(Senate - January 15, 2019)

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[Pages S202-S208]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the joint resolution.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A joint resolution (S.J. Res. 2) disapproving the 
     President's proposal to take an action relating to the 
     application of certain sanctions with respect to the Russian 

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.

                             Right to Life

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, it is amazing how much we talk about our 
kids. People talk about bipartisan things here all the time. There is a 
bipartisan conversation often about our families and about our kids and 
how proud of them we are and about sharing our lives with each other.
  My two daughters are a remarkable part of my family, of who I am. I 
can't even process life without thinking about the two of them.
  Our kids are some of the most valuable moments of our entire lives 
and our greatest memories. When they were little, we looked into their 
eyes and saw potential, and we dreamed for them. From our earliest days 
of pregnancy, Cindy and I talked about the future for our girls as we 
prayed for them, thought about them, prepared for them, and it had sunk 
in what an incredible responsibility they really were. Kids are that 
way. That is that earliest moment that we talk about all the time.
  What is remarkable about this photo is thinking about just exactly 
what this moment could be like because, in this moment, there are 
really two directions that it could go in America. This little one was 
born several weeks early. For that little one, life could have gone in 
two different directions. This group of doctors is gathered around this 
little one, delivering this child, and watching him take his very first 
breath. Only seconds before that, that same little one we see there 
with this same group of doctors could have been destroyed--that life in 
the womb--and it would have been OK.
  You see, in America, this moment could go two different directions at 
any time. This life could be there, and we could watch the decades 
ahead of him or, seconds before this picture was taken, when that child 
was still in the womb, that life could have been destroyed, and no one 
would have paid attention because the determination of whether this is 
a child or whether this is just a little lump of tissue is determined 
by a few seconds in a delivery room. If it is still inside the womb, it 
is not a child; it is just tissue. A few seconds later, when he is 
delivered, everyone smiles and looks at the face of this baby and says: 
What a beautiful child, and what a remarkable miracle that is.
  How do we do that in America? How do we decide what is life and what 
is just tissue?
  Some people would say it is only a child if we believe it is a child. 
If we don't believe it is a child, it is not a child; it is only 
  Some people say it has incredible value, and we should prepare for 
his or her college, and we should think and pray about his future and 
his spouse and what he is going to do. Some people would say it is 
meaningless--just flesh that can literally be put into a bag and taken 
to the curb. The determination is really by the mom and the dad there. 
They get to choose whether that is a child or whether that is tissue.
  I honestly don't understand that conversation because when I look at 
this child with fingers and toes and hair and unique DNA, there is 
nothing different about that child right there than this child. You 
see, that child whom we saw in the picture before is the same age as 
this one, but, this time, this is a 3D ultrasound taken inside the 
womb, but there is no difference between the two. Both of them have 
faces and fingers and toes and nervous systems and functioning brains 
and lungs. They have DNA that is different from their moms and their 
dads--DNA that is unique to those people. Whether you can see him or 
not, that heartbeat and that DNA is a child.
  In America, we still have this ongoing dialogue: When is ``life'' 
  I heard someone earlier jokingly say that if this life were 
discovered on Mars, we would say Mars had life on it, but we are still 
discussing whether this life is a life on Earth. What do we do with 
  Here is what we continue to debate and continue to have a 
conversation about. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled on 
what is now the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. It was supposed to have 
settled the issue about life. It was supposed to have settled the issue 
that every single State has to allow abortion and that life, according 
to the Supreme Court in 1973, was about viability. When can this child 
live on his own outside the womb--viability?
  Viability in 1973 was very different than viability now, thankfully. 
When we think about viability now, there are people born at 21 or 22 
weeks--extremely early--who would have never survived in 1973 but who 
regularly survive now because of great medical care. Viability really 
doesn't determine life, though. Life is something that begins much 
earlier, and for some reason in our culture, we are still having a 
conversation about what to do with that tissue.
  As Americans, we spend a lot of time trying to work on very difficult 
issues, but for some reason, this has become a partisan issue that is 
exceptionally divisive in this culture. This life and this child 
shouldn't be a partisan issue. This shouldn't be a Republican child or 
a Democratic child. This should just be a child, and we should be able 
to pause for a moment and determine what we are going to do about her 
and determine: Is she valuable?
  As a culture, we spend billions of dollars caring for the homeless 
because we believe that every single life matters and that no life can 
just be thrown away just because one struggles with life. We spend 
billions of dollars caring for the oldest and the weakest in our 
society because they need 24-hour care and because we respect that life 
and the dignity that it carries. We demand equal protection for women 
and men of all races, all ages, all sexual orientations, all faiths. We 
demand that as a culture because we believe, as a culture, that every 
person should have respect and every person should have opportunity 
because of one's great potential.
  We pat ourselves on the back when we adopt abused animals, when we 
stand up against human trafficking worldwide, when we help clean up 
ocean trash, or when we plant trees to beautify our communities. Yet we 
are having a tough time considering that child as a child.
  We even require that cigarettes, alcohol, theme park rides, 
medicines, and many other products have warning labels on them to warn 
pregnant moms not to use the product because it could harm the child 
because, as a culture, we acknowledge that a mom's smoking hurts a 
child. Yet, for some reason, we can't seem to acknowledge that a child 
could be hurt by an abortion and that it really would end a life.

  It is my guess that anyone who disagrees with this has already tuned 
me out because, as a culture, we don't want to think about this life 
because if, for a moment, we pause and consider that maybe she is 
really alive and has purpose and value, we would have to swallow hard 
and acknowledge the millions of little girls just like her who have 
died in abortions in America--millions. To fight against having to deal 
with that, we just don't want to think about it, and we just tune it 
out. Yet, if you are one of the folks who has actually stuck with me 
through the dialogue, let me walk through a couple of things just to 
think about.
  Let's start with a few things--the science. This little girl has DNA 
that is different than her mom's and dad's. It has cell division. It 
has something that we would look at in normal embryonic development 
called the Carnegie stages of embryonic development.
  For years and years, every medical school teaches the Carnegie stages 
of embryonic development. They look at cell division at the beginning 
point and acknowledge, as they go through the

[[Page S203]]

process, that this is a child from the earliest moments and that it is 
a stage of life. Every single person who can hear me right now has gone 
through the Carnegie stages of embryonic development, just like this 
little one has. Every person has because we understand that it is a 
natural part of life, that it is a stage of life, that it is an 
acknowledgment of life.
  It is something that we acknowledge in the animal world because this 
Congress has passed laws to deal with endangered species, including a 
$100,000 fine if you damage a golden eagle's egg, a bald eagle's egg, 
if you go to marine turtles' nesting spots to destroy or to even 
disturb the nests of marine turtles. In Oklahoma, we deal with barn 
swallows that will build their nests in the springtime in construction 
areas. All construction has to stop if a barn swallow builds a nest in 
a construction area, because those eggs are important, not so much 
because of the barn swallow but because there is a common understanding 
in this Congress that those eagle eggs, turtle eggs, and barn swallow 
eggs are future barn swallows, turtles, and eagles. We acknowledge that 
it is a life that is in process. So we protect it, but we can't seem to 
make the simple, logical step that that eagle egg becomes an eagle and 
she is a little girl.
  The science screams at us in this area, but for many people, they 
just don't want to think about it because, at this stage, she is in the 
womb. She is invisible. She hasn't reached the stage at which you can 
see her. For many people, they say: She is only alive when I can see 
her. If I can't see her, she is not real.
  The problem is that the science doesn't prove that out.
  The second issue that we have to deal with is where we are as a 
culture and where we are as a country compared to other countries on 
this simple issue about looking at this little one and asking: Is that 
a child or is that just tissue? Where is the rest of the world on this?
  It is interesting to note that the rest of the world is in a very 
different spot than is the United States on this. This is a simple map 
of the world. Most of the world--and you will see it in gray here--says 
that abortion should stop at 12 weeks. That is 3 months. After 3 
months, you can't have an abortion anymore.
  There are seven countries in the world that will allow abortion all 
the way up to 24 weeks. They are the countries that are here in black--
Canada, the United States, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and 
the Netherlands. They allow abortions up to 24 weeks.
  At 24 weeks and on, in the third trimester, there are only four 
countries in the world that allow late-term abortions--only four--
China, North Korea, Vietnam, and the United States. Everywhere else in 
the world looks at that child and says that the child is a child--fully 
viable--except the United States, China, North Korea, and Vietnam. Now, 
that is not a club I really want us to be in.
  All of Europe has banned late-term abortion--all of it. All of 
Africa, most of Asia, and all of Central and South America have looked 
at this, and as separate cultures, they have said no to a late-term 
abortion--that he is a fully viable child.
  Interestingly enough, there was a survey that just came out today--a 
nationwide survey--that asked Americans' opinions on this issue about 
life. There were 75 percent of Americans who said there should not be 
abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy--that is 3 months--except to 
protect the life of the mom. This was 75 percent of Americans. They are 
with this part of the world. This part of the world all says that same 
thing. That is most of Europe, and most of that area says OK to 12 
weeks, but that after 12 weeks, you have to stop because the child has 
a functioning nervous system and brain and is developing in all of 
those areas.
  Even if you don't acknowledge where I am, where I believe that life 
begins--at conception--why can't you at least acknowledge that at 12 
weeks, which is where most of the rest of the world is, he is a child 
that should be protected?
  At what point do we, as Americans, slow down enough to look at what 
we don't want to look at and at what the rest of the world has done, 
except for Vietnam, North Korea, and China? Why do we want to be in 
that group when we deal with the issue of life? Those are some of the 
worst human rights violators in the world. Why are we in that club?
  Folks have recently said to me: You know, I understand this is a 
legislative issue, but it is really a faith issue. This is really about 
your faith, and your faith should not legislate who I am.
  I would only tell you that a culture makes decisions, including our 
culture, not just about its faith but about its values as a culture.
  Stealing is also a religious issue. It is in the Ten Commandments. So 
maybe, as a culture, we shouldn't ban stealing because the Ten 
Commandments say you shouldn't steal. No one would really say that 
because, as a culture, we all look at it and say that theft is a 
problem, that you shouldn't be able to do that.
  A culture makes its decisions based on its own personal values. So it 
is not just a religious issue, but our faith does impact our personal 
lives and decisions. It does affect who we are.
  In China, where most faith is banned, they allow abortion at any 
stage. In fact, in China the state is the most important thing. 
Everything is about building up the state. The individual has no value. 
The state has the greatest value. China determines it has too many 
people. So it forces women to have abortions. It compels them. Some can 
only have one child, and some can have two children, but every child 
after that has to be aborted because the state chooses that. Its 
greatest value is the state.
  Our greatest value is the individual. That is why our documents begin 
with things like ``we the people,'' because the individual has value. 
We look at the senior adults who are in the nursing homes and provide 
care for them. We look at the homeless person, the child who is in need 
of food, and that little girl who is still in the womb, and we say they 
all have value because the individual has importance.
  I had someone who caught me and said: You know, your faith has this 
whole verse in the Bible that says: ``I was knit together in my 
mother's womb.'' So this is a religious issue. You have a belief that 
each child was knit together by God in their mother's womb.
  Then they paused and said: That is fine for you to have that belief, 
but I have the belief that they were knit together, but it is when they 
are not done. They are not fully knit together. They are not really a 
shirt. They are only a sleeve, and if they are still in development, 
then, they are not fully developed. They are not really a child yet.
  I smile at that and say: Actually, although this child was born 
premature, you are right. She is not fully developed. It is not just a 
sleeve. It is just a smaller shirt, but she will get there because 
everything about your life's development--your hair color, your height, 
your health--is all bound up in those first cells as they start 
dividing in your own unique DNA.
  This is not about a religious conviction. This is about a child and 
who we are as a culture.
  Let me say this: I understand there is a lot of conversation about 
this. As I mentioned before, this has become a partisan, divisive 
issue. This is not trying to be a Republican or Democrat. I have met 
Republicans and Democrats who both can look at this picture and say 
that is a child, not tissue.
  This shouldn't be a divisive or political issue, neither should this 
be an attacking and condemning issue of the moms and dads who have 
walked through abortion. Quite frankly, I have great compassion for 
them. For those moms who have had an abortion, that memory never goes 
away for them. Years later, they sit in the food court at the mall and 
watch a small child playing nearby and think: That is how old my child 
would be right now if they were still alive. I have not met a mom, 
ever, who wasn't affected by abortion and the memories that come back 
to them on that.
  This is not a flippant issue for any person who goes through an 
abortion. I grieve for those folks and the struggle they have, but I 
also grieve for us as a nation in the devaluing of something so obvious 
as a child. We can do better as a country, but the first thing we have 
to do is stop and look.
  As a nation, we have been through some moments that we are not proud

[[Page S204]]

of, but as a nation, we are proud of who we can become. As a nation, we 
are not proud that at one point, we declared African-American men and 
women as three-fifths of a man. As a nation, we are not proud of that. 
As a nation, we are not proud that we once told women they could not 
vote. As Americans, we are not proud that at one point, we took 
Japanese-Americans and interned them in camps because we were afraid of 
them. As Americans, we are not proud of those moments.
  I pray there is a day that we are not proud that we looked away from 
little girls and little boys and said: You are not human enough yet. 
Your life can be ended because I don't want to look at you.
  The beginning for us, really, is to stop and look at what is obvious. 
That is a child. What are you going to do about that child?
  One of the great books of the 20th century was written by a man named 
Ralph Ellison, who, by the way, was an Oklahoman. Ralph Ellison was a 
tremendous African-American author. In the early 20th century, he wrote 
a book called ``Invisible Man.'' It is a remarkable journey to look 
into that time period. The author, who is really writing as the 
narrator of the book, is telling his story.
  In the prologue of the book, there is a section I want to read to you 
because I think it is powerful, just thinking about the philosophy that 
Ralph Ellison put out. He said this:

       I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and 
     liquids--and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am 
     invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see 
     me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus 
     sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors 
     of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they only 
     see my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their 
     imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me.
       Nor is my invisibility exactly a matter of biochemical 
     accident to my epidermis. That invisibility to which I refer 
     occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those 
     with whom I come in contact. A matter of the construction of 
     the inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their 
     physical eyes upon reality.

  Ralph Ellison was saying in the early 20th century that White 
America, when they ran into Black America, refused to look and ignored 
them as if they were invisible and just walked on.
  As a culture, I am grateful that Americans are opening their eyes to 
each other as friends and as neighbors and as Americans. I wonder, one 
day, when the peculiar eyes that choose to pretend that this child is 
invisible, simply because she looks like this, when our peculiar eyes 
choose to look at what we have chosen to say is invisible and to turn 
away and to say: Let's see what we do as a culture. Let's march for 
life. Let's speak out for what is obvious, and let's determine what to 
do in the next step.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. McSALLY). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Government Funding

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Madam President, I want to spend a few minutes talking 
about the partial government shutdown, which is happening right now, 
and, more importantly, related to it, the men and women of the U.S. 
Coast Guard who are working today, like every other member of the 
military, risking their lives here, in my State of Alaska, and overseas 
in the Middle East, and are not getting paid to do so. They are the 
only branch of the U.S. military not getting paid to risk their lives 
for their country. They missed their first paycheck today, but here is 
the good news. We are offering a solution--a solution that is working 
through the Federal Government that has a lot of potential.
  Before I get to that, I want to talk a little bit about the partial 
government shutdown itself and make clear that I believe the Trump 
administration's effort to secure the border should be part of the 
solution. Every nation has the right and has the responsibility to 
protect its citizens and to protect its sovereignty. In my view, this 
is something that should not be controversial. Every nation has the 
right and responsibility to do this, and that is what the citizens of 
each country expect. It should not be controversial.
  In fact, over the past 25 years, every single President of the United 
States--Democrat and Republican--has attempted to secure the southern 
border and has come before the Congress and said: I am going to secure 
the southern border. They have campaigned on securing the southern 
border. They have all said this. Even the Members of Congress--
Democrats and Republicans--year after year have come to the floor of 
both Houses and said: We need to do it.
  In a big speech in 2014, President Obama called the situation on the 
southern border a crisis. That was 4 years ago. He called it a crisis--
the previous President, President Obama. I agreed with his assessment 
then, and I agree with President Trump's assessment now, which is the 
same assessment.
  That is why the President is asking for $5.7 billion to secure our 
border. It is not an unreasonable request, particularly, when Members 
of this body, just last spring, when we were debating immigration 
reform, voted for dollar amounts that were much greater than that. 
Again, Democrats and Republicans, last spring, debating on the floor of 
this body immigration reform and border security, voted way north of 
$5.7 billion.
  This is just one of the many solutions we need to grapple with in 
order to have a functional immigration system that secures our border, 
enforces the law, helps to grow our economy, and, importantly, keeps 
families together. Securing the border is an important goal.
  I am hoping that as we all work on this, Speaker Pelosi, Minority 
Leader Schumer, the President, and my Republican colleagues could get 
to a compromise on this issue soon. We all need to come together.
  The good news, as I mentioned, is that we might be on the verge of 
coming together--those parties that I just mentioned--on one of the 
issues that relate to securing our border, that relate to this broader 
challenge on the partial government shutdown involving the U.S. Coast 
Guard. I am hopeful that this could be a template for getting out of 
the broader partial government shutdown.
  As you know, the partial government shutdown is negatively impacting 
Federal workers, but none--none--more so than the brave men and women 
of the U.S. Coast Guard. As I mentioned, they are currently the only 
members of the U.S. military who are not getting paid during this 
partial government shutdown. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the 
Marines are all out there risking their lives for our Nation. We 
greatly appreciate that. And guess what. They are getting paid to do 
it, as they should be, but the Coast Guard members are also out there 
risking their lives, especially in my State, the great State of Alaska. 
They are out on the Bering Seas, some of the roughest and most 
dangerous oceans in the world, keeping our fishermen safe and doing 
rescues. They are deployed overseas. They are deployed in the Middle 
East. They have been in Florida and Texas helping with natural 
disasters, hurricanes--all heroic service. There have been many 
shutdowns before in the Federal Government, unfortunately, dating back 
decades, but this might be the first time ever that you have every 
branch of the military being paid during the shutdown, with the 
exception of one.

  Let me read a letter from the commandant of the Coast Guard, ADM Karl 
Schultz, to the men and women of the Coast Guard.

       To the Men and Women of the United States Coast Guard,
       Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled 
     mid-month paycheck. To the best of my knowledge, this marks 
     the first time in our Nation's history that servicemembers in 
     a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in 
     government appropriations.

  That is the first paragraph in the Commandant's letter to all the 
members of the U.S. Coast Guard. It is the first time in the U.S. 
history we are doing this to members of the military.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the letter be printed 
in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

       To the Men and Women of the United States Coast Guard, 
     Today you will not be

[[Page S205]]

     receiving your regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck. To the 
     best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our 
     Nation's history that servicemembers in a U.S. Armed Force 
     have not been paid during a lapse in government 
       Your senior leadership, including Secretary Nielsen, 
     remains fully engaged and we will maintain a steady flow of 
     communications to keep you updated on developments.
       I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation 
     places on you and your family, and we are working closely 
     with service organizations on your behalf. To this end, I am 
     encouraged to share that Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) 
     has received a $15 million donation from USAA to support our 
     people in need. In partnership with CGMA, the American Red 
     Cross will assist in the distribution of these funds to our 
     military and civilian workforce requiring assistance.
       I am grateful for the outpouring of support across the 
     country, particularly in local communities, for our men and 
     women. It is a direct reflection of the American public's 
     sentiment towards their United States Coast Guard; they 
     recognize the sacrifice that you and your family make in 
     service to your country.
       It is also not lost on me that our dedicated civilians are 
     already adjusting to a missed paycheck--we are confronting 
     this challenge together.
       The strength of our Service has, and always will be, our 
     people. You have proven time and again the ability to rise 
     above adversity. Stay the course, stand the watch, and serve 
     with pride. You are not, and will not, be forgotten.
           Semper Paratus,
                                          Admiral Karl L. Schultz,

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Nobody thinks this is a good idea. Nobody thinks this 
is a good idea. So last week, a number of us in this body, Democrats 
and Republicans, put forward a bill that simply says we should pay the 
men and women of the Coast Guard, even if we are in a partial 
government shutdown, just like paying the men and women of the other 
branches of the military. They are risking their lives daily. They 
can't just quit their job. By the way, if they want to just go quit, 
they are going to be court-martialed. That is different than other 
Federal service. So that is what we said we were going to do.
  When the President came to the Senate last week, I had the 
opportunity to raise this issue with the President and his team and 
highlighted the fact that this is very different, and we need to work 
together. We have a bill. If we get the President's support and 
signature on it, that would be a good way to move it forward, and I 
have been in communication with his administration ever since the 
lunch--working with us.
  I am hopeful we are on the verge of a breakthrough because the White 
House has said the President recognizes this is a rather unique 
situation--very unique--so he has now said he is going to support this 
bill. We have Democrats, Republicans, the White House, and the 
President of the United States all saying, all right, we are not there 
yet, but this is a good start, and this is an important issue.
  What is going on right now in this body is we are trying to UC this. 
We are trying to get unanimous consent from Democrats and Republicans 
on this bill. Again, leadership on the Democratic side and on the 
Republican side have all supported this bill: pay the Coast Guard like 
the other military servicemembers. The White House is now supportive. 
Hopefully, tonight we are going to get this cleared, and we are going 
to get it over to the House; Speaker Pelosi and her team will recognize 
how dire and important this is--just like Democrats, Republicans, the 
President, and Secretary Nielsen Secretary of Homeland Security all 
recognize this--and we get to a solution. It is not going to end 
everything, but it will be a solution.
  I am asking my colleagues tonight, as this bill is being moved 
through the hotline for unanimous consent--and I thank all the 
Republicans who have already said they will support it. We get my 
colleagues on the Democratic side--again, there are a number of 
Democratic cosponsors on this bill. The President said he would sign 
it. We get it over to the House, and we start to get solutions as 
opposed to just roadblocks.
  There are just two broader issues I want to raise. As I am 
indicating, this kind of work can be a template to getting to a broader 
solution with regard to the partial government shutdown--Democrats and 
Republicans in this body working together, the White House working with 
us, the Trump administration working with us, and, hopefully, the House 
will see the wisdom of this when the bill comes over to them, and we 
will get a bill signed that takes care of almost 50,000 Active-Duty 
patriots--men and women--risking their lives, right now as we speak, 
with no pay. I am hopeful that is a template.
  Another broader issue that this matter actually raises--that we need 
to focus on a lot more in the Senate--is a problem I have seen in the 
last 4 years during my time here; that sometimes the Coast Guard gets 
short shrift relative to other members of the military. It is wrong, 
and we need to work on it together.
  Why has that happened? Certainly not because they are not as heroic 
and dedicated and patriotic as the rest of the military. I don't think 
it is intentional. It is more bureaucratic. The Coast Guard falls under 
the Commerce Committee. The Coast Guard falls under the Homeland 
Security Secretary. The Marines, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force 
are under the Armed Services Committee and under the Pentagon. 
Sometimes things just happen, whether it is retirement pay, whether it 
is the example of paying the military, where the Coast Guard gets 
treated in an unequal manner. They shouldn't. They shouldn't. We need 
to treat all members of the military, all five branches, the same: pay, 
retirement, shutdowns. Again, I don't think it is intentional, but it 
does happen.
  I am the chairman of the subcommittee in the Commerce Committee in 
charge of the Coast Guard. I sit on the Armed Services Committee. I 
know a lot of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, have recognized 
this is a problem. The chairman of the Commerce Committee, the chairman 
of the Armed Services Committee have. I think we are all focused--
again, bipartisan--to address some of these challenges where the Coast 
Guard is not treated equally among the other services, and that is just 
wrong. We need to start working on that, and I am going to continue to 
focus on that issue.
  The best way we can start working on that is tonight: Fix this pay 
problem, which every single American knows is inequitable, knows is not 
fair to the men and women of the Coast Guard, but we are on the verge 
of a solution. Let's UC this bill tonight--we have the White House's 
support--and get it over to the House. At least we will take care of 
one issue where there is an inequality between the men and women in the 
other branches of the services and the Coast Guard, and then we will 
work to fix all the others. I am hopeful we are going to get there 
tonight and hopefully will solve this problem in the next 24 to 48 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.

                           Government Funding

  Mr. RUBIO. Madam President, it has been an interesting start to this 
new Congress 2 weeks ago today, I believe--almost 2 weeks ago, this 
week. We are in a shutdown, and then we had a vote here a few minutes 
ago to disapprove of a decision made by the administration.
  A lot of people would look at that, and they would say that is a sign 
of weakness and division. Most certainly, I don't like this shutdown. I 
hope we can figure a way out of it quickly. A lot of people who had 
nothing to do with it are being hurt. My feelings about that are strong 
as well. I don't think what the President is requesting is 
unreasonable, but the reason we have a shutdown is because, at the end 
of the day, everyone involved--no matter how long and how strongly they 
disagree--is willing to live by the Constitution, and the Constitution 
says, the only way you can fund the government is if the House and the 
Senate pass a spending bill and the President signs it into law.
  Likewise, we had a vote a few minutes ago about a decision made by 
the administration to delist a Russian company after some changes were 
made to the ownership structure. You may disagree with it or agree with 
it, but the bottom line is, that the reason the vote happened is we 
passed a law that said within 30 days of it being enacted, the Congress 
could act to disapprove. That is the way our constitutional system 
  So despite our sharp disagreements, despite our arguments, despite 
what appears outwardly to the country and many in the world as a sign 
of division and weakness, the result may not be

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anything we support--or maybe it is--but at its core, let's remind 
ourselves that the reason this is happening is because everyone 
involved, no matter how much they appear to dislike each other or how 
much they disagree, they are willing to live within the letter and the 
law of the Constitution of the United States of America.


  Imagine an alternative for a moment. Imagine if the President, 
frustrated by Congress's continuing unwillingness to fund one of his 
priorities on border security, frustrated by a decision in Congress to 
disapprove of a decision he made regarding sanctions, decided not only 
was he going to ignore Congress, but he was going to stop paying them, 
he was going to jail its Members, and he was going to create an 
alternative Congress, which he handpicked and controlled.
  That sounds farfetched. That sounds clearly unconstitutional, but 
there are parts of this world where those kinds of things are 
happening, and one of them is in our hemisphere. What I have just 
described to you is exactly what has happened in the nation of 
Venezuela beginning as early as 2013.
  What has happened there is that the supposed President--actual 
dictator--of the country, frustrated that the democratically elected 
national assembly would not support his initiatives to control the 
country, decided to create an alternative--what they call a constituent 
assembly--an alternative congress. They no longer pay the national 
assembly members at all. They have no staffing; they have no budget; 
they are hardly allowed to meet; and several of them have been jailed.
  As part of this process of replacing the national assembly or at 
least ignoring them and giving no force of law to what they vote on and 
creating this alternative national assembly called the constituent 
assembly, completely outside their Constitution, with no basis in law--
that entity, that organism, called for an election, a new election for 
President. It was a snap election designed to not allow the opposition 
to organize in time, an election in which they control all the 
television stations, in which people had to show an ID card in order to 
vote, and that ID card also happened to be the card that got your 
family food and medicine--the limited amounts people are getting--not a 
fair election in any way.
  The result is, last May, Maduro ``wins'' this ``fraudulent'' 
election, and the first day of the term of this fraudulent Presidency 
was last week.
  Rightfully, the President of the United States, along with leaders 
from multiple other countries--including Colombia, Brazil, Canada, and 
dozens of countries around the world--have said Maduro is an 
illegitimate President under the Constitution of Venezuela: The 
election you held isn't free and fair. The election you held was 
authorized by an organism that is not recognized under the 
Constitution. You are not the real President. You are a fraud, and the 
only reason why you are in office is because you are threatening to 
jail or kill the people who are willing to raise this point against 
  The administration went further, and they said the national assembly 
of Venezuela is the only constitutionally, democratically elected 
government in the country.
  The statements we have made in the last week are entirely rooted in 
the rule of law and entirely rooted in the Venezuelan Constitution, and 
they are not unilateral actions. These statements have been supported 
by other countries in the region, including Venezuela's neighbors.
  If, in fact, we are basing our public policy on the Constitution of 
Venezuela, there is one more provision we cannot ignore; that is, a 
provision in the Constitution that says that when there is a vacancy in 
the Presidency and the Vice Presidency, the President of Venezuela is 
the President of the national assembly.
  We have a similar line of secession in the United States. In the 
absence of the President or the Vice President, the Speaker of the 
House automatically becomes the President of the United States. They 
might have a swearing-in ceremony, but by law that absence triggers the 
Presidency of the Speaker of the House--third in the line, followed by 
No. 4 in line, the President pro tempore of the Senate.
  They have a similar outline in Venezuela under their Constitution. So 
it stands to reason that if our policy is that Maduro and his Vice 
President are illegitimate because they were elected in an extra-
constitutional, fraudulent election, then clearly the Presidency of 
Venezuela is vacant. And if we are rooting our support for the National 
Assembly as the only constitutionally and legitimately elected body in 
the country, then we must respect the fact that that Constitution 
automatically passes the title of ``President'' to the President of the 
National Assembly.
  What I come to the floor today to ask is that the administration--
hopefully in concert with Brazil and Canada and Columbia and other 
countries around the world--simply recognize what the Venezuelan 
Constitution clearly lays out. There is no President in Venezuela right 
now that has been democratically elected, and via their own 
Constitution, the current President of Venezuela, pending a new 
election, is Juan Guaido, the President of the National Assembly.
  This is entirely rooted, as I said, in rule of law and under the 
Venezuelan Constitution. It doesn't even require Mr. Guaido to assume 
the office; it automatically is bestowed upon him. It is a critical 
thing for us to do in order to begin to build a better future for 
Venezuela, along with our partners in the region.
  I think the next actions that should be followed after that happens 
is that Mr. Guaido name a cabinet and name leaders to run the military.
  From the perspective of the United States, since we have recognized 
the legitimate Presidency of the National Assembly's President, pending 
a new election, I think the time has come to expel the Maduro-appointed 
Ambassadors and allow the new constitutional President to appoint 
  The frozen assets of the Venezuelan Government should be put at the 
disposal of legitimate government so they can use them to conduct a 
free and fair election and also use them to begin to rebuild the 
  The opportunity exists now to work with the new President, pending 
the new election, to begin laying out plans to deliver humanitarian aid 
right now, along with our partners in the region in the world, but also 
to help put together a package of assistance to help Venezuela rebuild 
a country decimated by the current dictatorship.
  These are bold moves, but they are entirely rooted in the rule of 
law, entirely justified under the Venezuelan Constitution, and will be 
clear evidence that we will not stand by idly as democracy in the 
region is wiped out by this growing trend around the world of 
authoritarians assuming the vestiges of democracy--holding elections 
that aren't real elections, having parliamentary bodies that aren't 
real--in essence, dressing the part of democrats but behaving like 
  I strongly urge this administration publicly--and I have done so 
privately--to move quickly to recognize the President of the National 
Assembly of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, as the interim President of that 
country pending a transition to a new, free and fair election, and I 
hope this is an action we will take in concert with our partners in the 
region who recognize the exact same thing.
  There is a window of opportunity here to shine the light of freedom 
and liberty through our actions, and I hope we move expeditiously in 
pursuit of that goal. And to the Venezuelan people--that they may know 
that we are standing with them, that we have been given a concrete 
opportunity to defend their aspirations for freedom and a better future 
but also to defend their Constitution.
  To military officers in Venezuela who swore to uphold and defend 
their Constitution, now is the opportunity for you to abandon the 
current direction of the country and assume your responsibility that 
you have sworn to uphold, and that is the constitutional provisions of 
that country.
  I believe with all my heart and I have every reason to believe 
without any doubt that this administration and this government, along 
with this Congress, stand ready to work hand in hand with the people of 
Venezuela to restore a rightful democracy and empower that country to 
head in the right direction. I urge the administration to move quickly 
to take the first step on our part to facilitate that. It is, as I 

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the last, best chance we have before it potentially becomes too late 
and the dark cloud of tyranny settles upon Venezuela the way it has 
over Cuba and increasingly over Nicaragua now for over two generations.
  I urge the President and his administration to do what only they are 
empowered to do under our Constitution; that is, recognize the rightful 
heads of state of other nations.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.

                             Climate Change

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I know you are not allowed to 
respond to me, but allow me to welcome you to the Chair as a new Member 
of the Senate.
  With a new year come a lot of changes. This month, a Democratic 
majority was sworn in to the House of Representatives. That new 
majority has heard the call from Americans to make tackling climate 
change one of our top priorities, and what a change that will make from 
the last Congress.
  Young voters who helped propel this change are urgently concerned 
about climate change. More than three-fourths of millennials agree on 
the need for climate action. Even a majority of Republican millennials 
agree on the need for action in face of our climate crisis. Indeed, a 
former Republican Congressman just wrote about climate change: ``My 
party will never earn the votes of millennials unless it gets serious 
about finding solutions.''
  Of course, it is not just younger voters; polling shows that 
Americans of all ages and political stripes favor policy solutions that 
scientists and economists say are needed to tackle climate change. A 
recent survey of more than 10,000 registered voters showed that nearly 
two-thirds of Americans believe that investing in renewable energy will 
create more jobs than investing in fossil fuel. Among Republicans--
here--52 percent of Republican voters think that focusing on renewables 
will create more jobs than fossil fuel--52 percent to 29 percent--and 
that is with the nonstop saturation, indoctrination of the Republican 
Party by the fossil fuel industry, with all of its propaganda and 
  Of course, the facts bear out that renewable energy will create more 
jobs. It is already happening. Over 3 million Americans are employed in 
the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, compared to just 
over 1 million in fossil fuels. There is far more job growth in the 
renewable sector than in the declining, decrepit fossil fuel industry.
  Solid majorities of Americans say they want more emphasis on 
renewable energy. Seventy-one percent want more solar, 64 percent want 
more wind, and 56 percent want more hydropower. By contrast, only 40 
percent want more natural gas, only 25 percent want more oil, and only 
18 percent want more coal. Seventy-one percent want solar, and 18 
percent want coal. I think the Trump administration would do well to 
pay attention to those numbers--if it were, indeed, about the numbers, 
  So make the question harder. Go all in. Ask Americans about a full 
transition to a 100-percent renewable energy system, and most say that 
the transition to a 100-percent renewable energy system for America 
will be good for working families--better than continuing on our fossil 
fuel path.
  If you look at what Republicans say, by 2 to 1, Republican voters say 
that going to renewables will have a positive impact on working 
families, versus only 23.5 percent who say it will have a negative 
impact. The rest--``don't know'' or ``no impact either way.'' But the 
people who favor 100 percent renewables as a good thing for working 
families--even among Republican voters, it is 2 to 1 over fossil fuel.
  When Americans are told about a Green New Deal to reduce carbon 
pollution and create clean energy jobs by investing in infrastructure 
and renewable energy and efficient buildings and transportation 
systems, almost 70 percent are supportive, and that includes almost 60 
percent of Republicans--20 percent strongly support, and 36.8 percent 
support. So even the Green New Deal is a winner among Republican 
  Ask about putting a price on carbon pollution. Why would you want to 
do that? Because right now, the costs of carbon pollution are put on 
the public. They are put on all of us. They are put on our 
constituents. Polluters get away with polluting for free, and the rest 
of us pay for the added drought and wildfire and storm damage costs. 
Well, more than 60 percent of registered voters support pricing carbon 
to reduce emissions. And if you look at Republicans, a majority of 
Republicans under the age of 45 also support a carbon price.
  This new polling matches other polling that is on its way out or 
recently out that shows solid support for pricing carbon and making 
polluters pay for the damage they are causing--which, by the way, is 
also economics 101, but never mind that. We are talking about polling 
  A Monmouth University poll showed that 64 percent of Republicans now 
accept climate change as a problem, and a majority of Republicans 
support government action to combat climate change--a majority of 
  An ABC News poll showed that 81 percent of Americans support cutting 
greenhouse gas emissions, two-thirds supported a carbon tax, and 81 
percent supported tax breaks for renewable power.
  These are big, strong, national majorities in favor of the kind of 
action we need and could do to stem the climate crisis.
  A poll for Yale and George Mason Universities showed that 70 percent 
of registered voters, including over half of Republicans, support 
reducing greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries 
  This poll also found majority support across both parties for U.S. 
participation in the Paris Agreement and overwhelming support for 
renewal energy among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
  What is more, this poll found that almost three-quarters of 
registered voters, including a majority of Republicans, support setting 
strict limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired powerplants, and a 
majority of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats support imposing a 
revenue neutral carbon tax on fossil fuel companies. A majority of 
Republicans support imposing a revenue neutral carbon tax on fossil 
fuel companies.
  Well, I have had a bill with Senator Schatz in the last several 
Congresses to do just that--charge a fee on the polluters for their 
carbon emissions and then return all the revenue raised to the American 
people. Several bills on the House side also price carbon pollution, 
and a few even had Republican cosponsors.
  These bills went nowhere under Republican leadership, notwithstanding 
these numbers and notwithstanding public support. Why? Because the 
fossil fuel industry opposes them--so no hearings, no vote, no nothing.
  What did get a vote in the House last year under Republican 
leadership? A resolution condemning carbon pricing--condemning the 
carbon pricing that a majority of Republican voters support--backed, of 
course, by the fossil fuel industry. Virtually every expert, economist, 
and scientist who has studied the question says that putting a price on 
carbon pollution is not only the right thing to do morally and 
economically but is necessary to keep global temperatures from climbing 
2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial norms, as the scientific 
consensus makes clear we must do at a minimum--at a minimum. If we blow 
past 2 degrees, all bets are off, and the consequences of climate 
change may become irreversible. Even at 1.5 degrees, we are taking 
chances, but dozens of industry-backed front groups--this is hard to 
see, but this is the usual array of web-of-denial, phony-baloney front 
groups that have been supported, funded, and created by the fossil fuel 
industry so people don't think it is the fossil fuel industry 
committing this nonsense. They have groups with names such as ALEC, the 
Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, Heartland 
Institute, and Institute for Liberty. These groups clean up their 
propaganda for them.
  So here come these letters. These industry-backed front groups had 
one important thing going for them that the Nobel Prize-winning 
economists on the other side couldn't match, and that is big political 
money and the fossil fuel industry behind them. Groups behind this 
letter to Speaker Ryan received at

[[Page S208]]

least $54 million from Big Oil and the Koch brothers' political 
network--at least $54 million. We don't know for sure because of their 
clandestine, dark money funding network. Likely, it is far more.
  The minimum $54 million that the fossil fuel industry funded these 
groups with may likely be far more because so much of the fossil fuel 
industry's funding is obscured through dark money channels to hide 
their hand.
  What did they achieve? Well, they got a vote. Unlike the carbon 
pricing bills, they got a vote on the House floor. Speaker Ryan brought 
the fossil fuel-funded resolution to a vote, and with the Republican 
caucus largely a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry, 
the resolution passed.
  There is a whole case study in corruption here, as the Founding 
Fathers would define it, but the simple lesson for today's purposes: 
Money talks and big fossil fuel money commands.
  This situation stinks. The polls I just went through and others show 
what Americans want. Americans want jobs, Americans want clean air, 
Americans want a healthy climate, and Americans want to be safe from 
extreme weather, wildfires, and rising seas, and Americans know clean 
energy solutions will get them there.
  Americans are ready for bipartisan action, and before the Supreme 
Court's decision in Citizens United came along, we had bipartisan 
action in the Senate on climate. We had lots of bipartisan action in 
the Senate on climate, but with Citizens United, unlimited money 
launched into our politics and things changed, and now the strings are 
pulled by Big Oil, Big Coal, and a couple of creepy fossil fuel 
industry billionaires.
  Special interest money has infected almost everything we do in 
Congress, and it is the flagrant fact of our nonresponse to the climate 
crisis. The warnings have been coming for decades--first from the 
scientists, then from the economists, now from practically everywhere.
  I went to the capital city of the Presiding Officer's State and was 
told there that the staffing requirements for police and fire were 
going to have to change because Phoenix, AZ, was becoming so hot that 
to get people to work outside, responding to emergencies, responding to 
fires and so forth, you had to build in a whole new staffing regime 
because it was so hard to work in the new levels of heat that the city 
of Phoenix is experiencing. You have to be able to rotate people much 
faster through crime scenes and through fire scenes and you had to have 
other people willing to stand by and cool them off after they were 
exposed to superheating.
  So it is everywhere now. If you live on the coast, it is sea level; 
if you live out West, it is wildfires, and it includes Republican 
voters and particularly younger Republican voters.
  Remember what the recently departed Republican Member of Congress 
said: ``My party will never earn the votes of millennials unless it 
gets serious about finding solutions.''
  Well, clean energy is a solution. The fact of all this Republican 
voter support on the one hand is a sign of hope for the new year--of 
hope that elected Republicans will hear their voters and will take 
action and support the clean energy solutions that can avert the 
climate crisis. At the same time, the voters on the Republican side who 
are saying what they want are also being ignored. Therefore, these 
numbers are equally telling of the secretive political forces at work 
in Congress to bottle us up and to prevent what even Republican voters 
  There is a rot in our politics, and our failure on climate change is 
a telling indicator of that rot. The whole world is watching. America 
is supposed to be ``a City upon a Hill,'' an example for the world. 
They don't stop looking when we are a bad example. We have to get 
serious about this. Time is running out. It is time to wake up, and it 
is time to clean up.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I thank my friend from Rhode Island.