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

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[Pages S87-S99]
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                         to Proceed--Continued

  Mr. McCONNELL. 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. HIRONO. 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the quorum call be rescinded.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

  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, this shutdown is not a negotiation 
situation. This is a hostage situation.

[[Page S88]]

  The President of the United States has taken 800,000 Federal workers, 
tens of thousands of Federal contractors, and thousands of small 
businesses hostage to extort money for his vanity wall.
  We have all heard from our constituents about the pain the shutdown 
is causing. This Friday many government employees will miss their first 
paycheck as a result of the shutdown. Most of us live in a world where 
we need paychecks, and it is obvious that our constituents shouldn't 
have to ``make adjustments,'' as the President frames it, for the 
President's shutdown.
  Our 800,000 Federal workers aren't the only people in our country 
feeling the impact of the shutdown. The situation is inflicting 
unnecessary pain on our government contracting community and small 
businesses that rely on the day-to-day operations of the Federal 
Government, not to mention the millions of Americans who request 
government services.
  Let me just tell one story. Michelle Baker is a Federal contractor in 
Waikiki who helps the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 
the Fish and Wildlife Service, and other agencies to write reports in a 
way that is accessible to the public. Michelle told Honolulu Civil Beat 
that she and her husband have resorted to taking out a payday loan with 
an exceptionally high interest rate to pay for their food this week.
  Let me be clear. There are two people who can end the pain of the 
shutdown right now--Donald Trump and Senate majority leader Mitch 
McConnell. The President has demonstrated repeatedly that his word is 
not good. He is an amoral hostage taker, and you cannot and should not 
negotiate with a hostage taker.
  Senator McConnell, on the other hand, has not held back in exercising 
his power when he saw fit to do so. Senator McConnell had no problem 
using his power to unilaterally deny Judge Merrick Garland to serve on 
the U.S. Supreme Court. Senator McConnell had no problem using his 
power to lower the number of Senators it would take to confirm nominees 
to the Supreme Court, starting with Neil Gorsuch. Senator McConnell had 
no problem using his power to force the Senate to come within one vote 
of denying healthcare to millions of Americans by bringing forth a bill 
to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Senator McConnell had no problem 
using his power to ram through a huge tax cut for the wealthiest 
Americans and corporations at the expense of middle-class families.
  Senator McConnell has the power to end the shutdown by bringing up 
the legislation that the House has sent us--the same legislation that 
passed the Senate last Congress--to get the full government open and 
running again.
  We should all be asking: Why won't Senator McConnell use his power to 
help 800,000 Federal workers and tens of thousands of government 
contractors get their paychecks? No one needs to remind Senator 
McConnell that Congress is a separate branch of government. The Senate 
can act without the hostage taker President's consent or assent.
  Since the amoral President has hunkered down with his hostage 
strategy, I call on Senator McConnell to use his power to do his job as 
Senate majority leader. More Members of his own caucus are coming 
forward every day and calling on him to act, regardless of whether the 
President threatens or promises a veto.
  It is time for Senator McConnell to stand up to Donald Trump and for 
the Senate to do our job and end this shutdown.
  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.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. MURRAY. I ask unanimous consent to speak as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I come to the floor on what is now day 19 
of the Trump shutdown--an epic Presidential temper tantrum that forces 
the rest of us to, once again, plead with the President to stop hurting 
the American families he promised to represent. This time, it is 
because President Trump marched our country right into a government 
shutdown, paralyzing Federal Agencies and preventing them from carrying 
out the most basic government functions.
  What does this government have to show for it? Eight hundred thousand 
hard-working Americans, some off the job and some still asked to come 
in. Their bills are mounting and no money is coming in. That includes 
the air traffic controllers in my home State of Washington who wrote me 
letters. They don't question whether they will keep showing up to do 
the job they love--a job that keeps the public safe--but they have no 
idea when they will get their next paycheck. That means stress, stress 
about providing for their families, stress about being able to pay 
their mortgages, pay for preschool, pay down post-Christmas bills. They 
are forced to bear the brunt of this Trump shutdown.
  It is not just Federal workers. Thousands of senior citizens and 
individuals with disabilities are facing possible eviction as HUD 
scrambles to figure out how to make housing payments. Our national 
parks, the crown jewels of our country, are no longer adequately 
maintained for public use, while the small businesses right outside the 
parks that rely on visitors, like those outside Mount Rainier National 
Park in my home State of Washington, are feeling the pain and cutting 
back on staffing. Our farmers and our tree fruit growers are unable to 
get their applications processed through the shuttered Farm Service 
Agency. Millions of low-income families are now unsure if they will 
receive the help they need to put food on the table for their children 
in the coming weeks.
  I could go on, but I don't need to. With each passing day, it is very 
clear just how much this Trump shutdown is hurting families in every 
community in every State of our country, and no prime time address or 
fearmongering trip to the border is going to change that reality.
  To President Trump, I say: Enough with the tweets, enough with the 
fact-twisting. It is time to stop playing politics and finally agree to 
end this shutdown that you began. Stop trying to bully your way out of 
this mess.
  To my Senate colleagues, I say: In case it is not crystal clear, 
ending this nightmare is not complicated. Three weeks ago, in this very 
spot, we passed a bill that kept the Federal Government open without 
funding Trump's wasteful wall, the one he promised Mexico would pay 
for. That bill was very simple. It was all about keeping our government 
open and avoiding a completely unnecessary crisis.
  Democrats supported the bill. Republicans supported it. In fact, it 
passed unanimously because we know the people we represent have no 
interest in elected officials playing games with their lives and 
  Now the Democratic House has followed suit. They have passed a bill 
that will do the same thing. Yet that simple solution--keeping our 
government funded, on schedule, and without interruption--has been 
stopped in its tracks by President Trump, who apparently sees no 
problem with keeping the government shut down for months or even years, 
as he said, all to fulfill a shallow campaign promise that everyone 
knows will do nothing to truly address our broken immigration system 
and keep our country safe.
  What we have here is a crisis of the President's own making, from top 
to bottom. I, for one, find it simply outrageous that instead of 
searching for real solutions or working with Congress in good faith, 
the President is dug in and demanding American taxpayers bail him out 
to save face.
  Members of this Congress were elected to make decisions that help the 
American people. We were not sent here to provide cover for the 
  I urge my Republican colleagues to make it your priority to work with 
us to fund our government and end this completely unnecessary crisis.
  This started out as a Trump shutdown, but with every day that passes 
that the Republican Senate will not act, Republican leaders take more 
and more ownership, along with every Republican Senator who supports 

[[Page S89]]

  Some Republicans in the Senate are already standing up, and I commend 
them. They want to work with us to stand up to President Trump and to 
end this shutdown, and they would like the opportunity to vote to do 
just that, but not enough yet, and the clock is ticking.
  I say this to Republican leaders: Work with us to restore certainty 
to the American people--from the hundreds of thousands of Federal 
workers who are being forced to forgo their paychecks to the small 
business owners, to the farmers, to the seniors and low-income 
families, to the air traffic controllers and all those people whose 
lives are being unnecessarily thrown into chaos and who deserve a fully 
functioning government.
  The President of the United States may be throwing a tantrum and 
playing political games, but the people we represent and our country as 
a whole deserve a whole lot better.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Toomey). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LEAHY. It is now day 19 of the Trump shutdown, 19 days that the 
Federal Government of the oldest democracy and the world's only 
superpower has been functioning on only half of its cylinders.
  I have spoken multiple times about the devastating impact this 
reckless and unnecessary shutdown is having on the Federal workforce at 
domestic departments and agencies--departments like Homeland Security, 
Agriculture, Transportation, Justice, Interior, and Commerce, agencies 
like Customs and Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the 
National Park Service.
  These departments and agencies have furloughed and stopped paying 
hundreds of thousands of employees who, as a result, are idle and no 
longer able to do the jobs that millions and millions of Americans 
depend on. Hundreds of thousands more are working without pay until the 
shutdown ends.
  The President, a billionaire who has never had to worry about not 
being able to pay the rent, says he can relate. If he actually believes 
that, he is alone.
  Programs are on hold, and contracts are being cancelled, for which 
the Federal Government is liable for penalties. Government shutdowns 
don't save money; they cost billions of dollars and have lasting 
consequences. And who pays? American taxpayers.
  This is a disgrace, and it is made even more so by the fact that it 
is entirely avoidable were it not for the intransigence, indifference, 
and obsession of one person, President Donald Trump.
  An obsession not with border security--we are all for that, and there 
is more than a billion dollars in prior appropriations for border 
security waiting to be spent. In fact, we have offered another $1.3 
billion for fiscal year 2019. The White House never says anything about 
  No, the President's myopic obsession--repeated on national television 
last night--is with building a 30-foot-high wall--mostly on desolate 
land that the government will have to seize from private owners--along 
our southern border. The price tag to U.S. taxpayers would be at least 
$18 billion and likely more, a price tag that at campaign rally after 
campaign rally he promised Mexico would pay.
  There are multiple reasons why that is a terrible idea, why it won't 
stop illegal migration, why it won't stop illicit drugs, and why it 
would be a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars, which I have discussed 
before and will again.
  Today I want to speak briefly about the impact the Trump shutdown is 
having not on the Federal Government's domestic programs and workforce, 
but its impact on U.S. national security and global leadership.
  It is worth asking: What made the United States the world's 
superpower and a global leader in the first place?
  Of course, one reason is our superior Armed Forces. That, I suspect, 
is the answer President Trump would give, but he would be only partly 
  Even more important are the ideals enshrined in our Constitution and 
Bill of Rights, our democratic institutions and coequal branches of 
government, our diverse citizenry, and our regional and global 
alliances and partnerships. Without these, our men and women in uniform 
would have precious little to defend.
  Today, the global supremacy and influence of the United States are 
being challenged like no time since the Cold War with the former Soviet 
Union. Why? One need look no further than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
  Since his first days in office, President Trump has disparaged 
longstanding friends and allies. He has withdrawn from international 
agreements negotiated by past Republican and Democratic 
administrations, announced plans to withdraw from a key nuclear 
nonproliferation treaty, and proposed drastic cuts to the operations 
and programs of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for 
International Development, which implement foreign policy.
  Now the State Department, like other Federal departments and 
agencies, is swept up in the Trump shutdown.
  Our choices are obvious: We can engage with the world by affirming 
our commitment to our ideals, by continuing to strengthen our 
democratic institutions, by empowering our diplomats and by expanding 
our global alliances and partnerships.
  Or we can withdraw, even to the point of shutting down the Federal 
Government, cede the global stage to others whose interests are often 
adverse to our own, and become the captives of simplistic campaign 
slogans, xenophobic antimigrant hysteria, and a manufactured national 
security emergency.
  The President said the country needed a ``good'' shutdown. He said 
that: a ``good'' shutdown. There is no such thing.
  He said he would be ``proud'' to take the ``mantle of blame'' for 
shutting down the government. Then the next day he blamed Democrats, 
rejecting out of hand our proposal to pass the six appropriations bills 
that already received overwhelming bipartisan support in the 
Republican-controlled Senate.
  Most of those bills have nothing to do with border security, but the 
President is obstinately holding hostage thousands of Federal programs 
funded in those bills, including the paychecks for the people who 
implement them, which harms all Americans.
  With a stroke of a pen, the President could reopen the government and 
continue negotiations on border security; yet he refuses, and instead 
he flippantly said the shutdown could last ``months'' or even 
  What has this reckless abuse of executive power meant for our 
standing in the world? What has it meant for our diplomats at the State 
Department and in our embassies overseas whose job is to protect our 
global interests, to maintain our alliances and partnerships, to assist 
the millions of Americans working, studying and serving overseas, and 
to protect our security?
  As of yesterday, 34 percent--more than one-third--of U.S. direct-hire 
State Department employees in Washington and at our embassies around 
the world have been furloughed. That is nearly 10,000 employees at the 
State Department alone who are unable to do their jobs. Others are 
working without pay.
  If the shutdown continues, more paychecks will be withheld, the 
number of furloughed employees will increase, and there will be a 
parallel shutting down of diplomacy, of programs, of contracts, and of 
our ability to engage with both allies and adversaries.
  The effects are far reaching.
  The Bureau of Diplomatic Security will run short of funds, forcing 
the State Department to deplete resources used to keep other programs 
operating order to protect our diplomats and facilities overseas or 
eventually relying on unpaid contractors to do the job.
  Roughly 85 percent of the employees of the State Department's Office 
of Inspector General have already been furloughed. Oversight of waste, 
fraud, and abuse has virtually ground to a halt.
  Vietnam, a country of nearly 100 million people bordering China, is 
becoming a key security partner in the Pacific region; yet thanks to 
the Trump shutdown, key employees at our embassy and USAID mission in 

[[Page S90]]

were furloughed. The American flag is flying, and the lights are on, 
but that is about it.
  This is illustrative of what is happening in every region of the 
world, and it does not take a lot of imagination to predict the 
consequences of a longer shutdown.
  For example, the State Department and U.S. Embassies regularly use 
their social media accounts to update Americans overseas of important 
developments that potentially threaten their safety. This was the case 
during the recent tsunami in Indonesia. How will the State Department 
respond to the next natural disaster when its social media accounts--
tools that are relied on increasingly in today's world--have fallen 
  What about the loss of U.S. influence on the world stage? With most 
official travel suspended, how do we ensure that our priorities are 
protected at the next trade, arms control, or international health 
  What do you suppose the leaders of China, Russia, Iran, Syria and 
North Korea--not to mention allies like Great Britain, Canada, and 
Japan--think about this?
  If I were President Putin, or President Xi Jinping, or Ayatollah 
Khamenei, I would be celebrating. What could be better than U.S. 
Embassies operating on life support and U.S. diplomats sidelined, while 
the U.S. Government is shut down over building a wall across the 
southwest desert?
  Does President Trump think the rest of the world will sit idly by, 
waiting until the U.S. Government reopens? The opposite will happen. 
They will take full advantage in ways that will not be short lived.
  While massive humanitarian crises imperil the lives of millions of 
people in Yemen, Syria, Burma, Venezuela, and Central Africa, the White 
House is embracing a diminishing role for the United States.
  While Russia meddles in our elections and expands its influence in 
the Middle East, while China buys the allegiance of countries in 
Africa, Asia, and our own hemisphere by investing billions in ports, 
energy and transportation projects, the State Department is shutting 
down programs and sending its people home.
  It is not just the State Department. USAID, the Peace Corps, the 
Millennium Challenge Corporation, they are all furloughing personnel 
and cancelling new activities.
  With the exception of the U.S. military, if this drags on, the United 
States will be a superpower in name only. An exaggeration? Don't bet on 
  While our diplomats are furloughed, rather than use the funds 
Congress already provided for border security that remain unspent, the 
President has threatened to ignore the legislative process, declare a 
national emergency where none exists, and order the Pentagon to pay for 
the wall that he swore Mexico would pay for.
  Such a flagrant, unwarranted misuse of authority and circumvention of 
the democratic process would be immediately challenged by Congress and 
in the courts.
  Regardless of the outcome, what would it say about our commitment to 
democracy around the world? How would it be perceived outside this 
country, particularly by autocrats in Syria, Saudi Arabia, the 
Philippines, Brazil, Egypt, Russia, Hungary, Poland, or China?
  It would be welcomed as a green light for declaring a state of 
emergency and wielding unchecked executive power--without regard for 
the legislature or judiciary--as a pretext to do virtually anything. 
Shut down the independent press. Arrest judges and opposition political 
leaders. Use the army to police the streets. Close the borders. All in 
the name of a manufactured national emergency.
  This is already happening. In Guatemala, which purports to be a 
democracy, President Morales is openly defying rulings by 
constitutional court magistrates who are courageously defending the 
institutions of justice that are under assault, and the police are 
ignoring orders of the attorney general.
  In Egypt, President al Sisi has locked up tens of thousands of 
political opponents and other dissidents. In Turkey, President Erdogan 
has done the same. President Trump has praised both leaders.
  In Brazil, President Bolsonaro, a former military officer, has vowed 
to open up the Amazon to mining, logging, and agribusiness. He wants to 
give the police a free hand to use lethal force with impunity. He is 
gearing up to crack down on civil liberties. The White House has 
  No one disputes that the United States has experienced national 
emergencies, when we faced a potentially existential threat. Pearl 
Harbor and the 9/11 attacks are obvious examples. The Cuban missile 
crisis could have been.
  A future deadly disease pandemic that infects thousands of Americans 
and rapidly spreads out of control might qualify.
  The President talks as if the sky is falling in Texas, but any 
rational person recognizes that the situation on our southwest border 
is not remotely a national emergency. To call Central American families 
fleeing poverty and violence a threat to the security of the world's 
wealthiest, most powerful country is an embarrassment, especially when 
the Border Patrol's own data shows the number of migrants apprehended 
at the southern border has plummeted over the past 10 years.
  The White House, grasping for arguments to justify the President's 
broken campaign promise that Mexico would pay for his wall, has played 
fast and loose with the facts in a desperate attempt to incite fear 
among the American people.
  The President and Vice President have shamelessly trumpeted all kinds 
of wildly inaccurate and grossly misleading statistics about migrants, 
terrorists, asylum applicants, unaccompanied children, and illegal 
drugs that are contradicted by their own agencies.
  The White House says thousands of migrant terrorists have been 
apprehended, falsely suggesting they were stopped at the Mexican 
border. Almost none of them were.
  We face a far greater threat from al Qaeda and ISIS using social 
media to inspire extremists already in the U.S. or Canada to commit 
terrorist acts. The last thing anyone would do who is genuinely 
concerned about terrorism is to shut down the government and withhold 
funding from the very agencies whose job it is to track down and arrest 
those people.
  The real threat to our national security is shutting down the 
government, furloughing 10,000 State Department employees, telling our 
embassies to cancel programs and our diplomats to stay home.
  While we come to grips with practical ways of strengthening our 
borders so we can more humanely and efficiently process migrants who 
request asylum, which we must do, we must also stay focused on the real 
threats to our national security.
  We need our embassies at full strength. We need our diplomats in the 
room with their European, Russian, Chinese, South Korean, Central 
American, Middle Eastern, and African counterparts.
  We need to strengthen NATO and our other alliances, so we can rely on 
our allies and partners to support us in responding to real national 
  We need to expand our cyber security, nonproliferation, international 
broadcasting and other public diplomacy and internet freedom programs, 
military education and training, maritime security, law enforcement, 
and other international assistance programs. Instead, because of the 
President's obsession with the wall, these and other State Department 
programs are stuck in neutral, and the people who implement them are at 
  We need to act like a superpower at the United Nations, in NATO, and 
in the many other regional organizations where decisions are made that 
directly affect our interests and our security.
  None of this is possible during a government shutdown, a shutdown 
that with each passing day erodes our democracy, weakens our global 
leadership, and threatens our security.
  We all know this. The American people know this. The world knows 
this. The President needs to reopen the government and start acting 
like the defender of the Constitution and of our national security that 
the country needs.
  I again urge the Republican leader to let us vote on the bipartisan, 
six-bill minibus, and when it passes, he and the entire Republican 
Caucus should urge the President to sign it.
  That is our job, as an independent, coequal branch of government: to 

[[Page S91]]

to appropriate the funds so the Federal Government can work for the 
American people. It is not our job to sit on the sidelines while the 
wheels of government grind to a halt because the President is 
recklessly holding it hostage.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, I rise today to set the record straight on 
the President's border wall--quite frankly, something he didn't talk 
about much last night during his speech to the country. But the truth 
is, this is where the problem is. So I want to talk about it a little 
bit today.
  The President made it crystal clear--dozens of times, in fact--that 
he was prepared to shut down the government in order to get the $5.7 
billion for the wall, leading up to that speech last night. So here we 
are today, day 19 of President Trump's shutdown. Political 
gamesmanship? Well, that is nothing new in Washington, DC, but the fact 
is, our debates need to be grounded in facts. So here are the facts:
  The President's demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall is tall in 
hyperbole and wide on theatrics but short on facts.
  Last night, the President said that Congress has refused to provide 
the resources needed to secure the border. That is not true. In fiscal 
year 2018, Congress gave the President $1.3 billion to construct 
fencing and other fixed structures along the southern border. I know so 
because I worked side by side with my Republican colleagues to write 
that bill. Today, not one of those projects is under construction--not 
  Strong border security is much more than physical barriers. Congress 
appropriated $21 billion for immigration enforcement and border 
security in last year's Homeland Security Appropriations Act. That 
includes money to expand manpower, increase technology, and utilize 
communication services and resources on top of funding for physical 
  Here is another fact: Hard narcotics likes meth and cocaine and 
opioids are not coming over the border in backpacks; they are coming 
through our ports in cars and trucks. We have the technology to fix 
that, so let's appropriate the money toward real solutions at our ports 
to stop the drugs from entering our country, not $5.7 billion for a 
  So, again, let's stick to the facts. Despite having more than $21 
billion in border security and immigration enforcement funding, 
including funds for physical barriers, the President has shut down the 
government to demand another $5.7 billion exclusively for a wall.
  One would think to ask, what would you possibly spend $5.7 billion 
on, especially after already having $21 billion to spend on border 
security and immigration enforcement? And we did ask him that. We asked 
him for a plan. We told the President and Homeland Security Secretary 
Nielsen that if they are going to break their promise to have Mexico 
pay for the wall and use American taxpayer dollars, they ought to 
produce a plan of action.
  The plan we received in late December was incomplete--no analysis of 
alternative technologies, no analysis on the impact to communities, to 
landowners, to wildlife. And that plan only asked for $1.6 billion, not 
the $5.7 billion the President is now demanding.
  The President has also failed to address private property rights and 
eminent domain. What is he going to do if a family refuses to sell off 
wide tracts of their farm or ranch to allow a wall to go through and 
split their ranch, divide their ranch? Are families going to cede their 
water and mineral rights? Is the administration prepared to enter into 
good-faith negotiations with literally thousands of families? And do we 
know how much that is going to cost the American taxpayer?
  These questions need answers. Yet, with these questions still 
unanswered, there are folks in this body, the U.S. Senate, who are 
prepared to write a $5.7 billion check to the President right now.
  So here we are on day 19 of the President's shutdown. During the 
President's speech last night, he was right about one thing: There is a 
crisis taking shape in our country. But it is not the crisis on the 
southern border that he is trying to manufacture. As a result of the 
President's shutdown, there are 19,000 border agents today who are 
working without pay. There are 51,000 TSA agents working without pay. 
These are hard-working folks. They have families, they have mortgages, 
and they are being forced by the President to secure our country's 
borders and ports and airports while not knowing when their next 
paycheck will arrive.
  I have heard from Border Patrol agents who moved across the country 
at their own expense so that they could be stationed along Montana's 
northern border. How have they been repaid for their willingness to 
serve? Well, they are not being paid. Not only do they have to absorb 
the moving costs, but now they have to pay for rent and cover other 
essential costs without a paycheck, and they are continually wondering 
when they will get paid next.
  Look, at the end of last year, CBP's recruitment efforts finally 
started to bear fruit. For the first time in years, CBP began to 
achieve gains in hiring border agents. This shutdown not only could, 
but I believe it will set back those efforts dramatically. Who could 
blame a family for passing on a job that could force you to work for 
  The President talked last night of a ``sacred duty to America.'' I 
can think of few things more un-American than withholding pay from 
someone after an honest day's work.
  But it is not just those stationed at the border and at our airports 
who are hurting because of the President's shutdown. I am going to give 
a small sample of letters and emails I have received from the folks 
from the great State of Montana since the shutdown began.
  Ronald from western Montana says this:

       I spoke to my son, a career Coast Guard member. He tells me 
     that the Coast Guard is being directed to continue their 
     duties without being paid due to this ridiculous shutdown. 
     Senator, that is not right! Why do these brave men and women 
     have to continue to risk their lives without being paid? My 
     boy is worried about being evicted from his apartment with 
     two young daughters and a wife because they won't receive 
     their housing allowance! Please help fix this un-American 

  Shilo from Bozeman writes:

       I and other federal employees have been converted into 
     political footballs for partisan politicians. My Christmas 
     vacation was canceled and pay has been suspended during a 
     time when some of us need the money the most. We are being 
     disadvantaged and made to suffer while the comfortable and 
     blithely unaffected cling to their arbitrary political 
     ideologies and refuse to compromise.

  Daren from northeast Montana:

       I have a farm equipment loan that is at a standstill 
     because the USDA is not picking up the phone. I have 
     contractors and vendors who are waiting to be paid. The 
     impact of this shutdown will last long after it ends.

  Debra from Indian Country:

       My daughters are federal employees proudly serving the 
     Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana through the Indian Health 
     Service. My daughters are both enrolled members of the 
     Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and both are single, hardworking 
     mothers. My granddaughters are afraid their moms won't be 
     able to pay the bills or buy groceries if the paychecks don't 
     arrive. Morale is horrid in Lame Deer.
       Please stop this immoral shutdown. It is very unfair to 
     hardworking people like my daughters. They must work but will 
     not get a paycheck this Friday if the shutdown continues.

  Mr. President, this is what a crisis looks like, and this is a crisis 
you have created.
  The President barely mentioned the wall last night in his address to 
the Nation. Yet we are here on day 19 of a government shutdown that is 
a direct result of his wish to build a wall from sea to shining sea.
  It is time for the Senate to be the Senate. It is time for the folks 
in this body to quit making decisions based on politics and start 
making them based on facts.
  The facts in this case are clear. There is no plan for $5.7 billion 
for a border wall, Mexico will not pay for it, and the dysfunction of 
this administration

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is causing real turmoil in the lives of 800,000 workers and their 
  I am calling on the majority to bring some common sense to this 
situation and to stand behind the bipartisan legislation that 
Republicans and Democrats have passed over the last several months--
over the last month in particular--to reopen the government and put an 
end to this crisis.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I rise today to deliver a message to the 
hard-working agriculture producers in Nebraska and across America who 
feed the world.
  At the end of last Congress, the House and Senate came together and 
passed a 5-year farm bill that provided the certainty and the 
predictability our farmers and ranchers needed during tough economic 
times. President Trump signed this important piece of legislation into 
  As a proud member of the Senate Ag Committee, I had the privilege of 
working on this legislation and securing key provisions for Nebraskans. 
Among these were measures that protected crop insurance, streamlined 
trade promotion programs, bolstered opportunities for producers to use 
precision ag technology, and unleashed broadband deployment throughout 
rural America.
  Because of this bill, folks in agriculture were feeling more 
confident about planning for the future. Now we find ourselves in the 
middle of a partial government shutdown, and there is some anxiety in 
farm country as funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture has 
lapsed. In that regard, I want to provide some important updates to 
producers who are concerned.
  The year-round sale of E15 is critical, and it is a critical issue 
for Nebraska's farmers, renewable fuel producers, and our rural 
communities. Our State has 25 ethanol plants that employ more than 
1,300 hard-working Nebraskans with high-paying jobs, which are mostly 
located in rural communities, but for far too long, an outdated 
regulation that banned the sale of E15 during summer months has held 
our communities back.
  Here in the Senate, I worked closely with a group of farm State 
colleagues to demonstrate the benefits of higher blends of ethanol 
fuel. I also championed bipartisan legislation, the Consumer and Fuel 
Retailer Choice Act, to allow for the sale of E15 year-round. Our 
efforts got President Trump's attention, and I was proud to support him 
last fall when he announced that he would direct the EPA to initiate 
the year-round sale of E15.
  Through our continued efforts in the Senate and the action by 
President Trump to follow through on his promise, rural America is on 
the way to a major victory.
  This week, some reports surfaced saying that the partial government 
shutdown is going to delay EPA's rulemaking process for year-round E15. 
I would like to reassure our fuel producers that this is simply not 
  In fact, the EPA spokesman issued the following statement, saying:

       This is a priority for both President Trump and Acting 
     Administrator Wheeler. The ongoing partial shutdown will not 
     impede EPA's ability to keep to our deadline.

  I was pleased to learn that this rulemaking process is still on 
track, and I want to make sure Nebraskans are aware of that fact as 
  Additionally, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced he is 
extending the deadline for agriculture producers to apply for payments 
under the Market Facilitation Program. These payments are provided by 
the USDA's Trade Mitigation Program, which was a good-faith effort that 
recognized the economic hardship of our farmers and ranchers and the 
problems they were facing.
  I have heard from Nebraskans who have applied for this program and 
who have received payments. Per Secretary Perdue's recent announcement, 
the Agency will extend the application deadline for the period of time 
equivalent to the number of days that the Farm Service Agency offices 
were closed during the shutdown. This should assist farmers who are 
interested in applying for the program but have been unable to do so 
during this partial shutdown. I understand the concerns of Nebraskans 
who are sincerely worried because USDA Farm Service Agency offices are 
  Agriculture is the economic engine of the State of Nebraska. Across 
the State and in rural areas throughout our Nation, farmers are 
thinking about spring planting. They want to be able to plan ahead and 
make decisions about the future of their businesses. These hardships 
are real, and they are impacting Nebraska families. That is why I am 
continuing to have conversations with my colleagues about how we can 
come together in a sensible way that properly secures our border and 
ends these lapses in government funding.
  Nebraskans know full well that I have long supported securing our 
border because it is a critical national security issue. I have visited 
the southern border, and I have spoken with our border agents. I have 
seen areas where a wall is necessary and other areas where technology 
or adding more border patrol is appropriate. Unfortunately, we have 
seen border security, an issue that has long had support from 
Republicans and Democrats, become deeply politicized.
  As we continue to look and work toward a way forward, I want to keep 
people updated and informed about the steps that our government 
continues to take to provide certainty, stability, and peace of mind to 
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lee). Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, yesterday I left my home in Cleveland and 
kissed my wife good-bye and headed to the airport early in the morning. 
I went to gates A, B, and C in the Cleveland Airport and talked to the 
TSA agents who are all working and working without pay.
  Then, when I got to Washington--I flew into National Airport--I went 
straight to a building in Arlington where I talked to cafeteria 
workers. They are Federal contract workers who serve food at our 
Smithsonian museums and other Federal facilities. They don't work for 
the Federal Government. Their paychecks don't come from the Federal 
Government. They are contracted through a company and then paid by 
these companies. They have lost their jobs during the Trump shutdown.
  These workers, making $12, $13, $14--some with some seniority make 
$15. They are union. They make 2 or 3 dollars more than the nonunion 
comparable workers. But they are not getting paid.
  Unlike the 800,000 Federal workers, some working without pay, some 
furloughed--unlike them, if history is a judge, they will not get paid 
those lost wages. So these are people making $12, $13, $14 an hour who 
have already lost 2 weeks of work because of the Trump shutdown, and 
unless Congress acts, they have no prospect to get that back pay. 
Again, their wages are at that level.
  Then, last night, to sort of cap the day, in my apartment here I 
watched the President of the United States talk about his wall and dig 
in a little more.
  You know, I wish President Trump would talk to the workers he is 
hurting with this shutdown. I wish that he would go out and, as 
President Lincoln used to say, get his ``public opinion bath'' and 
listen to these workers; that he would leave the White House or Mar-a-
Lago, where he spends most of his time, and talk to these workers I 
talked to yesterday--the TSA workers in Cleveland who are working 
without pay. The anxiety levels are going up and up and up for these 
workers because this coming Saturday they will miss their first 
paycheck--and then beyond that too. This also affects the food service 

[[Page S93]]

  Last week, President Trump said--imagine this, a billionaire 
President--his shutdown, the Trump shutdown, which he proudly, as 
Commander in Chief, said: ``I am proud of this shutdown.'' Last week, 
he said: ``This shutdown has a higher purpose than next week's pay.'' 
Imagine that, a billionaire President, living in this beautiful house 
paid for by taxpayers and having his estate in Mar-a-Lago, and he would 
say: ``This shutdown,'' this Trump shutdown, ``has a higher purpose 
than next week's pay.''
  I wonder if he would tell that to TSA workers, the ones I met in 
Cleveland, including Aaron Bankston, who told me:

       If you're the only breadwinner in your family, and to have 
     your kids looking up at you, it's hard to tell them, we don't 
     have anything to put food on the table, that's the hard part.
       We just have to get us back working. We're working 
     diligently over here, trying to make sure we're securing 

  Mr. President, tell the cafeteria workers I talked with there is a 
higher purpose than their week's pay because, remember, it is not just 
Federal employees feeling the pain. There are also these contractors. 
There are 800,000 Federal employees. We think--we can't get the number 
from the government yet--I am not sure the administration wants to tell 
us these numbers. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of 
contract workers making $10, $12, $15 an hour--making a little more if 
they are lucky enough to have a union, but some making as little as $8 
or $9 or $10 an hour.
  A lot of Americans don't realize that thousands of janitors and 
cafeteria workers and security guards are out of work because of the 
President. You know, it is all kinds of Federal employees. It is people 
who process tax returns at the IRS. It is people who are helping 
farmers adjust to the new farm bill we passed proudly--Senators Roberts 
and Stabenow and a bunch of others. It is about people wanting to get a 
mortgage, and they can't get it approved at FHA because of this 
shutdown. It is also people making $8 and $10 and $12 an hour. Unless 
we do something, these workers will not get the backpay they should get 
because they are employed by private contractors. They have no way, at 
$12 and $15 an hour--without pay, they have no way of making up their 
lost hours and lost wages. I am working with a relatively new Minnesota 
Senator, Ms. Smith, on legislation to try to come up with a solution to 
get these workers backpay, the way that workers who are actual Federal 
employees get backpay. Fundamentally, it comes down to respecting the 
dignity of work. That means respecting the dignity of work and that 
these workers make a decent wage with decent benefits.
  Missing one paycheck may not seem like a lot to the billionaire 
President and the multimillionaire Cabinet with their massive 
investment portfolio.
  I will say that again. Missing one 2-week paycheck or two 2-week 
paychecks or even, if the President gets his way, three 2-week 
paychecks may not seem like a lot to a billionaire President and a 
multimillionaire Cabinet with their massive investment portfolios, but 
it means a whole lot to these people. Missing a paycheck is a big, big 
deal that the President of the United States clearly either doesn't 
understand or doesn't care about.
  The President doesn't understand that working people can't just send 
a letter to creditors saying: Excuse me from paying rent this month or 
paying my mortgage or paying for my medications. You can't put 
groceries or gas in the car with an IOU.
  One of those cafeteria workers told me in Arlington: I have to pay 
rent. I have other bills. I have a college student in community 
college. He needs help with his books. He said: President Trump, I am 
asking would you please open the government. Everyone is going through 
hardship. We really don't want this wall you want.
  I am guessing the President of the United States, the billionaire 
President, jetting back and forth between the White House and Mar-a-
Lago in Florida, will never talk to not just these workers I talked to 
in Virginia or those TSA employees in Cleveland--I am sure he will not 
talk to them, but I hope he will talk to some people like them.
  He spends his time in his resort, but he doesn't see them. To him, 
they are invisible, but Mitch McConnell can see them. Mitch McConnell's 
office is down the hall on the right about 100 feet. I have shared on 
this floor before how lobbyists, during the tax bill, when President 
Trump and the majority in the Senate and the majority in the House gave 
a $1.5 trillion tax cut--and 70 percent of that tax cut went to the 
richest 1 percent, people like themselves, the President, the Cabinet, 
many Members of the Senate, many Members of the House. I documented it 
to show--as I looked out this door and opened these doors, I showed 
this is the place where the lobbyists go in and out of the majority 
leader's office, talking to him about their special interest 
  So I ask--right now, Senator McConnell could come out of his office, 
and he could walk down this hall. I would be happy to open the door for 
him, if that is not contrary to Senate rules. I would be happy to open 
the door for him and welcome him. He could right now vote to reopen the 
government and get this process moving and tell the President of the 
United States. He also could go to Virginia. He also could go to the 
airport in Louisville or Cincinnati, and he could listen to their 
stories, but he doesn't seem to be listening either because I am 
guessing if he did, he might be a little more inclined to let us vote 
to get these workers back on the job.
  I am calling on Senator McConnell to come out of that office, to walk 
down this hall, and to come here and begin the process of opening the 
  Let's talk for a minute about what the President said last night. The 
President continued his record of telling lie after lie after lie after 
lie, misleading the people he is supposed to serve. Facts matter. So 
when you hear the President say we need a wall, remember that it is a 
fact that illegal border crossings are at historic lows. It is not fake 
news. My wife says if it is fake, it is not news, and if it is news, it 
is not fake. It is a fact that border crossings are at historic lows.
  Another fact, border crossings are down about 80 percent since 2000. 
Another fact, the President's wall would do nothing to stop opioids 
coming into our communities. First, most illegal opioids are seized at 
legal points of entry, not tracked over some remote area of Texas. 
Fact, the shutdown makes it harder for Customs and Border Protection to 
do their jobs intercepting those opioids.
  Another fact, last year we passed the INTERDICT Act. I worked with my 
colleague from Ohio, Senator Portman, and Senator Markey from 
Massachusetts on a bipartisan bill to get Customs and Border Protection 
the screening devices they need to test for opioids. Why would we focus 
on the President's vanity project, building this wall? A promise he 
made--remember his promise? ``I will build the wall, and the Mexicans 
will pay for it.'' Well, he is now asking American taxpayers, over 
time, to pay $25 or $30 billion.
  Why would we focus on the President's vanity project instead of 
getting the agents and technology they need? We can do this with 
agents, technology, helicopters, and all the things we need to do to 
protect the border because that is what we want to do. We don't want 
this vanity project. We want to protect the border.
  Another fact, most undocumented immigrants aren't committing crimes. 
In fact, there are 56 percent fewer criminal convictions of 
undocumented immigrants than of native-born Texans. So a native-born 
Texan is more likely, percentagewise, to commit a crime than an 
undocumented person living in Texas.
  Keep in mind the facts of what this shutdown is costing the American 
people; 800,000 Federal workers are going without a paycheck; 420,000 
of them are on the job without pay; thousands of contract workers, 
custodians, cafeteria workers, janitors not only are not getting a 
paycheck, but they probably never will for this lost work.
  Here is another fact. The President and Senator McConnell could end 
the shutdown right now. The Senate passed a bill unanimously to fund 
the government in December. That is a fact. We passed it. It is a fact. 
It was unanimous. It is a fact. The House passed bills to fund the 
government last week. It is a fact. Senator McConnell right now could 
come out of that office, walk

[[Page S94]]

down this hall, and Senator McConnell could put those House bills on 
the floor right now, and we could vote to end this shutdown. We could 
send them to the President's desk, and if the President is going to 
continue his vanity project and continue this Trump shutdown and he 
vetoes it, we have the ability to override it.
  The President doesn't tell us what to do. He seems to be telling the 
Republican majority what to do day after day. I applaud those who stood 
up to him recently and said they want to open the government, but it is 
also a fact that this President said: ``I am proud to shut down the 
  The Commander in Chief of the United States of America--the Commander 
in Chief--the top person in this country's government said: ``I am 
proud to shut down the government.''
  Facts matter. The fact is, President Trump, once again, as he 
betrayed the General Motors workers in Lordstown, as he betrayed the 
General Motors suppliers--all the companies that supply the building of 
the Chevy Cruz--he has betrayed these Federal workers; he has betrayed 
these contract workers who are making $10, $12, and $15 an hour; and he 
has betrayed the American worker.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rounds). The Senator from Florida.

                                  S. 1

  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, what is before us right now is S. 1. For 
those who are here today watching or who are at home or will watch this 
later and are wondering what the Senate is doing, other than coming 
down here and giving speeches, what we are trying to do is start debate 
on a bill, on S. 1.
  S. 1 is the Senate effort to respond specifically not just to general 
events that are happening in the Middle East but, in particular, the 
decision made a few weeks ago that the United States would be leaving 
Syria and our presence there.
  At the time when the decision was made, I told everybody I thought it 
was a bad idea. A lot of people agreed, and there are a lot of reasons 
why it was a bad idea. Although I do think it is important anytime we 
ask the American people to send their young men and women abroad--in 
the case of Syria, it is about 2,000 special operators working 
alongside tens of thousands of Kurdish and Syrian democratic forces. 
Anytime we spend money or send Americans abroad to risk their lives, 
the American people deserve for us to go to them and justify why it is 
we should be doing it or continue to do it. That is certainly the case 
with Syria.
  So I don't agree with the decision, but I do think it has given the 
Senate and those of us who disagree with that decision an opportunity 
to go out and tell people why it is that it is important. That is a 
broader topic, and I will have more to say about that in the days to 
come, but one of the reasons why it is important is because the U.S. 
withdrawal from Syria will have a dramatic impact on the security of 
  Now, again, anytime we ask the American people to support another 
country with money or diplomatic support or anything that it might be--
weapons--we should justify it. We should never take for granted why it 
is that it is important that we support that other country.
  In the case of Israel, at a time when very few things enjoy 
bipartisan support, support for Israel has wide bipartisan support in 
Congress and across the country, and rightfully so. Our support of the 
State of Israel is founded both on morality and our national interest.
  On the issue of morality, the State of Israel is very unique. It was 
founded for a very specific purpose in the aftermath of the holocaust, 
in which millions of Jews lost their lives. It was vowed that never 
again would the Jewish people not have a place to go and seek refuge or 
live in a place of peace and security. The State of Israel was 
established to be that homeland for the Jewish people. It is unique in 
the fact that it was given birth by an international organization. It 
is unique in the world in that regard.
  The second reason we should support Israel is because it is in our 
national interest. Israel is everything we wish more countries in the 
Middle East and around the world were. They are a pro-American, free 
enterprise democracy. I would ask you, for a moment only, to imagine 
what the world would be like, how much easier our foreign policy would 
be if there were more countries in that part of the world that were 
pro-American, free enterprise democracies. We have one, the Jewish 
State of Israel. That is why we should support it.
  From its very birth, Israel has faced threats to its very existence, 
but I would say today that the threats it faces are the greatest ones 
it has had to confront in almost a half century. The impetus for much 
of that threat comes from one place, and that is Iran, a country which 
almost as a matter of course as a government chants ``Death to 
America'' and ``Death to Israel'' on a regular basis. It is one of the 
stated purposes of that government, to destroy the State of Israel, but 
they aren't just words; they are actions.
  I have a map of Iran and Israel. Of course, notice that Israel is the 
tiny little area on this map. At its narrowest point, Israel is 9 miles 
wide. This is not a large country in terms of the map area. It is 
unreal how much of the world's attention, both from international 
organizations and international debates, focuses on this one tiny 
country, but there it is, the very small nation that you see right 
there in yellow.
  There is Iran. It is, clearly, larger in terms of on the map and in 
reality. Iran isn't simply a rhetorical enemy of Israel; it is taking 
action to encircle Israel and to threaten its security.
  It begins with engagement in its missile program. Iran is developing 
and has developed ballistic missiles with a range that reaches every 
part of Israel. Here is the bottom line: Iran can lodge ballistic 
missiles that reach any city in Israel right now, which is why their 
nuclear ambitions are so dangerous.
  Imagine that at some point in the future, Iran is able to attach a 
nuclear warhead to one of those ballistic missiles--a country whose 
leaders on a regular basis chant ``Death to Israel'' with a nuclear 
weapon that can reach Israel. Well, that is a proposition nobody wants 
to see come about. That is why the Iranian ambition to have nuclear 
weapons is so dangerous. They already possess that as it is today. But 
they don't simply directly target Israel; they also--I believe 
directly--they hide behind surrogates in the region, who do their 
bidding. These surrogates have for many years been found in southern 
Lebanon among Hezbollah. We will talk about them in a moment. They are 
a surrogate that works at the behest of the Iranian Government.
  There have been conflicts--in fact, wars--between Israel and 
Hezbollah in which there have been massive military attacks coming from 
Lebanon, rocket strikes into Israel and Israel's response. The last one 
was in the 2005-2006 time period, and it could happen again. In fact, I 
believe the conditions are ripe for it to happen again. It could happen 
at any moment for a variety of different reasons that will have to be 
part of another speech because time doesn't permit. Suffice it to say, 
it is a dangerous proposition.
  How does Hezbollah get this weaponry? They get this weaponry from 
Iran. It is shipped through Syria. The U.S. disengagement from Syria 
will make it easier for Iran and the IRGC and Hezbollah to bring those 
weapons into southern Lebanon to strike at Israel at some point in the 
future. In addition to that, Iran is also present on the ground in 
Syria, which, as you see, borders Israel. So not only does Iran help 
Hezbollah, but Hezbollah and Iran are in Syria, on Israel's very border 
in the same region in the south, and a U.S. withdrawal will make it 
easier for Iran to grow their presence there. So now Israel faces a 
threat from Hezbollah, from southern Lebanon, and a threat from Iran 
and Hezbollah in Syria.
  We also see that the Iranian influence has grown in Iraq. The second 
leading political movement in the current Iraqi Parliament is a Shia 
group, directly aligned in Iran, with growing political influence. They 
want to kick America out of there. Believe me, they want to turn Iraq 
into another base of operation from which Israel can be targeted.
  Down here in Yemen, the Houthis are an agent of Iran. You may say: 
Well, that is kind of far. It isn't in the sense that those missiles 
and rockets could reach there as well, but it also allows

[[Page S95]]

them the opportunity to shut off transit here at this chokepoint on the 
bottom of the Red Sea, which could directly impact, ultimately, the 
ability for trade and commerce for Israel and for the region writ 
  Obviously, we see a growing Iranian presence in Bahrain and Kuwait.
  Suffice it to say that Iran is carrying out an effort to grow its 
influence and encircle who it views as its enemies--the Sunnis in Saudi 
Arabia but more than anyone else, the Israelis.
  This is not the only threat, by the way, that Israel faces. It also 
faces growing violence and resistance in the Judea-Samaria region--
often called by some the West Bank--and Gaza, where there have been 
upticks in violence.
  I failed to mention that in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah routinely 
builds tunnels from Lebanon into Israel. The purpose of that is to be 
able to sneak fighters right into Israel through those tunnels so they 
can conduct commando raids and kill civilians--not military personnel 
but civilians.
  The threats Israel is facing are growing every single day.
  I want to talk specifically for a moment about the missile threat to 
Israel. Here are the ranges of these rockets. There was an Israel-
Hezbollah war. The next one will be far deadlier. It will be far 
deadlier for a couple of reasons.
  The first is that Hezbollah can build these rockets; they no longer 
need to ship them in. Over the last decade and a half, they have built 
the capability to construct these rockets themselves.
  The second is that they have more of them. That matters because 
Israel has a very good missile defense system, but you can overwhelm a 
missile defense system with volume, meaning 100 rockets are launched, 
and you knock down 99 of them, but 1 of them gets through and hits a 
population center and kills 10,000 people. Hezbollah now has that 
  These rockets are also precision-guided. They are not just lobbing 
them over and they hit what they hit. They can launch precision-guided 
munitions to target specific areas within Israel. The ranges of these 
rockets they now possess are stunning. As an example, if you look at 
this little ring here, it tells you how many seconds it would take from 
launch to impact, meaning 10 to 25 seconds before they could hit, for 
example, the area of Nazareth and Tiberias. Moving farther down, you 
see 35 to 50 seconds. Farther down, around Tel Aviv, 75 seconds. 
Jerusalem, just south of that is probably another 10 seconds added, 85 
seconds. A hundred and twenty seconds. A hundred and fifty-five 
  Imagine for a moment that you are visiting Israel or live in Israel 
or are a student studying there--whatever it might be--and one of these 
launches comes in, a barrage of 1,000 rockets launched. You literally 
have 35 to 50 seconds--less than 2 minutes. There is no country in the 
world that can mobilize people to get out of the way in 2 minutes. 
These are their population centers. This is the threat that faces them 
right now, and that is just from Lebanon. Imagine that same capability 
I just described also existing in Syria. Imagine it all being launched 
simultaneously from Syria, from Lebanon, and from Iran. Now you begin 
to see the construct of a plan to destroy this tiny nation and why it 
is so critical that the United States support them in fighting for 
their existence. The threat is extraordinary.
  There is one more element to it. There is now a global effort called 
boycott, divestment, and sanctions, BDS. It is designed to wage 
economic war on Israel--in essence, to pressure companies to boycott 
Israeli companies and people who do business in Israel until they stop, 
to pressure investment funds and banks to no longer do investments in 
anything related to Israel, and to pressure governments around the 
world to sanction Israel. That is what this effort is about. It is to 
undermine them economically as well. It is economic warfare and being 
waged at every level. It is working. People are adopting this around 
the world, and there are some who advocate for it here. We have 
recently seen in the news a number of companies that decided not to do 
business in certain parts of Israel because of the pressure from that 
  By the way, I would point out that they are not just boycotting the 
economy; there are people who won't do concerts, and they won't play 
the Israeli sports teams. They want the Israeli Government kicked out 
of the international committee for different sports, including soccer--
the Olympic committee. They boycott cultural events. They boycott 
universities. They are pressuring universities to cut ties with any 
university in Israel over all this. It is an effort to destroy Israel 
culturally and economically in a way that works in combination with the 
effort to destroy it physically. It is a very real threat.
  We have tried to confront both of these issues in bipartisan 
legislation. I have up here a chart, and I will talk about it in a 
moment. Twenty-six States in this country have tried to do something to 
condemn BDS. I will get to that in a moment before I tell you the 
  I told you why it is so important that we stand with Israel and the 
threats that Israel faces. Now I will describe what this bill does. 
This bill has four components to it. One deals with the human rights 
violation in Syria. We will discuss that further, perhaps tomorrow. The 
second component of this bill deals with Jordan, which is one of the 
neighbors that Israel has that is actually critical to its security. 
One of the best things that happened to Israel security was the deal 
with Jordan and Egypt that allowed them, at their periphery, to have 
countries that at least recognize them and are not out to destroy them. 
Jordan faces its own threats from some of the same actors, by the way. 
And add ISIS to that.
  The other two elements are we took these two bills that have 
bipartisan support--cosponsored by Republicans and Democrats--we 
combined them with the other two bills, which also had such support, 
into one bill. That is S. 1. We viewed it as an opportunity for the 
Senate and for Congress to weigh in on foreign policy at a time when we 
believe that all of the threats to Israel that I just described are 
made worse by the decision to withdraw from Syria. That is the bill 
that is before us.

  Today, I want to talk about the two components that impact Israel 
directly. The first is basically the United States-Israel Security 
Assistance Authorization Act. That is a fancy title for a bill that I 
coauthored with my very good friend and another strong supporter of 
Israel, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who sits on the other side of 
the aisle. Again, I told you this is a bipartisan issue.
  This bill has 72 cosponsors here in the Senate. It passed 
overwhelmingly by a voice vote. We didn't even have to have a rollcall 
vote. It was just voice-voted out, meaning there was unanimous 
consent--no one objected--on the 1st of August of last year. It passed 
in the House, with an amendment, on September 12. Then it was hotlined 
for a potential voice vote here on October 11, 2018.
  What does this bill do? The first thing it does is it lays out a 
statement of policy. Let me tell you why that is important. People say: 
Statement of policy words--why do they matter? They matter in the 
region because one of the things that would encourage Hezbollah or any 
of Israel's enemies to perhaps attack it is the belief that the United 
States is no longer as committed to Israel's security as we once were. 
They could miscalculate. They read these headlines about one or two 
people in America saying something negative toward Israel, and they 
think that somehow we are weakening in our resolve. I know that sounds 
silly to us, but to people involved in that over there, it is not. They 
read into this, and they miscalculate it. They make errors. A 
miscalculation here could lead to an all-out war that could cost the 
lives of thousands of people and potentially lead to the destruction of 
Israel, along with other nations in the process.
  It is important for us to make very clear that our commitment to 
Israel is unwavering. It is especially important in light of the 
decision to withdraw from Syria because what a lot of these countries--
including Iran--are reading into this is, U.S. commitment to the Middle 
East is no longer very strong. Not only are they not committed to being 
involved in the region, they are actually withdrawing any of the assets 
they could be using to be supportive of their allies in the region.
  So these statements of policy are important. What we put in this bill 
lays out a statement of policy that says:

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       It shall be the policy of the United States to provide 
     assistance to the Government of Israel in order to support 
     funding for cooperative programs to develop, produce, and 
     procure missile, rocket, projectile, and other defense 
     capabilities to help Israel meets its security needs and to 
     help develop and enhance United States defense capabilities.

  What that means is, this is a cooperation. Israel may be developing 
some of these technologies because they have an immediate need. We 
would benefit from that technology too. If Israel develops the next 
generation of missile defense systems, we would use that as well in the 
case where we were threatened by it. That is that statement of policy.
  The bill also authorizes U.S. security assistance in foreign military 
financing at no less than $3.3 billion a year for the next decade. 
That, by the way, is simply the language from a memorandum of 
understanding that was signed by the Obama administration and Israel. 
We put that in the statute, and we authorized it.
  This is very important. It extends a war reserve stockpile authority 
and extends loan guarantees to Israel through 2023. Israel has never 
defaulted on a U.S.-backed loan guarantee, and this program helps 
provide rainy-day insurance on Israel's stability given the many 
threats it is facing.
  It authorizes the President to transfer precision-guided munitions 
and related defense articles and services to Israel as necessary for 
legitimate self-defense. That means this weaponry wouldn't be sent, but 
it would be put on reserve status--assuming it doesn't impact our 
readiness--and it would be made available to Israel in case a war broke 
out and their reserves were quickly depleted. If they start running out 
of rockets, munitions, and defense apparatus, the United States has set 
aside weaponry that we are ready to rapidly send to them so they can 
defend themselves. They pay for this. But at least they know it is 
sitting there. We don't have to scramble to find it, it takes 2 weeks 
to get there, and by then, the war is over.
  It has other requirements. It expresses the sense of Congress that 
the President should prescribe procedures for rapidly acquiring and 
deploying what we need to support production of these precision-guided 
munitions for our U.S. counterterror mission.
  It requires the President to report no later than 120 days to the 
appropriate congressional committees on Israel's eligibility for the 
strategic trade authorization exception to certain export control 
licensing, including the reasons as to why Israel has not yet been 
included in the list of countries eligible for the strategic trade 
authorization exception.
  This one is also very critical. This is a new threat that is 
emerging. It authorizes the President to enter into a cooperative 
agreement--meaning it benefits them and us--to counter unmanned aerial 
vehicles and the threat they pose. The reason for that is that on 
February 10 of last year, an Iranian drone was shot down by Israel. 
Everyone has every reason to believe that these unmanned aerial 
vehicles are the next threat that will be deployed both in the 
battlefield and potentially by terrorists. We would work with Israel, 
which faces an immediate threat, to develop counters to that. Today, we 
don't have good counters to that.
  Above all else, it makes one more very clear policy statement that 
has been the linchpin of our support for Israel, which is that it is 
the policy of the United States to ensure that Israel maintains its 
ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military or 
emerging threat from any state or possible coalition of states or from 
nonstate actors while sustaining minimal damage and casualties through 
the use of superior military means possessed in sufficient quantities, 
including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, 
surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical 
characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other 
individual or possible coalition states or nonstate actors.
  Here is what this means: It is the policy of the United States to 
ensure that Israel's weapons and systems are better than anyone else's 
in the region. Whatever anybody else has we will sell to Israel and 
allow it to access and acquire something better so that it will always 
have an advantage. If anyone in that region believes it could beat 
Israel in a war, one will try to beat Israel in a war. That was the 
history from its very birth, and that was the lesson of 1967 and the 
lesson of 1973. We don't want that to happen again. That is what this 
bill does. That is why it has so much support. That is why it is so 
important for us to move to debate on this issue.
  It also tackles this economic warfare. What is included in this is a 
bill we filed last year with Senator Manchin, called the Combating BDS 
Act. By the way, last year, the Banking chairman, Senator Crapo of 
Idaho, and the ranking member, Senator Brown of Ohio, discharged this 
bill from their committee, and they didn't even require a hearing. They 
did it late last year after running it by all of their members, and we 
tried to pass it in the Senate by a voice vote but were unable to 
because of one Senator who blocked it.
  Let me start by thanking Senators Crapo and Brown for working hard to 
advance this bill last year, as well as for coauthoring with me last 
year the new Hezbollah sanctions law, known as the Hizballah 
International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2018. We 
strengthened the sanctions on Hezbollah that we had passed in the 2 
years previous.
  First of all, let me tell you what it doesn't do. It does not outlaw 
BDS. If you are an American company and you want to boycott or divest 
from Israel, this doesn't make it illegal. It doesn't stop you from 
doing it. It only says that if there is some city or county or State in 
this country that wants to support Israel, it has a right to say it is 
not going to buy services or goods from any company that is boycotting 
or divesting from Israel. That is all it does. It gives cities and 
counties like these--26 States--the opportunity to have their elected 
officials who respond to the people of those States or cities or 
counties who elected them to make decisions that they are not going to 
do business with people who don't do business with Israel and boycott 
Israel. In essence, it allows us to boycott the boycotters.
  Some say that it is an infringement on the First Amendment. First, I 
will tell you that the First Amendment protects speech and actions that 
function in the form of speech. This is not an effort to silence speech 
nor is this an effort, by the way, to defeat an effort per se. It is an 
effort to defend the right to counterspeak. The First Amendment is a 
two-way street. You have a right to express your views on something, 
but others have a right to respond. You have a right to boycott a 
country, and people have a right to boycott you. That is what this law 
allows them to do. It is that simple.
  By the way, this is not some domestic debate. They are not trying to 
influence some law that we are passing here with BDS. They are not 
trying to influence your opinions on a topic. They are trying to 
influence the foreign policy of another country. This is not 
traditional free speech. The courts have weighed in on this in the 
past, and the courts have given Congress and the executive branch 
extraordinary discretion on the setting of foreign policy. When a 
company weighs in on BDS, it is not trying to influence a domestic 
debate or a topic of opinion here in the U.S. political system; it is 
trying to punish a nation-state so that the state changes its policies 
in another country.
  There is an open question about whether the First Amendment even 
covers that. The bill basically says, notwithstanding whatever is in 
the bill, nothing in the bill shall be construed to invade or to hurt 
anyone's First Amendment rights. So anyone who hides behind the idea 
that this is designed to silence speech isn't being truthful.
  This does not outlaw BDS. If you want to boycott or divest from 
Israel, you can. It is legal. We are not outlawing that as that would 
be an infringement. All we are saying is, if you are going to boycott 
Israel, those who support Israel will have a right to boycott you. That 
includes cities and counties and States that don't want to buy stuff 
from you. That is what this bill does. That is why it enjoys this broad 
bipartisan support.
  Some have asked me to take it out of this bill and have said it is 
the reason we are not moving to it. At least, that is what I heard 
earlier. Now there is another reason. It is absurd. Vote against it and 
then justify it, but if you

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are trying to shield the boycotters, that is the de facto support of 
BDS, in my opinion, and I think it is important for us to pass it.
  I emphasize again that this was not overly controversial 2 weeks ago. 
Look at the list of people who supported this bill last year: the 
majority leader, the minority leader, the Foreign Relations Committee 
chairman, the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the 
Senate Finance Committee chairman, and the ranking member of the 
Finance Committee. Democratic and Republican leaders on multiple 
committees and at the very top of this Chamber support this bill. Yet, 
somehow, we can't even proceed to debate on this bill.

  You may say, ``Well, wait until the shutdown is over,'' because that 
is the argument that is being used now--that we shouldn't move to 
anything until we deal with the shutdown. I don't like the shutdown. I 
hope it ends tonight or tomorrow morning. Yet this is not just any 
other issue. There is a credible argument to be made that there is a 
time sensitivity to this because the enemies of Israel aren't sitting 
around, waiting. This could happen at any moment. These aren't the 
kinds of things that build up. Hezbollah's desire to destroy Israel is 
longstanding, and what they choose to do about it will not wait for the 
U.S. Senate to deal with other topics. This is an immediate threat. It 
is right before us, and it deserves our immediate reaction.
  This could rapidly escalate, but I am not going to take up another 30 
minutes to describe all of the scenarios under which that could happen. 
Yet I will give you one that is not out of the realm of possibility. 
Now that they know that the United States is going to be withdrawing 
from Syria, the Israelis could decide--and, I believe, rightfully so--
that for their own defense, they will need to start attacking even more 
inside Syria. Regarding those supply lanes that Iran is using, every 
time they see a truck with rockets on it, they are going to blow up the 
truck. Every time they see IRGC or Hezbollah militias forming anywhere 
near their border, they are going to hit them. They are now going to 
step up those attacks because we are not there anymore. Iran is going 
to fill that void, so they are going to have to step up their attacks.
  At some point, Iran and/or Hezbollah is going to respond to those 
stepped-up attacks with attacks of its own, at which point Israel is 
going to respond with even bigger attacks. Then the cycle of escalation 
will begin. Then very quickly--before you know it--in this region, we 
could have a shooting war, not a war of words and not a vote at the 
U.N., but rockets and missiles being fired at one another from Lebanon 
or from Syria into Israel, with Israel's responding back into Syria and 
Israel's responding back into Lebanon. In fact, Israel has said that 
all of Lebanon is on the target list since now Hezbollah and the 
current President of Lebanon have created a political alliance. You 
also have these other countries running around inside Syria, including 
the Russians now and the Turks up to the north. There is the potential 
that their troops would get caught in the firefight in their eliciting 
a response back to Israel. Before you know it, we could have a 
multistate, multiparty, all-out war in the Middle East. The possibility 
of that happening is not farfetched.
  I say this to you today with no pleasure. There will be another 
Israel-Hezbollah war. It is just a matter of time. Yet the next one 
will be far more deadly. It is incumbent upon us to do what we can. 
There are things we cannot do, and there are things we can do. It is 
incumbent upon us to prolong it and to prevent it for as long as 
possible. One of the things we can do to help prevent that or to extend 
the time before that happens is to make it very clear to Hezbollah and 
Iran and everyone else that if they take on Israel, we will support 
Israel. That is what this bill is designed to do. It is not just to 
send that message but to put in place that reality.
  Given the tinderbox that is the Middle East and given the 
unpredictability of the various actors involved, particularly those 
that hate Israel, why would we not move immediately to address 
something like that? Why are we not capable of voting on something that 
will probably get 80 votes here and still deal with the government 
  The last time we had a government shutdown, we were still voting on 
bills that had nothing to do with the government shutdown. When the 
other party was in charge, we were doing that. There is no precedent 
for doing it. I believe that it is possible for us to do both, and that 
is what we should do. This isn't tax reform or healthcare reform. This 
is something that is urgent and immediate and requires our attention 
because of the unpredictability of foreign events today and because of 
the unpredictability of this part of the world.
  I know, at some point here soon, that the leader will bring up for a 
second time a vote on the motion to proceed. It is not even a vote on 
the bill. It is a motion to begin debate on this bill. Nothing else is 
going on around here. Let them continue to meet and have a dialogue and 
talk about how to get us out of this shutdown. I hope we do. I hope 
that happens. Yet don't shut down the Senate, particularly on a topic 
of this importance, because these events will not wait for us. It is 
important for us to act.
  Please don't go around asking people to stand up to this 
administration's foreign policies that we don't agree with--when we at 
least offer a counter or something to diminish its negative impacts--
and respond with obstruction and not just obstruction because of policy 
but with obstruction in order to make a political point or to avoid a 
vote that three or four Senators might not want to take. I don't think 
that makes a lot of sense.
  I think, when it comes to the issues of national security and foreign 
policy, we should try, to the extent possible, to remove them from the 
daily grind and back-and-forth of American politics because the 
repercussions are dramatic. That is the one thing that makes national 
security and foreign policy different from domestic policy. You can 
always go back and change a bad tax law. You can always go back and 
change a bad healthcare law. You can always go back and make changes to 
a bad banking law. You can't undo history. You can't undo wars once 
they have started. You can't undo carnage once it has occurred. Foreign 
policy is often irreversible, and once mistakes are made, you have to 
do the best you can with the hand you have been dealt.
  That is why I hope that on this one, we stop playing games, that we 
get on this bill, and that we pass it so that even as this debate about 
the shutdown continues, we will make clear to the world and we will 
make clear to her enemies that we stand with Israel. We always have and 
we always will across party lines. We may bicker and fight about many 
things, but when it comes to the support of Israel, we are united--
House and Senate Republicans and Democrats and the White House--in the 
support of our strongest ally in the region and of one of our strongest 
allies in the entire world.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.

                           Government Funding

  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise to discuss President Trump's ongoing 
shutdown of the Federal Government--how we got here, the impact on the 
people of my State, and how we can make some progress.
  It is past time for the President to stop holding the American people 
for ransom through this government shutdown. It is past time to stop 
the misinformation campaign and to stop making unwarranted demands for 
the ill use of American taxpayers' dollars. The President needs to open 
the government.
  The Senate did its work on the budget. We have bipartisan, compromise 
bills that are ready for the President's signature. Chairman Collins 
and I worked together, on a bipartisan basis, to develop the fiscal 
year 2019 Transportation-HUD bill, which was reported out of committee 
unanimously. Our bill was then approved by the full Senate as part of a 
package that included three other bipartisan appropriations bills--
Agriculture, Financial Services, and the Interior. Together, these 
bills passed by a veto-proof margin of 92 to 6.
  I am very proud of the work that Chairman Collins did and that I was 
able to assist with during this process to provide an additional $10 
billion to rebuild our roads, our bridges, and our

[[Page S98]]

airports and to develop new affordable housing opportunities to more 
than 5 million low-income Americans who strive to make ends meet. These 
investments will grow our economy, spur job creation, and improve 
communities across America.
  The T-HUD bill--on an issue that both Chairman Collins and I care 
deeply about--will continue to make a major commitment to address 
homelessness among youth, veterans, and survivors of domestic violence. 
We are making real progress through the HUD-VASH Program, which has 
brought down homelessness among veterans by 49 percent since 2010 and 
is helping 64 communities in 3 States effectively end homelessness 
among veterans.
  In September, a Senate-House conference committee that I served on 
had essentially reached an agreement on a final version of these four 
bills. They could have been passed and signed into law by the start of 
the fiscal year last October 1. It would have been a victory for the 
American people--both for the smart investments these bills would make 
and for the restoration of good government and regular order, which 
Chairman Shelby and Vice Chairman Leahy have both made it a priority to 
achieve. Instead, a final agreement was slow-walked and stalled by the 
House leadership and then the White House in order to give the 
President greater leverage for the shutdown he had been angling for 
over many months.

  Here we are, 3 months into the fiscal year and 3 weeks into a 
shutdown, and 800,000 Federal employees have either been furloughed or 
forced to work without pay. Thousands of Federal contract employees are 
also out of work and may never be compensated. Trash is piling up at 
national parks, and damage is being reported. Employers can't access 
the government's E-Verify system to assure that they are hiring legal 
residents. Soon, the shutdown may prevent HUD from renewing project-
based rental agreements. Press reports indicate that the shutdown is 
causing States to scale back in awarding highway and transit contracts.
  Starting as soon as this Friday, many Federal district courts will 
start feeling the Federal shutdown pinch more acutely, with just 
skeleton crews or just a few people working without pay, making it 
harder for Americans and businesses to get their day in court.
  Like everyone else, Federal employees--from Coast Guard officers and 
enlisted personnel to FBI agents, to air traffic controllers--have 
rent, mortgages, student loans, childcare, and healthcare bills to pay. 
Many work paycheck to paycheck.
  The President has said that he is willing to continue this shutdown 
for months or even years without a care about the effect it will have 
on their lives. Indeed, during his speech last night, the President 
didn't even mention these Federal employees. In Congress, we hear their 
  On Monday, air traffic controllers from T.F. Green Airport visited my 
office. They explained that this shutdown not only creates financial 
hardships for them, it also clogs the pipeline for the hiring and 
training of new controllers who are desperately needed to replace those 
who are eligible for retirement.
  I am hearing from other constituents too. A USDA meat inspector from 
Chepachet, RI, sent me an email over the holidays saying:

       I'm one of the Federal employees that will be impacted by 
     the government shutdown/impasse. . . . I'm required to report 
     to work without pay for the duration. I have 3 children under 
     5 and a stay-at-home husband, with no contingency plan for 
     lack of pay, especially during the holiday season. I realize 
     it's Christmas, and you all have families too. The holidays 
     are stressful enough without additional financial stress.

  I hope the President will act and reopen the Department of 
Agriculture, the FDA, and other Agencies that keep our food and 
medicine safe.
  A Coast Guard lieutenant from Westerly, RI, also wrote me to say:

       I respectfully implore you to represent the needs and 
     values of servicemembers such as myself, as well as the hard-
     working Coast Guard civilians who work alongside me. During 
     the shutdown, our missions are stunted and our dedication is 
     disrespected. As the only household income and as I continue 
     to fulfill my commitment to active duty service, my ability 
     to meet financial obligations for myself and my two young 
     children is at great risk if the shutdown continues. 
     Likewise, the government is not living up to its end of the 
     contract made with my crew of both active duty and civilian 
     members. Please share this plea with your fellow Congress 

  Lieutenant, thank you for your service and for the additional 
sacrifice you and your colleagues are making today.
  As we think about border security, let's remember the important job 
the Coast Guard is doing to protect our border, particularly to prevent 
illegal drugs from entering the United States. In 2017 alone, the Coast 
Guard seized illegal drugs valued at $6.6 billion wholesale and 
detained 708 suspected smugglers for prosecution. So it is interesting 
to have the President talk about drug smugglers coming across our 
Mexican border while the Coast Guard is out there, unpaid, protecting 
us on all of the seas and oceans that abut the United States.
  It is not just Federal employees. An executive at a small shipyard in 
North Kingstown, RI, wrote to me this week to say:

       We do a great deal of work for the U.S. Coast Guard, and 
     for the last three weeks, we have not been paid. We currently 
     have about a half a million dollars due with an additional 
     $200,000 going in for review and payment in the next week or 
     so. This situation is beginning to hinder our ability to pay 
     our vendors, and it's created a cash flow deficiency that, if 
     not resolved soon, will be difficult and costly to manage. 
     Please feel free to share this message with whoever needs to 
     hear about this.

  This is a small business in Rhode Island, repairing ships for our 
Coast Guard, that is facing financial distress--in fact, perhaps, 
disaster. Those are the people who are being harmed by this shutdown.
  Certainly, I hear this message, and I know my colleagues are 
listening, but for whatever reason, the President doesn't seem to be 

  So how does this get resolved? Democrats have offered several paths 
forward, but now the President--the person who caused this shutdown, 
who proudly declared on television he would take full credit for it--
needs to commit to reopening the government without precondition.
  I know that many people say: Why can't you just make a deal with the 
President? Unfortunately, the President can't stick to basic facts, 
numbers, or a bargain.
  Originally, Mexico was going to pay for his border wall. Then he 
decided that American taxpayers should pay for it, so he asked Congress 
for $1.6 billion to build 65 miles of wall. Last Sunday, his request 
became $5.7 billion for more than 230 miles of wall. By Monday, he was 
considering declaring a national emergency and using national defense 
dollars without congressional approval.
  To the idea that the President would use defense dollars to build a 
border wall, let me say that his proposed wall has no core defense 
function. We are not at war with Mexico.
  In fact, the Pentagon's most recent national defense strategy doesn't 
mention the southern border as a national defense priority. Meanwhile, 
the Pentagon has billions of dollars in infrastructure backlogs, 
ranging from military construction projects for new missions to 
deferred maintenance in facilities sustainment, restoration, and 
modernization. There is no credible argument that a border wall takes 
priority over any of these.
  Of course, the President doesn't have a real plan for building the 
border wall. In July, the Government Accountability Office warned that 
the Trump administration's approach increased risks that the wall--in 
their words--``will cost more than projected, take longer than planned, 
or not fully perform as expected.'' Is there any wonder congressional 
GOP leaders rejected his wall when they controlled every branch of 
government in the last 2 years?
  The President has not been honest with the American people. He hasn't 
even been straight with members of his administration or Members of his 
own party in Congress, who are often hung out to dry.
  In fact, 2 days before the shutdown, the then-Senate majority whip 
told CNN, after a meeting with Vice President Pence, that the President 
would sign a clean continuing resolution to keep the government open 
until after Christmas. Less than 24 hours later, that position was 
reversed by a Presidential tweet.
  Even when the President makes a deal, he has trouble keeping it, 
especially when he is under criticism from

[[Page S99]]

rightwing talk radio and TV personalities. After negotiating overall 
funding levels for defense and nondefense spending last year, the 
President nearly vetoed the final 2018 Omnibus appropriations bill 
because he was criticized for the size and scope of the bill. Secretary 
Mattis had to be summoned to the White House to explain how important 
the bill was to the Pentagon before the President grudgingly agreed to 
sign it.
  Now there is no Secretary Mattis or anyone of his stature to give the 
President good counsel. If the President remains implacable about his 
wall, it will be up to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to 
join with Democrats to pass the bipartisan bills we have already agreed 
on together and reopen the government.
  I hope they do so, and soon, as the lives of our constituents and the 
health and businesses of our States are at stake.
  The answer we have to give is not to the President. The answer is to 
that young woman working every day without pay to protect the American 
public by inspecting foods that we eat. The answer we have to give is 
to that young Coast Guard officer who is working every day, trying to 
pay for and to afford things for a young family without being paid. The 
only answer we can give them is that we are opening up this government 
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). The majority leader.