STRENGTHENING AMERICA'S SECURITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST ACT OF 2019--Motion to Proceed; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 4
(Senate - January 09, 2019)

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[Pages S79-S87]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                               to Proceed

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 1, which the clerk 
will now report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 1) to make improvements to certain defense and 
     security assistance provisions and to authorize the 
     appropriation of funds to Israel, to reauthorize the United 
     States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, and to halt 
     the wholesale slaughter of the Syrian people, and for other 

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Government Funding

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I think it is important that we remind 
ourselves about what it takes to make a law here in Washington, DC. It 
obviously takes passage of a bill by the House of Representatives, 
passage by the Senate, and a Presidential signature. Obviously, we are 
in the middle of sort of a, I guess you could say, fight right now 
between the executive branch--the President--and Democrats in the House 
and the Senate, which normally would be resolved by the two sides 
sitting down and negotiating and coming to some sort of an agreement or 
compromise. That, frankly, is what is going to be necessary to resolve 
the current crisis we are in.
  The Democrats in the Congress have the majority in the House. It 
takes 60 votes, as we know, to do anything in the Senate, which means 
it will take somewhere around the order of 10 Senate Democrats in order 
to put a piece of legislation on the President's desk.
  There has to be a negotiation. There have to be two sides at the 
table. The Democrats have made it very clear in the Senate and in the 
House that they have no interest in negotiating with the President.
  Furthermore, they have determined that they are going to shut down 
all the rest of the business that is being done in the Senate simply 
because they do not want to provide funding for the border wall that 
has been requested by the President. That is the standoff we are 
currently in the middle of.
  I will remind our colleagues that as recently as last month, my 
friend the Democratic leader said that in order for us to proceed and 
vote on anything in either Chamber, we need to have a piece of 
legislation that the President has said he would agree to sign, which, 
again, suggests the way out of this is for the Democrats to come to the 
table and enter into a negotiation with the President about how to fund 
the border wall, how to deal with the issue of border security, and 
then to open up the government. That is the way this ultimately gets 

[[Page S80]]

  It seems to me, at least from my observation so far, that there has 
been no movement, zero movement--zero movement--on the part of the 
Democrats when it comes to trying to resolve the current situation.
  I will simply say that I agree with what the Democratic leader said 
as recently as December; that is, in order for either Chamber--the 
House or the Senate--to vote on a compromise piece of legislation, it 
needs to be a piece of legislation that the President of the United 
States has said he will sign.
  Each of these elements has to come together, and, obviously, each is 
very relevant in this conversation. You cannot have a law without a 
Presidential signature. There are 535 Members of Congress. There is 
only one President of the United States, only one person who can sign a 
bill into law. Obviously, the President is a critical player in this 
  Of course, the Democrats, as I said, have the majority in the House 
of Representatives. It takes 60 votes to do anything in the Senate. I 
think we have a majority of Senators who would vote today to provide 
the funding that is necessary to secure our borders, the funding that 
the President has requested, but it is going to take a number of 
Democrats, perhaps as many as 7 to 10 Democrats, in order for us to 
pass a bill in the Senate.
  The Democrats are very relevant in this conversation. They are not 
irrelevant. They have to be at the table. Normally a negotiation starts 
with the two sides saying ``This is where I am, and this is where I 
am'' and figuring out how to reach that common ground, how to reach 
that middle and structure an agreement that could pass both the House 
and the Senate and receive a Presidential signature.
  That is not what is happening right now. I think we all know that. I 
think it is very clear that the Democrats are very dug in; they have 
not moved a single inch off of their position from the time that this 
whole shutdown started. I think there is a path forward. I am hopeful 
that negotiations, discussions that will continue later today at the 
White House, will lead us to a conclusion, to an outcome, and to a 
result that gets Federal employees back to work, making sure the 
government continues to function and run but also addressing a critical 
and important priority for all of us as policymakers; that is, ensuring 
that we secure our border in a way to protect the American people.
  I think it should go without saying that border security is a basic 
national security requirement. Countries have to secure their borders. 
They need to know who is coming into their country, and they need to be 
able to keep people who shouldn't be entering the country, such as 
criminals and drug traffickers, out. Making sure that our borders are 
secure is one of our most essential responsibilities of Members of 
Congress. It is a basic obligation, like making sure our military is 
capable of defending our country. While border security is always a 
national security imperative, it is particularly important right now 
because we have not only a security but a humanitarian crisis at our 
  Over the past year, illegal border crossing apprehensions have shot 
up by more than 30 percent. An average of 60,000 individuals try to 
cross our southern border illegally each month. This represents a 
serious security concern. Among those trying to cross our southern 
border are drug dealers, gang members, human traffickers, and other 
  This flood of attempted border crossings also represents a serious 
humanitarian concern. Individuals attempting the journey to come here 
illegally are vulnerable to exploitation, illness, and abuse. One out 
of every three women attempting the journey to the United States is 
sexually assaulted. A staggering 70 percent of individuals become 
victims of violence along the way. Illness and other medical issues are 
serious problems. Fifty migrants a day are referred for medical care, 
and Customs and Border Protection rescues 4,300 people in distress 
every single year.
  There is a direct way to stem this crisis, and that is to promote 
legal immigration and discourage people from coming here illegally. How 
do we discourage people from attempting to come here illegally? Well, I 
would argue we enforce our immigration laws and prevent individuals 
from illegally crossing our borders.
  I have mentioned the dangerous individuals who can sneak across our 
porous borders and the humanitarian crisis we face, but of course there 
are even more dangers posed by the weaknesses in our border, both 
around barriers and through our ports of entry, such as the illegal 
drugs that are pouring into the country.
  Every week in this country, 300 Americans die from heroin. Ninety 
percent of the heroin supply--90 percent--flows across our southern 
border. In 2017, opioids were involved in the deaths of almost 50,000 
Americans. Roughly half or more of those deaths involved fentanyl, and 
a lot of that fentanyl is coming across our borders illegally. Federal 
agents have seen a 115-percent increase in the amount of fentanyl 
seized between ports of entry. One key part of addressing the opioid 
epidemic in our country is shutting down the flow of illegal drugs 
across our porous borders.
  Democrats used to understand the need for border security. In 2009, 
the Democratic leader here in the Senate said:

       Illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple. Until the 
     American people are convinced that we will stop future flows 
     of illegal immigration, we will make no progress on dealing 
     with the millions of illegal immigrants who are here now and 
     on rationalizing our system of legal immigration. That's 
     plain and simple and unavoidable.

  That is from the Democratic leader here in the Senate in 2009.
  In 2006, the Democratic leader and the ranking member of the Senate 
Judiciary Committee voted for legislation to authorize a border fence. 
They were joined in their vote by then-Senator Biden, then-Senator 
Clinton, and then-Senator Obama.
  In 2013, every Senate Democrat supported legislation requiring the 
completion of a 700-mile fence along our southern border. This 
legislation would have provided $46 billion for border security and $8 
billion specifically for a physical barrier.
  Nearly every Senate Democrat supported $25 billion in border security 
funding just last February, and I suspect that more than one Democrat 
still understands that we desperately need to improve security at our 
borders. But the Democratic leadership refuses to play ball. More than 
2 weeks into this shutdown, they are still not willing to negotiate a 
solution that would secure our borders and reopen the government. 
Democratic leaders are willing to ignore the security and humanitarian 
crisis at the southern border simply because they don't like this 
President and because they are afraid to oppose the far-left wing of 
their party.
  We need to end this partial shutdown, and we need to reopen the 
government, but the only way for that to happen is for Democrats to 
work with Republicans and the President to provide adequate funding for 
border security. Once they negotiate in good faith toward a serious 
agreement that the President will sign, the Senate will immediately 
take it up so that we can end this shutdown and take needed steps to 
bolster security at our borders.
  Border security is not some issue Republicans have somehow dreamed 
up. Securing our borders is a national security imperative, and both 
parties have a responsibility to make sure our Nation's borders are 
protected. I hope Democrats here in the Senate will remember their 
obligation to our Nation's citizens and work with the President to 
secure our borders and reopen our government. I would end where I 
started, and that is to say that in order for that to happen, there has 
to be an agreement. Both sides have to come to the table. The 
President, the House, and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, are 
all relevant in this conversation because it takes all to accomplish a 
legislative result that will reopen our government, get Federal 
employees back to work, and at the same time take the important steps 
that are necessary to secure our border.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I just note parenthetically that virtually 
every Republican and every Democrat in this body has voted for the 
bills that would open the government. Every single Democrat in this 
body is willing--if the Republican leader would bring

[[Page S81]]

those bills back up--to vote for them, and the government would open. 
So I hope the Republican leader will allow the government to open. 
There are a lot of people who need to go back to work, and I will speak 
about this later today. It is going to be 10, 15 below zero in my home 
State at one point this week, making it more urgent that we reopen the 
government. We also have government contractors who would like to get 
back to work.

                       Catholic Clergy Misconduct

  Now let me speak about a different matter. I am going to speak as an 
individual more than as a Senator. My wife Marcelle and I, as 
Catholics, have shared the concern of many, whether Catholics or not, 
about the continued revelation of often gross misconduct on the part of 
some in the clergy and in the hierarchy of our church. We have seen 
this throughout the United States, including in our own State of 
  I have rarely--rarely--spoken about religious issues in my capacity 
as a Senator, because I feel one's religion is private and certainly 
not political. However, I have spoken out about my concern and my 
dismay with what we have heard, and Marcelle shares those concerns with 
  I mention this because this past Sunday at mass at Holy Trinity 
Parish in the District of Columbia, we heard a sermon preached by 
Father Benjamin Hawley, a member of the Jesuits. When he finished his 
sermon, I will freely admit I wanted to stand up and applaud him. He 
spoke about what the church is finally doing in facing up to this, but 
then he spoke about how he was reacting and how one hopes we might 
react, what the reaction should be from the Pope straight down to every 
member of the clergy and every member of the laity. Except for some 
sermons preached by Marcelle's brother, Father Claude Pomerleau, I do 
not remember being so touched or affected by a sermon.
  I had not met Father Hawley before, but after mass, I spoke with him, 
and I asked him if I could have his permission to put his sermon into 
the Congressional Record. He agreed.
  I ask unanimous consent that the homily by Father Benjamin Hawley, 
S.J., of January 6, 2019, be printed in the Record at this time.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                  Homily for the Feast of the Epiphany

       Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, the 
     appearance of Jesus the Messiah to the world.
       In classical Greek the word ``epiphany'' can refer to the 
     appearance of dawn, as Isaiah, writing 500 years before 
     Jesus' birth, does in our first reading: ``See, darkness 
     covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but 
     upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory . . 
     . Raise your eyes and look about . . .''
       This appearance can intimate--Jesus' touching your heart or 
     mine with peace in time of difficulty. Or the appearance can 
     be cosmic--the Prince of Peace revealed to Herod and to the 
     magi--and to our world today.
       Is it possible to see Jesus' latest epiphany in three 
     recent events?
       First, about 280 American bishops are in retreat just 
     outside Chicago--no lay staff, no other priests. Guiding 
     their retreat is Raniero Cantalamessa, a Capuchin priest, who 
     is the Preacher to the Papal Household. I have heard him 
     speak, and he is excellent.
       Second, a hard-hitting eight-page letter from the Pope is 
     guiding their prayer.
       Francis asks them to reflect on ``the steps you are taking 
     to combat the culture of abuse and to deal with the crisis of 
     credibility'' (page 1).
       ``The church's credibility has been seriously undercut and 
     diminished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the 
     efforts made to deny or conceal them . . . (T)he mentality 
     that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve 
     conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater hurt 
     to the network of relationships that today we are called to 
     heal and restore'' (p2).
       ``Loss of credibility calls for a specific approach, since 
     it cannot be regained by issuing stern decrees or by simply 
     creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we 
     were in charge of a department of human resources'' (p3).
       Then, the Pope then takes them to task on infighting:
       ``The loss of credibility also raises painful questions 
     about the way we relate to one another . . . (p3) This 
     requires not only a new approach to management, but also a 
     change in our mind-set, our way of prayer, our handling of 
     power and money, our exercise of authority and our way of 
     relating to one another and to the world around us . . . 
       Without (a) clear and decisive focus, everything we do 
     risks being tainted by self-referentiality, self-preservation 
     and defensiveness, and thus doomed from the start'' (p4).
       ``Let us try to break the vicious cycle of recrimination, 
     undercutting and discrediting, by avoiding gossip and slander 
     in the pursuit of a path of prayerful and contrite acceptance 
     of our limitations and sins, and the promotion of dialogue, 
     discussion and discernment . . .'' (pp5-6).
       Finally, third, the presidents of bishops conferences 
     worldwide will meet in Rome in late February in a meeting 
     organized by four church officials:
       Blase Cupich, Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago;
       Oswald Cracias, Cardinal-Archbishop of Mumbai, India, and 
     member of the Pope's council of cardinals;
       Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and head of 
     investigating abuses in the Vatican's Congregation for the 
     Doctrine of Faith; and
       Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, president of the Center for the 
     Protection of Minors at the Gregorian University, the Jesuit 
     university in Rome.
       The pope's letter seems to me right on target in tone and 
     content. A retreat for discernment is very Ignatian, and the 
     Vatican meeting will ensure worldwide applicability.
       So, can you and I believe that Jesus' epiphany is the 
     motive force behind the bishops' retreat, the pope's letter 
     and February bishops meeting?
       We are called by Jesus himself to be hopeful. But we are 
     also called to be thoughtful, discerning good and evil around 
     us. I find myself seesawing between hope and doubt, between 
     hope and fear, between hope and no-hope, as I reflect on the 
     good and evil. I want to have hope, but I have to admit that 
     having hope is hard, sometimes nearly impossible.
       It is true that Jesus grew up and became the Messiah. But 
     Herod's murdering a generation of children went unpunished, 
     as far as I know, and the historical record on mass murderers 
     or mass abusers isn't promising.
       I am grateful for what the bishops and Francis are now 
     doing. But I keep asking myself why it takes so much external 
     pressure to get them to do the right, decent thing that seems 
     so obvious and not even that hard.
       Some days I feel like Candide, returning from his hero's 
     journey to cultivate his own garden. In my garden I can be 
     hopeful. But I can't live a solitary life. And when I re-
     engage, I become discouraged when I find the bishops' 
     response so slow and so begrudging.
       But then I wonder about how God's justice and mercy might 
     be made real in the next life, especially for bishops, 
     cardinals and popes, but for us too. I imagine Purgatory not 
     as a place of hellfire and smoke, but rather as a place where 
     kindly but determined angels would sit, like referees in 
     black and white stripped outfits, each one in comfortable 
     room in front of a large flat-screen TV, each with a recently 
     arrived soul.
       In a gentle way the angel-referee would guide the deceased 
     not through an instant replay but a slow replay of their 
     lives, stopping the action and asking each bishop, cardinal 
     and pope--and each one of us--to reconsider individual events 
     in their lives, and asking questions like, What were you 
     thinking? How did that work out--for you and for everyone 
     else? If you had to do it again, how might you choose?
       There would be no scoreboard, because God would want 
     everyone to win, and no time clock. Everyone would have time 
     and all eternity--with the angel-referee's prompting--to 
     rethink what they had said and done.
       And some would have a very painful time of it, because 
     angels are messengers of God's justice. Their job is to 
     reveal justice to the minds of souls as yet living in 
     darkness. And the angel-referees would make the final call.
       With that much time and such wise, persistent guides, most 
     would probably make it to die podium for their trophy. Angels 
     might have to guide a few of the obdurate to long-term 
     parking, but such souls would have had a chance and in the 
     end would have put themselves there.
       In the meantime you and I are on the seesaw.
       Jesus began his life in his mother's lap in the stable, as 
     the great artists have shown us, but surrounded by the blood 
     and death of children and the corruption of the Jewish king.
       Jesus ended his life in his mother's lap, as Michaelangelo 
     shows us in the Pieta, still surrounded by the blood, death 
     and the corruption of civic and religious leaders.
       My question to myself is always, Does it really have to be 
     this hard? And the answer seems to be, No, it doesn't have to 
     be. But, Yes, it is going to be this hard as long as people, 
     especially people in positions of power, make self-serving 
     choices. The blood, death and corruption are constants in 
     human life. And yet he is the Prince of Peace and the source 
     of our hope.
       On this great Feast we can come to realize that, if you and 
     I have to live on the seesaw, then at least we can remain 
     anchored to hope there, because Jesus, the source of our 
     hope, accompanied by his Blessed Mother, has the power to 
     anchor us there in love.
       So, in our Eucharist today let's share divine love and hope 
     with one another in communion and leave here, imbued with new 
     hope to share with our world, so the world too can find hope 
     and peace.

  Mr. LEAHY. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.

                           Government Funding

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, from El Paso to Brownsville, TX, my State

[[Page S82]]

shares a 1,200-mile border with Mexico. If you were daring enough to 
attempt to walk that entire stretch, you would trek through deserts, 
cross mountains, through cities, and probably end up getting a little 
wet in the Rio Grande River. You would meet folks who are proud of the 
strong bonds our country has with our southern neighbor. Many, of 
course, have relatives in both countries. You would talk to sheriffs, 
police officers, Border Patrol agents, all who care deeply about 
protecting our communities. And undoubtedly, you would end up eating 
some good Tex-Mex along the way.
  In my time in the Senate, I have had the opportunity to meet 
countless Texans who live and work along the southern border, and I 
seek their advice and counsel on what Congress ought to do, what the 
Federal Government ought to do to protect them and their communities. 
What they tell me is that Texans and the Nation rely on the billions of 
dollars of legitimate trade that comes across the ports of entry with 
Mexico. But with the growing volume of goods crossing our borders and 
the persistent staff shortages for Customs and Border Protection, they 
want to make sure there are no security gaps that can be exploited by 
criminals or slow down the legal movement of goods. That is a concern I 
share, and I continue to advocate for additional improvements in our 
ports of entry to protect this vital lifeline for our economy, as well 
as our security.
  But just as these communities care deeply about the economic benefits 
of our shared border, they care deeply, of course, about their own 
safety and security. They believe that both can peacefully coexist, and 
so do I.
  During my visits, I have witnessed some of the horrific treatment 
that migrants receive at the hands of the criminals, including those 
who smuggle them. The truth is, these criminal organizations that move 
people and drugs and contraband across our border exploit our porous 
border and care nothing for human life. It is a commodity. It is the 
way they make money. They care nothing for the people they hurt, so 
they wring another dollar out of someone else's misery on a daily 
basis. It is a high-volume business, too, and incredibly lucrative.
  I have seen the stash houses with windows lined with tin foil, and 
inside, a veritable cesspool that makes you want to gag or lose what 
you had for lunch. This is where the human smugglers cram large groups 
of illegal immigrants in unimaginable conditions while awaiting their 
transit to the interior of the United States.
  I have seen their logbooks where they record their corrupt 
transactions, correlating real-life human beings with their value in 
dollars and cents.
  I have talked to Border Patrol agents who have discovered tractor 
trailers full of people attempting to enter our country, some of whom 
never complete their journey because they die from exposure or are 
smothered to death in the crammed quarters.
  In Brooks County, TX, where the Falfurrias checkpoint of the Border 
Patrol is located, about 50 miles north of the border, I have seen 
unmarked graves of the migrants who were trying to cross vast swaths of 
South Texas in the August heat in order to bypass the Border Patrol 
checkpoint but then were left to die by the smugglers. Their graves are 
marked only with identities like ``skull case'' or ``unknown female.''
  Border security is not immoral, as Speaker Pelosi has shamefully 
claimed, but refusing to act in the face of evil is immoral. It is 
clear that there is a crisis, as it is clear that it is our 
responsibility to restore safety and security and order. In my wildest 
dreams, I never would have imagined we would be debating whether we 
should secure our borders, as we apparently are now. That is something 
on which we should all agree. Instead, we should be focused on how to 
secure our borders and how to do it in a smart, responsible way.
  In my experience, learning from the experts, they tell me there is no 
one-size-fits-all solution. You can imagine that with a 1,200-mile 
border with just Texas and Mexico, with the variety of topography and 
geography, one-size-fits-all does not work. What works best in the Rio 
Grande Valley doesn't necessarily work in an urban environment like El 
Paso, with Juarez right across the international bridge.
  We need to customize solutions that meet the specific need rather 
than trying to dictate from here in Washington--thousands of miles 
away--a solution that solves nothing. We need to look at border 
security as a combination of three things: physical infrastructure--
yes, that includes barriers, walls, fences, vehicle barriers in 
appropriate locations, but it also includes technology--radar, ground 
sensors, drones, aerostats. This is a layered approach that provides 
flexibility for the experts on the ground to determine what is best for 
each sector, what is best for each part of our immense border, and 
implement the changes necessary to achieve desired results. As I said, 
in many areas, the landscape and location mean physical barriers may 
not be needed and may not be practical. In rural areas, technology--
censor technology or cameras--may be sufficient, but we know we need 
additional boots on the ground, too, because it is not enough to put a 
barrier in place or have a radar or ground censor in place if you don't 
have the Border Patrol to show up and detain people they discover 
trying to make their way illegally into the United States or bringing 
drugs into the United States. So some combination of these three 
elements I think is always going to be needed, no matter where you are 
talking about.

  I am proud of the work we have done in the Senate, generally 
speaking, and I know when we work together we can do a lot of good, but 
logic and experience should tell us we shouldn't be the ones deciding 
how every inch of our southern border is secure. I don't claim to be an 
expert, although I have gone to school on the topic and spent a lot of 
time talking to those people who are experts and learning from them. I 
believe we need to let those experts drive the decision-making process 
on the right combination of resources needed to achieve operational 
control of the border. Unfortunately, our Democratic colleagues' 
refusal to invest in real border security has landed us in a partial 
government shutdown resulting in 800,000 Federal workers who on Friday 
will not get a paycheck. That is unnecessary. Unfortunately, they are 
collateral damage to a political game which we should not be playing. I 
know many of these 800,000 Federal workers are already anxious about 
how they will make a car payment or how they will pay their mortgage or 
their rent or how they will put food on the table. It is completely 
unnecessary, this shutdown.
  I am afraid this debate on border security of course is not really a 
debate about border security at all; it is a way for congressional 
Democrats to take a stand against a President they oppose while putting 
border communities at risk and sending the men and women who protect 
them to work without pay. This battle has gone on too long, and I can 
only hope Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer show some 
leadership rather than continue to take the low road. This shouldn't be 
about winning a partisan fight; it should be about protecting our 
citizens and stemming the tide of illegal immigration, drugs, and 
contraband entering our country. If there were ever a time, now is the 
time for common sense to prevail and end this senseless shutdown.

                   Remembering Richard Arvin Overton

  Mr. President, on another matter, I want to share a few words about 
an American hero I had the pleasure to get to know, Mr. Richard Arvin 
Overton. Richard's story began more than a century ago on May 11, 1906, 
in Bastrop County, TX. Throughout his young life, he held a variety of 
jobs--landscaping, picking cotton, working at a furniture store, and 
building homes.
  In 1940, Richard enlisted in the U.S. Army and began his military 
service at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. Serving with the 1887th 
Engineer Battalion, an all-Black unit, one of his first stops was Pearl 
Harbor, the day after what we now know as the West Loch Disaster.
  In an interview in 2016, Richard recalled that day, seeing the water 
turn red from the blood of his brothers, saying: ``I didn't look the 
same, but I got out all right.'' This was only the first stop on 
Richard's tour that led him to the Pacific theater. His service 
included stops in Guam, Palau, and Iwo

[[Page S83]]

Jima, where he witnessed firsthand some of the darkest days in our 
country's modern history.
  When the war ended, Richard returned to Texas and built a home on 
Hamilton Avenue. He originally reentered the furniture business and 
then began working for the State treasury department. At the sprite age 
of 85, Richard Overton decided to retire.
  In 2013, the 107-year-old Richard Overton made his first trip to 
Washington, DC, with an Honor Flight. He was able to witness the 
memorial built to honor his service and his comrades who died in 
battle, a sight that brought him to tears.
  While his military service alone deserves our praise, that is not the 
only thing that brought Richard to national attention. His comments 
about the keys to his longevity and long life and particularly his 
daily routine made Richard an internet sensation. His penchant for 
enjoying coffee with whiskey and 12 cigars a day won hearts and caused 
all of us to question the secret to his long life. Richard also enjoyed 
a bowl of ice cream every night--always butter pecan. He called this 
the Overton diet and welcomed anyone interested to give it a shot. 
Richard used his newfound fame to continue life as he always had but 
with more fans eager to stop by and say hello while he was sitting on 
the front porch. He continued to live in the same house he built after 
the war, although the street name has now been changed to carry his 
name--Richard Overton Avenue.
  I first met Richard in 2013, and I remember the day my wife Sandy and 
I met him in his home in Austin. I was taken aback to learn he had just 
gotten through mowing his lawn that morning--107 years old and still 
mowing his lawn.
  Sadly, on December 27, 2018, the story of this American hero came to 
an end. At the ripe old age of 112 years, Richard passed away, leaving 
a host of cousins and extended family members.
  Yesterday, I introduced a resolution, with my colleague Senator Cruz, 
to honor this great man, his military service, and his enduring legacy. 
Our country has lost a true patriot, our State has lost a legend, and 
our community has lost a dear friend.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                         Welcoming New Senators

  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, a new year begins, and it brings us new 
challenges, new opportunities, and new faces in the 116th Congress.
  I welcome the nine freshman Senators: Mrs. Blackburn of Tennessee, 
Mr. Braun of Indiana, Mr. Cramer of North Dakota, Josh Hawley of 
Missouri, Martha McSally of Arizona, Mitt Romney of Utah, Jacky Rosen 
of Nevada, Rick Scott of Florida, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Their 
talent and hard work brought them here, and now we have an expanded 
Senate Republican majority--a majority we built on in the 115th 
Congress. Albeit, we are still short of the 60 votes needed to pass 
most pieces of legislation, we have a group of people committed to the 
values of our party and our country and working together to find 
solutions for the Nation.
  During the swearing-in last week, as I was sworn in to the Senate, my 
96-year-old mother joined us. She attended, enjoyed it, watches the 
opening every day for the Pledge of Allegiance and for the prayer from 
Reverend Black, and looks to that as a sign of our Nation moving 
  From the time I was a little boy, she would always say: ``This is the 
most important year of your life.'' She started when I was very young, 
and I think her lesson remains today. For me and for all of us, this is 
the most important year of our lives, for ourselves, for our Nation, 
and for the world. She would say: What you do this year makes a big 
difference for the future, so make sure you do it right. Well, we are 
now at a point of divided government--Democrats control the House and 
Republicans the Senate. We need to work together and do it right on 
behalf of the American people.

                           Government Funding

  Mr. President, I think we have some immediate tasks; one is to secure 
the southern border and the other is to fund the government. These 
goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and we must do both, and the 
key to breaking the current impasse is for both parties to work 
  President Trump, I believe, is absolutely right to insist on border 
wall funding. I think he is right to insist on it before agreeing to 
sign spending legislation to end the shutdown, and he spoke 
passionately and I think spoke convincingly about it last evening. If 
the southern border were a patient--and I practiced medicine for 24 
years in Wyoming--if the southern border were a patient admitted to the 
hospital, it would be listed in critical condition.
  All Americans want an immigration system that secures the border, 
enforces the law, and that keeps families together. The problem of 
course is the rise in illegal entry, terrorists, drug smugglers, human 
traffickers, the Mexican drug cartels, all exploiting our porous border 
with Mexico. The Customs and Border Protection Commissioner has called 
the situation a ``border security and humanitarian crisis.'' That is 
what we are dealing with, a border security and humanitarian crisis.
  Here are the numbers from the Department of Homeland Security. 
Currently, 16,000 Border Patrol agents and 8,100 military troops guard 
the southern border. The National Guard has been deployed there 
continuously since 2006. Still, illegal border crossings increased 
dramatically from 2017 to 2018.
  In this past year, the year just ended, 396,000 people were stopped 
at the border, including 3,700 suspected terrorists and 800 gang 
members. Of the border's 1,950 miles, a physical barrier today protects 
about 650 miles. Border Patrol areas with enhanced or expanded barriers 
have been successful. They have seen a 90-percent decrease in illegal 
traffic. That is why the President wants to continue with additional 
physical barriers to protect the border.
  There is a huge improvement due to the wall. Clearly, walls work, 
barriers work. So I ask: Why is Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, 
prolonging the shutdown by denying critical funding? She has called the 
wall immoral. I would say what is immoral is refusing to provide for 
the safety and security of the American people by providing border 
  Border security policymaking has always been bipartisan but not now, 
it seems. The Pelosi plan to end the partial shutdown isn't serious 
policy; it is political posturing. I say there is a partial government 
shutdown because 75 percent of the government continues to be funded. 
The Speaker's proposal includes billions in wasteful spending while 
ignoring the crisis at the border. The President has promised to veto 
what she is proposing, but instead of negotiating, the Speaker is 
basically playacting.
  What is needed is an agreement between the President and the 
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate that can pass the House and 
secure at least 60 votes in the Senate and then be signed into law.
  As President Trump said in a January 4 letter to Congress, a nation 
that fails to control its borders cannot fulfill its basic obligations 
to its citizens, physical safety, economic safety, essential public 
services, and the uniform protection of our laws.
  We cannot afford to play politics with the border. I think we should 
listen to the advice my mother continues to give me; that this is the 
most important year of your life. It is important for this body, for 
this institution, and for this Nation. Let's start 2019 and do it in 
the right way by passing commonsense legislation that does secure the 
border, that does reopen the government, and that protects the American 
  Let's work together to make this the most important year, the start 
of a better future for all Americans.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

[[Page S84]]


  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I want to share with the body today my 
very short New Year's wish list. It is very short because Nos. 1, 2, 3, 
4, 5, and 6 are all the same. We need to open the government. We need 
to reopen the one-quarter of the Federal Government that is shut down 
today. We need to start acting like adults. We need to start doing the 
job that we were sent here to do because our Nation's security is at 
stake, kids' health is at stake, and families' economic security is at 
  Hundreds of thousands of Federal workers all across the country are 
furloughed as we speak, including over a thousand in Connecticut. But 
that is not the extent of the damage. When you start having folks at 
airport security not be able to show up for their jobs because they 
have to work somewhere else in order to put food on the table, when you 
start creating questions about whether food stamps are going to go out 
or Section 8 vouchers are going to get paid, when you can't have the 
Department of Agriculture functioning to help our farmers, you are 
starting to affect a whole lot of people. You are starting to drag down 
the entire economy.
  My hope--my wish--is that we will reopen the Federal Government. The 
fact of the matter is that this happens every now and again. 
Occasionally, somebody makes a demand, something that they can't get 
through the normal political process, and they say if they don't get 
that demand, they are going to shut down the government. Every time I 
have been through one of these, it is the party making the demand that 
eventually relents because we tend to all agree that is not the proper 
way in order to try to get what you want in the U.S. Government.
  Senator Cruz and others shut down the government for 2 weeks because 
they wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Eventually, they 
relented. This time, President Trump couldn't get Congress to approve 
$5 billion for his wall in the budget so he decided to shut down the 
government. This is not how we should conduct a debate about legitimate 
public policy issues.
  The future of the American healthcare system was a legitimate public 
policy issue, as is the security of our borders, but we shouldn't be 
having the discussion amidst a government shutdown--trying to use our 
Nation's security and all of these Federal workers and the work they do 
as hostages to try to achieve a political result.
  Of course, we were all on the same page just a few weeks ago. This 
body voted unanimously to open the Federal Government, and now Senator 
McConnell says that piece of legislation that all of us voted for in 
December can't pass.
  What changed? What changed in each one of your States that causes so 
many Members of this body to now say that they cannot vote for a 
continuing resolution that you all voted for back in December?
  We know what has changed. The only thing that has changed is that the 
President has decided that he will not sign it. That is not how the 
Constitution works.
  The Constitution doesn't make the Senate subservient to the 
President. The Constitution certainly doesn't make the President's 
party subservient to him. No one here has to follow the orders of 
President Trump, especially when he is doing something that is bad for 
the Nation. We could bring up that same bill that reopens the 
government at least temporarily. We could all vote the same way that we 
did back in December. We could send that bill to the House of 
Representatives and admit that the President shouldn't dictate our 
votes. Just because his position changed doesn't mean Senate 
Republicans' position should have changed.
  Let's reopen the government so that, then, we can have a discussion 
about the question of immigration law and border security, because I am 
more than willing to have it.
  OK, I didn't exactly tell the truth. I do have two other wishes 
beyond reopening the government, but they are connected to my primary 
wish. My second wish is that the President would stop making up things 
as he proceeds through this debate. The worst of his lies was the idea 
that there were 4,000 known or suspected terrorists who came across our 
southern border. That was a number proffered by the Press Secretary at 
the White House. It has been repeated in various ways, shapes, and 
forms by the President's allies.
  Of course, we now know there have not been 4,000 suspected terrorists 
that have come across the southern border. There have been six since 
the beginning of this year. That is six people on a terrorist watch 
list who were not U.S. citizens. Do you know how many people who fit 
that description came across the northern border in the first 6 months 
of this year? Forty-one. If you really care about the security of 
this country--if your primary reason for getting up every morning is to 
make sure terrorists don't get into this country, then we should be 
putting up a wall with Canada, not a wall with Mexico.

  The second fiction is that all of these drugs coming into the United 
States are crossing the U.S.-Mexican border at places where there isn't 
a wall. That is not true either. The vast majority of illegal products 
that come into this country come through ports of entry. We should all 
talk about why that is and what we can do to beef up protections, but 
putting up a wall along the treacherous portions of the Rio Grande are 
not going to stop smugglers who right now can find lots of other ways 
to get their goods into the United States.
  I want to make sure that when we have this debate, we are having a 
fact-based debate.
  My second wish in this new year is that the President and his allies 
would just start telling the truth, and the truth is that there is not 
a new security crisis at the southern border. Illegal crossings have 
been coming down since 2000. The people who are on the terrorist watch 
list who occasionally do try to come into this country are 
predominantly trying to get in through Canada, not through Mexico.
  I want to talk about facts.
  Here is my last wish. Again, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are to reopen the 
government. If I had No. 6 and 7, it would be that the President start 
talking about the real facts, and the other would be this: Let's not 
get into this very dangerous conversation about trying to do an end-
around on the political process with a national emergency. I guess I am 
talking to my Republican colleagues here.
  I get it that I often have some of the sharpest words for this 
President, but I hope that we can come together on the idea that 
declaring a national emergency because you can't get what you want 
through the political process is a really bad precedent to set. It is 
true that there are a whole bunch of national emergencies that have 
been declared, but none of the circumstances of those national 
emergencies and none of the powers that were utilized in those national 
emergencies compare to what the President is reportedly considering.
  If the President is really talking about declaring a national 
emergency on our border, despite the fact that there is no set of facts 
that suggests that what is happening on our border is fundamentally 
different today than what was happening a year ago or 10 years ago, and 
if the President is really contemplating, by Executive order, 
reprogramming billions of dollars this Congress set aside for military 
construction projects to a border wall, that is a Pandora's box that, 
once opened, cannot be shut again. This is a genie escaping out of a 
bottle that will not be put back.
  I said in jest last night that if President Trump can use a national 
emergency declaration to build a border wall, what would stop a 
Democratic President from declaring a healthcare emergency and passing 
and declaring a national emergency to create a single-payer healthcare 
system in this country? I wouldn't advise a Democratic President to do 
that, but I am not sure what the precedent would be if President Trump, 
having not been able to get Congress and the American public to get 
behind a border wall with Mexico that nobody really wants, declares a 
national emergency and builds it anyway. What would then stop any 
future President from doing the same thing on a host of other policy 
areas? Really, what would stop a President from declaring a healthcare 
national emergency because he or she can't get their legislation passed 
through the Senate and reordering our insurance markets and our 
Medicare and Medicaid programs to cure that national emergency, simply 
shifting money around from place to place?

[[Page S85]]

  I don't think this is an avenue that the Federal Government should go 
down because there will be a Democratic President someday, and if you 
can just declare a national emergency and move billions of dollars 
around because you can't get your way in Congress, that is a horse 
that, once out of the barn, is not coming back.
  That is my wish list: Open the government, open the government, open 
the government, open the government; pass the bills that we passed back 
in December. Don't let the President dictate your votes. Let your 
constituents dictate your votes.
  I hope the President and the White House start telling the truth 
about what is really happening with border security, and I hope this 
nonsense about declaring a national emergency goes away. I hope it goes 
away in part because Republicans in this body recognize the really 
dangerous precedent that sets for this country, and they recommend 
publicly and privately to the President that he shutter that idea.
  We could reopen the government today. If Senator McConnell came down 
here and decided to put a continuing resolution before this body and 
said that it is the right thing to do for the country, it would pass 
with flying colors. If Senator McConnell exercised that kind of 
leadership that he has shown in previous shutdowns, it would pass with 
flying colors. We all know it would. I am sure there would be a handful 
of Republicans who just got elected with President Trump's support who 
might not support it, but it would pass just like it passed 3 weeks 
ago, and it would likely pass the House of Representatives by a veto-
proof margin, as well, once the signal was given by Senate Republicans 
that the adults need to step up and reopen the government.
  So this whole crisis can be over tonight. It can be over tonight if 
there is some leadership shown by Senate Republicans. Why spend all of 
this time trying to control this body? Why spend millions of dollars 
trying to run for office to become the majority party in the U.S. 
Senate if you are not willing to step up in a moment of crisis and lead 
the country through it? It is still possible, and I hope, as my new 
year's wish, that it gets done sooner rather than later.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. ERNST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                            National Defense

  Ms. ERNST. Mr. President, I rise to speak on U.S. national defense.
  In the last couple of years, we have made tremendous progress in 
strengthening our military and have effectively realigned our global 
posture and strategy.
  Under the new national defense strategy, the United States has 
rightfully recognized the return to great power competition, where our 
priorities have shifted from low-intensity conflict to posturing 
against peer and near-peer adversaries.
  Over the last 17 years of combat in the Middle East, U.S. dominance 
and deterrence against great power competitors have diminished. 
Meanwhile, nations like China and Russia have undertaken extraordinary 
military modernization efforts while engaging in unprecedented and 
destabilizing aggression.
  We have seen Russian intrusions in cyberspace, the illegal annexation 
of Crimea, information attacks on Western democratic institutions, and 
the spread of lies, half-truths, and slander in order to sow division 
and chaos between the United States and other partners.
  These gray-zone activities, which are actions below the level that 
would provoke an armed conflict, have gone mainly unchecked by the 
United States, which has set a troubling precedent and only serve to 
encourage further provocation.
  From China, we see these gray-zone techniques manifested in their 
land reclamation in the South China Sea, the construction of their 
first foreign military installations in Djibouti, and the continuing 
theft of intellectual property and trade secrets in critical security 
  They have also greatly undermined our supply chain through the Made 
in China 2025 initiative, which seeks to ensure that the United States 
and others remain reliant on the Chinese industrial base.
  Above all, the United States is threatened by Russia's and China's 
advances in emerging technology. This includes hypersonic weapons, 
artificial intelligence, space capabilities, quantum computing, and 
directed energy.
  Without significant resources and focus, we will lose our 
technological superiority in these very areas, and both U.S. national 
security and the global order will be in serious jeopardy.
  Building off of our successes from the last 2 years, Congress and the 
executive branch must remain committed to investing in research, 
development, rapid acquisition, and the deployment of capabilities that 
provide for deterrence in line with the threats of the 21st century.
  Just as we rose to the challenge in the two World Wars, the Cold War, 
and following the attacks on September 11, 2001, we must, once again, 
evaluate our current posture and chart a course that best protects our 
national security and our interests.
  While the national defense strategy correctly prioritizes a return to 
great power competition, we still have great national security threats 
in the low-intensity domain, particularly in the Middle East and in 
North Africa.
  The success of our missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Africa 
are important. They can be seen in our ability to prevent extremist 
groups from projecting attacks into the U.S. homeland.
  Through the heroic and dedicated service of our men and women in 
uniform, we have put unyielding pressure on foreign terrorists and, in 
turn, we have prevented another massive attack like we saw on 9/11.
  While we have seen tremendous battlefield success against groups like 
the Islamic State, counterterrorism and stability operations require a 
sustained commitment of presence and resources in order to consolidate 
gains and promote good governance and the rule of law. In the absence 
of the latter, ungoverned spaces quickly transform into breeding 
grounds for terror groups, and that is why we are in Iraq. That is why 
we are in Afghanistan, and that is why we should remain in Syria. We 
must do that until our objectives are met.

  Balancing our approach toward both low- and high-intensity threats 
will require us to rely on our allies and our partners more than we 
have had to rely on them in the past decades, as we have a limited 
supply of resources for our national defense. However, if we are able 
to leverage the resources of our friends, we will assume less risk as 
we move to more resources toward countering great power threats. 
Likewise, as we seek to bolster our defense posture toward peer 
competitors, we will greatly benefit from increased contributions and 
commitments from our allies and our partners. That means insisting that 
our treaty allies contribute their fair share to the international 
security burden and also ensuring that our allies and partners are 
investing in weapons systems and military platforms that interoperate 
with ours while effectively deterring our common adversaries.
  We cannot and should not abandon those who share our values of 
democracy and freedom but, rather, work with them to increase defense 
contributions and build necessary capabilities and capacities. Unlike 
Russia and China, our network of allies and friends, who have stood 
shoulder to shoulder with us in the defense of freedom and democratic 
values, are a source of great strength, as well as an integral part of 
promoting global security.
  I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to once again 
acknowledge the most detrimental adversary of our national defense; 
that is, poor fiscal policy. As then-Secretary Mattis stated when he 
announced the National Defense Strategy, continuing resolutions and 
sequestration have hindered our security more than any foe. These 
wasteful applications of taxpayer dollars prevent long-term planning, 
stymie research and development, delay critical procurement, and 
prevent necessary training and readiness investments.

[[Page S86]]

  What we do in this Chamber has consequences that reverberate far 
beyond Washington. When we fail to do our job, we put our warfighters 
at higher risk and cripple our strategic posture, ultimately 
endangering our national security. That is why I have come to the floor 
today to urge bipartisanship and collaboration amongst both Houses of 
Congress on defense spending policy. The political climate of today 
will assuredly prevent progress in some areas of Congress's work, but I 
encourage my colleagues to set those differences aside when we consider 
policies and appropriations for our national defense.
  We have a lot of work ahead in order to protect our security and 
interests, but I am confident we can come together to solve these 
issues of critical importance.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.

                            Border Security

  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, as our colleague from Iowa just pointed 
out, these problems not only need to be solved, but they are solvable. 
At the core of the debate we are having right now is obviously border 
security. Everybody says they are for border security, but they have 
different views of what that means.
  I want to start by saying that I fully support the President's call 
for a more secure border, and, frankly, I think physical barriers are 
part of that. We have thought that for a long time. They work. People 
who now are opposed to them generally have often been for them.
  In fact, a generation ago, we began improving and expanding barriers 
in a few areas along the southern border, and in every instance, they 
have made a difference.
  In 1992, the U.S. Government built a wall in the San Diego sector of 
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the number of people caught 
crossing that border decreased by 95 percent when the barrier was 
  The border is not exactly like a bank. You don't have to have a level 
of security that nobody can ever get through at any time, under any 
circumstances, but if you have a solution that solves 95 percent of the 
problem, that may be about all we can afford to do in terms of solving 
the problem that way. That barrier, that wall, that fence south of San 
Diego did exactly that.
  The next year, we built a wall in El Paso, TX, at that part of the 
border, and there was a decrease of 95 percent there as well.
  In 2000, we built a wall at the Tucson, AZ, sector, and apprehensions 
there dropped 90 percent.
  We have a 90-percent solution or a 95-percent solution. That is 
reasonable to the American people who think that the job of the Federal 
Government--and they are right in this--that one of the jobs of the 
Federal Government is to secure its border.
  You wouldn't have to look very far in troubled parts of the world to 
find a story about Lebanon or some other country--to read that sentence 
that says: This government is not truly functional because they don't 
have control over their own borders. It is a reasonable expectation of 
  In 2000, as I said, we built a wall in Tucson.
  You can call this whatever you want to. If you are offended when I 
say ``wall'' or ``fence,'' you say whatever you want to say--it has the 
same impact.
  I have been to the border a number of times. I have walked along the 
barriers there. I have been on one side of the fence--the two sides of 
a fence with a patrolled roadway in between. It looked pretty effective 
to me, and the numbers indicate it was effective.
  In 2005, when we added a wall in the Yuma part of the Arizona sector, 
apprehensions went down another 95 percent.
  We have President Clinton and Presidents Bush--Bush 43 and Bush 41--
all were part of thinking barriers worked, and the Congress was too. 
There was not an issue as to whether a wall works, where a wall works, 
until President Trump as a candidate began to talk about building a 
wall. They have made a big difference in the areas where we have tried 
them in the past.
  The President has often said in recent days that the wall doesn't 
necessarily work everywhere, and I fully agree with that. We couldn't 
afford to have the wall everywhere, and if we did have the wall 
everywhere, you would have to monitor it with some remote monitoring 
device anyway because there are large sections of the border where 
there aren't people and where there is no access. It doesn't mean you 
can't monitor that. It doesn't mean you can't have that kind of a wall 
erected. We need to do that.
  In November, there were nearly 52,000 people who were caught trying 
to sneak across the border. Now, you can act like that is not a very 
big problem--unless you have ever lived in a community of, say, 52,000 
people, and then you realize that is a lot of people. And in 1 month 
alone, they were coming across the southwest border.
  According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 17,000 
criminals were apprehended trying to get into the country last year. 
That is about half of the population of the capital city of Missouri. 
Seventeen thousand people trying to get in with a criminal record just 
last year.
  We have seen a 50-percent increase in gang members being caught 
trying to come into the country illegally and a 73-percent increase in 
the seizures of fentanyl.
  One of the things we do in the health and human services area that I 
work in and appropriate for and work for an appropriate opioid response 
is try to figure out how we can get fentanyl out of this system, how we 
can get something out of this system that is deadly for a significant 
number of the people who turn to that as they get addicted to 
painkillers. If the fentanyl seizures are up 73 percent over where they 
were the year before, something needs to be done. We clearly need to 
secure our borders.
  I support the immigration system. I am a proponent of legal 
immigration. I think how we meet the workforce needs of the country, 
how we deal with the fact that we have people who are here who aren't 
legal, who have otherwise not gotten in trouble in the country--about 
half of them came across the border, and about half of them came in 
some other way and decided, this is a pretty doggone good place, and I 
want to stay here and am afraid to go home because I may not get back--
how do we deal with that? How do we deal with this in a way that we 
meet our workforce needs, that the skill needs of the country are met? 
And skill needs can be unskilled people--we don't have people willing 
to do some unskilled jobs--and highly skilled people. We don't have 
enough people doing their jobs in an economy that is growing faster 
than the economy has grown in a long time. The economic numbers in some 
cases are better than they have been in 50 years and in most cases have 
been better than they have been in at least a decade.
  Every part of the border doesn't need to be secured the same way, but 
the border needs to be secured. Our friends on the other side, in what 
has been a pretty impressive show of party unity, have just decided 
that they want to reject the options of how we secure the border. 
People who have voted to build and maintain almost 700 miles of border 
fencing have suddenly decided that another 50 miles or another 2 miles 
is immoral. Talk about selective immorality. That it is OK to have 700 
miles of fence but it is not OK to have 702 miles of fence is a very 
interesting place, it seems to me, to draw the line.
  Our friends on the other side have rejected attempts to fix the way 
we deal with children who are brought across the border or come across 
on their own. There are 48,000 children right now that the U.S. 
Government is doing their best to take care of--I hope and insist that 
we do that--who came across the border on their own. Another 2,600 or 
so came across the border with an adult. More often than not, that 
adult was their parent, but not always. We have 50,000 children who 
came across the border, and there is no response to any ideas that the 
administration brings up, no positive response from the other side as 
to how to deal with that.
  They have rejected adding beds at detention centers for people who 
are caught crossing the border illegally. Why would you do that? Why 
would you not want to have additional space for people who are in 
custody for illegal behavior? I suppose because it becomes so 
critically important that people just be released on their own 
recognizance, to come back at a later time.
  Some of our friends on the other side, in fact, have called for the 

[[Page S87]]

abolition of U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement efforts. At the 
very time when these are some of the most stressed people working on 
behalf of the country for the Federal Government, we have people on the 
other side saying we should eliminate border enforcement.
  We had a bill introduced in this Chamber last year that every Member 
of the minority supported. When you read it closely--I am not at all 
sure they all did because I don't believe this is the position they all 
had, but when you read it closely, it was a clear open borders bill. 
There was no way anybody was likely to be apprehended crossing the 
border except just to tell them ``You know you are here legally now. 
Come back sometime, and we will see if we can figure out what to do.''
  We are for protecting people who are uniquely at risk in the country 
that they come from.
  Asylum is an important thing. No country in the history of the world 
has been any more open than we have been to allowing people to come 
here legally, to have people who legally seek asylum come here. But the 
truth is, there is no asylum granted just because you are from a poor 
country or from a dangerous country, so most of the people who come 
saying that they are seeking asylum don't get it. Maybe that is why 
most of them don't show up in court. They know that their argument--
they would rather be here than where they are from, but their argument 
will never work in court for most of them, and that is clearly 
  We are going to have a lot better opportunity to solve the problems 
we need to solve regarding the border if people have confidence that 
the government has done a reasonable job of securing the border. I 
don't think anybody expects the border in a big country like ours to be 
so impenetrable that nobody could ever get in under any circumstances. 
I think they do expect that when you have found the 90- or 95-percent 
solution, appearing until now to be affordable and widely supported--
when you have found the 90-percent solution, people do expect that at 
the very least that you would apply the 90-percent standard to the 
responsibility of the government to secure its borders.
  So whether it is trying to figure out what we need in our workforce 
to have a continued growing and vibrant economy or it is trying to 
figure out what we do about people who have come here and decided to 
stay, whether they came here across the border or in some other way but 
stayed beyond the time they were supposed to be here or got here 
without going through the normal process--those are going to be much 
easier to come to a conclusion on if people know that the government 
has done its job to get the border under an acceptable and anticipated 
level of security, which we would expect to have in a country as strong 
and vibrant as ours.
  Particularly for people who were brought here and grew up here, this 
is an 80-percent issue in the Congress and in the country. Virtually 
nobody thinks kids who grew up here and didn't get in significant 
trouble shouldn't be allowed to live in the country they grew up in. 
Frankly, we need them. We need young people entering the workforce. We 
need people who are, in almost all cases, highly motivated.
  I talked to a university president just this week who said that these 
kids are the kids who, over and over again, set the standard. They are 
the kids who, over and over again, prove why we want them to be in our 
  These problems will be much more solvable if we will just deal with 
the one fundamental problem of controlling our borders, of having 
immigration laws that work.
  I hope, as was mentioned earlier today, that we can get to this 
conclusion and get to this conclusion quickly. This is obviously a 
place where we need to come together. Not only does the government need 
to function, but this is an issue we need to solve, and I guarantee 
that all of these related issues will be more easily solved if we 
secure the border.
  No President has ever had the credibility that this President will 
have if he says to the American people: I have met my commitment. The 
border is secure. We are now continuing to work to be sure that the 
court systems work, that we have protected those people who protect us 
on the border. There is great credibility here if the President is 
willing to get to a place that he can say that.
  I think his efforts to secure the border are significant steps toward 
allowing us to solve the other problems we need to solve, and we need 
to solve them sooner rather than later.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Ernst). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BLUNT. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.