they call stare decisis. He is 
someone who is very much in the mainstream of legal thought and very 
well regarded.
  His former colleagues, his current colleagues, his former students, 
and legal experts on both sides of the aisle have come out to say this 
about him. I think he has exactly the right qualifications, extensive 
experience, and a judicial philosophy that most Americans agree with 
and would want in a judge.
  Again, as important as that is to me, he is also a good person. He is 
compassionate. He is humble. He is someone who has a big heart. Maybe, 
most importantly, he has the humility to be able to listen, to hear 
people out. As I said earlier, there is no more important a quality in 
a Supreme Court Justice given the incredibly important issues they have 
before them.
  So, as his confirmation process continues, I hope my colleagues and 
the American people will get to know the Brett Kavanaugh that I know. I 
hope he is soon able to continue his lifetime of distinguished service 
as a member of the highest Court in the land. I am proud to strongly 
support his nomination for this important position.
  I yield back my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, when Justice Kagan was up for nomination, I 
was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I, along with then 
Ranking Member Jeff Sessions, sent a letter saying that we needed all 
of her White House records. We received 99 percent of those records.
  Now for Judge Kavanaugh's nomination we are told, after being 
carefully selected, that we can only have 3 percent of his records. It 
is an interesting standard. Republicans want all of it when there is a 
Democratic President, for a woman who was nominated by a Democrat. Now, 
when the Republicans nominate this man, they say: We will selectively 
give you 3 percent. It is an interesting double standard. It makes me 
wonder what there is to hide in there. Why not take the time to see it 
  If I am going to vote on a lifetime appointment--I voted for a lot of 
Republican nominees for the Supreme Court and other courts--I want to 
see the whole record. I don't want, a month after I voted, more to come 
out in the record and to think: Whoops, who knew about that? We had 
this happen with one judge already after they were confirmed to a 
lifetime appointment. The final records came out, and we found out what 
they did with issues of torture and other things. It was bad.

                Amendment No. 3993 to Amendment No. 3699

  Mr. President, I have an amendment at the desk, and I ask unanimous 
consent that it be reported by number.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Vermont [Mr. Leahy] proposes an amendment 
     numbered 3993 to amendment No. 3699.
       In lieu of the matter proposed to be inserted, insert the 
     following: ``$8,503,001.''

  The amendment is as follows:

       In lieu of the matter proposed to be inserted, insert the 

                       Manafort and Cohen Trials

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, earlier I talked about what has happened on 
the Manafort and Cohen matters yesterday. I understand the great amount 
of consternation there is at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. 
Having been a prosecutor, I can understand why there is consternation.
  I note for my colleagues that we passed in the Senate Judiciary 
Committee a bipartisan bill--Republican and Democrats voted for the 
bill--to protect the special prosecutor. There

[[Page S5815]]

are those of us who are old enough to remember when Richard Nixon fired 
the special prosecutor in the Watergate matter and the great 
constitutional problems that followed. It was something the country 
suffered over for years, and we want to make sure we don't have another 
firing like we did in the Watergate matter. So we wrote this bill. 
Again, Republicans and Democrats voted for it. It could be brought up 
anytime by the leadership, if they wished. I am hoping that it will be 
brought up. I am hoping we can bring it to the floor and we can have a 
vote. I know we had a good debate--again, Republicans and Democrats--in 
the Judiciary Committee, and I would like to see it voted on.

  I notice we are at the hour of 3:30, and I know the Presiding Officer 
has a ruling to make, so I will withhold.