EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 63
(Senate - April 11, 2019)

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[Pages S2399-S2420]
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                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of David 
Bernhardt, of Virginia, to be Secretary of the Department of Interior.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 2 
minutes as in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                                Medicare

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, some officials are proposing radical 
changes to our healthcare system. These proposals include Medicare for 
All, Medicare Buy-in, Medicaid for All, and expansion of the Affordable 
Care Act. All of these are versions of government-run healthcare.
  These are, of course, better campaign slogans than serious solutions 
to the problems facing Americans.
  On a certain level, I have found that most people would rather have 
control over their own healthcare than have the government make those 
decisions for them. A single-payer healthcare system would be 
devastating for our seniors, people with disabilities, and people with 
preexisting conditions.
  I yield the floor.


                   Recognition of the Majority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader is recognized.


                     Nomination of David Bernhardt

  Mr. McCONNELL. Today the Senate will vote to confirm the President's 
choice to serve as Secretary of the Interior. As I have discussed this 
week, David Bernhardt is no stranger to the Department. He has served 
twice before. In fact, this body has confirmed him twice before. Each 
time his professionalism and dedication proved us right. As Solicitor 
and as Deputy Secretary, Mr. Bernhardt has offered capable leadership 
and a firm grasp on the complex policy environment surrounding our 
Nation's public lands.
  His expertise has not gone unnoticed. Praise for Mr. Bernhardt has 
poured in from a list of more than 40 stakeholder organizations; from 
agriculture, trade, conservation, and Native American organizations.
  They describe him as a leader whose ``experience is sorely needed.'' 
They laud his commitment to ``make the lands he manages accessible to 
the recreating public.''
  So we have before us an opportunity to confirm a well-qualified 
steward of our Nation's public lands and resources. Yesterday, a 
bipartisan majority of our colleagues voted to end debate on his 
nomination, and I hope each will join me in voting yes once more later 
today.

[[Page S2400]]

  Of course, confirming Mr. Bernhardt will be just the latest in a 
series of many Executive Calendar accomplishments. Following on the 
heels of last week's turn back toward the Senate's historic tradition 
concerning nominations, we have been able to approve a number of the 
President's nominees at a much more reasonable pace in the last several 
days.
  I have noted, with particular interest that, for all the breathless 
warnings my Democratic colleagues issued about the kinds of people we 
would be confirming, these unobjectionable nominees have actually 
mostly coasted through on a bipartisan basis.
  We saw support from both sides of the aisle for Roy Altman to the 
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and for 
Daniel Domenico to the District of Colorado.
  We saw an overwhelming bipartisan vote in favor of confirming GEN 
John Abizaid to serve as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a voice-voted 
confirmation for Jeffrey Kessler to serve as Assistant Secretary of 
Commerce.
  These are not lightning-rod people whom my Democratic colleagues 
would have eagerly debated and investigated for an additional 30 hours. 
They are the kind of thoroughly qualified public servants who used to 
sail briskly through the Senate without opposition.
  Now, even as my Democratic colleagues continue to require us to file 
cloture on individuals whom they actually go on to support, we are able 
to fill out the President's team at a more reasonable clip. There are 
still many empty seats left to fill, but this week's progress marks a 
great new beginning not just for the administration that needs its 
personnel but for the health of this institution.


                               Tax Reform

  Madam President, on another matter, over the past year or so, I have 
dedicated a large part of my time on the floor to discussing the 
performance of the U.S. economy, and at no point have I struggled to 
find things to say.
  Seemingly every day, we have been greeted by headlines that tell the 
same story: Under the political policies of a pro-growth, pro-
opportunity Republican agenda, Americans are experiencing a remarkable 
economic moment.
  More than 1 year ago, I mentioned on the floor that weekly jobless 
claims had reached their lowest level since 1969. Last week, the Labor 
Department reported that by this measure, the U.S. economy has set yet 
another new record. What was already a nearly 49-year low has now 
dipped further to a nearly 50-year low.
  My colleagues and I have been busy highlighting the American stories 
behind these numbers--stories of recovery and prosperity being written 
in all sorts of communities, in all corners of our country.
  More than 1 year since a generational overhaul of the Federal Tax 
Code lifted burdens from American job creators, entrepreneurs, and 
working families, the headlines are continuing to pour in.
  With Tax Day just around the corner, millions of working families 
have filed for the first time under a law that has allowed, according 
to nonpartisan analysts, the vast majority of Americans to keep more of 
their money. They have pocketed higher take-home pay, wage increases, 
and special bonuses, and they benefited from the booming job market 
these policies have helped ignite.
  But old habits die hard. The Washington Democrats who were content to 
watch as the Obama era piled up 75 percent of new jobs and 90 percent 
of population growth to the biggest metropolitan areas are back to 
their same old tricks.
  In recent months, we have seen a steady drip of leftist daydreams 
making their way into press conferences, resolutions, and out on the 
2020 campaign trail: a massive rewrite of American election laws and a 
power grab on an individual's right to exercise political speech, a 
mandatory, one-size-fits-all government-run replacement for private 
healthcare for over 180 million Americans, and an estimated $93 
trillion in taxpayers' money to be spent testing out new Federal social 
planning schemes and abolishing the affordable energy sources American 
families rely on. Tax Day seems like an especially fitting day to tell 
Washington Democrats no thanks--no thanks.
  The Kentuckians I represent prefer to keep more of their own hard-
earned money. They prefer to make their own decisions about their own 
families instead of ceding more power to bureaucrats.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.


                                H.R. 268

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, Members of the Senate, if you look at 
the poster I just put up, you know what I am going to talk about--the 
devastating floods in Iowa and the Midwest.
  In Western Iowa, we still have areas underwater from flooding on the 
Missouri river and its tributaries. In the east, we are dealing with 
the Mississippi River and tributary flooding. Unfortunately, the 
weather isn't cooperating with additional storms and rain throughout 
the Upper Midwest, as I speak, that could exacerbate flooding and 
hinder cleanup and repairs.
  This flooding is still a very active event, but as we move to 
recovery, we know the original damage estimates in Iowa are increasing. 
I can say that for Nebraska as well. Many roads are still closed; levy 
damage is extensive; towns are devastated; and many individuals lost 
their homes and businesses.
  In just 6 of our 99 counties in Iowa, 416,000 acres of cropland was 
flooded. Much of that cropland is still underwater. These farmers are 
facing the challenge of not being able to plant this year. 
Unfortunately, many of these farmers' fields were just recovering from 
previous years of major flooding. In this area of Iowa, that would have 
been in 2011.
  This is compounded by many losing their previous harvest through 
having their on-the-farm storage bins destroyed, as you can see here.
  Throughout the Midwest area that had severe flooding, 832 on-farm 
storage bins have been identified as being like these, destroyed. We 
don't have a complete estimate of that, but I think 832 on-the-farm 
storage bins would be at least a figure up to a certain date.
  These bins hold an estimated 5 to 10 million bushels of corn or 
soybeans, so, collectively, that would be a loss of worth between $17 
million and $34 million.
  There is an existing program that goes by the acronym WHIP in the 
Department of Agriculture that is designed to address agricultural 
losses not covered by crop insurance and other programs. I reached out 
to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to see if this program could be 
used for losses such as those seen here, particularly in Iowa and 
Nebraska, for corn and soybeans.
  I was told because the WHIP program was designed for other 
commodities affected by hurricanes and wildfires, they needed a few 
words added to the law to extend the same help to these problems we now 
have in the Midwest. I asked what those words were, and I spoke to 
Senator Shelby, who manages this bill on the floor of the Senate, and 
to Senator Perdue, who has a great deal of interest in the bill because 
of agricultural losses in Georgia. These two Senators agreed to work 
with me. These two Senators agreed to work with me. So I filed a 
shorter amendment of a disaster bill along with Senator Ernst and 
several of my colleagues from the Midwest to make sure that devastation 
like this is covered. I am optimistic that this simple fix, which will 
mean so much to farmers facing such unusual catastrophic losses, can be 
included as the disaster bill moves forward through the Senate.

  Yesterday, as another way of helping more than just this type of 
farmer but, generally, other disaster victims, I joined Senators 
Fischer, Ernst, and Sasse in introducing a tax bill that goes by the 
title of the Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019. This bill includes a 
series of disaster tax relief provisions that will help American 
families and businesses recover from the terrible disasters that have 
occurred so far in 2019, including the Midwest flooding.
  On February 28 I introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Wyden that 
included the same tax relief provisions that would assist the victims 
of disasters that occurred in 2018. So I view the Fischer bill and the 
Grassley-Wyden bill as complementary, providing disaster tax relief 
with respect to the disasters that occurred last year, as well as this 
year. The bill that I introduced in February also includes extensions 
of

[[Page S2401]]

a series of tax provisions that almost every Member of this Senate 
would like to see passed. These are the tax provisions that expired in 
2017 and 2018. We labeled all 25 or 26 of these as tax extenders. These 
are things that, over the last two decades, have been extended almost 
automatically after they have sunset, and we need to get those 
provisions enacted, just like the disaster tax relief provisions.
  I encourage the House Democrats to send the Senate a bill that 
addresses both tax extenders and disaster tax relief provisions. When I 
say House Democrats, people listening are going to say: He is being 
partisan.
  No, I am being constitutional. The Constitution says that all tax 
bills have to start in the House of Representatives. The House of 
Representatives is controlled by the Democrat majority. So that is why 
I am saying to the House Democrats: Get these bills over here to us so 
we can help not only the people that benefit from what we call tax 
extenders but, more importantly, those who with the urgency of the 
disaster that we are facing.
  The importance of passing these bills is because Americans need 
certainty as they file their taxes in 2018, and they need the tax 
relief as they recover from these natural disasters. They really need 
the House Democrats, under the Constitution, to pass a tax bill because 
we can't act on these tax bills before. The custom around here is that 
the Constitution says that all tax bills have to start in the House of 
Representatives. If we pass even a simple tax bill--let's say we pass 
it as part of an appropriations bill--and we send it over to the House, 
they don't accept it. That has been the tradition around here for 
centuries. That is why I am calling on the House Democrats to move that 
bill.
  The disaster relief provisions included in the bill that we have 
introduced reduce penalties and make it easier to access retirement 
funds so individuals and families can get back up on their feet and 
rebuild their lives. In other words, these are retirement funds that 
people have set aback and that the law doesn't allow them to access for 
disasters. It is just a simple thing. If somebody is hurt by this 
disaster and wants to go to their retirement fund and borrow on it for 
a certain period of time to help them get relief, it is a pretty simple 
thing. Maybe, momentarily you could say it costs the Federal Government 
something, but they are still going to owe these taxes regardless of 
whenever they start drawing for retirement.
  These bills also make it easier for disaster victims to claim 
personal casualty losses, and they suspend certain limitations on 
charitable contributions to encourage more donations for this disaster 
relief. For businesses affected by these disasters, this tax relief is 
available to help them retain employees while businesses get back up 
and running.
  Let's continue the bipartisan tradition of helping our fellow 
Americans with disasters. When these disasters strike, we ought to do 
it by enacting this tax relief for both 2018 and 2019, so that disaster 
victims don't have to wait any longer to access this important 
assistance and continue to get back on their feet.
  It may sound like I am talking about something new. I don't know 
whether this just started with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or before, but 
I remember being chairman of the Finance Committee then. We passed 
similar legislation to help the victims of hurricanes. So this is 
really nothing new. Since it is nothing new and we have done it before, 
what is wrong with doing it now?
  The Democrats in the House of Representatives can get this bill over 
to us so we can get it enacted over here and get it to the President. 
We want to provide the certainty that taxpayers deserve by enacting 
extensions of not only those disasters but also the expired tax 
provisions. I encourage the House Democrats to move swiftly. The Senate 
and the American people are waiting.
  On another point about flooding, generally, not just dealing with 
this flood, this flood brings to attention something we have to deal 
with, with the Army Corps of Engineers.
  Next week the Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a 
field hearing in Southwest Iowa to provide oversight on the Army Corps 
of Engineers management of the 2019 Missouri River flooding. Senator 
Ernst, my colleague from Iowa, will be chairing this hearing, and I am 
going to be participating.
  Flood control should be the No. 1 priority of the Corps in its 
management of the Missouri River. I hope that tomorrow, when I get to 
travel with Vice President Pence as he views the same area that I 
viewed 2 weeks ago--the same area covered here--we have the Army Corps 
of Engineers there so that we can talk to them about the issue of the 
Missouri River Master Manual authorizing eight purposes as they control 
the water up and down the Missouri River. They do that through the dams 
on the Missouri River.
  It happens that seven of these can be at cross purposes with the 
eighth one--flood control. I hope flood control is No. 1 and not No. 8. 
We need to discuss with them how to prevent massive flooding and how to 
act to ensure that folks in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas are 
not faced with devastation every few years. Eventually, this water ends 
up in the Gulf of Mexico. So States below Missouri are going to 
eventually be affected by it.
  I appreciate the stamina and determination of Iowans whom I have seen 
out there, not only in this flood of 2019 but in the flood of 2011. The 
one of 2019 was much more devastating. I think we have great 
resiliency. We will come back and pull together to get the job done, 
but there is a very long recovery ahead of all of these Iowans affected 
by it and Nebraskans and, maybe to some extent, Kansas and quite a bit 
in Missouri.
  I will continue to do everything I can at the Federal level to help 
the State of Iowa, Iowa communities, and, more importantly, in fact, as 
individual Iowans are affected, I am going to help them to recover and 
to rebuild.
  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. GARDNER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                     Nomination of David Bernhardt

  Mr. GARDNER. Madam President, it is an exciting day for Colorado. I 
have known David Bernhardt, our nominee for Secretary of the Interior--
and the seventh Secretary of the Interior from Colorado should he be 
confirmed today--personally and professionally for over two decades. 
His roots are deep on both sides of Colorado--in the High Plains and on 
the Western Slope.
  We share a lot of common interests in rural development and in saving 
our small towns. My experience stems from growing up in the 
agricultural community of Yuma, CO, in the Eastern Plains, and Mr. 
Bernhardt's formative years were spent on the Western Slope of 
Colorado--an area that is a microcosm of all of the things that we 
cherish about our great public lands. We both began our public service 
only 1 year apart when we worked for Colorado State Representative 
Russell George, who would later go on to become speaker of the Colorado 
House. That is when I first met David. Mr. Bernhardt worked with Jaime, 
my wife, at the Department of the Interior during the George W. Bush 
administration under another Colorado Secretary of the Interior.
  His personal background and public and private sector professional 
experiences prove he is a strong voice for the West and is extremely 
well-qualified for the nomination to be the Secretary. In fact, there 
are few others who have the kind of experience that he has that enables 
him to be qualified to be Secretary. Which Secretary of the Interior 
has had more experience than David Bernhardt or has been more qualified 
to become the Secretary of the Interior? He has extensive insight on 
Western water policy, natural resources policy, and on Indian affairs, 
just to name a few.
  Those who have worked with Mr. Bernhardt commend him for his 
integrity and wealth of knowledge on the issues under the Department of 
the Interior's jurisdiction.
  In 2008, after the Department of the Interior reached the largest 
Indian

[[Page S2402]]

water rights settlement in our Nation's history, Secretary Kempthorne 
personally acknowledged Mr. Bernhardt's work as then-Solicitor and 
stated: ``His effective coordination--both within Interior as well as 
with the local, tribal, state and congressional leaders--was essential 
to the success we celebrate today.''
  More recently, he worked to accommodate many Western States' requests 
for more flexibility under the Greater Sage-Grouse RMP Amendment. John 
Swartout, who as a senior policy adviser ran point on this issue for 
Colorado's Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, had this to say in 
December 2018 once that process was completed:

       David Bernhardt is an honest man who puts all his cards on 
     the table and keeps his word. I have worked with DOI for 25 
     years, and David is one of the finest people I have ever 
     worked with.

  That didn't come from a partisan Republican or a partisan Democrat; 
that came from a person in the Democratic Governor's office who worked 
with him on natural resource issues.
  Dale Hall, the CEO of Ducks Unlimited, which is hardly a partisan 
Republican or Democratic organization but is an organization that does 
more real conservation work on the ground than most of the groups that 
have the word ``conservation'' in their names, had this to say when Mr. 
Bernhardt's nomination for Secretary was announced:

       I have known and worked with David Bernhardt for more than 
     a decade, and we are excited to continue to work with him as 
     the new Secretary of the Interior. His integrity in following 
     the law is beyond reproach. David Bernhardt is a champion of 
     conservation and the right person for the job. We urge the 
     Senate to swiftly confirm him.

  Colleagues of his from his time spent working for Representative 
Scott McInnis, who represented Mr. Bernhardt's hometown in Colorado, 
swore he worked 40 hours a day, 8 days a week. Notably, during Mr. 
Bernhardt's tenure in his office, Representative McInnis was the House 
author of the bill that led to the designation of the Great Sand Dunes 
as being a national park. Having now worked at very senior levels in 
the Department of the Interior over the course of many years, there is 
zero question Mr. Bernhardt is qualified to do this job.
  Along with Mr. Bernhardt's professional career, I believe it is 
important to fully understand his background and the foundation of his 
interest in public lands, which further qualifies him for this role.
  Mr. Bernhardt is originally from the outskirts of the small town of 
Rifle, located on Colorado's Western Slope. Few places more fully 
embody the spirit and mission of the Agency he has been nominated to 
lead as Secretary with that understanding of this public land. Growing 
up in rural Colorado has instilled in him Western values and interests, 
and to this day, Mr. Bernhardt enjoys hunting, recreation, the 
outdoors, and fishing.
  Rifle is located in Garfield County, an area in which about 60 
percent of the lands are public lands. Rifle was founded as a ranching 
community along the Colorado River, and it retains that heritage today, 
along with tremendous opportunities for outdoor recreation, including 
fishing, hiking, skiing, rafting, and rock climbing. It also sits at 
the edge of the Piceance Basin, an area in Colorado that has vast 
amounts of natural gas.
  Mr. Bernhardt grew up in the oil shale boom and bust and has said 
that the boom and bust ``has made [him] more sensitive to the potential 
benefits and the potential impacts, both environmental and social'' of 
energy development. In the 1980s, Rifle was hit by the State's oil 
shale crash, and he personally experienced some of the hard times that 
the Nation's rural communities often face in those boom and bust 
moments.
  Much like the Department of the Interior itself, Rifle is a community 
that is a product of its public lands and Western heritage. It is 
centrally located within a few miles of the iconic Grand Mesa--the 
world's largest flat-topped mountain--the Flat Tops Wilderness, and the 
Roan Plateau. It represents a home base among these public lands with 
there being virtually unmatched access to world-class outdoor 
experiences, which is why Mr. Bernhardt has such a passion for these 
issues.
  His previous experience at the Department of the Interior allowed him 
to fix a problem for Colorado that I was told for 8 years, under the 
Obama administration, was simply not fixable. As a result, in 2018, 
revenue that had been sitting in an account in the Federal Government 
for over a decade that had been owed to three counties in Colorado were 
distributed back to these Colorado counties and to the taxpayers who 
had been owed this money. How did this get solved after a decade of 
saying it could not be solved? It is because David Bernhardt believes 
you don't just push the problems that are on your front porch onto 
somebody else's; you find a solution and you fix it.
  Prior to his current position, his previous experience includes being 
tapped to be the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior. In 2006, 
by voice vote in the U.S. Senate, Mr. Bernhardt was confirmed to be 
Solicitor. In the last Congress, he earned bipartisan support during 
his confirmation process to be Deputy Secretary.
  His integrity and ability are assets that should bolster the case for 
his nomination, not detract from it. Yet, over the course of the last 
couple of months, the Washington, DC, political smear machine has been 
working overtime to sully a good man's name. None of what we have seen 
or heard in the pages of the New York Times and in other places has 
been new information. I guess the hope is that we will take it more 
seriously because this time around, the New York Times is the one 
writing about it.
  Mr. Bernhardt has undergone two separate and extensive FBI reviews 
for both his nomination to be Deputy Secretary and his nomination to be 
Secretary. These reviews occurred after the allegations were first 
raised, and he was cleared for both positions, which is probably 
something people didn't read in the New York Times. In understanding 
that these claims had been reviewed previously to the Senate's 
committee's satisfaction, Mr. Bernhardt's nomination was reported out 
last week by a bipartisan vote of 14 to 6.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the 
Record Chairman Murkowski's and Ranking Member Manchin's committee 
statements.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

   Statements From Senators Murkowski and Manchin From the Business 
          Meeting To Consider Pending Nominations (04/04/2019)


                       Senator Murkowski: (21:01)

       Good morning everyone. The Committee will come to order. 
     We're meeting this morning to consider three nominations. 
     This is for the nomination of David Bernhardt to be Secretary 
     of Department of Interior; Susan Combs to be assistant 
     Secretary of Interior for Policy, Management and Budget; and 
     Aimee Jorjani to be chair of the Advisory Council on Historic 
     Preservation. I believe that all three of these nominees are 
     well-qualified and encourage all members to vote to report 
     them favorably this morning.
       As I noted last week Mr Bernhardt, I believe, has the right 
     background. He's got the right experience to be an excellent 
     Secretary of the Interior. He has twice been confirmed to 
     positions at Interior with bipartisan support. First, to be 
     Solicitor in 2006 and then to be Deputy Secretary in 2017. 
     He's most recently served as Acting Secretary since January 
     of 2019. I understand that Mr. Bernhardt has the second most 
     prior experience at the Department out of any nominee for 
     secretary, is from the West-I like that-he has great 
     familiarity with issues that will come before him, and he's 
     proven that he can ably lead the Department.
       So, what everybody's talking about this morning. There is--
     there are accusations about his ethics. We had this 
     conversation last--or two weeks ago when--when his name was 
     before us. I think it's very clear you got some pretty well 
     funded groups that are working very hard, very energetically 
     against his nomination. We saw new allegations last week and 
     then this morning there is--is yet another report. And this 
     is all--this is all coming despite--despite the government 
     scientists involved saying that there was nothing amiss when 
     we had that conversation last week, Senator Gardner, you 
     certainly raised that. This week we're starting to see--we're 
     again seeing new reporting on old allegations. I don't think 
     that this is a coincidence, that we are seeing this kind of a 
     roundup of reporting on old stories--and I think nonstories--
     just as we're approaching the markup here.
       Interior's Inspector General has reviewed the matter as 
     part of its due diligence. It has not opened an 
     investigation. In fact, our staff checked with the Inspector 
     General's office. We were told that there are no open 
     investigations into Mr. Bernhardt. We have had as a committee 
     I believe ample time to review all of these allegations. I am 
     aware of

[[Page S2403]]

     no substantiation of them whatsoever and frankly I would be--
     I would be stunned if they were to be substantiated. I would 
     remind members that both the Office of Government Ethics and 
     the Designated Agency Ethics Official have found Mr. 
     Bernhardt to be in good standing.
       So, again, there--there will probably be a question this 
     morning, I would imagine, on--on the New York Times article 
     that is out there this morning, but I would remind colleagues 
     or ask you to look into these. These allegations again 
     contain no new infoimation. This is recycled. It's been 
     repackaged. They're now focusing on an invoice from Mr. 
     Bernhardt's prior Law Firm. The law firm has said that it was 
     labeled incorrectly. Others have said it was labeled 
     incorrectly. It didn't concern lobbying services. We have 
     known about this previous work that he has had at Westlands. 
     We knew it back in 2017 when we confirmed him as Deputy 
     Secretary. And at that time this work was not deemed 
     lobbying. So, just because it's in the New York Times this 
     morning doesn't mean that it's correct. It's my hope that as 
     a committee we will--will move forward in affirming Mr. 
     Bernhardt to be Secretary of the Interior. And then the full 
     Senate will confirm him coming up here. I think the sooner we 
     have a permanent Secretary at Interior, the better.


                        Senator Manchin: (30:50)

       Thank you Madam Chairman and I appreciate the committee--
     ensuring this committee moves forward on important 
     nominations. We have two of those nominations before us this 
     morning that I'm glad that we are reporting from this 
     committee and--the nominations of Susan Combs, Assistant 
     Secretary of Interior of Policy, Management, and Budget and 
     the nomination of Aimee Jorjani to chair The Advisory Council 
     on Historic Preservation. I think Madam Chairman gave a good 
     overview of that. Committee voted to--to report both of these 
     nominations during the last Congress, but unfortunately the 
     Senate didn't vote to confirm them before at adjourned. Each 
     time, the committee approved the nomination by voice vote and 
     I previously supported of both nominations and I intend to do 
     so again this morning.
       On David Bernhardt. As a former governor and those who have 
     served in executive positions, that I understand it, we've 
     had to ask our state senators and our Oversight committees 
     about putting in our teams together. And I've always been 
     differential to allowing an executive to put their team 
     together as long as the person is qualified and meets the 
     ethical standards. There's concerns and I respect those 
     concerns. Mr. Bernhardt, in my estimation met the test. He's 
     clearly qualified. I think we all know that. He has the 
     knowledge and experience to serve as Secretary, knows the 
     Interior Department inside and out--that might be a blessing 
     to some, maybe a concern--and he is well-versed in all the 
     issues that come before him.
       I spoke with him several times before this business meeting 
     regarding his nomination. I've reviewed his follow-up 
     questions for the record following his hearing. He has 
     answered all of our questions in a timely manner. We received 
     them back and I think it's all been made record. I even 
     talked to him earlier this week by phone again. I questioned 
     him again, extensively, about his willingness to be a good 
     steward of our nation's greatest natural resources, our 
     national parks, our monuments, and all of our historical 
     sites. I questioned him about his responsibility to balance 
     our resource needs with environmental protection in fairness 
     to the owners of our public lands, which is all of the 
     American people. I spoke to him about the need to make sure 
     that those who are granted the privilege of using our public 
     lands leave them in better condition than what they found 
     them in, which is not always the case and we've got to change 
     that. And I had extensive conversation with Mr. Bernhardt 
     regarding compliance and ethics--ethics laws and regulations, 
     as well as his potential conflict of interest. I was very 
     much concerned about that. Based on my extensive discussions 
     with Mr. Bernhardt and the assurances that he has given me, 
     I'm prepared to vote for him this morning, but I will note 
     that I expect him and the Department, now I've put them on 
     notice, hold them--hold them to the highest ethical 
     standards. And I've told him that. I said because I surely 
     will. I surely will hold him to be accountable for his 
     actions. He must work to ensure committee and a commitment to 
     ethical and scientific integrity and I intend to work with 
     him and his staff persistently to ensure that this is the 
     case. Our parks and public lands, our scenic beauty, our fish 
     and wildlife resources are important to all of us here, to 
     the people we represent, and my state, and in your states. 
     And West Virginians count on the Secretary of Interior, as 
     they do in your States also, as the guardian of our public 
     lands. . . . I intend to work with Mr. Bernhardt these 
     important issues. I've made it clear to him that I expect him 
     to put his extensive experience and knowledge of these issues 
     to work for the American people and not to people used to 
     work for. And to execute his responsibilities in the manner 
     that ensures that our public lands are not just being 
     maintained, but improved. Improved for the benefit of 
     generations to come. Thank you Madam Chair.

  Mr. GARDNER. Madam President, let's talk about that story and ethics 
for a second.
  Mr. Bernhardt has spent more than 15 years of a 25-year career in 
public service, and most of that time has been spent at the Department 
of the Interior. While in his private law practice, he never lobbied 
the Department of the Interior--not once. During his time as Deputy 
Secretary, he has focused on the fundamental transformation of the 
Department and Bureau-level ethics programs to ingrain a culture of 
ethical compliance and reduce workplace misconduct.
  The reality is that the ethics program throughout the Department of 
the Interior had been, sadly, neglected by the previous administration. 
The Office of Inspector General and the Departmental Ethics Office had 
recommended significant resource changes that had fallen on deaf ears 
under the previous administration. Under Mr. Bernhardt's direction, the 
Department has hired a total of 42 career professional ethics advisers. 
By the end of fiscal year 2019, they will have doubled the number of 
career ethics officials that the previous administration had hired in 
its entire 8 years.
  The record shows that he has actively sought and consulted with the 
Department's designated Agency ethics officials regarding compliance 
with his ethics obligations recusals.
  In addition, he has installed a robust screening process to ensure 
that he does not meet with or engage in particular matters benefiting 
the former clients from which he is recused. Every proposed meeting is 
reviewed by career professionals to ensure compliance with not only his 
ethics agreement but ethics laws and to make sure his ethics pledge to 
the President is upheld.
  His work in natural resources law prior to joining the administration 
and related ethics agreements are very similar in scope and substance 
to the private work and ethics agreements of senior Interior officials 
who came before him in previous administrations. Let me say that again. 
The same kinds of ethics agreements and obligations that basically he 
is doing are what previous administrations did as well.
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a letter from 
the Department of the Interior Designated Agency Ethics Official dated 
March 25, 2019.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                       United States Department of


                                    the Interior, Office of   

                                                the Solicitor,

                                   Washington, DC, March 25, 2019.
     Hon. Elizabeth Warren,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Richard Blumenthal,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Warren and Senator Blumenthal: Thank you for 
     your letter of February 26, 2019 regarding your expressed 
     concerns of the actions of the Acting Secretary of the 
     Department of the Interior (Department or DOI). Your letter 
     references an article published by the New York Times on 
     February 12, 2019 discussing the Acting Secretary's legal 
     practice prior to joining the Department as Deputy Secretary 
     in August 2017. Specifically, you asked about the Acting 
     Secretary's involvement with the Central Valley Project (CVP) 
     in California and whether his actions, ``violated his ethics 
     pledge and federal conflict of interest regulations by 
     participating in decisions that directly affect a former 
     client.'' As discussed below, we have found the Acting 
     Secretary's actions have complied with all applicable ethics 
     laws, rules and other obligations, including the requirements 
     of President Trump's Executive Order 13770 entitled, ``Ethics 
     Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees'' (Jan. 28, 2017) 
     (Ethics Pledge).
       As an initial matter, I would like to take this opportunity 
     to inform you and your colleagues of recent developments and 
     improvements with the DOI ethics program that will enhance 
     our ability to prevent conflicts of interest at all levels of 
     the Department. Since our arrival at the Department in April 
     2018, Deputy Director Heather Gottry and I have overhauled an 
     ethics office that was previously characterized by both DOI 
     employees and numerous Inspector General reports as passive 
     and ineffectual. With the strong support of the Acting 
     Secretary, we have spearheaded a long-overdue build-out of 
     the Departmental Ethics Office (DEO) as well as the ethics 
     programs of the various Bureaus and Offices throughout the 
     Department.
       Our top priority as non-partisan, career ethics officials, 
     is to prevent conflicts of interest at the DOI and ensure 
     that DOI employees are aware of and comply with all 
     applicable ethics laws and standards. We understand the 
     importance of our program in helping the American people have 
     trust and confidence in the lawful and proper administration 
     of the Department.

[[Page S2404]]

       Please know that my office takes all credible allegations 
     of potential ethics violations by any DOI employee very 
     seriously and allegations against senior officials are an 
     extremely high priority. Consequently, when the New York 
     Times published its article, I immediately sought to 
     understand the facts and carefully analyzed the applicable 
     legal authorities. We note that the Acting Secretary also 
     immediately requested that my office look into this matter 
     and to examine the prior ethics advice and counsel he had 
     received.
       Of critical importance, we note that the Acting Secretary 
     does not have any financial conflicts of interest related to 
     either his former client, Westlands Water District, or the 
     CVP generally. As reflected in his Ethics Agreement, dated 
     May 1, 2017, and his Ethics Recusal memorandum, dated August 
     15, 2017, the Acting Secretary was required under 5 C.F.R. 
     Sec. 2635.502 to recuse for one year (until August 3, 2018) 
     from participating personally and substantially in any 
     ``particular matters involving specific parties'' in which 
     Westlands Water District was a party or represented a party. 
     Because Westlands Water District is an agency or entity of a 
     state or local government it is excluded from the 
     requirements of paragraph 6 of the Ethics Pledge. 
     Additionally, consistent with U.S. Office of Government 
     Ethics (OGE) guidance, it was determined that the law the 
     Acting Secretary had lobbied on for Westlands Water District, 
     Public Law 114-322, should not be categorized as a 
     ``particular matter'' because the law addressed a broad range 
     of issues and topics. Therefore, because he did not lobby on 
     a ``particular matter'' for Westlands Water District, he was 
     not required to recuse himself under paragraph 7 of the 
     Ethics Pledge either from ``particular matters'' or 
     ``specific issue areas'' related to Public Law 114-322. 
     Accordingly, the Acting Secretary's recusal related to 
     Westlands Water District ended on August 3, 2018, and was 
     limited in scope to ``particular matters involving specific 
     parties'' under 5 C.F.R. Sec. 2635.502.
       I have enclosed the transmittal e-mail from me to the 
     Acting Secretary with a detailed memorandum attached wherein 
     the DEO consolidates and memorializes prior ethics advice and 
     guidance on certain issues involving the CVP. Of particular 
     importance for a legal analysis of the scope of the Acting 
     Secretary's recusals related to Westlands Water District, the 
     memorandum analyzed and categorized certain issues involving 
     the CVP and related State Water Project as ``matters,'' 
     ``particular matters of general applicability,'' and 
     ``particular matters involving specific parties.'' As I state 
     in the transmittal e-mail, these legal categorizations are 
     critical in determining whether an official complies with the 
     various ethics rules. As reflected in the memorandum, we 
     determined that both the Notice of Intent to Prepare a Draft 
     EIS and the development of a 2019 Biological Assessment are 
     appropriately categorized as ``matters,'' not ``particular 
     matters.'' Our determinations are supported by Federal law 
     and OGE opinions and though the matters involved may sound 
     like ``particular matters'' or ``specific issue areas,'' they 
     are legally broad matters outside the scope of 5 C.F.R. 
     Sec. 2635.502. As noted above, the Acting Secretary's 
     lobbying on behalf of Westlands Water District on Public Law 
     114-322 was not categorized as a ``particular matter'' and 
     did not require an additional recusal under paragraph 7 of 
     the Ethics Pledge. Therefore, the Acting Secretary was not 
     required under either 5 C.F.R. Sec. 2635.502 or the Ethics 
     Pledge to recuse from participation in either the Notice of 
     Intent to Prepare a Draft EIS or the development of a 2019 
     Biological Assessment. Attached, for your convenience, please 
     find the legal reference materials addressed in the 
     memorandum--I believe our interpretation and application of 
     the relevant legal authorities is both reasonable and 
     prudent.
       I have advised the Acting Secretary, at his request, that 
     he and his staff should continue to consult with the DEO 
     prior to participating in any matter that is potentially 
     within the scope of his Ethics Agreement, Ethics Recusal 
     memorandum, the Ethics Pledge, or any other ethics law or 
     regulation. Additionally, to eliminate any potential for 
     miscommunication, I have instructed my staff that all ethics 
     guidance to the Acting Secretary be in writing prior to his 
     participation in a decision or action that reasonably appears 
     to come within the purview of his legal ethics obligations.
       In closing, and to be responsive to your final requests, 
     the DEO has not issued any authorizations or ethics waivers 
     to the Acting Secretary or other Interior officials on the 
     topics you raised, nor have we referred any matters to the IG 
     on these topics. It is worth noting that the Acting Secretary 
     meets with me and my senior staff frequently and that I have 
     a standing meeting with him once a week to discuss any 
     significant ethics issues at the DOI. Pursuant to the Acting 
     Secretary's direction, my senior staff also meets with his 
     scheduling staff and other top officials twice a week, at a 
     minimum, to ensure we are aware of who the Acting Secretary 
     is meeting with and the issues he will be discussing. These 
     efforts, supported by the Acting Secretary and his staff, are 
     designed to ensure his compliance with applicable ethics 
     rules and protect the integrity of the Department's programs 
     and operations. My experience has been that the Acting 
     Secretary is very diligent about his ethics obligations and 
     he has made ethics compliance and the creation of an ethical 
     culture a top priority at the Department.
       If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not 
     hesitate to contact me.
           Sincerely,

                                          Scott A. de la Vega,

                                     Director, Departmental Ethics
                     Office and Designated Agency Ethics Official.

       Enclosure.

  Mr. GARDNER. This letter is in response to a letter from Senators 
Warren and Blumenthal and states that the Ethics Office has found that 
Mr. Bernhardt's actions as Deputy Secretary and Acting Secretary ``have 
complied with all applicable ethics laws, rules, and other obligations, 
including the requirements of President Trump's executive order 13770, 
entitled `Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees.' ''
  This letter from the career head of the Department of Interior ethics 
professionals who served at the White House during the previous 
administration goes on to say:

       My experience has been that the Acting Secretary is very 
     diligent about his ethics obligations and he has made ethics 
     compliance and the creation of an ethical culture a top 
     priority at the Department.

  That wasn't in the New York Times, either, but I think it should be.
  This is not about Mr. Bernhardt's ethics or his integrity or his 
qualifications; it is about the fact that he has been and will be 
effective at implementing an agenda that the other side doesn't agree 
with because they know he will be effective in protecting our great 
outdoors and our public lands.
  I am thankful there are qualified people out there like Mr. Bernhardt 
and his family who are still willing to wade through the muck and serve 
the people of the United States, knowing that they will be called a 
liar in front of their children at a U.S. Senate committee hearing 
despite letters from top officers in charge of our ethics laws at the 
Department of Interior saying otherwise.
  I am thankful for David, and I look forward to working with him and 
his team at the Department of the Interior. I hope my colleagues will 
see through the partisan rancor, see through the lens of blue or red, 
of party politics, and confirm a man who--if you go back to Colorado 
and talk to people like Russell George, you will learn that he has the 
greatest respect not only for our public lands but for the people of 
Colorado, and for that, I am grateful for him and my colleagues who 
will confirm him today.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.


          Honoring State Patrol Corporal Daniel Howard Groves

  Mr. GARDNER. Madam President, I rise today to honor an officer of the 
Colorado State Patrol who was killed in the line of duty on March 13.
  As other Members of this Chamber know, many parts of the country were 
hit hard by a bomb cyclone storm system last month. Again today, we are 
going through another spring storm. That storm caused flooding in much 
of the Midwest, as we have seen across the national news, and extremely 
hazardous road conditions in my State, which led to thousands of 
stranded drivers.
  State Patrol Corporal Daniel Howard Groves, like many first 
responders that day, was attempting to aid a driver in the Eastern 
Plains of Colorado on I-76 who had slid off the road, and he was struck 
by a passing vehicle.
  Corporal Groves was 52 years old. He leaves behind a large and loving 
family, including his parents, his partner Eddie, his four siblings, 
and many more. We know that his family will continue to honor his 
sacrifice and ensure that his legacy lives on.
  Corporal Groves joined the Colorado State Patrol in 2007 after 
leaving a career in the technology services industry in Chicago. His 
family and friends remember him as a man with a tremendous capacity to 
love and care for others. He was a man of humor who wasn't afraid to 
crack a joke just to make people smile. According to a fellow officer, 
he once arrived at training wearing pajamas instead of the required 
police sweats.
  At a memorial service honoring his life, a longtime friend spoke 
about the encouragement and advice that Dan was known for. He always 
encouraged others to follow their dreams, no matter how big. He often 
spoke of the importance of family and friendship and the need to make 
time to enjoy life with others.

[[Page S2405]]

  His fellow officers remembered him as a man who was drawn to service 
because of his desire to help, someone who always knew the risks 
inherent in the job but never let that deter him from doing what needed 
to be done.
  One colleague who spoke at the memorial remembered Corporal Groves as 
someone who frequently asked, where do you need me to be? He always 
wanted to be in the spot where he could be most effective, no matter 
the danger involved.
  Even on the morning of March 13, as the weather was taking a turn for 
the worse, Corporal Groves knew there were drivers on the road who 
needed his help, and, as many law enforcement officers did that day, he 
bravely ventured out to offer assistance. This quality makes for a 
great law enforcement officer but is sadly the quality that we most 
often take for granted.
  We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Dan and to all first 
responders who are willing to put their lives on the line to assist 
those in times of need and a debt of gratitude to their families as 
well.
  I know my colleagues in the Senate will join me in offering our 
thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Corporal Groves and 
all those who defend that thin blue line.
  As I have done too many times in this Chamber, I remember the words 
of LTC Dave Grossman, who said: ``American law enforcement is the loyal 
and brave sheep dog, always standing watch for the wolf that lurks in 
the dark.''
  I drive by the spot where Corporal Groves was killed at least two or 
three times a week, and he will always be in my prayers, along with his 
family, for his sacrifice.
  It is my hope that the thoughts and prayers that we offer to those 
who wear the blue uniform will bring them comfort as they carry out 
their solemn duties.
  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. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Scott of Florida). Without objection, it 
is so ordered.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.


                     Attorney General William Barr

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, well, if anyone wonders whether Attorney 
General Barr is a straight shooter, this week, we got our answer.
  Yesterday, at the Senate Appropriations Committee, the country saw 
another disconcerting performance by the Attorney General. In the face 
of serious questions surrounding the release of the Mueller report, the 
Attorney General did exactly what President Trump wanted: He dodged 
questions, peddled a conspiracy theory, and, like the President, lobbed 
baseless accusations. It is clear that for Mr. Barr, the title he holds 
is far less important than the boss he serves.
  What he did not say is that Russia attacked our democracy, as all 17 
Agencies of our intelligence community have confirmed. What he did not 
say is that the intelligence community concluded that the Russians 
infiltrated our democracy to help Donald Trump. What he also didn't say 
is why he continues to wait on releasing the Mueller report. It took 
him less than 48 hours to summarize over 300 pages but over 2 weeks, 
and counting, to release the report itself.
  Instead of giving straight answers, Mr. Barr seems to be nothing more 
than a spokesperson for the President's campaign. He seems more like 
the President's Press Secretary than the Attorney General. He is even 
using the President's own tactics: Admit nothing. Deny everything. Make 
counteraccusations.
  Many of us tried to give Mr. Barr a chance, but after this week's 
performance, it is clear as day he and the President are working off 
the same playbook and planning to withhold crucial facts from the 
American people.
  What is really important is this: When Attorney General Barr issues 
his report, his objectivity will be in total doubt. No one will 
believe, when he redacts large parts of the report, that it was done on 
the merits; people will believe he redacted parts of the report to help 
President Trump. How will the American people be able to trust Mr. 
Barr, and how will the American people be able to believe that his 
version of the report is the real version when he has been so, so 
partisan and was willing to peddle FOX News conspiracy theories before 
the Appropriations Committee yesterday?
  When Mr. Barr was first nominated as Attorney General, the question 
posed to him was, would he be part of the Trump legal team or an 
independent agent of the law? I think we have our answer, as we watch 
him echo President Trump's statements and enable President Trump's 
worst instincts. Whether it is defending the administration's dangerous 
healthcare lawsuit or perpetuating conspiracy theories, Mr. Barr is 
acting more like a member of the President's campaign than the 
independent Attorney General he is supposed to be.
  Mr. Barr is letting down thousands--tens of thousands--of hard-
working people at the Justice Department. They are doing their job. 
When someone is given real information that Russia interfered with our 
elections, of course they are supposed to look into it. That is part of 
their job. For Mr. Barr to label this as spying, echoing some of the 
worst conspiracy theorists in the country, he loses all credibility, 
and that credibility is vital because he will be issuing a report with 
redactions.
  When Mr. Barr issues his report, in terms of what should be redacted 
and what shouldn't, his objectivity will be in total doubt because of 
his performance yesterday.
  Again, how will the American people be able to trust that the 
Attorney General has given them the most information he can rather than 
the least and that he has given them a full view of what happened 
rather than protecting the President? People are just not going to 
believe it.
  The bottom line is that yesterday's performance calls into complete 
question the objectivity and even the judgment of the Attorney General. 
He does not seem to be an independent actor pursuing the rule of law. 
Rather, he seems to be somebody simply ready to help the President no 
matter what the price.


                                H.R. 268

  Mr. President, on another matter, disaster relief, it is an absolute 
travesty that this Chamber is recessing without a compromise on much 
needed funding for disaster relief.
  From the start, Democrats have supported an ``all of the above'' 
approach to helping every part of America that is struggling from 
natural disasters. We need to help everyone hurt last year and everyone 
hurt this year--everyone hurt in Puerto Rico, everyone hurt in the 
Midwest, everyone hurt in Florida, and everyone hurt in Texas, Alabama, 
Mississippi, and Georgia. In the American tradition, everyone comes 
together when we have disasters, and we help everyone.
  Our Republican friends seem to have a different view. They want 
disaster relief that explicitly denies Puerto Rico the help it needs, 
even though they are American citizens like everybody else. They heard 
President Trump's temper tantrum at their lunch a few Tuesdays back, 
and they have obeyed. This is un-American. We should not be picking and 
choosing who gets disaster relief.
  When Americans suffer, we all step in. We all help. President Trump 
does not believe that, but where are our Senators who are standing up 
for this principle? The compassion of the American people is much 
greater than President Trump's small-minded contempt for the people of 
Puerto Rico. The Senate, particularly Senators from the disaster States 
who need that money, ought to have the courage to resist it instead of 
making up stories and pointing fingers of blame.
  Republicans have refused to present a serious solution that can pass 
the House and the Senate. We all know that if Puerto Rico is not 
treated equally, it will not be seen on the floor of the House. We all 
know that the Governor of Puerto Rico has said that the solution 
Republicans are supporting is not adequate for Puerto Rico. We all know 
that.
  It is a tragedy that the Republican leadership in this Chamber has 
refused to help American citizens before going into recess. They own 
the mess they

[[Page S2406]]

are creating across America, and with each passing day, the American 
people see it.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. President, tax day is coming up, and we have seen another 
travesty of the Republican Senate.
  When the Republicans pushed their tax scam, it was sold as a 
``middle-class miracle.'' They promised it would prioritize middle-
class families. President Trump and others promised Americans would get 
a $4,000 raise every year. That is what President Trump promised about 
his tax cuts. He said that his tax cuts for the very wealthy and the 
big corporations would benefit every American to the tune of $4,000 a 
year. Unsurprisingly, this Republican tax scam has now defaulted on its 
promise to lift up average American families.
  For too many Americans expecting a tax refund, they have gotten 
nothing or worse. After this tax season, the jig is up.
  In fairness, there is one part of America that has made a killing--
the very wealthy. Indeed, 83 percent of the benefits in the Republican 
tax bill will eventually go to the top 1 percent of earners, and the 
American people know it. A recent poll shows more than 60 percent of 
Americans believe the wealthy and corporations--big corporations--have 
been helped by the tax law. They are right.
  Unfortunately, corporations aren't using their windfalls as our 
Republican friends promised. They are not boosting worker pay, by and 
large, or increasing benefits or creating jobs. According to a recent 
survey, 84 percent of companies say they have not changed their plans 
because of the tax law.
  What are they doing with the money they got? They are spending 
billions in windfall on record corporate stock buybacks, not benefiting 
their workers, not benefiting their community but benefiting the CEOs 
of the corporations, because the shares generally go up, and benefiting 
the top 10 percent of America who own 85 percent of all the stocks.
  Unfortunately, this story doesn't end in making the rich richer. 
American workers are suffering while those same corporate executives 
and the very wealthy shareholders cash in.
  Take the case of CSX, a freight rail company spending billions of 
dollars on stock buybacks after benefiting from the tax law. Just last 
week, we heard CSX announce that they are laying off 100 workers in 
Kentucky, Leader McConnell's own backyard--not a $4,000 raise but a 
pink slip. You would think with all of these tax benefits that workers 
would benefit. It doesn't seem to be happening. That story that 
happened in Kentucky can be repeated throughout the country.
  It is hard to look at these examples with a straight face and say 
that the middle class factored at all into the Republican tax bill. It 
was a trick--no trickle down, just a trick.
  As Americans finish their filings this year, they will know exactly 
who to blame if they see their taxes go up. They will know who to blame 
if they don't get a refund or if they owe the IRS.
  The tax bill is already a stunningly unpopular piece of legislation. 
I don't recall a single Republican campaigning on it. It shows they 
weren't proud of it. After this tax season, the Republican tax bill 
will be even further crystalized in the minds of everyday Americans as 
a scam that left them out to dry while soaking the ultrawealthy with 
even more wealth.


                     Nomination of David Bernhardt

  Mr. President, on Mr. Bernhardt, yesterday, I sat down with David 
Bernhardt, President Trump's choice for Secretary of the Interior, and 
I pressed him on some things that we should all know before we vote on 
his confirmation.
  I asked Mr. Bernhardt: Do you agree that climate change is real, 
caused by humans, and that we must act? I asked Mr. Bernhardt if he 
will commit to not opening up the waters off our coasts to harmful 
drilling, even off the coasts of States opposed to such drilling, and 
what he will do about his well-documented web of conflicting interests. 
I got no answers to these questions.
  I remind all of my colleagues on the Atlantic coast that, again, I 
asked him to at least commit that he will not do drilling off the 
shores of States that didn't want drilling off their shores. He would 
not commit to that, and there is word that there is a plan in the 
Interior Department to allow that to happen.
  This is the same administration that promised to clean the swamp and 
rid Washington of corruption. Yet it is a twisted parody to think that 
President Trump wants an oil and gas lobbyist to lead the Department of 
the Interior. What a contradiction. What a betrayal.
  It doesn't stop there. Bernhardt reportedly participated in efforts 
to launch a White House climate denial panel, the sole purpose of which 
was to rebuke accepted science. We cannot allow the work of our Federal 
Agencies to fall into the hands of people like this.
  It is hard to imagine someone whose background is so at odds with the 
Department's mission as Bernhardt's. In good conscience, I cannot vote 
in favor of his confirmation. For the same reasons, I urge all of my 
fellow Senators, particularly those along the coasts, to vote against 
this nomination to protect their shoreline and their beaches.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina.


                       Remembering Fritz Hollings

  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak on behalf 
of Senator Hollings' passing, along with my colleague Senator Scott 
from South Carolina.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Thank you.
  Mr. President, Senator Scott and I have come to the floor today to 
recognize a legend in South Carolina and this body, Senator Fritz 
Hollings, who passed away on April 6 in Isle of Palms, SC. He was 97. 
He loved Isle of Palms. That was his place to be.
  He was born in Charleston, SC, in 1922. He graduated from the Citadel 
in 1942. He attended the University of South Carolina School of Law. He 
served as an artillery officer in World War II, earned a Bronze Star, 
and finished with the rank of captain.
  He was in the State house of representatives from 1949 to 1954. He 
became our Governor in 1958 at age 36. He shepherded South Carolina 
through the turbulent times of the civil rights movement. He urged the 
legislature to follow the law after Brown v. Board of Education.
  He established the best technical college system in the country. We 
say that with great pride. It was Fritz Hollings who was the father of 
the South Carolina technical college system, which has resulted in 
thousands of jobs being created and educational opportunity for 
millions in our State.
  When he was a Senator, they called him the Senator from central 
casting. He looked the part, he acted the part, and he sounded the 
part. He was the junior Senator for 36 years, I think, in South 
Carolina, with Senator Thurmond being the senior Senator. When Senator 
Thurmond retired, I was honored to be able to take his place, and Fritz 
was my senior Senator for 2 years.
  I just want to thank him and recognize what he did for me to become 
established in the Senate. He was kind. He was gracious. We did not 
agree on policy, but he could not have been a better friend.
  I spent half of my time trying to interpret what he was saying on the 
floor. I caught about every third word. He has this Charleston accent 
that even I couldn't understand at times.
  Nobody enjoyed their job more than Senator Hollings. Nobody was ever 
better at it. When it came to South Carolina, Senator Hollings was able 
to move mountains. He was the chairman of the Commerce Committee and 
the Budget Committee.
  He was one of the great environmentalists of our time. The ACE Basin 
in South Carolina is a beautiful place along the coast where three 
major rivers come together. It was Senator Hollings who established 
that, now and forever to be preserved. He helped establish NOAA, which 
has done so much for our oceans.
  He was part of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act. He was 
always trying to keep our fiscal house in order.
  He was a champion of the military. Being a World War II veteran 
himself, he always looked out for those in uniform. Senator Thurmond 
and Hollings were giants of their time, and they

[[Page S2407]]

really made a difference for our State and for the country as a whole.
  When it comes to his distinguished career in the Senate, Fritz 
Hollings was at the top of anybody's list. He served for 38 years.
  He was a tireless advocate for the hungry--for hunger. He was trying 
to combat hunger and poverty before it was cool. He traveled all over 
this world to try to spread the good news about America.
  After Senate life, he established the Hollings Center for 
International Dialogue to create exchanges in dialogue between the 
United States and mostly Muslim populations. He was ahead of his time 
there. For us to win this war on terror, we have to side with people in 
the faith who reject radical Islam, which the overwhelming majority of 
people reject, and Fritz understood that.
  He was a great husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. 
He was my friend.
  He had the eighth longest tour of duty in the U.S. Senate in the 
history of the body. Yesterday, with Senator Scott's help, we passed a 
resolution unanimously--every Senator signed on--honoring the service 
of Senator Hollings.
  There are so many friends of his in this body. The staff and former 
Senators all will tell you that Fritz was a force of nature. He had 
strong opinions. He would share them with you whether you asked him or 
not. He knew what he was talking about. He was prepared. He was a 
fighter for his causes. He was willing to die for his country. Now he 
has passed, and the legacy for the people of South Carolina will be 
enduring.
  Our beaches and our oceans and our mountains and our rivers are 
better off for his service. Our educational system stands out on the 
technical school side because of his vision. He shepherded us through 
very turbulent times during the civil rights movement, where other 
States were literally on fire. South Carolina had problems, but they 
paled in comparison to most because of Senator Hollings' leadership.
  He was a lawyer. He loved the law. He was my friend. Senator Scott is 
from Charleston, and both of us have a tough act to follow when it 
comes to being Senators in South Carolina. Senator Hollings' way was to 
fight for your causes, work across the aisle, know what you are talking 
about before you speak, and try to do it with good humor. What more can 
you say? From the time he was a young man in Charleston until he passed 
away on April 6, he was always fighting for his causes. He loved his 
State. He delivered for the people of South Carolina.
  When it comes to the Senate, he was a legend. His presence was felt 
up here. His legacy is enduring. He fought the good fight. He was a 
faithful servant, and now he will enjoy an eternal rest. To his family, 
I know you are grieving, but you have much to be proud of. To the 
people of South Carolina, it is not about being a Republican or a 
Democrat in terms of service; it is about how much you love your State. 
No Republican and no Democrat ever loved South Carolina more than Fritz 
Hollings, and no Senator has ever made more of a difference than 
Senator Hollings.
  So Senator Scott and I will do our best to keep up this good man's 
legacy. We will have different policy choices, and we will go down a 
different political path, but we will be ever mindful of the way we do 
our job. The way we do our job matters as much as what you do. Let it 
be said that when it came to doing his job, Fritz Hollings did it 
professionally, effectively, and with love and passion.
  I now yield to Senator Scott of South Carolina.
  Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina. Mr. President, I thank Senator Graham 
for yielding to me. Without any question, I think Senator Graham did 
such a great job of distilling the life and some of the accomplishments 
of Senator Hollings. Without any question, I cannot imagine Mr. Graham 
spending 36 years or so as a junior Senator from the great State of 
South Carolina because of the long tenure of the senior Senator, Strom 
Thurmond, whose seat you have. I have the privilege of being in the 
seat of Senator Hollings, who, of course, is from Charleston, as I am 
from Charleston. I think of the commonalities we all share as South 
Carolinians, and certainly ones who are not--all of us from South 
Carolina understand how hard it is to understand those folks who speak 
in the old Charleston brogue, the language of Senator Hollings and 
folks like our cousin, Arthur Ravenel, who shares the same inflection 
in his voice. Senator Graham brought back some very fond memories with 
his thoughts.
  To the family, the Hollings family, we certainly extend our 
condolences. I had the chance to speak with Michael, his son, just the 
other day, and the family is doing well. The family is encouraged by 
the outpouring of love and support from so many folks from the Senate 
and throughout the country because Senator Hollings was not only a 
South Carolina Senator, he was America's Senator. He spent a lot of 
time doing a lot of things that made a significant difference.
  I do want to put a little meat on the bones. As Senator Graham has 
covered so much of what I would have said, I will not say it twice. I 
will, perhaps, drill into a few of the times of service Senator 
Hollings had.
  As we think through the 1960s and as we read through the 1960s, we 
read through a time of volatility, a time where our Nation is clashing 
with one another, where the races were so divided. In the Deep South, 
we perhaps led in that direction of conflict. We have a provocative 
history on race in South Carolina. Without any question, Senator 
Hollings did what so many others did not do, which is, he led for a 
peaceful integration of what is today one of America's great public 
universities, Clemson University. I say that as a South Carolina fan, 
without any question, but it is no doubt that Harvey Gantt, being the 
first African American in Clemson to graduate from Clemson, was a 
monumental shift in southern education, one we can all celebrate today.
  I went to church with Harvey Gantt's family for 20-plus years at 
Morris Street Baptist Church in Charleston, SC, and I will say that, 
perhaps as a part of the springboard of controversy and challenge and 
conflict, it led to a level of greatness in Harvey Gantt's life as he 
took arrows that most of us are unfamiliar with. Senator Hollings--
then-Governor Hollings--took arrows that some would be unfamiliar with 
in making the decision to ask for and to encourage and support a 
peaceful transition in a State at the time broiled in controversy. 
Harvey Gantt went on, of course, to be the first African-American mayor 
of the city of Charlotte, NC.
  In thinking about Senator Graham's comments as it relates to the 
technical college system in South Carolina, how Senator Hollings 
birthed that for our State, that may sound like a good accomplishment, 
but for a State that faced extinction from an economic standpoint, when 
industries were leaving our State, the technical college system became 
the springboard, once again, for the great city of South Carolina to 
see a rebirth of our economic systems. What we have today is a 
manufacturing haven whose foundation is the technical college system. 
When we think about companies like BMW, Boeing, Volvo, Mercedes, Bosch, 
Michelin, Bridgestone, all these companies became a part of the 
corporate family in South Carolina because we had a healthy, thriving 
technical college system born because of the leadership of Senator 
Hollings.
  Senator Hollings not only succeeded in public life, but he also 
succeeded in his private life. I will tell you that I cannot imagine 
the reunion between Senator Hollings and his wife, Peatsy, of over 40 
years. I can't imagine the celebration that is happening in Heaven as 
those two are being reunited and spending time talking about what has 
occurred over their lifetimes and the things they had to see.
  There is an amazing Greek proverb that I want to end with, as it 
relates to Senator Hollings, that says that a society grows when old 
men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit under.
  Senator Graham and I, the youngsters, comparatively speaking to 
Senator Hollings and Senator Thurmond--we are sitting under the shade 
of that tree. Our Nation benefits from people who have the wisdom to 
look forward, beyond their lifetime, and create a country where we all 
benefit.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. President, before I yield the floor, I do want to spend a few 
minutes

[[Page S2408]]

talking about what is an obvious day in our near future--tax day. 
Americans from coast to coast are thrilled with the opportunity to 
finish their taxes. I say that with the poorest tongue in cheek. I will 
say that without any question I am excited about this tax season 
because of the success of our tax reform in December 2017. It is 
exciting to think about the benefits to so many families throughout 
this country because of the successful passage of the tax reform bill 
in December 2017.

  I stood on the floor and listened to other speakers talk about how 
perhaps the tax reform package has not delivered consistent with the 
promises made during the debate. I would like to put some meat on those 
bones as well.
  When you think about the average family who has kids, the doubling of 
the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 and allowing for more 
refundability to happen because of the child tax credit being 
increased, more families today are healthier because of the doubling of 
the child tax credit, which is good news. When you think about the size 
of the refund, $2,873 is, in fact, consistent with the refunds of years 
gone by, which, once again, reinforces the fact that the tax reform 
bill has presented itself in a positive way and produced results 
consistent with what we suggested. Because if you get the same refund 
you had last time--about--but you have more money in your take-home pay 
every payday during 2018, you actually can measure the success of the 
tax reform by looking at how many dollars you had in your paycheck in 
2018 versus 2017, even if your employer did not give you a raise. So 
the success of our package is without question.
  I would like to suggest that as you think about folks like me, and 
perhaps others in this body who were raised by single parents, a single 
mom in 2018 with two children did not have a Federal tax burden at all 
until her income hit over $54,000. That is important, and it is 
powerful for a specific reason. The average single mother makes around 
$40,000 a year, not $54,000. That means that for the average single 
mother in America, because of the success of our tax reform package, 
her Federal tax burden is down to zero. That is not just good news, 
that is great news. I know it personally because of a single mother who 
worked 16 hours a day trying to keep food on the table. Having doubled 
the child tax credit and having lowered her taxes by doubling the 
standard deduction from $9,300 to $18,000, what we see for the single 
mom is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel that is not a train. 
This is good news.
  Not only is it good news, but some have talked about our plan--we 
have defaulted on our mission to help the American people. I suggest 
that as opposed to defaulting on our mission, what we heard from others 
is that they are deflated because of the success of our mission. During 
the previous administration, GDP growth averaged somewhere around 2 
percent. In 2018, we saw a 3.1-percent GDP growth. What does that mean 
for the average person? What it means for the average person is that 
for the first time in a long time, more than a decade, we saw their 
wages grow over 3 percent. So not only did their wages grow over 3 
percent, but, more importantly, they had more jobs--actually, not just 
more jobs. This is really good news. They had more jobs. So many more 
jobs are open today than people looking for work. In other words, if 
you think about the number of folks looking for work, the number of 
openings exceeds that number. That is a transformation in this country 
in a way we have very seldom seen or experienced.
  There is even more good news to that. Our unemployment rate is down 
to nearly a 50-year low, 3.8 percent. So if we are asking ourselves 
what these corporations did with the money, we are seeing the evolution 
or the manifestation of what happened with these extra resources by 
seeing the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. Now, that is not just 
true for America as a whole, it is true for the subgroups within 
America who have been challenged and sometimes excluded from the 
workforce. The African-American unemployment rate is around 7 percent 
over the last 2 years. You have to compare that to, under the previous 
administration, an unemployment rate of around 12 percent. The Hispanic 
unemployment is near 5 percent. You have to compare that to a 50-
percent increase under the previous administration.
  We have seen perhaps the greatest renaissance in our country, 
economically, than we have seen in 20 years, and much of it is due to 
tax reform being passed. Embedded in the tax reform package was my 
signature legislation that I am so excited about, the opportunity zones 
legislation, that is having a transformative impact and effect 
throughout the poorest, most distressed communities in all of our 
country. Somewhere around 8,000 opportunity zones have been designated 
by the Governors in collaboration with the mayors. Mr. President, as a 
former Governor, you understand better than most of us the process by 
which one went through in order to establish the zones and the 
potential of those zones in the most distressed communities in each of 
the States.
  There is good news. The good news is, in places like my home State of 
South Carolina, is a logistics company named DHL that drives those 
little yellow vans that ship some of your packages across the country. 
They are investing $100 million in a distribution and warehouse park, 
creating nearly 500 jobs in Dorchester County, and they have said the 
Federal opportunity zone designation was a factor DHL weighed in making 
this location decision.
  In Washington State, the Vancouver Downtown Redevelopment Authority 
president said: ``It's an absolute no-brainer, and a real gift from the 
federal government and will give us a real shot in the arm in these 
areas''--these challenged, distressed communities.
  In Vegas, the largest opportunity zone expo in the Nation is being 
held next month with some of the biggest names across the country 
trying to figure out how they can reinvest their resources in areas 
where they were unwilling to take a second look, because now the 
incentive is good enough, and we did so without more bureaucrats and 
without government money. These are private-sector dollars being 
deployed in some of the most distressed communities.
  In the Midwest, up to 3,000 jobs are on the way to East Chicago, and 
a local foundation is looking to invest $800 million in a solar farm in 
Flint, MI. There are so many other States with amazing projects that I 
would run out of time talking about those.
  I will close with two thoughts. One is from Mayor Bowser of DC. She 
had a March Madness event for opportunity zones, and she attracted 400-
plus folks who are interested in investing and seeing the results of 
the investments in the local community here in DC.
  For folks on the left and on the right, African Americans, Hispanics, 
Whites, Asians, this is a policy that brings America together. Whether 
you live in the most affluent communities or the most distressed 
communities, Americans are looking at opportunity zones as a way to 
have a conversation with each other. If there is one thing that we all 
would agree upon, it is that America needs to talk a little more with 
each other in a civil way about fairness and opportunity.
  One of the reasons why I started my national opportunity tour is to 
highlight some of the successes--from Miami, with my good friend Marco 
Rubio, to Boston, New Hampshire, and West Virginia, with Senator 
Capito, to Iowa, with Senator Ernst, and Colorado, Arizona, and so many 
other places. I look forward to continuing the conversation and 
distilling the benefits of the opportunity zones over the next few 
months.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I am honored to be cochairing the 
Entrepreneurship Caucus with the Senator from South Carolina. He is 
right that there are some great examples of people who want to get 
businesses started and who want to pursue their dreams, and we need to 
highlight those because we have a lot of people who right now have some 
great new ideas. If we are going to continue to be a country that is an 
incubator for those ideas, then, we have to promote those ideas and 
allow those people to follow their dreams.

[[Page S2409]]

  



                     Nomination of David Bernhardt

  Mr. President, I am here today to join many of my colleagues in 
discussing the nomination of David Bernhardt to be Secretary of the 
Department of the Interior.
  I have serious concerns about many of the actions that Mr. Bernhardt 
has taken while serving as both Deputy Secretary of the Department, 
since 2017, and as Acting Secretary, since the resignation of Secretary 
Zinke in January. Some of the most concerning actions include defending 
the administration's budget request, which zeroed out funding for the 
newly reauthorized Land and Water Conservation Fund; rolling back 
protections for public lands, including proposals to reduce the size of 
some of our national monuments; limiting opportunities for public input 
into Agency rulemakings; and weakening enforcement of the Migratory 
Bird Treaty Act.
  These actions have threatened the responsible and sustainable 
management of our public lands, imperiled laws designed to protect and 
conserve wildlife, and stacked the deck in favor of fossil fuel 
industries.
  One particular area that I would like to focus on today is how Mr. 
Bernhardt has played a role in the Department of the Interior's 
decisions to rescind Obama-era climate and conservation policies that 
directed Agency employees to minimize the environmental impact of 
activities on Federal land. In a secretarial order published just 
before Christmas in 2017, which was signed by Mr. Bernhardt, the 
Department limited how its employees at sub-Agencies, like the Bureau 
of Land Management, can factor climate and environmental effects into 
their decision making. What does this mean, exactly? Well, it means 
that manuals, handbooks, and other lists of best practices that were 
compiled by Agency employees over the years--career Agency employees--
that were meant to minimize activities that would harm species or 
accelerate climate change were thrown out or their instructions were 
rendered obsolete.
  Mr. Bernhardt has not only downplayed climate science and prevented 
efforts to mitigate it within the Department of the Interior, but he 
has also advanced policy and rulemakings that will accelerate its 
effect. We all know what we are up against here with climate change. We 
have seen the weather events throughout the country--the heating of our 
ocean waters; the increase in hurricanes; the predictions of how many 
metropolitan areas are going to be experiencing significant flooding in 
just the next few decades; the wildfires that we have seen in Arizona, 
Colorado, and California; and the video of the dad in Northern 
California driving his daughter through lapping wildfires, leaving 
their house burning behind them as they drove and he sang to her to 
calm her down. Those are the big effects and the little effects, but 
Americans know this is happening.
  So the question is not, Is it happening? We know it is because every 
one of these things was predicted by our scientists and was predicted 
by our military. The question is, What do we do about it? That is why I 
am so opposed to the administration's decision to get out of the 
international climate change agreement, and I am opposed to its 
decision to get us out of the Clean Power rules that we had just 
started to put forward and to implement, and why I am opposed to the 
decision it made to reverse the gas mileage standards.
  Unfortunately, Mr. Bernhardt has not only downplayed climate change, 
but he has also helped, as I said, to advance policy that accelerates 
it. For example, in September 2018, the Bureau of Land Management 
announced a draft rule that would relax the Obama-era methane rules 
that regulated flared, leaked, and vented natural gas from oil and gas 
operations on Federal and Tribal lands. Methane is an extremely potent 
greenhouse gas that according to the United Nations Intergovernmental 
Panel on Climate Change has an impact that is 34 times greater over a 
100-year period than carbon dioxide. It is also important to remember 
that these proposed rescissions to methane rules are in direct 
opposition and run counter to the Senate's vote in 2017 to reject an 
effort at full repeal under the Congressional Review Act. Instead of 
going backward, we should be taking real action to combat climate 
change. We need a comprehensive approach to greenhouse gas emissions, 
and we need energy efficient technologies and homegrown energy 
resources. I also believe, as I noted, that we should reinstate the 
Clean Power rules and the gas mileage standards.
  Under Mr. Bernhardt's leadership, the Department of the Interior has 
been taking us in the wrong direction on climate, conservation, and 
public lands. I will oppose his nomination.


                   Nomination of David Steven Morales

  Mr. President, before I conclude, I wish to make brief remarks on the 
nomination of David Morales to be a Federal judge for the Southern 
District of Texas, who was just confirmed yesterday evening. Yesterday 
the Senate began its consideration on this nomination at 4 p.m. and 
voted on the confirmation around 6 p.m.
  Under the new rules, we had just about 2 hours of time on the Senate 
floor to debate the nomination for a lifetime appointment to the 
Federal judiciary. I would have liked to have made these comments 
before that time. But with these severe limits, it is very difficult 
for Senators, if they have other obligations within the building or 
constituent visits or hearings going on, to be able to make it within 
the 2-hour period that we are now allowed, which is actually a 1-hour 
period.
  There was much more to be concerned about with respect to this 
nominee, which is why I am making these comments now. To name one 
example, during his time in the Texas Attorney General's Office, he has 
participated in cases that have undermined American voting rights. In 
2007 he submitted an amicus brief before the Supreme Court in support 
of an Indiana voter ID law. The brief argued that requiring voters to 
have photo IDs was only ``a negligible burden on the right to vote.'' 
They should ask that of some of our seniors in Minnesota who have voted 
for decades and decades and decades and are well-known by election 
officials and, in our State, are able to show up at the voting booth 
and be able to vote or maybe they don't have a driver's license because 
they no longer drive. These are examples that go on across the United 
States. In many States that have these restrictions, these people are 
literally turned away from voting.
  It is one of the reasons that the voters of my State turned away a 
proposal that was on our ballot to have these restrictive photo-ID 
requirements. It sounds good, but then when you really look under the 
hood, you find that it limits voting. It was especially difficult for 
people in our rural areas and our seniors to accept this change, and 
they didn't.
  We also know that voter ID laws have a disproportionate impact on 
voters who are low income, racial and ethnic minorities, elderly, and 
people with disabilities.
  The nominee also defended Texas's ban on same-sex marriage. In 2010 
he signed on to a brief arguing that Texas had a right to ban same-sex 
marriage. The Supreme Court rejected similar arguments in Obergefell v. 
Hodges, which found that the Constitution guarantees the right to marry 
for same-sex couples.
  These issues are about how our democracy functions and about treating 
people equally under the law and with respect.
  It is the Senate's constitutional responsibility to give its advice 
and consent on lifetime nominees to the Federal bench. These 
nominations are too important to turn the Senate into a mere 
rubberstamp. The Senate must maintain its role as a meaningful check 
and balance in our constitutional system, and I join my colleagues in 
expressing my deep concern about the pace at which we are confirming 
these nominees.
  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. BLACKBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                                S. 1116

  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Thank you, Mr. President. Today I rise to speak about 
the legislation I introduced to the Senate this week, S. 1116, the 
BROWSER ACT.

[[Page S2410]]

  Broadband or high-speed internet has absolutely revolutionized the 
way we communicate, the way we conduct commerce, and actually the way 
we participate in government.
  Broadband is one of the greatest innovations in history. It allows 
near-instantaneous exchange of information and brings efficiencies to 
the daily life of millions of Americans as they move more of their 
transactional life online.
  Thanks to broadband, entrepreneurs have been able to bring thousands 
of new applications to consumers. These edge services are now an 
essential part of our lives. We find ourselves every day saying: I 
can't imagine what we did before we had this or before we had that. 
These apps give consumers access to entertainment, news, information, 
helping us drive around town, and access to emergency services.
  As consumers use these applications, they generate massive amounts of 
data about themselves, and that is the problem. Many companies collect 
this data and use it for a range of purposes without the user's 
knowledge.
  They are collecting all of this--every bill you pay, every website 
you visit, these platforms are following you.
  After all this information is shared, the question is, Who owns the 
virtual you? Who owns you and your presence online? Our laws have not 
kept pace with technological innovation.
  Now we see some States and we even have some cities that are adding 
more complexity to the problem by enacting their own privacy rules and 
standards, despite the fact that digital commerce is not restricted to 
one area. Digital commerce is interstate and global in nature.
  It is time we have a consistent national law regarding online 
privacy. We need one set of rules and one regulator for the entire 
internet ecosystem. It just makes sense.
  That is why I have introduced the legislation I previously proposed 
as a Member of the House of Representatives. As I said, it is called 
the BROWSER Act. Americans want to be certain their privacy is 
protected in the physical and the virtual space. Broadband users--who 
are each and every one of us--should have the right to say who can or 
cannot access their private data.
  Think about it. At this point, how and when you pay your bills, the 
credit cards you use, the sites you visit, the merchandise you shop 
for, friends you connect with, there is somebody tracking that activity 
with every move of the mouse. They are on it.
  Consumers should have the right to clear and conspicuous notice of a 
service providers' privacy policies and the ability to either opt in or 
opt out, depending on the sensitive nature of that data. The BROWSER 
Act requires digital services to provide users with clear and 
conspicuous notice of their privacy rights. It also requires digital 
services to provide users the ability to opt in to the collection of 
sensitive information while also giving users the ability to opt out of 
the collection of nonsensitive information.
  By allowing for a clear and conspicuous notification process, 
consumers will be able to make a more educated choice about the nature 
of the relationship they want to have with online vendors and with tech 
companies.
  Furthermore, the BROWSER Act will prohibit digital services from 
denying their service to users who refuse to waive their personal 
privacy rights. The BROWSER Act also empowers the FTC, the Federal 
Trade Commission, to enforce these rules using its unfair or deceptive 
acts or practices authorities.
  Now the Federal Trade Commission has been our privacy regulator in 
both the physical and the online space. Just this week, Senator 
Klobuchar and I sent a letter to the FTC urging stronger action for bad 
actors in the tech space. Companies like Facebook and Google have 
transformed society in revolutionary ways and need to recognize that 
with that great power comes great responsibility. This is the 21st 
century; it is not the Wild West. These tech companies need to be 
respectful of your privacy rights.

  My hope is that through this bipartisan effort, we will shed light on 
the need to protect competition and online privacy to keep up with the 
fast-paced changes in technology. The FTC has a responsibility to hold 
tech companies accountable for securing their platforms. We need them 
to step up and be the cop on the beat in the virtual space.
  Before I yield the floor, I want to make one last point. The BROWSER 
Act treats everyone in broadband and edge companies exactly the same--
one regulator, one set of rules. This is common sense.
  Unfortunately, yesterday, Democrats in the House passed a bill to 
regulate broadband service providers, but they didn't do anything to 
Big Tech. They didn't do anything about privacy with Google, with 
Facebook, with Yahoo--these people who collect your data and sell it to 
the highest bidder; then that person markets back to you.
  When I chaired the Communications and Technology Subcommittee in the 
House, I repeatedly offered to work with the other side of the aisle to 
preserve a free and open internet. I am always happy to work together 
to find a legislative solution and put this so-called net neutrality 
issue to rest once and for all. Rather than work together on this, the 
House pushed through a hyperpartisan bill to reinstate a controversial, 
heavyhanded regulation of communication companies, but--heaven forbid--
they do not want to touch Big Tech, their big buddies.
  I am so grateful Leader McConnell has said that this bill coming from 
the House is dead on arrival in the Senate. I look forward to 
continuing to work on this issue. But here is what my friends across 
the aisle and my friends over in the House need to realize: The 
internet is not broken. The internet is not broken. Many of you 
probably have an electronic device close at hand. It is working just 
fine. The internet does not need the intervention of Nancy Pelosi and 
House Democrats. It is fine. It is going to be just fine by itself. In 
fact, as an alternative, we could just strike out the text of the 
House-passed bill and insert the BROWSER Act in its place--one set of 
rules for the entire internet ecosystem, one set of rules enforced by 
one Federal regulator. That is the BROWSER Act. It is about fairness. 
It is about encouraging innovation. It is about making certain we keep 
a free and open internet.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). The majority leader.


                           Order of Business

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
postcloture time on the Bernhardt nomination expire at 1:45 p.m. today. 
I further ask that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid 
upon the table and the President be immediately notified of the 
Senate's action.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. PETERS. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                         Vehicle Innovation Act

  Mr. PETERS. Madam President, transportation is responsible for 
roughly two-thirds of our national consumption of petroleum and one of 
the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But imagine a 
future where we could produce low-cost, secure clean energy 
technologies to move people and goods easily across our Nation. Imagine 
if we could then sell our advanced American technology and products to 
the rest of the world.
  Well, that is a future, by working together, we can indeed achieve. 
There is no question that the cars and trucks of the future can be 
equipped with technology to make them safer and more fuel efficient 
while also saving consumers money.
  Rapidly emerging technology has the potential not only to reduce air 
emissions, but their development could also create jobs in Michigan and 
across the Nation, and these are jobs that cannot be outsourced. We 
must ensure that the United States leads the way in developing these 
innovations. That is why I reintroduced the bipartisan Vehicle 
Innovation Act with my colleagues Senator Alexander and Senator 
Stabenow.
  The Vehicle Innovation Act promotes research and development 
investments in clean vehicle and advanced safety technologies. The bill 
also modernizes

[[Page S2411]]

the Vehicle Technologies Office within the Department of Energy, which 
exists to help create and sustain American leadership in the transition 
to a global clean energy economy.
  This office's leadership has already led to improvements in engine 
efficiency through vehicle weight reductions and reduced fuel 
production costs, and the Vehicle Innovation Act will help ensure that 
these continued innovations move forward.
  I am proud to again partner on this bill with Senator Alexander and 
fellow Michigander, Senator Debbie Stabenow. In the last Congress, we 
were able to pass the Vehicle Innovation Act through the Senate. Now, 
with fellow Michigan delegation Members, Congresswomen Debbie Dingell 
and Haley Stevens, leading this bill in the House, there is no reason 
this legislation should not be enacted into law.
  The bill is supported by labor, by industry, and by conservation 
groups, including the United Auto Workers, the Motor & Equipment 
Manufacturers Association, the Auto Alliance, the BlueGreen Alliance, 
and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
  America should lead the world in clean energy advancements, and I 
urge my colleagues to support the Vehicle Innovation Act.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.


                            Border Security

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, while many folks in Washington, DC, 
remain ambivalent about what is happening along the southern border, I 
am here to report that we are reaching a breaking point.
  Every month, Customs and Border Protection releases the total number 
of people who attempt to cross the southern border. The total includes 
those who cross illegally between the ports of entry, as well as those 
deemed inadmissible at a port of entry. Just to give you an idea of the 
size and scope of the numbers we have been dealing with in the past, 
since June 2014--the month that President Obama referred to this as a 
``humanitarian crisis''--more than 66,000 individuals were encountered 
along the border. At that time, we thought 66,000 was a huge number, 
but it pales in comparison to what we are seeing now. Last month, more 
than 103,000 people attempted to illegally cross the border. That is 
103,000 up from 76,000 the previous month.

  A few weeks ago, I know we got into a debate about what did and did 
not constitute an emergency or a crisis at the border. I don't care 
whether you call it a crisis or an emergency, but the entire system is 
breaking, and it is unsustainable. This is the highest number of people 
who has attempted to enter the country that we have seen since 2007.
  The mind-boggling figure represents the strain that is being felt by 
the personnel--those being U.S. Government employees--whether they be 
Border Patrol or Customs or whoever is trying to manage the influx of 
the migrants. The men and women of the CBP lack both the manpower and 
the facilities to appropriately respond. The already understaffed 
Agency is reassigning personnel to try to make do, but 40 percent of 
the Border Patrol's manpower is spent processing migrants and providing 
care and transportation, and many of the agents are taken off their 
patrol lines to do this work, which leaves areas of the border 
vulnerable to exploitation by drug cartels and others.
  The detention centers at which these migrants are housed and 
processed are relatively small facilities that are not designed for 
these kinds of huge numbers. They were originally built to house single 
adults for a short period of time, but the skyrocketing number of 
unaccompanied children and family units is now putting a serious strain 
on those resources. Last month alone, there were more than 53,000 
families and nearly 9,000 unaccompanied children who were apprehended 
at the border--53,000 families and 9,000 unaccompanied children. 
Customs and Border Protection simply lacks the facilities to hold these 
children, and it lacks the personnel to provide appropriate care.
  Do we really want the Border Patrol handing out juice boxes and 
diapers as opposed to interdicting dangerous drugs and other contraband 
that come into the United States? I don't think so. We know they are 
desperately asking for additional detention space and staff to be able 
to manage the migrants who are in custody.
  Why is it so important they be detained? It is because, if we engage 
in the practice that has come to be known as catch and release, then it 
is doubtful we will ever see these migrants again, even though they 
will be notified of their time to appear in front of immigration judges 
months--maybe even years--into the future. They will simply melt into 
the landscape. If they were to have bona fide reasons to claim asylum 
but were to fail to appear for their hearings in front of immigration 
judges, they will have waived those rights and be deported if they are 
ultimately located in the United States.
  We know customs inspectors have been reassigned from their duties at 
ports of entry to do things like process migrants and provide 
transportation. With fewer customs agents on the job, you are now 
seeing lengthy delays at the ports and checkpoints along the entire 
border. In what is just right across from El Paso, TX, truckers have 
been reported as sleeping in their vehicles for hours and sometimes 
days so they will not lose their spots in line.
  I have heard from some of the car manufacturers that require there be 
a flow of their supply chains into Mexico and vice versa, so they are 
literally hiring aircraft to fly from Juarez to El Paso because that 
11-minute flight is faster than a trucker waiting 24 hours in line. 
Also, when many of our car manufacturers that depend on just-in-time 
inventory can't get their inventory just in time but have to wait 24 
hours, it disrupts their manufacturing lines and endangers their 
businesses. Of course, it is easy to see how this could have a ripple 
effect on the entire border and the American economy.
  This slowdown isn't just affecting businesses along the border; it 
has businesses across the country worried. Mexican products feed the 
supply chain for many manufacturers in the United States, and these 
slowdowns affect production. While folks who live far away from the 
border may have just chosen to look the other way until now, they don't 
have a choice anymore. The system is breaking.
  The ripples will soon be felt across the country unless Members of 
Congress, on both sides of the aisle, work together and are serious 
about enacting a solution. We know what we need to do, but politics is 
preventing us from getting it done. It is time to provide our frontline 
officers and agents with the personnel, the resources, and the legal 
authorities they need in order to do the jobs we have asked them to do. 
Yet, without support from Congress, we are sending them into a losing 
battle, and we are setting our economy up for a disaster.


                        GEAR UP for Success Act

  Madam President, on another matter, when the Senate is in recess next 
week, I, like most of our colleagues here, will be running to my State 
to talk to my constituents and to hopefully listen to what they have to 
say.
  As I travel from El Paso to Laredo, some of the things I will be 
talking about will include the GEAR UP for Success Act with students, 
teachers, and school administrators. GEAR UP seeks to increase college 
and career readiness for underrepresented and low-income students. It 
currently serves about 600,000 students nationwide, and Texans have 
benefited from the $885 million in GEAR UP grants over the last 20 
years.
  I am glad I have had a chance to visit with some of my constituents 
in San Antonio and Harlingen about this bill and the incredible impact 
that GEAR UP grants have had on their students. I guess I didn't fully 
appreciate the fact that students really have to begin deciding in the 
seventh grade what their courses of study will be because, if they 
don't take the required courses, or the prerequisite courses, or the 
other courses they are going to need in order to graduate or to get 
into college, they may miss the boat entirely. Many of these students 
come from families whose parents have never attended college or who may 
be unaware of the requirement to plan in order for their children to 
make the right course selections early on as opposed to their waiting 
until their junior or senior year to begin to think about where to 
apply to college.
  This legislation would allow school districts to better cater to 
their students' specific needs rather than to use

[[Page S2412]]

a one-size-fits-all program, and it would reduce the local cost share 
required by half.
  I am eager to hear from my constituents in El Paso and Laredo and to 
talk about what else we can do in Washington to promote college and 
career readiness. In a tight labor market with a booming economy, one 
of the things we hear about the most back home is the fact that 
employers can't find adequately trained workers for the jobs that are 
available and return a good wage. So it is important that we continue 
to do everything we can not only to promote education generally but 
also to promote career readiness for many of the well-paying jobs that 
are going wanting for the lack of qualified workers.


                            Jenna Quinn Law

  Madam President, I will also take some time to visit the Center for 
Child Protection in Austin to discuss the Jenna Quinn Law. This would 
authorize grants for training students, teachers, and caregivers on 
identifying and reporting child sexual abuse. The bill is named for a 
courageous Texan and is modeled after successful reforms in my State. 
It is another great example of how we are working to bring the 
successful Texas model to the national level.


                         B-21 Strategic Bomber

  Madam President, finally, I will visit Dyess Air Force Base in 
Abilene, TX, with my friend and colleague, Congressman Jodey Arrington, 
for a briefing on its latest operations and the recent news from the 
Air Force that Dyess will be receiving the B-21--the next generation of 
strategic bombers.
  Dyess is the most dynamic bomber base in the country, and I am glad 
the Air Force has chosen the future home for the B-21 squadrons as well 
as weapons instruction courses and test squadrons. It just makes a lot 
of sense.
  I look forward to spending time at home with my constituents. These 
conversations drive my work in the Senate, and I am eager to get more 
feedback on how these bills could make positive changes in their lives 
and in the lives of all of my constituents in the State.


              Remembering Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cole

  Madam President, on one final matter, this week, Texas lost a true 
hero. Lt. Col. Richard Cole passed away on Tuesday at the ripe old age 
of 103 in my hometown of San Antonio.
  For Texans and for so many Americans, Lieutenant Colonel Cole--or 
``Dick'' as his friends and brothers in arms called him--symbolized one 
of the most remarkable groups from the greatest generation in World War 
II--the Doolittle Raiders. The group is named for then-Lt. Col. Jimmy 
Doolittle, who, in April of 1942, fearlessly led 16 B-25 bombers and 80 
crew members on a strike that targeted factories and military 
installations in and around Tokyo. This was actually Dick's first 
mission, and he was Jimmy Doolittle's copilot.
  After the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, this mission was 
not just of tactical importance--it was a major morale boost for our 
Nation.
  Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein recently said:

       Those 80 intrepid airmen changed the course of history. 
     They executed a one-way mission without hesitation and 
     against enormous odds.

  The mission was, as you might imagine, perilous. Doolittle's Raiders 
took off from the USS Hornet with barely enough runway to get airborne. 
In fact, Doolittle and Cole's aircraft only had 467 feet with which to 
take off in an aircraft that was not designed to launch from an 
aircraft carrier. The airplanes inadvertently took off 170 miles 
further from Japan than they had planned, so they had insufficient fuel 
to make it to their landing fields in China.
  As a result, Dick--then 26 and having had limited experience in 
jumping out of an aircraft--had to leap out of his B-25 into unknown 
territory. He later reported that he gave himself a black eye when he 
pulled the ripcord and finally landed in the branches of a tree, where 
he spent the night, dangling.
  He later said:

       They don't give a Purple Heart for self-inflicted injuries. 
     I gave myself a black eye.

  Yet his heroism was certainly rewarded. He received the Distinguished 
Flying Cross for his role in the bombing as well as the Bronze Star and 
the Air Medal. Then, in 2015, Dick and his fellow Raiders received the 
Congressional Gold Medal.
  These men, as you might imagine, shared an incredible bond, and their 
lasting camaraderie was evident through one special tradition they 
shared. At each reunion, the crew would share a cognac in silver 
goblets. Each goblet was engraved with a Raider's name both right-side 
up and right-side down. After toasting to the men who had died since 
their last reunion, they would flip over the goblets of those who had 
passed away.
  At their final reunion in 2013, only four Raiders were left. After 
determining that this would be the final reunion due to their ages and 
travel limitations, Dick delivered the last toast. Now his silver 
goblet will be turned over just as it was for the 79 brothers who left 
this Earth before him.
  We remember the final Doolittle Raider today for his incredible 
courage and sacrifice and a life well lived. America has lost another 
hero, but our country will never forget him.
  I send my condolences to Dick's family and friends and especially to 
Rich, his son, and to Cindy, his daughter.
  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. MARKEY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                     Nomination of David Bernhardt

  Mr. MARKEY. Madam President, I rise today to address the Senate on 
the nomination of David Bernhardt to head the Department of the 
Interior.
  I ask unanimous consent that I may use this chart in order to further 
my goal of making it clear why he should not be nominated and confirmed 
as Secretary of the Interior.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MARKEY. Madam President, under Secretary Bernhardt, the 
Department of the Interior will come to stand for the Department of Oil 
Interests, DOI.
  This wheel of Bernhardt's giveaways makes it very clear what the 
objective of his tenure as the Secretary of Interior will, in fact, 
entail.
  Bernhardt's nomination is just a continuation of the Trump 
administration's cartel Cabinet. Only a month ago, a former coal 
lobbyist was confirmed to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Let 
me say that again. Just last month, a coal lobbyist was nominated and 
confirmed to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency of the 
United States--unbelievable. But now Republicans want to install a 
former oil lobbyist to head the Department of the Interior because, in 
Trump's administration, it is nothing but foxes guarding the henhouse.
  We need more answers about Mr. Bernhardt's lobbying activities. We 
need answers on whether Mr. Bernhardt used his position at the 
Department of the Interior to help former clients. The American people 
need to see the documents associated with Bernhardt's lobbying 
activities. Most importantly, we should not confirm a former oil 
lobbyist to lead the very Agency that is tasked with protecting our 
public lands from despoliation.
  Let me now point to the wheel of giveaways for more oil--more oil. 
And that is the goal of his appointment.
  The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our national treasures 
that is under threat from Big Oil and the Trump administration. This is 
the wildest place left in America, and it should not be turned into a 
drilling playground. Yet Republicans here in the Senate voted in 2017 
to hand this special place--the Arctic Refuge--over to Big Oil. Now 
this administration is trying to hit the gas on drilling there, in one 
of the Earth's most pristine wilderness areas.
  Last year, Mr. Bernhardt said that he would ``expedite'' oil 
development in the wildlife refuge, and he has worked inside the 
Department of the Interior to limit environmental review of drilling 
activities. So let's just imagine gushing oil poisoning the habitat of 
magnificent creatures like polar bears and caribou, snowy owls and the 
Arctic fox; rigs and pumps threatening the ancestral homeland of the 
Gwich'in and Inupiat peoples, which they call ``the sacred place where 
life begins.''

[[Page S2413]]

  I have spent my career protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 
for future generations, and today I will not support the nomination of 
David Bernhardt to undermine the protections we have worked so hard to 
put in place. We must stand up for the generations yet to come that 
cannot yet speak to protect our public lands and our oceans.
  At the same time, the Trump administration is trying to roll back the 
fuel economy standards for the vehicles we drive. In other words, since 
we put 70 percent of all the oil we consume in our country on a yearly 
basis into the gasoline tanks of the vehicles we drive in our country, 
if you increase the fuel economy of every one of those vehicles, it 
will reduce the amount of oil you need to drill for.
  What do the Republicans want to do? What do the oil companies want? 
What do the Koch brothers want? What does ExxonMobil want? Well, it is 
very simple. By not increasing the fuel economy standards of the 
vehicles we drive, we need more oil because cars will consume more in 
the course of a year. They then say: Ah, let's turn to the Arctic 
National Wildlife Refuge--a sacred place--and find more oil, because 
the vehicles we drive won't be that efficient.
  What kind of sacrifice are we going to make in our country because 
the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil want to have more oil drilled for? We 
are going to have the Trump administration say: The only way we can 
justify it is if the cars, the light trucks, the SUVs that people drive 
are not that efficient; therefore, we need all the oil we can get, even 
though we are a technical giant and we know we can make these vehicles 
so much more efficient, so we never have to drill there. That is a sin 
against the environment and a sin against our country and future 
generations that should be able to enjoy this pristine area, the 
wildlife refuge.
  Let's move on to another part of the wheel of giveaways--even more 
oil that will be another giveaway during the Bernhardt time at the 
Department of the Interior.
  On January 4, 2018, the Department of the Interior announced a plan 
to revise the offshore drilling plan to eliminate protections for the 
east and west coasts, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the Arctic Ocean. 
The plan proposed to open up more than 90 percent of the U.S. 
coastlines to oil and gas leasing.
  Since then, the bipartisan opposition has been deafening. All 
Governors along the east and west coasts have opposed or expressed 
concerns about expanded oil and gas exploration off their coasts. More 
than 340 municipalities and over 2,100 elected local, State, and 
Federal officials have formally opposed offshore oil and gas drilling 
and seismic airgun blasting in our ocean. But David Bernhardt is not 
listening to those concerns. Instead, he is listening to his former 
fossil fuel clients. He is moving ahead with this terrible offshore 
drilling plan that would threaten State after State with the threat of 
a spill in the ocean off of those States.
  We should not confirm Bernhardt to lead the Department of the 
Interior. Handing the keys to the beaches of our country, the 
coastlines of our country, and our fishing and tourism industries in 
our country over to Big Oil is not what our citizens want. That is the 
opposite of what we need to do to protect our environment, but that is 
what David Bernhardt and his fossil fuel friends want.
  There is no reason that we have to drill off of the coastlines of our 
country right where people who are swimming will be watching these oil 
rigs that are going to be drilling down into those ocean areas off of 
our beaches to find oil that we don't need. If we increase the fuel 
economy standards of the vehicles we drive, we will be able to back out 
the need for all of that additional oil. That is the sin against the 
environment that is being committed. That is the agenda of David 
Bernhardt's at the Department of the Interior.
  Instead of being the United States of America--a technological giant 
that invents its way to the new automotive technologies that reduce the 
amount of oil we need and reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses that 
go up into the atmosphere--with David Bernhardt as the Secretary of the 
Interior, partnered with the new coal lobbyist who is running the EPA, 
we are going to wind up with more greenhouse gasses going up into the 
air, a reduction in the efficiency of the vehicles we drive, and 
putting more profits into the pockets of the Koch brothers and 
ExxonMobil and the auto industry, which also wants to reduce the fuel 
economy standards of the vehicles we drive. This is a sin against our 
environment but also our identity as the technological giant of the 
planet.
  We can do this. We can make our cars more efficient. We can have 
plug-in hybrids. We can have all-electric vehicles. We can create a 
revolution that avoids the necessity of drilling off of our beaches and 
drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. We can do this, but that is not 
what Donald Trump wants. He wants fossil fuel industry representatives 
at the Department of the Interior and EPA running these Agencies.
  David Bernhardt's ties to Big Oil--the very industry he is tasked 
with regulating--are as deep as an oil well. Those ties should be 
disqualifying for anyone nominated to head the Department of the 
Interior. We need to stop the pollution of our democracy by Big Oil 
interests.
  I urge my colleagues to vote no on the nomination of David Bernhardt. 
I ask my colleagues to consider what we can do to avoid the necessity 
of despoiling these sacred environmental locations in our country for 
the oil industry, for the Koch brothers.
  This is a big moment, this vote we are about to cast. This is one 
more step by Donald Trump that will result in far more greenhouse gases 
going up into the atmosphere, far more danger being presented to places 
that should be put off limits to the oil industry because of the risk 
of environmental danger that would result from that permission to 
drill.
  That is why we should all pause and really consider whether we want 
to go deeper and deeper into an era that is completely avoidable if we 
unleash the technological might of our country.
  When President Kennedy went to Rice University in 1961, what he said 
was that we were going to have a mission to the Moon and that mission 
would require us to invent new metals, new alloys, new propulsion 
systems that did not exist, and that within 10 years, we would have to 
then bring that mission back safely from the Moon through heat half the 
intensity of the Sun and do so successfully.
  Auto mechanics is not rocket science. We already know how to improve 
the fuel economy standards of the vehicles we drive. We don't need 
nuclear physics and we don't need aeronautical engineers to help us do 
this.
  President Kennedy challenged our country, and we responded. President 
Trump is like J.F.K. in reverse. He is saying that we can't do it; 
that, instead, what we have to do is, here on Earth, be the leaders in 
spoiling our most sacred environmental locations.
  That is why today is such a monumental opportunity for the Senate to 
say no on a bipartisan basis to David Bernhardt, who is someone who 
does not deserve the post of Secretary of the Interior.
  I once again urge a ``no'' vote from all of my colleagues.
  I yield the floor.
  Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                     Nomination of David Bernhardt

  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Madam President, I am pleased to be here today to 
speak in strong support of David Bernhardt's nomination to be Secretary 
of the Interior, and I thank all of my colleagues on the Energy and 
Natural Resources Committee. We worked pretty hard together to report 
Mr. Bernhardt's nomination last week. We moved it out with good 
bipartisan support. I also thank the majority leader for filing cloture 
this week so that we can confirm him before we depart for this 2-week 
work period.
  I have several reasons--I have a whole host of different reasons to 
outline as to why I support Mr. Bernhardt's nomination. I outlined them

[[Page S2414]]

before the committee, but I would like to take a couple of minutes here 
this afternoon to reiterate them on the Senate floor.
  First, really, is his background. He understands and is in touch with 
our public lands. Mr. Bernhardt is from the West where, of course, the 
vast majority of our public lands are located. He grew up in Rifle, 
which is a small town in Western Colorado. He spent a lot of his 
summers in Wyoming. He, to this day, remains an avid sportsman and 
outdoorsman. He likes hunting and fishing. He is a guy who appreciates 
the outdoors.
  He is really almost unparalleled in terms of the experience that he 
brings to the job. He has worked at the Department of the Interior now 
for about 10 years, including two Senate-confirmed posts. Back in 2006, 
we confirmed him as Solicitor by voice vote, and then in 2017, we 
confirmed him to be the Deputy Secretary. Again, that vote was a good 
bipartisan vote. He has now served as Acting Secretary since January of 
2019, so we have a situation where, simply put, he has more experience 
at the Department than any other previous nominee for Secretary, except 
one. That is a pretty good credential there.
  Of equal importance, Mr. Bernhardt has the right perspective to be 
the Secretary of the Interior. He understands how Federal land 
management decisions affect our local communities. He has seen how 
Federal policies impact people's access to and use of public land, and 
he also recognizes the need to balance conservation and opportunities 
for economic development.
  I think David Bernhardt has really proved his ability to lead the 
Department. He is well qualified. He is highly competent. He has built 
strong working relationships with those who are affected by the 
Department's decisions. I really think there is no question that he is 
ready for the job. He can handle everything it entails.
  I have been asked by several of the reporters who are out there: What 
do you think David Bernhardt really brings to the table? What I have 
shared with them is that as I have gotten to know David Bernhardt in 
his various capacities at Interior, he is a guy who understands and 
enjoys the policy of these issues. He likes to get down into the fine 
details. He knows the background. He is not just being given something 
by staff to read. He is the one who is really engaged in understanding 
at a level of detail that is greatly appreciated.
  When I think about the importance of this position of Secretary of 
the Interior, I come at it from the perspective of an Alaskan coming 
from a State that has more Federal acres than any other State. The 
Department of the Interior controls most of those. We often refer to 
the Department, and the Secretary specifically, as our landlord. That 
is not necessarily a title we like. We like to consider ourselves a 
partner, but I think we truly recognize we need leadership to 
understand and appreciate the impact their decisions within the 
Department of the Interior can have on us. I know David Bernhardt 
understands that. He has been a good partner for Alaskans, but he has 
also been a good partner for individuals, groups, and States all across 
the country, and that is why his nomination is supported by a wide 
range of stakeholder groups from the Alaska Federation of Natives to 
Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Association 
of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
  I think it is also important to note that Mr. Bernhardt moved through 
our committee process in pretty good order. He answered all of our 
questions. Again, he demonstrated the depth of his understanding of the 
issues and his expertise. He really exceeded expectations, which led to 
a very strong bipartisan vote of 14 to 6 at the business meeting last 
week.
  Now the full Senate has the opportunity to confirm Mr. Bernhardt. 
Some will continue to make allegations over ethics, but the fact is, as 
we have reviewed those charges, we have found nothing that should hold 
him back. I know this has been a subject of discussion on the Senate 
floor, so I want to lay it out very clearly. There are some news 
stories that are being printed and have been printed that are filled 
with old information that has already been reviewed by our committee 
staff. New stories, old facts--they don't contain anything new or 
anything disqualifying. There is nothing amiss here, and there is no 
valid reason to delay this process.
  The Office of Government Ethics has certified that Mr. Bernhardt is 
in good standing; so has Interior's Designated Agency Ethics Official. 
My committee staff has contacted Interior's Inspector General. It has 
been confirmed that there are no open investigations into Mr. 
Bernhardt. I would tell folks that what needs to happen here is that we 
need to move forward. We need to reject the last-minute rhetoric that 
is designed to delay. We need to confirm a well-qualified candidate to 
be our next Secretary of the Interior.
  We have a lot to do. Interior has a lot to do to make sure that we 
are protecting our lands, increasing our energy security, as well as 
fulfilling all of the missions of the Department, and the sooner we are 
able to confirm a Secretary to focus on them, the better.
  Mr. Bernhardt is very well qualified to be the Secretary of the 
Interior. He has the right background, the right experience, and the 
right perspective for the job. He is ready to lead on a permanent 
basis, and I am glad that very shortly here we are going to be 
considering his nomination. I strongly encourage every Member in this 
Chamber to support his confirmation.
  Madam President, I come to the floor to speak to the robust support 
that David Bernhardt has received for his nomination to be Secretary of 
the Interior.
  Last week, those of us on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee 
reported Mr. Bernhardt on a strong, bipartisan vote of 14 to 6. He has 
actually added support from the last time that he was considered in 
committee, in 2017, and I hope we will see that again when we vote on 
his nomination later today.
  Mr. Bernhardt's support is not limited to the Senate. For example, 
the Congressional Western Caucus is solidly behind Mr. Bernhardt, with 
many of its members on record in support of his nomination.
  Bear in mind, these are members from Western States, where the vast 
majority of our public lands are located, whose districts are most 
impacted by the Department of the Interior. It is a very good sign that 
Mr. Bernhardt has drawn their strong support.
  We have also kept a list of individuals and groups who have submitted 
letters of support for Mr. Bernhardt. It spans the spectrum of 
stakeholders, from the Public Lands Council and the Colorado Farm 
Bureau to the American Exploration and Mining Association and the Corps 
Network.
  Multiple recreation groups have written in urging the Senate to 
confirm Mr. Bernhardt. The motorized recreation groups, like the 
American Council of Snowmobile Associations and the Off-Road Business 
Association, wrote that, ``At a time when many of the senior posts at 
the agency lack Senate confirmed executives, a person of Mr. 
Bernhardt's experience is sorely need . . . having [him] at the helm of 
the Interior Department will strengthen the agency's resolve to make 
the lands it manages accessible to the recreating public.''
  Officials at all levels of government are voicing their support for 
Mr. Bernhardt's nomination. The Governor of Wyoming, Mark Gordon, 
offered this statement: [Mr. Bernhardt's] recognition of expertise in 
the States is refreshing . . . I wish [him] a speedy and easy 
confirmation process.''
  The Mesa County Commissioners in Colorado wrote that ``Mr. 
Bernhardt's extensive knowledge of public lands and energy issues makes 
him an avid leader with skill to see issues from multiple perspectives 
to maintain and improve partnerships among federal, state, and local 
governments.''
  The Harney County Court in Oregon has highlighted Mr. Bernhardt's 
commitment to balancing the multiple use of public land, writing that, 
``[He] has proved himself in the past by exhibiting understanding 
between the balance that is needed from an ecological standpoint, but 
also, what is needed from the economic and social aspect of public land 
use. He will work towards a balanced approach by trying to assess and 
distinguish between the multiple issues that we are facing with the 
[bureaus].''

[[Page S2415]]

  Tribal groups and entities are also supportive of his nomination. In 
my home State, the Alaska Federation of Natives noted that, ``Mr. 
Bernhardt has demonstrated a thorough understanding of the legal 
frameworks of the major laws covering Alaska Native subsistence 
customary and traditional rights and protections . . . he listens well, 
is articulate in his responses, and draws reasonable conclusions.''
  The Chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council wrote in that, 
``the [Tribe] has worked with [Mr. Bernhardt] previously and firmly 
believes that his knowledge and experience make him a very good fit for 
the Department . . . we also believe he is committed to building strong 
working relationships that rely on good faith and respect among all 
interests at the table.''
  We have truly heard from a very wide range of organizations in 
support of this nomination. The Archery Trade Association wrote to us 
that ``[Mr. Bernhardt] has demonstrated tremendous commitment to 
conserving and protecting our nation's natural, historic and cultural 
resources . . . [his] experience with the Department of the Interior 
coupled [with his] exemplary history of collaboration, non-partisan 
views, highly respected demeanor and deeply held passion for 
conservation and historic preservation make him uniquely qualified for 
this position.''
  One of the reasons that such a diverse group of stakeholders support 
Mr. Bernhardt's nomination is that they have worked with him during his 
nearly ten years at Interior, including most recently as Deputy 
Secretary and then Acting Secretary. He has proven that he can work 
with groups, he has formed strong relationships with them, and they 
respect and support him.
  For example, the Gila River Indian Community wrote that, ``based on 
our experience in negotiating and working on complex issues with Mr. 
Bernhardt we support his position as Secretary of the Department of the 
Interior. We believe he has an understanding of Tribal sovereignty and 
the United States' trust responsibility to Tribal nations.''
  The Corps Network wrote that ``Mr. Bernhardt has been accessible and 
responsive to our inquiries, visited several Corps in the field, and 
joined the Corps Network's Day of Service last summer.''
  These groups are reiterating what we already know--that Mr. 
Bernhardt's experience at Interior and in the West; his willingness to 
listen, build relationships, be responsive; and his ability to earn 
people's trust make him more than qualified to lead the Department of 
the Interior.
  I want to wrap up by reading an excerpt from a letter that we 
received from the Beaver County Commission in Utah: ``In our 
interactions with Mr. Bernhardt we have found him to act with 
integrity, be open minded to all points of view, and have a contagious 
passion for the health of our Nation's lands and people. These 
qualities, combined with many others, make Mr. Bernhardt an ideal 
candidate to serve the county by leading the Department of the 
Interior.''
  I couldn't say it any better. Mr. Bernhardt knows the Department and 
the laws that govern it inside and out. He appreciates and respects the 
Department's mission. He is the right person for the job--the best 
person to lead Interior--and I look forward to his confirmation.


                       Remembering Selina Everson

  Madam President, before I relinquish my time, I just want to take a 
very brief moment to note that a friend, a leader, an extraordinary 
role model for many Alaskans--certainly in the Alaska Native 
community--has recently passed.
  Selina Everson was a language and culture warrior in Southeastern 
Alaska and one who fought for the Tlingit language and culture 
preservation. She was an extraordinary woman and role model. She grew 
up speaking Tlingit. It was her first language. In school, she was 
told: You can only speak English. She broke that rule and courageously 
spoke Tlingit anyway. She was a champion for her culture.
  We mourn her passing. This woman not only was considered Grandma 
Selina and considered by hundreds of children in schools in 
Southeastern Alaska as a friend and a relative, I considered her one as 
well. I was honored that she was the one who helped adopt me into the 
Deisheetaan clan and gave me the honor and treasured name of Aan 
shaawatk'i, Lady of the Land. So know that I send my prayers to 
Selina's family as they face this loss.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cassidy). The assistant Democratic leader.


                          Tribute to MJ Kenny

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I come to the floor this afternoon to 
honor a member of my staff. I thank Senator Fischer and Senator Manchin 
for giving me an opportunity to speak at this moment.
  MJ Kenny has been part of my team in the Senate for 9 years, and for 
the past several years, he was a constant on the floor of the Senate as 
deputy floor director of my staff. At the end of this week, he is going 
to be moving on to a new professional opportunity.
  Unlike many of us who work in this building, MJ actually is a 
resident of the Washington, DC, area. He graduated from Walt Whitman 
High School in Bethesda, MD, a suburb of the city of Washington.
  Walt Whitman wrote in his essay, ``Democratic Vistas,'' the 
following: ``Did you too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for 
elections, for politics, and for a party name?'' Walt Whitman 
understood that democracy is more than campaigns. Democracy is 
certainly more than just yelling at one another. Democracy is a 
process. It is a daily dedication to the institutions and norms and the 
rule of law. Making democracy work takes skill and commitment, and it 
takes many people who are willing to make a sacrifice and see the 
demands for long hours and the demands for time on the floor as part of 
their democratic commitment. This can demand great patience and great 
sacrifice. I think Walt Whitman would have given MJ Kenny high marks, 
as do I.
  For the last few years, MJ has helped to make sure the Senate does 
the daily work of democracy. I have counted on him to make sure that my 
interests were represented on the floor of the Senate, that my 
constituents in Illinois had a voice in the Senate, and that stories 
about Dreamers and other important information be shared in the 
Congressional Record with my colleagues and beyond. Making certain that 
the information was floor-ready was a responsibility of MJ Kenny, and 
he handled it professionally.
  MJ and my floor director, Reema Dodin, are my dynamic duo who help 
make things happen around here. Together, they are my eyes and ears on 
the floor when meetings and other obligations take me away. MJ has also 
been a big help to so many other Senators.
  He came to my office 12 years ago for an informational interview. We 
tried to decide whether we were right for one another. Luckily, I came 
to the conclusion that this graduate of Northwestern University in 
Chicago with a degree in history, who had already interned for then-
Congressman and now Senator Chris Van Hollen, was a good fit for my 
team and a good prospect to help us move forward. I gave MJ Kenny his 
opportunity, and I am sure glad I did. He flourished.
  In one year he moved from legislative correspondent to legislative 
aid to becoming a key part of my floor team. In every job he has done 
for me, MJ has been a steady, reliable partner. Even in difficult 
times, he works long hours without complaint and with grit and good 
humor.
  In college, he studied history. In the U.S. Senate and on this floor 
for the last 9 years, he has not only witnessed history, he has helped 
to shape it. I couldn't ask for more in a staff.
  I suspect that some of what MJ knows about patience and perseverance 
he learned as a lifelong, long-suffering Baltimore Orioles fan. It is 
like being a Chicago Cubs fan. Among his treasured possessions on his 
desk is a bobblehead of Manny Machado, the former O's third baseman and 
Golden Glove winner. Just as Manny Machado left the O's, MJ Kenny is 
leaving the Senate at the end of this week. I want to wish him 
continued success and thank him again for being such an important part 
of my team over the years.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, first of all, I want to thank MJ also, on 
behalf of Senator Durbin. His staff does a

[[Page S2416]]

great job, and we always enjoy working with them. MJ, enjoy your new 
endeavor in life.


                     Nomination of David Bernhardt

  Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the nomination of Mr. David 
Bernhardt to be the Secretary of the Interior. The Committee on Energy 
and Natural Resources voted to report David Bernhardt's nomination to 
be the Secretary of the Interior last week by a vote 14 to 6. Members 
on both sides held and continue to hold strong feelings on Mr. 
Bernhardt's nomination. Both sides have scrutinized his record 
carefully, as we should, considering the enormous responsibility 
entrusted to the Secretary of the Interior.
  Whether it be payments for miners for their healthcare benefits, 
processing permits for the privilege of energy production on Federal 
lands, or ensuring the U.S. Geological Survey can conduct its critical 
work of collecting and analyzing data on our changing climate, the 
Department of the Interior has a huge amount of responsibility and 
diverse jurisdiction. Furthermore, the Secretary of the Interior is the 
guardian of our Nation's greatest natural resources.
  The Department of the Interior manages nearly half a billion acres of 
Federal land, or about 20 percent of the Nation's land. One of every 5 
acres in the United States is under their control. These lands include 
some of our most special places--our national parks, trails, seashores, 
and historic sites. In addition, the Department manages another 1.7 
billion acres of submerged land on the Outer Continental Shelf.
  The Department of the Interior is also the largest supplier of water 
in the 17 Western States. It manages nearly 500 dams and over 300 
reservoirs that supply water to over 31 million people and irrigate 10 
million acres of farmland.
  Furthermore, nearly 20 percent of energy we use is produced on lands 
managed by the Secretary. These include not just coal and oil and 
natural gas but also hydropower, geothermal, solar, and wind energy. In 
addition, the Secretary of the Interior manages our trust obligations 
to nearly 600 federally recognized Indian Tribes and provides services 
to nearly 2 million Native Americans.
  By any measure, the job of Secretary of the Interior is an enormous 
and special responsibility.
  As a former Governor, I have always believed that an executive is 
entitled to deference when selecting his or her team, as long as the 
candidates are qualified and ethical. I have carefully reviewed Mr. 
Bernhardt's experience and his qualifications. I met with him twice 
before his hearing and spoke with him again by phone afterwards. I 
questioned him extensively about his willingness to be a good steward 
of our Nation's greatest natural treasures--our national parks, 
monuments, and historical sites. I questioned him about his 
responsibility to balance our resource needs with environmental 
protection and fairness to the owners of our public lands, which are 
all of us, the American people. I spoke to him about the need to make 
sure that those who are granted the privilege of using our public lands 
leave them in better condition than they found them.
  Based on my extensive discussion with him and my review of his 
record, I believe Mr. Bernhardt is clearly qualified to serve as 
Secretary. He held senior positions in the Department for 8 years 
during the Bush administration, including over 2 years as the 
Solicitor, which is the third highest office in the Department. He has 
served as the Deputy Secretary for the past 2 years and as Acting 
Secretary since January. He knows the Interior Department inside and 
out, and he is well-versed on all of the issues that come before it. He 
clearly has the knowledge and experience to serve as Secretary.
  Now, the opposition to Mr. Bernhardt's nomination comes not from any 
lack of knowledge or experience but from questions about appearances of 
conflicts of interest arising from his law practice prior to being 
confirmed as Deputy Secretary. I had extensive conversations with Mr. 
Bernhardt about these potential conflicts of interest and his 
compliance with ethics laws and regulations. I reminded him that he 
takes the same oath I take--public service, not self-service. We also 
spoke about the importance of ensuring a culture at the Department of 
the Interior that reflects the highest level of ethical compliance and 
integrity.
  Based on my extensive discussion with Mr. Bernhardt and the 
assurances he gave me, I voted for him in the Committee on Energy and 
Natural Resources last week, and I will support his nomination when we 
vote on the floor to confirm him.
  But I said before the vote in the Energy and Natural Resources 
Committee--and I will say it again--that I expect him and the 
Department to hold itself to the highest ethical standards because I 
assured him I will. Mr. Bernhardt must work to ensure the commitment to 
ethical and scientific integrity, and I intend to work with him and his 
staff persistently to ensure this is the case.
  Our parks and public lands, our scenic beauty, and our fish and 
wildlife resources are important to everybody and especially to the 
people of West Virginia, which I represent, and to the people of all of 
our States and to the Nation's outdoor recreation economy. West 
Virginians count on the Secretary of the Interior as the guardian of 
our public lands, as I know you do, Mr. President, in Louisiana.
  The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which I am privileged 
to serve on as ranking member, has a lot of work to do. We have to 
address the park maintenance backlog. We have to fully fund the Land 
and Water Conservation Fund, ensure that companies granted the 
privilege of developing public energy and mineral resources pay the 
royalties they owe the taxpayers and nothing less, and see that our 
public lands and resources are wisely managed and protected.
  I intend to work with Mr. Bernhardt on these important issues. I have 
made it clear to him that I expect him to put his extensive experience 
and knowledge of these issues to work for all the American people and 
to execute his responsibilities in a manner that ensures that our 
public lands are not just being maintained but improved for the benefit 
of generations to come.
  For that reason, I will vote to confirm him to this important 
position, and I ask your consideration for the same.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.


                                 ICBMs

  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, recently I came to the Senate floor to 
speak about the airborne leg of the nuclear triad. Today I rise to 
discuss the value of another leg of the triad--our intercontinental 
ballistic missiles, or ICBMs.
  Following the brief deployment of the Atlas and Titan ICBM weapon 
systems in the early 1960s, the United States deployed the first 
Minuteman ICBMs in support of the strategic deterrence mission. Over 
half a century later, today the United States deploys 400 Minuteman III 
ICBMs, each carrying a single warhead. While the Minuteman III system 
was deployed in the 1970s, much of its technology dates to the previous 
decade. The system was originally designed for a 10-year service life 
but has sustained an exceptionally high availability rate and is 
expected to remain in service through the 2030s, thanks to a series of 
life-extension programs. But we cannot extend the current system beyond 
2030, and that is why we are now developing its replacement--the ground 
based strategic deterrent. Doing so will require resources in a budget-
constrained environment and, perhaps for that reason, we are hearing 
renewed calls to abandon the triad and cut our ICBM force. However, 
this step would be foolish and dangerous to the United States and to 
our allied security for several reasons.
  First, ICBMs are highly reliable and always ready. That is why they 
are regarded as the most responsive leg of the triad. Unlike bombers 
and submarines, which may require time to arm or maneuver, the ICBM 
force provides the President the ability to promptly respond if 
deterrence fails. This virtue is often mischaracterized as a source of 
risk.
  The system's rapid response is described as a ``hair trigger'' by 
critics who often paint chilling pictures of 400 ICBMs automatically 
flying to their

[[Page S2417]]

targets and causing Armageddon, either by accident or as a result of 
cyber interference.
  I want to be clear that there is no ``hair trigger'' about our ICBMs. 
We have many safeguards put in place to ensure the system operates only 
as intended. For example, our ICBMs are actually targeted on the open-
ocean spaces as a means of ensuring that, even if all of our safeguards 
failed and a missile somehow managed to launch by accident, it would 
land in the ocean and not accidentally start a nuclear war. The critics 
conveniently fail to mention this.
  Former STRATCOM commander General Robert Kehler recently testified 
before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he said: ``It isn't the 
same thing at all as thinking about a Wild West hair trigger . . . . 
It's not the way it works.''
  The high readiness of the ICBM force also provides an important hedge 
against uncertainty. Since we no longer maintain bombers on nuclear 
alert, the ICBMs and the submarines reinforce each other so that a 
technical failure in one leg of the triad does not render our day-to-
day deterrent inoperative.
  Those who advocate for doing away with the ICBM force must account 
for the fact that, under their proposals, in such moments there would 
not have been an additional leg of the triad to ensure our Nation isn't 
left without a nuclear deterrent. As our nuclear forces continue to 
age, reliability challenges will only grow.
  Critics often describe the ICBM force as being vulnerable, even going 
so far as to call our missiles sitting ducks. It is true that silos are 
not hidden, they aren't mobile, and they can be targeted. But, again, 
this is a misunderstanding of what actually is the strength of the ICBM 
force.
  In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General 
Hyten stated that the ICBM force ``creates the most significant 
targeting problem for an adversary, because there are 400 separate 
targets across the United States. All would have to be independently 
targeted by an adversary. That targeting problem is hugely problematic 
and creates a significant advantage for us.''
  Simply put, destroying 400 hardened and geographically dispersed 
silos is an extremely difficult proposition. Only Russia possesses the 
capability to destroy our ICBM force. No other nation on Earth can do 
so, and it would greatly diminish Russia's arsenal in the process. That 
is not a vulnerability. As General Hyten clearly states, it is a 
significant advantage for our Nation.
  For these reasons and many others, Republican and Democratic 
administrations alike have maintained ICBMs as part of our nuclear 
forces for decades. The role of ICBMs has been reconsidered and 
reviewed many times, and their value has been repeatedly reaffirmed in 
a bipartisan manner. For example, last November the report by the 
bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission stated that the triad 
presents insurmountable targeting challenges for adversaries, imposes 
disproportionate costs on adversary defenses, and hedges against 
unforeseen geopolitical or technological changes.
  Mr. President, I will close by saying that our ICBM forces make key 
contributions to our overall nuclear forces and, as Members on both 
sides of the aisle agree, they are an essential ingredient to the 
bedrock of our national security--our nuclear deterrent.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.


                               Venezuela

  Mr. SCOTT of Florida. Good afternoon. The crisis in Venezuela is a 
crisis in America. Senator Rubio, Congressman Diaz-Balart, and I have 
been talking about this for years and worked with the White House on a 
comprehensive strategy. More than 200,000 Venezuelans live in Florida, 
and their concerns are our concerns.
  Make no mistake--this is a crisis. It is a humanitarian crisis that 
threatens the lives of the people of Venezuela and has created a flood 
of refugees numbering in the millions. It is also a crisis that 
threatens the safety and security of our allies in Latin America and in 
the United States of America.
  The dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro and the creeping influence and 
military presence of our global adversaries represent a clear and 
present danger to the entire Western Hemisphere. There are some who 
will say that this is not our fight, that the millions of Venezuelans 
suffering 2,000 miles away are not our concern. Some have criticized 
the mere mention of the crisis in Venezuela by those like myself as 
American imperialism or a U.S.-backed coup. I reject that. This is our 
fight. Freedom and democracy in Latin America is our fight. I remind 
these critics that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is 
for good people to do nothing. We cannot let evil triumph in Venezuela. 
It would be a failure of leadership with disastrous consequences.
  There is only one option left to get aid to the people of Venezuela. 
It is something that no one is willing to talk about. It is becoming 
clear that we will have to consider the use of American military assets 
to deliver aid. Maduro and his thugs have left us no choice.
  I applaud President Trump and his administration for taking bold 
action by recognizing Juan Guaido as the legitimate President of 
Venezuela and organizing the international community to do the same. 
The sanctions implemented by this administration against the Maduro 
regime and its puppet masters in Havana reflect their commitment to 
freedom and democracy in Latin America. Yet Maduro remains in power, 
the people of Venezuela continue to suffer, and the influence of Cuba, 
Russia, China, and international terrorist organizations grows.
  We must do more, but in order to understand where we go from here, we 
need to look at history. Hugo Chavez might have been elected 
democratically, but he never intended to govern democratically. He 
built a socialist dictatorship by hollowing out all the democratic 
institutions: the constitution, the electoral system, and the courts. 
He made civil society and the business sector bend to his will or face 
elimination. He nationalized entire sectors of the economy and used 
them to pay off his cronies. He took over the oil sector and made the 
national energy company his piggy bank. He made common cause with our 
enemies--most notably, the Castro regime. Cuba received and continues 
to receive free oil from Venezuela and in return provides political and 
internal security operatives. In other words, Cuba provided and is 
still providing military thugs to help stop freedom.
  Chavez allowed his regime to engage in illicit trafficking of drugs 
and people. He cooperated with Middle Eastern terrorist organizations 
like Hezbollah and the terrorist state of Iran. This cooperation has 
only intensified under Chavez's successor, Maduro.
  The path of socialism chosen by the Chavistas inevitably led to a 
failed state that relies on bad actors for survival. The result is one 
of the worst humanitarian crises in our hemisphere's history.
  We cannot ignore the impact the socialist policies of Chavez and 
Maduro has had on the people of Venezuela. Nine out of ten households 
say they don't have enough money to buy food. That is socialism. Eighty 
percent of children under 5 are in some state of malnutrition. That is 
socialism. Inflation is over 10 million percent this year, and their 
currency is worthless. What does that mean to the average person? A 
bundle of carrots costs 3 million bolivars. A dozen eggs costs $150 
USD. That is socialism. Venezuela has the highest murder rate in the 
world. That is socialism.
  More than 3.5 million refugees--about 12 percent of the population--
have fled to nearby countries because they can't get food, water, 
medicine, or safety from their government. Two million more Venezuelans 
are expected to flee before the year is out, with Colombia taking the 
brunt of this refugee crisis. Colombian resources are strained, as they 
do all they can to help the refugees fleeing persecution, starvation, 
and sickness, while the Maduro regime blocks aid caravans, sets them on 
fire, and continues to cooperate with the narcotrafficking rebels that 
plague Colombia.
  I want to thank my good friend President Duque for all he is doing. 
Other nations in the region, such as Brazil and Peru, have also chipped 
in, accepting hundreds of thousands of refugees.

[[Page S2418]]

  For weeks, millions of Venezuelans have been left without running 
water and amid a series of massive blackouts. Journalists report scenes 
that are now a part of the daily life for Venezuelans: dozens sleeping 
in line for their turn at a well in one of the city's biggest slums; 
three men tossing an old paint bucket tied with ropes down a well 
hoping to hit water; people parked by the highway, waiting their turn 
to place bottles under small streams that run down the Avila Mountain.
  Many Venezuelans call these conditions a genocide because the 
violence and starvation are being imposed on the civilian population as 
a conscious policy of Maduro and his Cuban puppet masters. Dictators 
like Maduro recognize weakness as an opportunity. The hungrier and 
sicker his people are, the easier they are to repress. This is the kind 
of evil we are facing in our hemisphere. But one thing is clear: Maduro 
underestimates his people. They may be oppressed, but they are not 
weak. They may be hungry, but their hunger is for freedom, and they are 
making their voices heard. We need to listen.

  Nicholas Maduro is an illegitimate President. His election was a 
sham, just like the elections in Cuba and Russia--a complete sham and a 
joke. Dozens of countries across Latin America and Europe have 
recognized Juan Guaido's right to the interim Presidency. As President 
of the National Assembly--the only democratic body left in Venezuela--
Juan Guaido has the right and the duty to preside over new elections 
and the return of democracy.
  The people still in power in Venezuela are corrupt bureaucrats and 
military officers engaged in embezzlement, narcotrafficking, and human 
rights abuses. Since being tested by uprisings in 2014 and 2017, the 
regime has reinforced a repressive apparatus that uses armed mobile 
civilian gangs known as colectivos, specialized police units, and anti-
riot forces of the National Guard to terrorize and control the civilian 
population through arbitrary arrests, beatings, detentions, and 
killings.
  The Maduro regime has gone so far as to arrest the Chief of Staff for 
Interim President Guaido, Roberto Marrero. I met his wife Romy on 
Monday in Miami. She fled the country 3 weeks ago with their 7-year-old 
son, right before Maduro's thugs destroyed their home. The majority of 
the armed forces want change in their country, but they live under the 
repressive forces of control, threats, intimidation, and violence.
  Russian mercenaries protect Maduro because he can't trust his own 
troops, and the Russian Government has provided military advisers and 
specialists to maintain the Maduro regime's defenses, including 
surface-to-air missile systems. Russia has also sent nuclear-capable 
bombers to Venezuela, in violation of the Venezuelan Constitution, to 
intimidate the United States and other countries in the region.
  In short, Russia is expanding its military presence in Venezuela to 
prop up a regime hostile to the United States and create a foothold in 
the Western Hemisphere. Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has Russia 
taken such an aggressive step to expand their influence in the region.
  Meanwhile, China evades sanctions we have placed on the regime by 
investing in the country and extending generous loans to prop up the 
dictatorship in Caracas.
  The United States faces a serious national security threat and a 
humanitarian crisis at our doorstep. This is becoming as dangerous for 
us as the Syrian civil war has been for Europe, Israel, and Jordan. 
Left unchecked, it will destabilize our regional allies and provide a 
base of operations for our enemies.
  Today, I am urging the administration, Congress, and the American 
people to see the crisis for what it is--a rising tide of social and 
political collapse encouraged and funded by our enemies. The socialist 
dictatorship of Nicholas Maduro and his Cuban, Russian, Chinese, and 
narcotrafficking allies do not care how many millions of Venezuelans 
suffer and die. He is determined to remain in power, sucking the life 
out of a once-vibrant nation and creating an outpost for adversaries 
and a safe harbor for terrorists intent on harming Americans.
  We cannot let this stand. We will be judged for our response to this 
crisis--not just the humanitarian crisis but the threat to our 
hemisphere. The credibility and security of the United States is on the 
line. The question is not whether we can tolerate this crisis that is 
worsening daily--we surely cannot. The question is, When will we act to 
end it? Hostile regimes like Russia, China, and Cuba are digging in. 
They are training killers, distributing weapons, and placing military 
assets in Venezuela. Their message is clear: They don't intend to give 
up without a fight.
  History has proven that permitting the former Soviet Union to 
establish a presence in Cuba perpetrated a six-decade, totalitarian 
dictatorship that has exported instability to the region and worked 
against U.S. national security interests. Our safety, national 
security, and the peace of our hemisphere demand that we take action. 
We cannot allow this murderous regime to continue spreading misery 
within its borders and into neighboring countries.
  There is a democratic government-in-waiting in the form of National 
Assembly and Interim President Juan Guaido. U.S. policy relies on 
rallying his internal support and forcing those around Maduro to see 
their future as brighter if they defect and support the movement toward 
freedom and democracy. There are steps we can take to accelerate this 
process.
  First, we must follow through on American policy and indict regime 
leaders for human rights violations and for narcotrafficking and money 
laundering crimes.
  The region's strongest supporters do not care if the people suffer, 
but they do care if their stolen fortunes and their freedom are at 
risk. We must make clear to them that their future is in jeopardy if 
they continue to support Maduro and interference from Cuba, Russia, and 
China. There will be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. The United States 
will give no quarter to those who support the brutal Maduro 
dictatorship instead of freedom and democracy for the people of 
Venezuela.
  Second, we must break the hold the Cuban Government has on Venezuela.
  It is imperative that the United States fully implement the sanctions 
contained in the LIBERTAD Act to allow U.S. nationals to sue over 
property confiscated by the Cuban Government and to deny entry to those 
who traffic in stolen property. Cuba cannot continue to freely incite 
violence in Venezuela while profiting from the use of stolen property 
and human trafficking. Chavez and Maduro kept the Cuban regime afloat 
for decades, and now Cuban operators are keeping the Maduro regime in 
power. It is time we recognize that these problems are one and the 
same.
  Third, we must encourage our allies in the region to join us in this 
effort.
  President Trump has repeatedly called on regional counterparts to 
exert more leadership, and he has a right to do so. The United States 
has implemented strong sanctions on Venezuelan leaders, on oil, and on 
trade. Our allies must join us in this effort.
  The Lima Group, made up of our friends in the region, has given broad 
support to the strategy of isolating the Maduro regime in favor of 
Interim President Guaido, urging additional sanctions. That is welcome, 
but they should not rule out the possibility that they need to pursue 
more aggressive means to secure this threat. Their security and 
economic well-being are also at risk. They should remember that the 
Maduro regime and its supporters want Venezuela's neighbors to live in 
fear. Even before this crisis began in earnest, Colombia and Guyana 
faced regular interventions and threats from the Venezuelan regime. 
Maduro and his supporters do not want peaceful relations with other 
countries except on their own terms. I am quite sure that Cuba, China, 
and Russia do not have the best interests of the region in mind.
  I was glad to see the Organization of American States accept the 
appointment of the designated permanent representative of the National 
Assembly, Gustavo Tarre Briceno. Consistent with the Inter-American 
Democratic Charter, the Organization of American States must expel 
Maduro's representative. The Maduro regime is not a legitimate 
government and has no right to send a representative to the very body 
in the Western Hemisphere charged with protecting and promoting 
democracy in the region.

[[Page S2419]]

  Fourth, we must not appear weak in the face of Chinese, Russian, and 
Cuban determination to prop up Maduro.
  Our adversaries question our will and determination. Put simply, they 
don't think we are serious. We should disabuse them of that notion. All 
options, including the use of American military assets, must remain on 
the table. If sanctions can cripple the Maduro regime, we must continue 
on that path, but so far, sanctions alone are not stopping the Maduro 
regime, and the United States needs to start considering the use of 
military assets to bring aid to the millions of starving and sick 
Venezuelans. I call on all of our allies and those supporting Guaido to 
help us in this effort.
  Let me repeat that. The United States must consider the use of 
military assets to bring aid to the people of Venezuela, but that 
doesn't end the conversation. If embargoes and blockades can help, we 
should consider them. If military force on the part of the United 
States and our allies in the region is necessary to rid us of the 
scourge of Maduro and his thugs, then we cannot rule it out. If the 
Venezuelan people, through their elected National Assembly and their 
own laws and Constitution, request assistance to restore constitutional 
government and democracy, we should be ready to answer that call. The 
Maduro regime has not been broken yet and can count on billions of 
dollars looted from the Venezuelan people and generated from 20 years 
of narcotrafficking.

  The Cubans, Russians, and Chinese see Venezuela as an economic 
opportunity, but, more importantly, they see a chance to intimidate the 
United States--to be a thorn in our side. This is a ``great power'' 
confrontation and one that our national defense strategy might not 
explicitly contemplate. Yet it is a confrontation we must be willing to 
meet with decisive action.
  The Venezuelan people want change, and even now they think of 
survival as much as they think of a democratic future. They are looking 
to the future. They are looking to the United States and democratic 
countries to help them. We must answer that call.
  I yield the floor.


                     nomination of david bernhardt

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today in opposition to the 
nomination of David Bernhardt to be Secretary of the Interior.
  I opposed his nomination as Deputy Secretary of the Interior because 
of his numerous conflicts of interest as a former lobbyist.
  Bernhardt's tenure, both as Deputy Secretary and now the Acting 
Secretary at Interior, has since confirmed my initial concerns and 
given rise to new ones.
  As a former partner at a powerful DC lobbying and law firm, Bernhardt 
represented numerous oil, gas, mining, and water companies with ongoing 
business before the Department that he now oversees.
  The Washington Post recently reported that he has at least 22 known 
conflicts of interest, the most of any of President Trump's nominees.
  This is particularly concerning given that Mr. Bernhardt's recusals 
mandated by President Trump will expire in August, and he has refused 
to commit to continuing recusing himself beyond then on any issues that 
could benefit former clients.
  In fact, during his recent confirmation hearing, Bernhardt stated 
that recusal isn't ``really is the best strategy''--an unacceptable 
stance.
  By refusing to recuse himself, Bernhardt has shown a potential 
willingness to put his former clients' needs before the public good.
  One troubling example is his relationship with Cadiz, a company that 
wants to profit by draining a critical aquifer in the Mojave Desert.
  Before coming to the Department of the Interior, Mr. Bernhardt was a 
partner at and led the natural resources division of Brownstein Hyatt 
Farber Schreck, Cadiz's lobbying firm that retains a financial stake in 
the project.
  This project would destroy the treasured California desert that I 
have fought my entire Senate career to protect.
  In order to sell the water, Cadiz needs to build a more than 40-mile 
pipeline through the desert to connect to an aqueduct.
  Several months after Bernhardt was nominated as Deputy Secretary, the 
Department of Interior temporarily suspended its own solicitor's 
opinion requiring Cadiz to get Federal permits to build its pipeline 
along a railroad right-of-way.
  That solicitor's opinion was ultimately reversed 2 months after he 
was confirmed, completely removing the Federal permitting authority for 
this project.
  The timing of this decision is extremely troubling, particularly in 
light of the Interior Department's own independent science that has 
repeatedly questioned the sustainability of this project.
  The U.S. Geological Survey, which is part of the Interior Department, 
stated in 2002 and confirmed in 2017 that the natural recharge rate of 
the aquifer is only 2,000 to 10,000 acre-feet per year. Cadiz proposes 
to withdraw water at more than 50,000 acre-feet, or 16 billion gallons, 
per year for 50 years.
  Taking that much water would rob the desert of its most precious 
natural resource and harm the surrounding flora and fauna.
  Now the Federal Government, despite its own science saying Cadiz 
would take too much water and legal opinions requiring Federal review, 
has removed itself from the permitting process.
  Even the mere appearance of favoritism or special favors for Cadiz is 
extremely inappropriate and a concern with this nomination.
  I am also concerned that throughout his tenure at Interior, Bernhardt 
has shown a willingness to ignore the public's interest for political 
purposes.
  During President Trump's government shutdown--the longest in U.S. 
history--Acting Secretary Bernhardt kept most of the national parks 
open to avoid public backlash for the shutdown.
  Left open but severally understaffed, major damage occurred to parks 
across the country. Few places felt the impact of his poor decision 
more than Joshua Tree National Park.
  Iconic Joshua trees were cut down, cultural artifacts stolen or 
destroyed, and pristine desert habitat marred by vehicle traffic.
  I have twice requested from Mr. Bernhardt a full accounting of the 
damage and costs of his decision and have not received a response.
  I am also deeply concerned by steps Interior has recently taken to 
expand offshore oil drilling, despite bipartisan opposition from 
coastal States.
  Californians don't want new offshore drilling along our coast. We 
still remember the horror of the 1969 Santa Barbara spill, when an 
offshore oil rig leaked more than 100,000 barrels, the third largest 
oil spill behind the Exxon-Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters.
  There has been no new drilling in State waters since that spill and 
no new drilling in Federal waters off the coast of California since 
1984.
  Now, the Department of the Interior is openly discussing the option 
of restarting such drilling.
  Bernhardt's ties to the fossil fuel industry give me zero confidence 
that the Interior Department will reach the right conclusion if he is 
confirmed.
  For the reasons I have stated, I cannot vote to confirm Mr. 
Bernhardt.
  Should he be confirmed, I again ask that he fully recuse himself from 
all matters related to former clients during his tenure as a lobbyist.
  I urge my colleagues to carefully consider this nomination before 
voting.
  Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up 
to 6 minutes prior to the scheduled vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I rise today to oppose the President's 
nominee for Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt. Once again, 
instead of draining the swamp, President Trump is flooding the swamp 
with a whole new breed of corporate-sponsored creatures. Already, we 
have a former coal lobbyist running the Environmental Protection 
Agency. We have chemical lobbyists running the EPA's chemical safety 
programs. And unless we put the brakes on Mr. Bernhardt's nomination, 
soon we will have a fossil fuel lobbyist running the Department of 
Interior.
  For a State like New Jersey, which depends on a healthy, vibrant 
coastal

[[Page S2420]]

economy, Mr. Bernhardt's extensive ties to the fossil fuel industry are 
troubling, to say the least.
  The Secretary of the Interior is charged with the stewardship of 
public lands and waters and safeguarding our natural resources for 
generations to come. Yet the Washington Post has reported that Mr. 
Bernhardt has so many conflicts of interest that he must carry a card 
around just to keep track of them. Think about that. Mr. Bernhardt has 
such deep ties to fossil fuel companies with business pending before 
the Interior Department that he cannot keep track of them.
  How Mr. Bernhardt would approach his position if confirmed as 
Secretary of Interior is no mystery. During his time as Acting 
Secretary, he has gained a reputation as a general in the Trump 
administration's war on science. Reports suggest that he has suppressed 
scientific evidence in order to benefit corporate interests at the 
expense of environmental protection.
  Rather than be responsive to Congress about our concerns, Mr. 
Bernhardt has displayed a stunning lack of transparency. Like many 
Trump nominees, he has failed to respond to basic inquiries from 
Congress. For example, on March 20, I sent a letter--along with Senator 
Feinstein, Senator Merkley, and 15 of our colleagues--requesting that 
the Acting Secretary respond to a series of questions about his views 
on offshore drilling. With his hearing in the Energy and Natural 
Resources Committee quickly approaching, we asked Mr. Bernhardt to 
respond prior to coming before Congress. This way, committee members 
could have at least a baseline understanding of his views while 
crafting their questions. We received no response.
  Mr. Bernhardt then came and testified before the committee. He could 
have used the opportunity to enlighten us about his views on offshore 
drilling. He chose not to. Now, 3 weeks later, we still lack answers, 
even as the majority seeks to confirm him as Secretary of the Interior.
  When an individual seeking confirmation by the Senate refuses to 
answer basic questions posed by 18 Senators, that should be a red flag 
for all of us. The questions that were asked weren't technical. They 
weren't ``gotcha'' questions. They were straightforward questions about 
one of the most fundamental jobs the Secretary of the Interior has--the 
stewardship of our Nation's coastal waters.
  We asked Acting Secretary Bernhardt: Do you support opening up any or 
all of the Atlantic Ocean to offshore oil and gas exploration, 
development, or production? No response.
  We posed the same question about the Pacific, the Arctic, and the 
eastern Gulf of Mexico. Again, no response.
  We asked the Acting Secretary if he would commit to meeting with the 
Governors of States in which he proposes to drill for oil. No response.
  We asked if he would commit to meaningful public hearings in States 
impacted by offshore oil drilling. No response.
  We asked how he could reconcile the opposition to offshore drilling 
of every Atlantic and Pacific Governor--Democrat and Republican--with 
President Trump's goal of opening all of those waters to drilling. 
Again, we got no response.
  We asked whether the Acting Secretary could confirm to us that the 
Trump administration's revisions to the well control rule--the one 
major safety reform put in place after the Deepwater Horizon disaster--
wouldn't denigrate safety. No response.
  I will not risk it. I will not risk New Jersey's $44 billion tourism 
industry. I will not risk over $800 billion in coastal property values. 
I will not risk a recreation and commercial fishing industry that 
supports 50,000 jobs in my State. I will not risk the economies of 
shore towns up and down the coast of New Jersey and the entire 
Atlantic. I will not risk the lives and livelihoods that depend on 
clean coastal waters because that is what we are risking if we vote for 
Mr. Bernhardt.
  I cannot fathom going home to my constituents and telling them that I 
gave the nominee for Secretary of the Interior a free pass on basic 
questions about the job he is applying for.
  With the radio silence from this nominee on offshore drilling, I have 
no reason to believe Mr. Bernhardt will deviate from the path chartered 
by this administration. Every Member of this Chamber knows what that 
path looks like.
  We have seen the weakening of protections put in place after the BP 
oilspill, endangering the safety of workers and the livelihood of our 
vibrant coastlines. We will see the start of seismic blasting in search 
of oil up and down our coasts without any concern for the devastating 
impact on wildlife and our fisheries. We will see the finalization of 
President Trump's offshore drilling plan--one that would open the 
entire Atlantic Ocean, the entire Pacific Ocean, the entire Gulf of 
Mexico, and the entire Arctic Ocean to offshore drilling. If this plan 
comes to fruition, sooner or later we will see another crisis of the 
magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon.
  My friends, my colleagues, this is not a matter of if; it is a matter 
of when. When that day comes, every Member of this Chamber who 
supported David Bernhardt is going to have to answer to their 
constituents, to the shore businesses who see their livelihoods washed 
away in a slick of oil, to the fishermen who are suddenly out of a job 
through no fault of their own, to coastal towns that see their 
communities and the tourism and recreation industries their economies 
depend on wiped out.
  I refuse to take that risk. A vote for David Bernhardt is a vote for 
offshore drilling. I ask my colleagues to oppose his nomination.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, all postcloture time 
has expired.
  The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Bernhardt 
nomination?
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Georgia (Mr. Perdue).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Booker) 
and the Senator from California (Ms. Harris) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lankford). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 56, nays 41, as follows:

                       [Rollcall Vote No. 77 Ex.]

                                YEAS--56

     Alexander
     Barrasso
     Blackburn
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Braun
     Burr
     Capito
     Cassidy
     Collins
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Cramer
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Fischer
     Gardner
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hawley
     Heinrich
     Hoeven
     Hyde-Smith
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johnson
     Kennedy
     King
     Lankford
     Lee
     Manchin
     McConnell
     McSally
     Moran
     Murkowski
     Paul
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Romney
     Rounds
     Rubio
     Sasse
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)
     Shelby
     Sinema
     Sullivan
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Wicker
     Young

                                NAYS--41

     Baldwin
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Brown
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Coons
     Cortez Masto
     Duckworth
     Durbin
     Feinstein
     Gillibrand
     Hassan
     Hirono
     Jones
     Kaine
     Klobuchar
     Leahy
     Markey
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Murphy
     Murray
     Peters
     Reed
     Rosen
     Sanders
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Shaheen
     Smith
     Stabenow
     Tester
     Udall
     Van Hollen
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wyden

                             NOT VOTING--3

     Booker
     Harris
     Perdue
  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motion to 
reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the 
President will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

                          ____________________