January 17, 2019 - Issue: Vol. 165, No. 10 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 1st Session
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 10
(Senate - January 17, 2019)
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[Pages S294-S295] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself, Ms. Harris, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Bennet, Ms. Hirono, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Booker, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Wyden, Mr. Merkley, Mr. Udall, and Mr. Sanders): S. 175. A bill to improve agricultural job opportunities, benefits, and security for aliens in the United States, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary. Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to reintroduce legislation that would shield farmworkers from deportation and put them on a path to earned legal status and eventual citizenship. By protecting farmworkers from deportation, this bill would achieve two goals: ensuring that hardworking immigrants don't live in fear and that California's agriculture industry has the workforce it needs to survive. Under the Agricultural Worker Program Act, farmworkers who have worked in agriculture for at least 100 days in each of the past 2 years may earn lawful ``blue card'' status. Farmworkers who maintain blue card status for the next 3 or 5 years, depending on the total hours worked in agriculture, would be eligible to adjust to a green card or legal permanent residency. This would provide them with a path to citizenship. Everywhere I travel in California, I hear from farmers, growers and producers from all industries--wine, citrus, fruit and tree nuts, dairy--that there aren't enough workers. Farm labor is performed almost exclusively by immigrants--fact that should surprise no one. In fact, over 90 percent of California's crop workers are immigrants, and half are unauthorized. Despite their significant contributions to California's economy and communities, farmworkers are now a priority for deportation under this administration's shameful policies. We simply must protect the families who help put food on our tables. By providing a path to citizenship for these workers and their families, the Agricultural Worker Program Act will preserve our agricultural system. This bill will also protect vulnerable workers who should not have to live in fear of becoming easy enforcement targets. It is time to get started on solutions for agricultural communities across the country. Law-abiding workers should not have to fear deportation, but should have a path to citizenship that recognizes their enormous contribution to American prosperity and society. Employers should not have to fear that their labor force will be unable to return to work as a result of deportation. The Agricultural Worker Program Act provides the security and stability for our farmworkers that is necessary to keep the industry strong. I would like to thank Representative Lofgren in the House for working with me to introduce this legislation today in both chambers. I invite my colleagues in the Senate to join me in cosponsoring the bill and preventing the deportation of those who work so hard to put food on our tables. [[Page S295]] ______ By Mr. KAINE (for himself, Mr. Gardner, Mr. Reed, Mr. Graham, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Coons, Ms. Collins, and Mr. Durbin): S.J. Res. 4. A joint resolution requiring the advice and consent of the Senate or an Act of Congress to suspend, terminate, or withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty and authorizing related litigation, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Mr. KAINE. Mr. President. I regret it is necessary to re-introduce legislation that prevents a President from withdrawing the United States from NATO. Recent reports confirm that President Trump has repeatedly proposed doing so over the past year. In addition to concern over U.S. national security, this threat to withdraw also raises important constitutional issues. What is the role of Congress in treaties--not just entering into them, but also leaving them? Particularly with a treaty obligation that is as central to U.S. security as NATO--as repeatedly affirmed by Congress--no president should or can be allowed to unilaterally withdraw without the advice and consent of the Senate. Our allies with whom we have fought alongside since World War II and earlier in some cases, are questioning our allegiance for the first time in the history of the modern international order. President Trump has called our European allies ``foes'' while aligning himself with a brutal authoritarian, Vladimir Putin, over the professional assessment of the U.S. intelligence community. Last year, at the NATO summit in Brussels, the President insulted our allies and threatened to leave the alliance if defense spending was not ramped up. The President has also questioned the U.S. commitment to NATO's mutual defense provision and we still do not know what he discussed with President Putin at their meeting in Helsinki. As such, we are forced to ask what options we have to preserve U.S. membership in the primary tool of peace and stability for the last 70 years, NATO. In response to the only invocation of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, more than 1,100 servicemembers from our NATO allies have given their lives fighting alongside the United States. This is a sacrifice that should not be cast aside by our President who continues to depict the alliance as a protection racket and ``obsolete.'' While we must continue to press every country to increase defense spending to meet the agreed-upon goal of 2 percent of GDP by 2024, the President should not disparage our allies and threaten NATO withdrawal. Unfortunately, without action from Congress, he might just do so. For this reason, we must firmly state opposition, use our constitutional powers of advice and consent and of the purse to block any withdrawal and preemptively authorize legal proceedings to challenge any decision to terminate U.S. membership. The legislation I am introducing today along with Senators Gardner, Reed, Graham, Coons, Rubio, Blumenthal, and Collins, is a bipartisan message to the President and the necessary tool needed to block this President, or any President, from unilaterally terminating the NATO treaty. It is the position of the Senate, supported by this Resolution, and previous resolutions, including the original vote of 82-13 in 1949 to give the Senate's advice and consent to join NATO, that the United States through its elected officials is unequivocally opposed to the U.S. withdrawing from NATO. I am proud to have bipartisan support for this bill to ensure that the safety of the American people is prioritized through our continued membership in NATO. Lastly, supporting this bill would fittingly honor the late Senator John McCain, one of the fiercest advocates for NATO, who co-sponsored this bill last year--one of the last bills he co- sponsored. I strongly encourage my colleagues in both the Senate and the House of Representative to support this legislation. ____________________