STRENGTHENING AMERICA'S SECURITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST ACT OF 2019--Motion to Proceed; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 5
(Senate - January 10, 2019)

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[Pages S115-S128]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                               to Proceed

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

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

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.

                           Government Funding

  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, now, President Trump is right about one 
thing. There is a crisis in America, and I want the President to know I 
agree with him, but I would note it is not fictitious hordes of illegal 
immigrants crashing into our southern border. That is nothing more than 
the imaginary invasion of a President obsessed with constructing a 
wasteful monument to himself; the obsession of a President who, long 
before the Trump shutdown, began resorting to misinformation and 
stoking fear among the American people for political gain.

[[Page S116]]

  There is a crisis in America, but it is not the crisis the President 
wants us to believe. It is a crisis at the kitchen table of Americans.
  Hundreds of thousands of American families are preparing to miss 
their first paycheck through no fault of their own. These families are 
trying to figure out how they are going to make ends meet, how they 
will pay their mortgage or heating bills or, God forbid, whether they 
can afford both food for their table and medicine for their children 
next week. That is not fiction. That is a real choice in America today. 
That is the crisis in America.
  These are the adjustments President Trump has glibly said our 
country's public servants are ``willing'' to make on behalf of his 
wasteful border wall; incidentally, a wall the President repeatedly 
promised--gave his word--that Mexico would pay for.
  I have been privileged to be here for a long time, but in my 44 years 
in the U.S. Senate, I have never seen something so tone deaf from a 
President of the United States of either party. Even during his address 
to the Nation on Tuesday night--which was more of an exercise in data-
distorting demagoguery than informing the American people--President 
Trump refused to acknowledge the real pain the Trump shutdown is 
  Dozens of Vermonters have contacted my office to share how they are 
suffering under the Trump shutdown. These Vermonters are urging the 
President and my Republican colleagues in the Senate to stop playing 
politics with their lives and reopen the Federal Government. These are 
not just people who are Federal employees; these are people who have 
contracts with the Federal Government. These are people who have to 
rely on the Federal Government being open.
  I will give you one example. Like many Americans affected by the 
Trump shutdown, one of the Vermonters who contacted my office is a 
veteran. He spent more than two decades serving his country in the 
Navy. He is now a Federal employee in charge of more than a dozen 
people who are coming to him with questions he cannot answer.
  He writes:

       I have run out of words to tell the 15 employees who work 
     for me when asked how they are supposed to provide food, 
     heat, and electricity for their families here in Vermont.

  Keep in mind, the weather in Vermont is projected to drop well below 
zero this weekend with enough snow to close down all of Washington.
  This Navy veteran continues:

       We are real people, with real families, and real bills. 
     Creditors do not ``understand'' [as the President claimed 
     they would]. They want their money.

  Try to explain to the bank why you cannot pay your mortgage this 
month. Go to the bank and say: Well, the President of the United States 
is throwing a tantrum, and he is holding my paycheck hostage. Try 
explaining that to the bank. Try explaining that to your children.
  Another Vermonter wrote to me expressing concern for his 88-year-old 
aunt. She recently moved to a new nursing home to be closer to the 
family. Because the phones at the Treasury Department are going 
unanswered, approval for the transfer of his aunt's benefits from one 
facility to another has been delayed. Thankfully, we heard that the 
transfer had been approved just this morning, but that doesn't detract 
from the uncertainty and the anxiety caused for this family.
  The new home allowed her to stay while we in Washington were sorting 
out this mess caused by President Trump, but the bills are piling up, 
and the delays are placing a burden on what is a small local nursing 
home that has to pay its bills, including when it is 5 below zero.
  The Vermonter said in his letter: ``To be sure, we do not believe 
that capitulation to the Republican demand for the Wall is the answer; 
yet, the toll on the people of holding the government hostage to such 
outrageous demands must not be ignored.''
  Finally, today, let me share the story of a Vermonter who wrote to me 
about her sister. Her sister joined the U.S. Forest Service. In the 
wake of the recent hurricanes and typhoons, she used a government 
credit card issued in her name, following orders to travel with the 
service to assist in the aftermath of these disasters. But now the 
bills for her official travel--travel she was ordered to take by the 
Federal Government--are due. Guess what. There is no one at the Forest 
Service to pay them. She is now stuck with more than $5,500 in 
government bills in her name for carrying out her duties for the 
Federal Government. Now she has to pay them or risk damaging her own 
financial record.
  In her letter to me, she writes:

       This, though, is one very small story in a flood of credit 
     disasters, unpaid mortgages, Christmas debts, anxieties, and 
     uncertainties among government employees affected by the 
       I'm writing you to suggest that this kind of government 
     shutdown should not be on the negotiation table, because it 
     holds out the possibility that the suffering of the American 
     people can be used as political leverage. There are other 

  I agree. This is just a handful of stories from my small State of 
Vermont. Think of the fear and anxiety today of American families as 
they sit around the kitchen table trying to figure out what to do when 
the check does not arrive tomorrow. Think about the impact this has on 
the talented young student who is thinking about taking a pay cut to 
work for their government out of a sense of duty. Think about the 
morale of the American people who serve this country when the President 
of the United States says that their livelihoods are worth risking over 
his border wall--and I say ``border wall'' on purpose. If this were 
about border security, the men and women who protect our borders and 
patrol our coastlines would be receiving their paychecks, not forced to 
be pawns in the President's political game.
  Think about that. If this were really about border security, these 
people protecting us would be paid. The great irony of the Trump 
shutdown is that it has made our borders less safe, not more safe. 
Today, 88 percent of the Department of Homeland Security, including 
54,000 Customs and Border Patrol agents are working without pay. At our 
airports, where the overwhelming majority of the ``suspected 
terrorists'' President Trump's wall is meant to stop are actually 
intercepted--keep that in mind. He keeps talking about all of the 
suspected terrorists. They are not coming across the border. They are 
being stopped at the airports. So what has happened at our airports? 
More than 51,000 TSA agents at our airports are working without pay. 
Morale is so low that many just stopped showing up for work, leading to 
longer wait times and straining security measures.
  (Mr. SULLIVAN assumed the Chair.)
  Take another area. More than 42,000 members of our Coast Guard--and 
the Coast Guard is an effective investment in securing our borders and 
stopping the flow of drugs. But 42,000 members of our Coast Guard are 
working without pay as I stand here today. The Coast Guard are deployed 
along the coasts of the distinguished Presiding Officer's State and are 
deployed in my State.
  What does President Trump say to all of this? Nothing. It has been 
widely reported that instead of sitting down and negotiating with 
Democrats, President Trump simply stood up and walked out of the room 
like a bully yesterday, tweeting shortly afterwards, ``bye-bye.''
  Does anybody think he hadn't planned to do this before he went there? 
This is what you do on so-called reality TV. Well, this is not reality 
TV; this is reality. He should try to act Presidential.
  There is a real crisis in our country. It is a crisis at the kitchen 
table as families struggle over how they will make it through the next 
week. It is a crisis of morale as dedicated men and women who serve our 
country debate whether to stop serving our country and look instead for 
a career where they cannot be used as a political pawn. It is a crisis 
of confidence in the young men and women, doubting a career in public 
service, and it is a crisis of leadership when the President simply 
walks away so that he can send another tweet. This is a crisis created 
by one man, President Trump.
  We have bipartisan bills before us that could reopen the government. 
We have passed them in this body before by an overwhelming veto-proof 
majority. Well, I would call upon our Republican leader to bring up 
these bipartisan bills to reopen the government. It

[[Page S117]]

is time for Republicans and Democrats to join together to tell the 
President to put a stop to this self-inflicted wound on this great 
country, and he needs to hear it from both Democrats and Republicans. I 
implore Leader McConnell: Bring up H.R. 21 and H.J. Res. 1. Send them 
to the President. Send them to the President. Show the rest of the 
world that the United States is a great country and can act like a 
great country, not act like a pawn in a temper tantrum.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, first of all, I want to thank my colleague 
the Senator from Connecticut for giving me a chance to very briefly--
less than 1 minute--add my voice as well.
  I echo what my friend the Senator from Vermont has said. I want to 
commend the leadership of my friends the Senators from Maryland, Mr. 
Cardin and Mr. Van Hollen. The Commonwealth of Virginia is experiencing 
the same kinds of challenges and crisis that Maryland is. We have a 
disproportionate number of Federal employees, and I think we 
underestimate what is going to happen when these employees don't get 
their paychecks on Friday--that coming on top of countless number of 
contractors. I have small business contractors who have had to shut 
down their business because they can't make the payroll. Even reopening 
the government will not mean those businesses will come back into 
  I simply wanted--I am sorry the majority leader is not here. The 
majority leader keeps saying, you know, that we are powerless in this 
body to do anything, that the only way we can pass any legislation is 
if the President agrees.
  I do not want to overstate the case, but I would simply refer the 
majority leader to article I, section 7, clause 2 of our Constitution, 
which gives this body, if it reaches a two-thirds vote, the ability to 
override a Presidential veto and make the legislation, which has 
already passed this body by a 96 to 2 vote. If those same votes stand 
by the legislation that we all agreed to before Christmas--if it was a 
good idea before Christmas to reopen the government and continue the 
debate on national security on a separate path, how is it not a good 
idea today, when Federal employees are going without their pay?
  So the majority leader's unwillingness to allow us to vote, to have 
our voices be heard--and if that vote would in any way appear close to 
where this same body voted before Christmas, we would have a solution 
to this crisis. I simply wanted to point that out.
  I know the majority leader knows our laws and knows our Constitution, 
but I find it a little bit rich when he says that we have no ability at 
all to weigh in on this process and he refuses to take any action that 
will not meet with the agreement of this President.
  The Constitution of the United States gives the Senate the ability to 
have their voices heard. We have already voted in margins that would 
well exceed the veto requirements laid out by the Constitution. I hope 
he will give us the right to vote and let us have our voices heard and 
potentially be able to have the government of the United States 
  With that, I thank my colleagues for giving me the chance to add that 
small item to the debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The minority whip.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I was happy to yield to the Senator from 
Virginia because I know this issue of the government shutdown is 
particularly acute in Virginia and in the State of Maryland, but we 
feel it all across the United States of America.
  Just a few minutes ago, I was on the phone with Dr. Scott Gottlieb of 
the Food and Drug Administration, and I asked him: What is the impact 
of the Trump shutdown on the Food and Drug Administration? Dr. Gottlieb 
was very explicit. He said that the area that was hardest hit was food 
  Food safety is a responsibility that was assumed by the Federal 
Government over 100 years ago after publication of the novel ``The 
Jungle'' by Upton Sinclair. We decided to create a Federal Agency with 
the responsibility of inspecting food so that people across America 
would not suffer foodborne illness or worse.
  We have a great Agency, and it does a great job when it is fully 
funded operationally, but the fact is, over 40 million Americans will 
end up with a food illness in any given year, and over 3,000 will die. 
The responsibility of this Agency is not some bureaucratic function; it 
is quite literally a life-and-death responsibility.
  I asked Dr. Gottlieb: What does the government shutdown do to the 
Food and Drug Administration when it comes to food safety? He said: We 
have had to suspend operations at the highest risk food operations.
  I asked him for an illustration, and he said: For example, the 
facilities that make baby food, high-risk food inspection 
responsibilities at the FDA. He said: We decided we had to call back 
150 employees to make sure that we resume inspections at these high-
risk facilities, such as those that make baby food.
  Thank goodness.
  He told me he has a problem. Here is the problem. The people he is 
going to call back are in the lower income categories of Federal 
employees. Many of them are making a decent wage, but only a decent 
wage, and, certainly, they are not wealthy by any stretch, nor do they 
have savings to turn to.

  He said: I have to call back these folks who are literally out of 
work because of the government shutdown--some of whom have applied for 
unemployment compensation--and tell them they have to come to work. 
Commissioner Gottlieb said: When I declare them essential, that is the 
law. They have to return to work and come here for no pay.
  We have an important responsibility of the government, food safety, 
which is now being ignored--or I should say diminished--because of the 
shutdown, and as they try to resume some part of it, Commissioner 
Gottlieb has the awful responsibility of trying to pick those employees 
who will be hurt the least if they are called back to work.
  This is America. This is the U.S.A. This is a great country, perhaps 
one of the greatest in the history of the world, and this is where we 
stand when it comes to making certain that baby food is safe for 
American families across the United States. Now we have to pick and 
choose those who will be asked to come to work for nothing to perform 
that function.
  That is not the only area that he mentioned. He went on to talk about 
areas that are not covered by user fees. You see, some of the 
pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies actually pay for 
inspections. As long as user fees are coming in, the inspections 
continue. But it doesn't apply to every aspect when it comes to 
medicine. For example, when it comes to compounding medicines, which is 
done at the State level, primarily, the Federal Government has a 
responsibility in some areas to make sure that those medicines are 
safe. Do you recall a few years ago, in the State of Massachusetts, 
when the compounding standards were lax and innocent people died 
because the injections they were given were not sterile? Those are 
exactly the responsibilities of the Food and Drug Administration. They 
are the responsibilities that are not being met as they are supposed to 
be met today because of this government shutdown.
  If you think this is just about a lot of bureaucrats who are not 
showing up to work and are sitting by some swimming pool, you are dead 
wrong. These are people who are doing important things for America and 
keeping us safe in the process.
  There is also one other thing I want to mention to you. If you are in 
the midst of a clinical trial to approve a new drug--an important drug 
for someone whose life depends on it--the clinical trials continue 
through the government shutdown. But if you completed your trials and 
you want to make an application to sell this drug in America, you are 
stopped cold by this government shutdown. Commissioner Gottlieb says we 
can't processes these. Those potential lifesaving drugs have to sit on 
the shelf because of the government shutdown, which this President has 
proudly declared he believes is in the best interest of America. Tell 
that to the families who are waiting for that drug. Tell that to the 
people who labored for years to get it ready for market--that they just 
have to wait until the President is ready to move.
  I was there yesterday. I was at the meeting of the leaders with the 
President, Vice President, and members of

[[Page S118]]

his Cabinet. It was not a long meeting. I think it lasted 17 minutes. 
The President came in and distributed candy bars to the people who were 
in attendance, and then started his speech. It basically came down to 
this: Unless you are prepared to give me this wall, I will keep the 
government shut down. That is what he said. When we made it clear that 
the government shutdown should not be a bargaining chip in this 
process, the President stood up after 17 minutes, and said: This is a 
total waste, turned, and, in a fit of pique, left the room. To me, that 
was a sad moment in the history of this country, when the Chief 
Executive of the U.S. Government, a man who was elected to manage and 
lead our government, has voluntarily shut down important and critical 
functions of that government for a political purpose. He is not serving 
the American people as he was elected to serve.
  The victims, of course, will not be the President and his family, nor 
many of the people who were in that room. It will be the 800,000 
Federal employees who are victims of the shutdown. It will be half of 
them who are showing up for work today with no pay and will not receive 
a paycheck over the weekend.
  Many of us will travel home over the weekend and go through an 
airport. We will go through the TSA inspection, as all passengers do, 
to make sure we travel safely on airplanes. It is tough to look those 
TSA agents in the eye because we know what is happening. Many of them, 
barely making enough money to get by--paycheck to paycheck--will not 
receive a paycheck this weekend. I called a group of them together at 
the O'Hare Airport on Tuesday. We held a press conference. I asked them 
to explain what this means to you. They talked about being unable to 
come up with the money to pay for gasoline to drive back and forth to 
work 39 miles each way. They talked about the difficulties the families 
are going to face when it comes to daycare for their children. What are 
they going to do with their kids if they are coming to work for no pay 
and they can't pay the daycare service? For those who have mortgage and 
rental payments, some real consequences can follow. If you fail to make 
that mortgage payment on a timely basis, you may face an increase on 
the interest rate on your mortgage, and you may even face a downgrade 
on your credit rating.
  That is the real world for people who don't live in the White House. 
That is the real world for the victims of this prideful shutdown, which 
President Trump believes is in the best interest of this country. He is 
wrong. It is in the best interest of this country to open this 
government. It is in the best interest of Democrats and Republicans to 
sit down together and work out our differences when it comes to border 
security. We are all dedicated to border security. We just see it 
differently. We have to find middle ground to come to a conclusion on 
this important issue.
  The last point I want to make is this. I am concerned that the 
majority leader--the Republican leader, Senator McConnell--has made it 
clear that he is waiting for a permission slip from President Trump to 
be the leader of the Senate. We are a separate and proud branch of 
government. We are given authority under this Constitution which the 
President does not have. We do not wait for a permission slip from him 
to exercise that constitutional authority. The votes to pass these 
appropriations bills, I believe, are on the floor of the Senate today, 
and that is what has led Senator McConnell to the conclusion that he 
wouldn't dare call the bill. I think there are enough Republican 
Senators who have spoken to me privately who are ready to step forward 
and say: End this mindless shutdown. They are ready to vote for the 
spending bills. Will it reach 67 to override a Presidential veto? It 
just might do that. But let's test it by being the Senate under the 
Constitution, not by waiting for a permission slip from President Trump 
to exercise the constitutional responsibilities which each of us swore 
to uphold when we became Members of this important body.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, the Senator from Illinois is 
absolutely right. The votes are there to pass these six bills. The 
majority leader, in effect, is acting as a buffer for the President. He 
is not serving this body because he knows that his own Members would 
vote for it and vote to reopen the government. That is because they are 
hearing the American people tell them, as they are telling us: Reopen 
the government.
  That was the message that Senator Schumer delivered. It is simple, 
direct, and it is true. The American people want the government 
reopened. They know we have disagreements all the time. We disagree 
about policy and politics, proposals and legislation, but we don't shut 
down the government simply because we disagree. The government 
continues to do its work and serve the American people even as we have 
  Our friends on the other side, the Republican leadership, are 
complicit in this shutdown by refusing to permit us to do our duty and 
our work, which is to consider and pass legislation that will keep the 
government serving the people of the United States. If the President 
vetoes those bills, there may well be enough votes here to override 
them. That is our job as well.
  The reason the American people want us to reopen the government is 
that they know the crisis here is one that Donald Trump has made 
himself. It is a manufactured crisis involving dedicated public 
servants who are missing paychecks, taxpayers denied critical 
government services, economic hardship for small businesses, and low-
income Americans. It is a crisis that is spreading.
  It is not a crisis at the border in security that the President, 
supposedly, is witnessing as we speak here. There is a humanitarian 
crisis at the border, which is also of Donald Trump's making, but the 
broader crisis throughout this country will affect our economy, our 
education system, our transportation, and the real security of this 
country, which is our ability to help each other.
  I have looked at those folks in the face, most recently the day 
before yesterday, at Foodshare, our food bank in Connecticut, which 
will soon be unable to meet the challenges and needs of the food 
insecure in Connecticut because the Commodities Distribution Program 
will be crippled. Their cost and transportation and storage will be 
overwhelming and unmet. Children and seniors will begin to go hungry 
because their reserves will be exhausted by the end of this month.
  I have spoken to the Coast Guard members who will be unpaid. Alone 
among our military services--unfairly, unfortunately, unacceptably--
they will be unpaid. We know in Connecticut the value of our Coast 
Guard as a military branch of our government. We are home, proudly, to 
the Coast Guard Academy, with over 2,000 Active-Duty servicemembers, 
cadets, and civilian employees who are feeling the direct effect of 
this Trump shutdown.
  In reality, it is a Trump lockout, not a shutdown. He is locking out 
so many dedicated workers of our Federal Government. But the Coast 
Guard is continuing to work. It is the only branch of the military that 
isn't guaranteed pay during this Trump shutdown because, by a quirk of 
history, it is now part of the Department of Homeland Security, not the 
Pentagon. These Active-Duty Coast Guard members based in New Haven and 
New London and across the country are continuing to protect our 
Nation's security, continuing to rescue Americans at sea, continuing to 
interdict drugs that threaten our Nation, and they are going unpaid.
  That is why a bipartisan group of Senators--and I want to thank 
Senators Thune, Cantwell, and others--have introduced legislation to 
pay them during this Trump shutdown and any other shutdown going 
forward. I call on the Senate leadership to immediately approve this 
bill and allow it for a vote. Our military members in the Coast Guard 
deserve better, but so do all of the homeowners of this Nation who are 
seeking mortgages and must put those efforts on hold, so do the 
community development block grant projects that create jobs and 
economic growth, and so do law enforcement, essential to our security, 
who are going untrained.
  Food safety inspections have been suspended. Housing safety 
inspections, like the ones at Barbour Garden in Connecticut and Infield 
apartments, have stalled.

[[Page S119]]

  Breweries, like many in Connecticut--and I am hoping to visit a 
number tomorrow--are unable to deliver their products to market and 
onto store shelves.
  The National Parks have been left unsupervised.
  Last week, the Hartford Courant highlighted the story of Bryan 
Krampovitis. He is a resident of West Haven and an air traffic 
controller at Bradley International Airport. A number of traffic 
controllers are here in Washington, DC, and they will be outside this 
building later today. He is continuing the work, but he told the 
Hartford Courant:

       I'm a single father of my daughter, and she relies on me to 
     be her sole provider. I have a home and mortgage. It's a hard 
     time to be in. I'm forced to continue to go to work or face 
     the possibility of losing my job.

  If the Federal Government is still closed at the time of his next 
scheduled pay, he will receive ``a zero dollar paycheck.''
  Like him, so many of these Federal workers are living paycheck to 
paycheck, and they will be without that paycheck. The effect, though, 
will be on Americans as a whole.

  The President continues to divide us with rhetoric that is distorted 
and divisive, with misleading, malign mendacity. I am reminded of the 
sign I saw on TV: ``Stop truth decay.'' The President should stop truth 
decay as he visits the border today. He should recognize that there is 
no crisis, insecurity at the border; that it is manufactured by him. 
The idea that drugs are imported across the border is correct, but it 
is at the ports of entry. The idea that terrorists are coming across 
the border is factually absurd. In fact, the 3,700 figure the President 
broached has been completely debunked. The idea that the wall will be 
effective or practical has been abandoned by members of his own 
administration who have recognized that a wall from sea to shining sea 
is simply impossible and impractical.
  So we are left with a vanity problem--an applause line in the 
President's campaign--that has become a wall to progress. It is a wall 
to progress only in the President's mind, as everybody in this body 
knows there is a path forward to reopen the government. That is what 
the American people want--to reopen the government, to adopt the bills 
that are necessary for these agencies to go back to work, and to reopen 
the Department of Homeland Security as well while we debate those 
disagreements we have and do our jobs.
  The Congress must do its job and send to the President the bills that 
are necessary to reopen the government and save America from this 
manufactured, unnecessary, unacceptable crisis that has come to us and 
our country from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.
  Ms. CORTEZ MASTO. Mr. President, many Federal workers in Nevada and 
across this country will miss their first paychecks tomorrow due to 
this shutdown. Our President's govern-by-chaos approach has pulled the 
rug out from hundreds of thousands of Federal workers and contractors 
across the country who are currently furloughed or who are being forced 
to work without pay, including over 3,000 of them in my home State of 
Nevada. It is outrageous.
  I have heard from many Federal workers in Nevada who didn't sign up 
to live in constant fear that their paychecks would be held for 
political gain. They didn't sign up to wonder if they will be able to 
pay their rent on time, cover childcare costs for their young children, 
or put food on the tables for their families. They certainly didn't 
sign up to be used as pawns in this President's political game. They 
signed up to serve the American people, and they deserve the certainty 
of a functioning government and steady paychecks. Instead, hard-working 
Nevadans are writing and calling me to say they are worried about 
paying their bills, supporting their children, and keeping up with 
their mortgage payments.
  One Nevadan who is currently working without pay told me he and his 
colleagues are struggling to pay for the gas to drive to their unpaid 
  Another Nevadan is a mother who told me that her son, who is newly 
enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, is now facing eviction just 1 month 
after reporting for duty.
  A Las Vegas government contractor who is working to help the 
Department of Justice reduce its immigration court case backlog told me 
how discouraged he and his colleagues are that this shutdown is hurting 
the very people who are trying to help fix our immigration system.
  Nevada's veterans, park rangers, and TSA agents have also all 
contacted my office and asked for an end to this senseless shutdown so 
they can continue to provide for themselves and their families.
  This is one of the major impacts on Nevada, but it is not the only 
major disruption we are seeing.
  At our national parks and monuments, there is overflowing trash, 
which threatens the wildlife and public safety because the park rangers 
and maintenance staff have been furloughed.
  In Nevada's Tribal communities, lapses in funding threaten to close 
the doors of health clinics, food pantries, and childcare centers.
  The Small Business Administration has stopped processing loans that 
help Nevada's small businesses and job creators thrive. Over 7,850 
Nevada seniors who are enrolled in nutritional food programs and over 
437,000 Nevadans who receive SNAP benefits are at risk of losing access 
to the food assistance that keeps them and their families healthy.
  Real people, families, and communities are hurting. These are the 
people who do an honest day's work. They do an honest day's work, and 
they expect steady paychecks and a government to be led by a President 
who cares about their needs and their families' safety.
  The solution to this is simple. Reopen the government and stop 
holding Federal workers hostage for political gain. They are not 
leverage. These are hard-working people who are committed to going to 
work every single day, if that is what they are told to do, to make 
sure our services run and that we are protected, for they are standing 
guard even though they are not getting paid.
  As we go on about our day, I ask every single one of us, if you see 
them, to thank them. They are actually going to work and are not 
getting paid and can't pay their rent. For those who are furloughed and 
staying home, they are still struggling in the same way.
  That is why I support what my colleagues have done in introducing 
legislation that provides the backpay that will be necessary to protect 
these families and make sure they get paid, legislation so we may look 
out for them and ensure that their credit does not get dinged because 
of a government shutdown they had no control over. Don't forget, there 
are going to be thousands of workers out there who will never get paid 
because they are contract workers, and we should be doing everything in 
this Congress to ensure that they are getting the support they need. 
People are having to look for second jobs, and some can't even look for 
second jobs because the Federal jobs they have don't even allow them to 
look for second jobs.
  This is outrageous. This whole process is outrageous. There is a 
simple answer to all of this, and we know it. It is doing our jobs. I 
came to this Congress as a U.S. Senator. I believe in article I. I 
believe we are a coequal branch of government. We should not be 
abdicating to the executive branch. We should be doing our jobs. We 
know we can pass legislation that opens this government. We have 
already done it. We did it in the last session of Congress. There are 
many, in a bipartisan way, who want to do this. Let's just do our jobs. 
Let's show the rest of the country that this branch of government can 
govern and protect everyone.
  It is very simple because I know, if we were to get together, pass 
these bills, and send them over to the President, then he would make 
his decision. If he were to decide to veto it, then we would override 
that veto. That is the process. That is the process our Founders and 
our Framers set up so no one branch of government could control. I hate 
to see the leadership here abdicating our role to another branch of 
  It is time for us to come together. Let's open this government. Let's 
do it now, and let's show these Federal workers they are not political 
pawns, that they are not leverage. Let's show them the respect and 
dignity they deserve.

[[Page S120]]

  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I come to the floor to discuss the ways 
in which this pointless shutdown has done real harm to American workers 
and families. I appreciate the words of my colleague from Nevada as she 
explained how devastating this has been in her State.
  We are now in day 20, and the stories are flooding in, in the calls 
to my office, as to how this political gamesmanship from the White 
House is harming the American people.
  The Washington Post estimates that 6,100 Federal workers in Minnesota 
have been affected by the shutdown. This includes 1,700 who work for 
the Department of Agriculture--right when the farm bill has passed. We 
have many small dairy farmers in Minnesota for whom we had worked so 
hard to get this bill passed. Now they need to understand it, and they 
need to figure out what programs to sign up for, but they have no one 
to talk to. These aren't big milking operations. These are places with 
a couple of dozen cows, with 50 cows, and they have no one to talk to. 
As I said, the Washington Post has cited 6,100 Federal workers. Some of 
these employees are furloughed and are forced to stay away from work. 
Others are forced to work without pay. Here are a few of their stories.
  Sandy Parr works as a food service supervisor and nurse at the 
Federal Medical Center Rochester in Rochester, MN. She has been asked 
to work 60-hour shifts during the shutdown and to fill in for dozens of 
absent colleagues--all without being paid. She told one of our 
newspapers that she may soon be forced to choose between groceries and 
medication for her 14-year-old son who has autism.
  Celia Hahn is a transportation security officer at our airport, the 
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. It is a major airport, a 
hub. She told our local newspaper that she has canceled her plans to 
sign up her twin 9-year-old boys for a soccer clinic. If the shutdown 
drags on, she will have to call her mortgage lender to negotiate 
payments, which is a step many of her colleagues have already had to 
  It goes from the small--a soccer signup that might not seem that 
important, but anyone who is a parent knows it is a really important 
thing for kids--to the big, are you going to be able to afford your 
house? Then it goes to the even bigger as you look at a major airport 
that has lines and people who are working without pay and where you 
have law enforcement on the frontline, whether it is Homeland Security 
or whether they are FBI agents who are going to be working without pay.
  Of course, my State is by no means unique in being hurt by this 
shutdown. I have heard the stories from so many of my colleagues.
  Senator Kaine told us about Alan, a veteran and civil servant in 
Yorktown. He has had to work without pay since the shutdown began. His 
emergency savings are exhausted, and he is behind in his bills.
  Senator Durbin of Illinois talked about a Transportation Security 
Administration worker, a TSA worker, who fears the impact of missing a 
mortgage or a rent payment. The man told the Senator that if he can't 
make one of those payments on time, it will hurt his credit rating, 
which could affect the interest rates he will pay on loans and 
mortgages for the rest of his life.
  These are real people with real-world problems.
  Senator Heinrich of New Mexico told the story of Nicholas, a 
firefighter. If the shutdown isn't resolved, he told the Senator, he 
will not be able to support his family.
  On Tuesday night, I joined Senator Shaheen, who talked about how 
furloughs have slowed down the work at the Office of National Drug 
Control Policy and about how the continued delays in funding will pull 
the rug out from first responders who rely on this funding.
  Senator Warner of Virginia talked about the shutdown's impact on 
Federal contractors, including custodians, cafeteria workers, and 
security guards who work as Federal contractors who will never see 
backpay for the shutdown unless we do something about it.
  This is what is happening.
  The public IRS office is closed. That is in my State. A woman is 
trying to make a payment for taxes due and is concerned about the 
interest and penalties because of the time it will take to process her 
payment by mail.
  The Neighborhood Development Center in St. Paul, MN, a community 
lender, has two projects awaiting construction funding from the SBA, 
the Small Business Administration. That is shutdown.
  A young man needs his tax transcripts for a late enrollment in 
college. With the IRS not providing this service, he will not be able 
to attend the first day of his classes.
  A woman who was the victim of identity theft in my State was trying 
to report it to the IRS but to no avail.
  These are basic services that our constituents are being forced to go 
without. These are promises we made to our constituents and to the men 
and women who serve the public as Federal employees. It is time for the 
President to end this pointless shutdown and reopen the government.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.

                            The Middle East

  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I want to talk for a few minutes today 
about America's foreign policy, I want to talk about interests, and I 
want to talk about values.
  As you know, Congress is about to consider our foreign policy 
priorities in the Middle East. As we do that, I want to draw attention 
to some of our most vital allies in the Middle East. These allies have 
stood by America and we have stood by them for decades, through thick 
and thin. As a result, American interests in the Middle East have been 
protected, and their people have been protected as well. I am talking 
about the Syrian Kurds. I am talking about Israel. I am talking about 
  In my judgment, America must now stand by the Syrian Kurds, Israel, 
and Jordan--all of whom have paid a heavy price for the destabilization 
in Syria over the past 5 years--to make sure that this fight stays won.
  Once the Senate turns our attention to S. 1--and we will eventually--
I plan to offer an amendment to S. 1 that will allow the U.S military 
to defend the Kurds in Syria, if need be. It would give the President 
the authority to use the U.S. Armed Forces as he deems fit to keep our 
promise and to protect our allies. That is all my amendment would do. 
It wouldn't require anything, but it would give the President of the 
United States the authority to protect one of our allies in the Middle 
East--the Syrian Kurds--because, after all, the Kurds contributed 
mightily to the fight against ISIS, and we owe them. We owe them some 
peace of mind as we draw down our presence in the region.
  The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces--better known as SDF--have 
been another set of boots on the ground in our fight against ISIS. In 
the words of former Secretary Mattis, Kurdish fighters ``shredded'' 
ISIS. We couldn't have done it without them. With the help of coalition 
supplies, weapons, and airstrikes, the SDF--the Syrian Kurds--have been 
able to recapture large parts of both northern Syria and eastern Syria 
from ISIS's iron grip. That is just a fact. Four years ago, there were 
nearly 100,000 ISIS fighters. Thanks to our Kurdish allies and others, 
including American blood and treasure, those numbers have now dwindled 
to just 5,000.
  Today, ISIS has surrendered 99 percent of its territory. Let me say 
that again. Today, ISIS has surrendered 99 percent of its territory, 
including its former capital of Raqqa. To put that accomplishment in 
perspective, in January 2015, ISIS controlled more than 34,000 square 
miles of Syria and Iraq. Thirty-four thousand square miles of Syria and 
Iraq was ISIS-controlled territory. The world looks a lot different 
today. Less than 3 weeks ago, the so-called caliphate--the ISIS 
caliphate--withdrew from their last major urban stronghold in Syria. 
They are now being held to a small sliver of territory on the eastern 
border with Iraq, near the Euphrates River.
  I think it is plain to see that the Syrian Kurds have been 
indispensable in our fight against the Islamic State. Today, the SDF--
the Syrian Kurds--control nearly a quarter of Syria. That land no 
longer belongs to ISIS. That land is being lived in peacefully by the

[[Page S121]]

Syrian Kurds. It doesn't belong to Russia, and it doesn't belong to 
Iran. It is land where the Kurds know they will be free from 
persecution and slaughter.
  There are 30 million Kurds in the world, as the Presiding Officer 
well knows. They are living in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. In each 
country, the Syrian Kurds have been subjected to discrimination, 
massacres, forced relocation, and countless other human rights 
  The Kurdish people are one of the largest, if not the largest ethnic 
minority in the world that doesn't have a state or a country to call 
its own. After World War I, when Western interests carved up the Middle 
East, the Kurds were left without a state, despite President Woodrow 
Wilson's argument that this would be--and indeed is--unfair.
  The truth is that the Kurds in the world today, no matter where they 
are, are not completely safe anywhere. The Turkish Defense Minister 
made that clear just this last December when he said that when the time 
comes--when the time comes, the Turkish Defense Minister said, the 
Kurds ``will be buried in the ditches they dug. No one should doubt 
this.'' That is a direct quote.
  Just last week, Secretary of State Pompeo said that ``ensuring that 
the Turks don't slaughter the Kurds [and] the protection of religious 
minorities there in Syria'' are ``still part of the American mission 
set.'' Secretary Pompeo is a wise man.
  Our troops there in the region who stand beside our Kurdish friends 
do more than simply offer supplies and logistical support to the Kurds; 
they are a visible sign of our solidarity in the fight against Islamic 
terrorism. Without assurances of our support, the Kurds will be left to 
fend for themselves. Without the Kurds, we cannot be certain who will 
step in to fill the power vacuum in the areas of Syria that they 
currently control. We just cannot. We can only guess, and the answers 
aren't good.
  The threat of U.S. military force has been a major deterrent for the 
reemergence of jihadists like ISIS and al-Qaida. We know that. Our 
presence has held back Assad, Turkey, Russia, and Iran from gaining 
stronger footholds in the area. If the Kurds are vulnerable to attack 
from Turkey or Syrian rebels, I fear they may turn to our enemies for 
protection. Even if the Kurds didn't, they can't fight off Turkish 
troops and pursue the remnants of ISIS at the same time. For America to 
abandon the Kurds in Syria now would compromise the security of our 
allies, would compromise the security of Israel and Jordan, and would 
risk exposing the region to more turmoil.
  I think it was the late, great Ambassador George Kennan, writing, of 
course, during the Cold War, who said: ``If the policies and actions of 
the U.S. government are to be made to conform to moral standards''--not 
self-interest, to moral standards--``those standards are going to have 
to be America's own, founded on traditional American principles of 
justice and propriety.'' The Ambassador was correct.
  As I read his words, as I have read his words, and as I have studied 
his words, I thought long and hard about what he meant by ``American 
principles of justice and propriety.'' If justice is getting what you 
deserve, as C.S. Lewis said, and propriety is doing what is right, as I 
think most of us believe, then we should give the President the 
authority to protect the Kurdish people. That is what my amendment 
would do. We have to do it because they are our friends. We also have 
to do it because it is the right thing to do for America's interests 
and for the Middle East peace process.
  Once we take up the bill, I want to urge my colleagues in the Senate 
to consider my amendment and to help me make sure that American foreign 
policy continues to have that important moral component. Standing with 
our friends in the face of evil despots and dictators is just as 
important today as it was during the Cold War.
  I understand President Trump's decision with respect to Syria. I 
understand his concern about mission creep. I understand his concern 
about America's failure in our efforts at nation building. I think all 
of the American people are frustrated with the Middle East. All of us 
want a prosperous America, but all of us in America want a prosperous 
world. And we have been disappointed time and again by totalitarian 
governments in the Middle East.
  I don't want any of my remarks today to be construed as critical of 
the President's decision with respect to Syria. Frankly, I don't know 
whether he is right. I am still listening to both sides. I know this: 
American foreign policy never has been and never should be based solely 
on self-interest. Certainly, self-interest is part of it, but American 
foreign policy also has to have a moral component. Morality in this 
case dictates that if we withdraw from Syria, we do not allow our 
Kurdish allies in Syria to be butchered and gutted like a fish.
  Thank you.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. SMITH. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Government Funding

  Ms. SMITH. Madam President, today and for the last 19 days, men and 
women across the country are being hurt by a government shutdown that 
President Trump said he was proud to cause for the wall. I rise today 
on behalf of Minnesotans, on behalf of more than 4,790 hard-working 
Federal employees and low-wage contractors going without pay in 
Minnesota right now, and I rise today on behalf of the taxpayers of our 
country who just want the government to work for them.
  Since I became a Senator, just a little over a year ago, the 
government has been closed three times over the President's obsession 
with building an expensive, ineffective wall on our southern border. I 
am all for border security, but we need to focus on real solutions, not 
  So let us start with the facts. In my home State of Minnesota, the 
Federal Government employs about 32,000 people as food safety 
inspectors, prison guards, postal workers, and more. Of this total 
number, the Center for American Progress estimates that 4,790 people 
are impacted by the shutdown today in Minnesota and are furloughed or 
working without pay. Over 750 of these workers have already filed for 
unemployment benefits, and hundreds more are being forced to make tough 
decisions about how to cover basic expenses, feed their children, and 
take care of their families.
  A couple of days ago, I asked Minnesotans how they are being hurt by 
this shutdown because I wanted to understand how this is affecting 
people in their everyday lives. In just the last 48 hours, I have heard 
from Minnesota farmers who can't cash checks because the Farm Service 
Agency offices are shut down and Tribal law enforcement officers who 
are working without pay.
  I have heard from air traffic controllers in Minnesota who came by my 
office earlier this week with dozens of handwritten letters full of 
stories. The letters I am about to read come from these air traffic 
controllers, and I really want to thank them for sharing their stories. 
These are public servants who have dedicated their careers to making 
our airports safe.
  Tomorrow, January 11, marks the first day when these folks--Americans 
who show up at work every day to protect us--will miss their first 
paycheck. What is going to happen to these families? How will they be 
able to cover their credit card bills, their childcare payments, their 
mortgages? These are the questions that are keeping them up at night.
  I wanted to share some of their stories with you today so that those 
of us in Congress and the President can keep these people uppermost in 
our minds and the human impact of what is a wasteful and increasingly 
harmful shutdown.
  The first story comes from Michael, in Rochester, MN. Michael writes:

       My wife stays at home to care for our 3 year old daughter. 
     She is also currently obtaining a master's degree in 
     education so she can be a teacher when our daughter finally 
     goes to school.
       I am the sole income in my home. Needless to say, the 
     prospect of not receiving a paycheck in a week has us 
     wondering how we will make mortgage payments, buy food, etc. 
     We are more fortunate than some of my coworkers, however. 
     Many of them are wondering how they will pay for day care 
     while they continue to go to work as unpaid, essential 

[[Page S122]]

  The next letter is from Jonathan, from Lino Lakes, MN. This is what 
Jonathan wrote:

       For the last two weeks, air traffic controllers have 
     remained on the job, dedicated to the safety of every flight. 
     But we don't know when we will receive our next paycheck. My 
     wife is due with our fourth child in two weeks and this 
     uncertainty only adds to an already stressful situation.

  Here is another one from Mike, from Minnetonka, MN. He is describing 
the impact of the shutdown on his family's future.

       I am a father to twin four-year-old boys (Jax and Finn) and 
     had to close their college fund account in order to pay bills 
     through the end of the month. The shutdown has also prevented 
     me from training and certifying on my last few positions to 
     receive a $5,000 pay raise. These hardships are going to 
     affect my family for years to come. The replenishment of my 
     boys' college fund alone could take years as a single income 

  Mike goes on to say:

       This is going to have a lasting negative impact on me and 
     my family. Please help stop the shutdown to lessen the 
     already great impact it has had on me and my family. My kids' 
     future and our current financial hardship depends on it.

  Next is Christopher, from Dundas, MN. He writes:

       As a cancer survivor, I have a huge stack of medical bills 
     on structured and negotiated payments. My colleagues and I 
     have suffered the sudden loss of our income due to this shut 
     down. It will be very hard to meet all of my financial 

  Finally, I want to share this really heartbreaking note that I 
received from a brand-new father, Joe, from Lakeville, MN. Joe enclosed 
two photos of his beautiful brand-new baby boy, Oliver. Here is a 
picture of Oliver. This is the picture Joe sent to me. This is what he 

       This is a picture of my son, Oliver. He was born on New 
     Year's Eve, 10 weeks early. The only local hospital to take 
     babies born before 32 weeks is not in network for our 
     insurance. I cannot change our insurance with this qualifying 
     life event because those government services are closed due 
     to the shutdown.
       Further, because there is no paid leave during a shutdown, 
     I am spending my days in the NICU on unpaid furlough status. 
     I don't know when I'll be able to change my insurance, or 
     when I'll get paid again. I take solace in what matters most: 
     Oliver is getting a little stronger and a little closer to 
     home every day.

  Joe closed by saying:

       Please do what you can to reopen the government and leave 
     us with one less worry.

  President Trump and my Republican colleagues, listen to these stories 
and think about the consequences of this reckless and increasingly 
harmful shutdown.
  The Senate could put an end to this right now. We could take up and 
pass the bipartisan bills passed by the House--bills that have already 
passed the Senate, bills that would help baby Oliver and his dad Joe 
and the hundreds of thousands of other people around the country who 
never asked and don't deserve to be pawns in this fight. It is our job 
to do this.
  Colleagues, we can do this. I don't just sit in this Chamber and say 
whether my vote is what the President wants me to do. I think about 
what Minnesotans want me to do. We must reopen government.
  I know, colleagues, that each of you has thousands of families with 
stories like this in your State and I know that you are hearing them. 
Let's resolve this. Let's end this shutdown now and not let American 
families down.
  To the Minnesotans who are speaking up and sharing your stories, I 
want to thank you, and I want to tell you to keep it up. You deserve to 
be heard by our President, and you deserve a government that works for 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.
  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, yesterday President Trump and Republican 
leaders once again tried to sit down with Democrats to break the 
impasse over border security funding and fully reopen the government. 
Yet, again, Democrats proved unwilling to offer any serious solution or 
agree to work with the President in any way.
  When the President asked Speaker Pelosi yesterday if she would be 
willing to commit to funding the border wall if the government was 
reopened, she said no--no.
  Democrats are saying that we need to end this partial shutdown and 
reopen the Federal Government. I completely agree with that, but it is 
Democrats who are standing in the way of that happening. Instead of 
seriously trying to resolve this shutdown, they are holding show votes 
in the House and trying to score political points.
  The administration made an offer on Sunday. Yet 4 days later, 
Democrats have yet to respond. If they really want to reopen the 
government, they will sit down and negotiate in good faith with the 
President to arrive at a solution that both parties can support and 
that the President will sign.
  I have to ask: When did securing our borders become immoral?
  It used to be that Members of both parties recognized that border 
security was a basic obligation of our government and that we had a 
duty to ensure that our borders were protected and that dangerous 
individuals or goods were not entering our country, but apparently--
apparently--Democrats don't agree with that anymore.
  According to Speaker Pelosi, building barriers to protect our border 
is ``immoral.'' That is right--``immoral.'' According to the Speaker of 
the House, protecting our border with barriers to prevent illegal entry 
is ``immoral.''
  Contrary to what Democrats would like people to believe, border 
security isn't an issue dreamed up by hard-hearted Republicans to 
oppress various groups of people. Border security is a national 
security imperative--something that both parties recognized, until 
recently. No country can be secure if dangerous individuals can creep 
across its borders unchecked and unobserved.
  Democrats talk about border barriers as if they are meant to prevent 
anyone from entering our country. That is just false. America is a land 
of immigrants, and we will always welcome new faces to America with 
open arms. In fact, I, like many others in this Chamber, am the 
grandson of immigrants who came through Ellis Island. My grandparents 
obviously came and settled in South Dakota, but we have to make sure 
that individuals who are coming to this country are coming here legally 
and that we know who they are and why they are coming. We do that by 
enforcing our laws and by securing our borders--with physical barriers, 
Border Patrol agents, and technology--so that individuals can't cross 
our borders illegally and undetected.
  Leaving our borders open to any criminal, drug dealer, or human 
trafficker who wants to sneak across isn't compassion. It is an 
abdication of our responsibility.
  Right now, we are facing a security and humanitarian crisis along our 
border. Tens of thousands of individuals try to cross our southern 
border illegally each month. That is a serious security problem. It is 
also a humanitarian problem. Individuals attempting the journey to come 
here illegally are vulnerable to exploitation, to illness, and to 
abuse. One out of every three women attempting the journey to the 
United States is sexually assaulted. A staggering 70 percent of 
individuals become victims of violence along their way. Illness and 
other medical issues are a serious problem. By failing to discourage 
illegal immigration, we are perpetuating this humanitarian crisis.
  The inadequate state of our border security--both around barriers and 
through our ports of entry--also allows other problems to flourish, 
like the flow of illegal drugs pouring into the country. Every week in 
this country, 300 Americans die from heroin. Ninety percent of the 
heroin supply--90 percent--flows across our southern border.
  Democrats will say it doesn't come across, that it comes through 
ports of entry. A lot of it does come through ports of entry--that is 
part of our borders--and the President in his proposal has advanced 
measures that would also deal with those drugs coming through our ports 
of entry. But the fact of the matter is, we have to secure our border, 
and that requires a whole range of measures as a part of that solution.
  Democrats didn't always think that securing our borders was immoral. 
In fact, in 2006, the Democratic leader and the ranking member on the 
Senate Judiciary Committee voted for legislation to authorize a border 
fence. They were joined in their vote by then-Senator Biden, then-
Senator Clinton, and then-Senator Obama. In 2013, every Senate 
Democrat, bar none, supported legislation requiring the completion of a 
700-mile fence along our southern border. This legislation would have

[[Page S123]]

provided $46 billion for border security and $8 billion specifically 
for a physical barrier.
  As recently as last February, nearly every Senate Democrat--46 out of 
49--supported $25 billion for border security--just last February.
  In 2009, the Senate Democratic leader said in a speech: ``Any 
immigration solution must recognize that we must do as much as we can 
to gain operational control of our borders as soon as possible.''
  Let me repeat that. In 2009, the Democratic leader said: ``Any 
immigration solution must recognize that we must do as much as we can 
to gain control of our borders as soon as possible.''
  Then he went on to discuss progress that had been made on our border 
security between 2005 and 2009, including ``construction of 630 miles 
of border fence that create a significant barrier to illegal 
immigration on our southern land border.''
  That is right. In 2009, the Democratic leader not only didn't oppose 
border fences; he was praising them for their effectiveness.
  So what has changed? The need to secure our borders certainly hasn't 
changed. Everybody says: Is it a crisis or isn't it a crisis? I would 
say that having 300 people a day dying from heroin in this country is a 
crisis, particularly given the fact that 90 percent of that heroin is 
coming across our southern border. That strikes me as a crisis.
  The President has changed, and that, more than anything else, is the 
thing that has changed the minds of a lot of Democrats in the Senate 
because we used to have a President Democrats like; now we have one 
they don't like and, in many cases, they are openly hostile to.
  For Democrats opposing this President and catering to the far-left, 
anti-border-security wing of their party seem to be more important than 
addressing the security and humanitarian crisis we are facing at our 
  I venture to say that deep down, a lot of Democrats still realize we 
need to secure our borders. I think many realize how important the 
physical structure--some sort of barrier--is in making sure that the 
border is secure. Certainly, those who protect our border would tell 
you that, and certainly those who have observed what has happened over 
the past 20 or 30 years--a border fence has been built in certain areas 
of our southern border--would tell you that has been very effective.
  I think it is important for us to listen to the experts and allow the 
opinions of the experts to shape the policies we put in place. I think 
what the experts have been telling us is that, yes, we need a 
comprehensive solution, one that includes a physical barrier, one that 
includes technology, one that includes manpower--all of which this 
President, his team, have been willing to negotiate but none of which 
the Democrats in the Senate or the House have been willing to sit down 
at the table and be a partner in working out.
  With their partial shutdown now into its 20th day, I hope they will 
soon end this political theater and fulfill their obligations to keep 
Americans safe.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. TESTER. I thank the Presiding Officer for recognition.
  Madam President, look, we have heard a lot about the shutdown today. 
We have heard a lot about the impacts on families and on businesses and 
on our society in general. We heard a speech recently on the floor of 
the Senate on how Democrats don't want border security, which cannot be 
further from the truth.
  The fact is, last year, we appropriated $21 billion for border 
security. That was in 2017. For 2018, it was $21.5 billion. The truth 
is, everybody I know of who serves in this body, whether a Democrat or 
Republican, wants to make sure our borders are secure.
  Unfortunately, the President--or fortunately, however you want to 
look at it--came in with his budget request last year to the Homeland 
Security Subcommittee of Appropriations, on which I serve as ranking 
member, and asked for $1.6 billion for a wall. Guess what that 
subcommittee did, and guess what the Appropriations Committee did. We 
gave him $1.6 billion for that wall. The Senate didn't pass that bill, 
I might add. Sometime later, the President came in and said: No, I want 
$5 billion for a wall. And now it is $5.7 billion for a wall.
  We asked for a report on how this money was going to be spent, and 
they sent us a report on how the $1.6 billion was going to be spent, 
with no comparative analysis on how technology or manpower or anything 
else to secure that border might work more beneficially to keep our 
borders secure and be more cost-effective for the American taxpayer.
  What did the President do? Twenty-five times he said: I am going to 
shut down the government.
  Guess what. The government is shut down. It doesn't take a genius to 
do that. We have heard the stories--and they will continue, especially 
after tomorrow when working folks will not get their paycheck--of the 
impacts on this country, on average Americans, who could lose their 
homes, their autos, not be able to send their kids to school, and not 
be able to afford healthcare. The list goes on and on.
  I ask: Is this how you make America great again? Is this how it is 
done? It is not working.
  Senator Cardin came to the floor a bit ago, and he said: I want to 
put up not show bills; I want to put up Republican bills that this body 
has already passed and that the House passed this last week so that the 
Senate would do their job and hopefully reopen the government. I think 
there are enough votes to do it. I think there are enough votes to 
override a veto.
  The majority leader's response was: No, we are not going to do this; 
we want to take up a bill on Israel.
  I am telling you, I am a big supporter of Israel, but I took an oath 
of office to protect this country first, and we are turning our back on 
this country.
  We can continue to have the debate about the best way to secure the 
border, but it should not be done by holding the American people 
hostage. It should be done by having a debate in this body--the most 
deliberative body in the world, I was told before I got here. I got to 
serve with great Senators, got to serve with Robert C. Byrd, Richard 
Lugar, Kennedy, and Baucus. The list goes on and on. We don't debate. 
We don't even vote. In fact, we don't even live up to the 
Constitution's goals for us, its requirements for us--whatever you want 
to call them.
  We are a coequal branch of government. We shouldn't be allowing--as 
Senator Durbin said, asking for a permission slip from the President to 
be able to do our business. Bring the bills to the floor to open this 
government, and vote on it. If they go down, they go down. I think they 
will pass. If the President vetoes them, bring them back for a veto 
override. It is as simple as that.
  I wonder what the forefathers would think today if they saw this 
body--a shell of its former self. And it is not due to the rules; it is 
due to the fact that we have leadership that will not live up to the 
obligation of this body as set up to begin with.
  We have work to do here. We have a lot of work to do, and that work 
starts with opening the Government of the United States. If we don't do 
it or if we say we are only going to do it with permission from the 
President, then we all ought to hold our heads in shame.
  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. LANKFORD. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LANKFORD. Madam President, we are in day 20 of a government 
shutdown. It is exceptionally avoidable, but it is also exceptionally 
painful and distracting to the American people.
  At the USDA, the Farm Service Agency loans have stopped.
  TSA employees are working without pay. If we can't get this resolved 
by tomorrow, they will miss a paycheck, but they will still be at work.
  Home lending programs have halted.
  For the FAA, new air traffic controllers are not being trained. We 
still have air traffic controllers in the tower who are working now--by 
tomorrow, without pay coming in--but new training has stopped. That 
means a year from now, when we need to have those new air traffic 
controllers take their spot in that tower, there won't be someone in 
that tower because we have halted the training at this point.

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  IRS taxpayer advocate services are closed.
  Indian Health Service is being stretched.
  At the Bureau of Indian Affairs, most employees have been furloughed.
  The Department of Commerce and many others have been affected.
  While this doesn't affect most Agencies in the Federal Government, it 
affects a lot, and it affects real lives and real people. Let me give 
some examples from just my State of Oklahoma.
  There is a technology company in Tulsa that will have to begin 
furloughing employees because it is a contractor for the Federal 
  Those folks who are selling their cattle right now and who have a 
relationship with Farm Service can't cash that check because they can't 
get a second cosigner for the check, and that definitely affects them.
  A Federal worker contacted us and said that she is a contractor, and 
as of a couple days from now, she is not going to be able to pay her 
son's tuition so he can go back to college, because it will be too far 
a stretch.
  The food banks in my State have already started stocking up and 
reaching out to Federal employees who may not get a check starting 
tomorrow and may be stretched and need some additional assistance, many 
of them for the first time ever.
  We have a family in the Norman area, south of Oklahoma City, who 
typically handles the contract for housing for students who are coming 
to the FAA, to the academy. Well, obviously those academy students have 
all gone home, and they are losing $5,000 a week due to the shutdown 
and the lack of housing for those folks. And it is not just empty 
facilities; employees who are contractors there are now being 
  See, this affects real lives and real people. This was an 
exceptionally avoidable shutdown. Months and months ago, the President 
of the United States announced publicly and repetitively that he was 
not going to sign a funding bill at the end of the year that does not 
add additional border security. Over and over again, in public speeches 
and in private conversations on this Hill, the President repeated over 
and over: I am not going to sign a funding bill unless it adds 
additional border security.
  For some reason, half of this Hill ignored it and said: He is just 
kidding. He is not just kidding. He sees the issue of border security--
as I do, by the way, as well--as being a serious issue that has been 
talked about for decades but has not been addressed. Now all of these 
families are being impacted because half of this Hill said they thought 
the President was kidding.
  We should be able to do basic border security. This used to not be a 
partisan issue. It was just a decade ago that this body voted to add 
650 miles of additional fencing along the border between Mexico and the 
United States because at that time, a decade ago, this body said: There 
is a serious issue with border security. We should add fencing to the 
  Outspoken liberals like Senator Clinton and Senator Obama voted to 
add fencing to the border in 2006 and said that is the right thing to 
do. But suddenly now, a decade and a couple years later, it is a 
partisan issue and we can't allow President Trump to have additional 
fencing. It seems very odd to me. This seems like a personal attack on 
the President rather than a realization of where we have been as a 
country for a long time. We should have basic border security.
  For the President to be actually very malleable on this--shockingly 
so, to some people--he stepped out and said: I want $5.7 billion for a 
wall or for fencing or for steel barriers or whatever you want to call 
it. We need some additional barriers on it.
  To negotiate during the Christmas time period and to be stuck because 
the White House makes an offer to Senator Schumer, and Senator 
Schumer's response apparently was, we will wait to negotiate this after 
Nancy Pelosi becomes speaker--so for 10 days we sat with no 
negotiations going because we had to wait until there was a Speaker 
  Now Speaker Pelosi steps up and says: We are going to do nothing on 
this. And the President says: No, we need to do something. And suddenly 
something that the American people saw as obvious--why wouldn't we do 
basic things for border security--has suddenly become political and 
  The President, even in his speaking earlier this week from the Oval 
Office, started by saying we should do additional technology at the 
border. I fully agree. In fact, just in the last 2 years, the 
Department of Homeland Security has added 31 new fixed surveillance 
tower units to the southern border, has added 50 mobile surveillance 
systems to the southern border, and has added ground sensors and tunnel 
detection capabilities to the southern border. Those are all technology 
aspects of helping the southern border. The President stepped up and 
said we need to do more in that area.
  He said we need to add additional agents, which, again, has not been 
a partisan issue in the past.
  He said we need to add additional immigration judges, which, again, 
has not been controversial. We have 800,000 people waiting in 
immigration courts to get due process right now. Many of them will wait 
3 years or more just to get to a court. That is because we have too few 
judges handling the many immigration cases that are out there. It 
should be common sense to say ``Let's add additional judges so people 
can get to due process faster,'' but suddenly that has become 
  The President said we need to add a steel barrier. Now, I am fully 
aware he has talked about a wall in the past, and he said wall, wall, 
wall over and over, and some people have this picture that it is going 
to be the Berlin Wall, complete with graffiti on the side of it. That 
is not what DHS is putting up, nor what they have put up. They put up 
these big steel slats because the Customs and Border Patrol folks don't 
want a solid wall. They need to be able to see through it to see 
whether there is a threat coming to them.
  Has it made a difference? It has absolutely made a difference. Some 
of my team were down at the border in San Diego just a month ago. They 
visited with the Customs and Border Patrol folks there. They stated 
that the old fencing that is there--and there is some very old fencing 
in that area--that old fencing had more than a dozen penetrations 
through it a day--a day. It was meaningless. But the new fencing that 
they are putting up, these big steel slats, that steel barrier has one 
person a month. So it moved from 10 to 12 a day to 1 a month. That is a 
pretty big difference. That is helping manage our border. That is why 
fencing actually does work.

  I am fully aware of folks saying, if you put up a 30-foot fence you 
get a 31-foot ladder, but what happens is, when you have to climb a 31-
foot ladder, you have to slow down in the process, and it gives time 
for the Border Patrol to be able to interdict. That is what a fence is 
about, to say: You can't cross here easily. You have to slow down 
through the process--and we can interdict folks.
  This is a completely avoidable and, quite frankly, very recognizable 
problem. We should not have a government shutdown happening right now. 
Interestingly enough, some of my Democratic colleagues I have spoken 
with over the last 2 days were quietly whispering in these hallways: I 
hope the President will just declare a national emergency so the 
fencing can get built, and we can say we fought it, rather than 
actually bringing a piece of legislation here to solve it.
  There are real families and real lives getting affected by this. 
Let's resolve this. This is not a big number. This is not a complicated 
issue. We can come to common agreement on basic border security to 
protect our communities and our cities. We should have the ability for 
individuals to come into the United States to work. We have always been 
that way.
  Interestingly enough, I remind people all the time that the 5,000 
people coming from the migrant caravan from Honduras are camped out 250 
yards from the largest legal border crossing in the world, the San 
Ysidro crossing. We have 5,000 people who are trying to illegally cross 
the border literally 250 yards from where 100,000 people a day cross 
legally every single day, but the cameras are all focused on the 5,000 
people trying to cross illegally, not turning the camera 90 degrees to 
focus in on the 100,000 people a day who filled out the forms and did 
it right and are

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coming into our country. We are still a country with open immigration, 
and we should be; we just ask people to do it the right way. I don't 
think it is that unreasonable.
  So how do we get out of this? The most basic way to get out of this 
is just to do what we talked about for months--let's sit down and 
figure out how to do border security--just the simple process of that. 
Some of my colleagues have said the President needs to open the 
government, and then we will talk about border security. That will be 
the same argument we have had for a couple of years now, where they 
say: Some other time, some another time. The President said, after 
months and months, this is the time to talk about this. So let's 
resolve it as quickly as we possibly can.
  Let's not complicate it. I have heard people say: Let's add all these 
additional things to the conversation and make the deal bigger. Making 
the deal bigger just slows down the process even more. Federal 
employees and all these families need answers right now. Let's not 
continue to try to make this a bigger and bigger argument that 
stretches out longer and longer in debate. Let's solve the issue we 
have in front of us right now and keep debating the other issues.
  Finally, let's get a permanent resolution to this issue of government 
shutdowns. It has been interesting to me to see the media comparing 
this shutdown to the one that happened during the Jimmy Carter 
Presidency or the Clinton Presidency or the three that happened during 
the Reagan Presidency or those that happened in the Bush Presidency. 
This is a bad habit Congress is in. There were 16 of us who met this 
last year, from April all the way through December--eight Democrats and 
eight Republicans, half from the House and half from the Senate--to try 
to resolve the budget process. Many of us spoke up, myself included, 
over and over again, saying that this is a broken budgeting process, 
saying we have to end the government shutdowns. By the time we got to 
the middle of December, that group of 16 could not come to a resolution 
to address this problem. Well, how about now? Are we willing to admit 
now that there is a problem with budgeting?
  Here was one of the solutions I brought to that committee. I think it 
is straightforward. The simple solution is, if you get to the end of 
the budget year and if we don't have things resolved at that point, go 
into a continuing resolution; that is, continue to fund the government, 
hold the Agencies and employees harmless, but Members of Congress have 
to stay in Washington, DC, and the Cabinet and the White House have to 
stay in Washington, DC--no travel for anyone. We have to be here.
  If you want to hit Members of Congress where it hurts, don't let 
anyone go home for the weekend to see their families. We have families 
we want to see, too, but we shouldn't be able to walk away when there 
is still work to be done. The greatest pressure point we can have in 
this body is that we would have to stay in continuous session until the 
negotiations are finished. Make everyone stay here.
  That may sound overly simplistic, but when I bring that up to other 
Members of Congress, they are like: Whoa. That is too much. Really? 
Everyone needs to stay here, keep the negotiations--from the House, the 
Senate, the Cabinet of the White House, and the White House staff 
  The second measure we can take is, each week, through any kind of 
fight that goes on to get the budgeting done, cut everyone's budget in 
the House, Senate, and White House's operating budget 5 percent that 
week. Now, again, holding all the Agencies harmless, but for those who 
are doing the negotiations, they start feeling the pressure. Not only 
can you not travel, you can't see your families. You have to stay in 
continuous session, but your budget is getting cut every week by 5 
percent, each week until it gets resolved. Again, the pressure is on 
the people it should be on, holding harmless the American people who 
aren't in the middle of this fight in the process. There are ways to 
solve this--simple, commonsense ways--and I will continue to bring 
those up again and again because when this shutdown is complete, there 
will be a fight over another one coming. In the meantime, we need to 
try to end this loop we are in that destabilizes our system.
  Let's do border security. Let's not fight over, ``OK. Let's open up 
the government, and we will talk about it later.'' Everyone knows that 
really will not happen. Everyone knows that game. Let's resolve what 
all the American people know needs to be resolved--basic, functional, 
real commonsense security, not putting up a big wall across the whole 
border. No one wants to see a 2,000-mile-long wall. It is not even 
needed, but in areas where there is a city on both sides of the border, 
and you literally cross the border within seconds unless there is a 
barrier there, it makes sense to have a barrier in those locations. It 
makes sense to put technology in other areas to be able to monitor 
folks who are illegally crossing the border in other areas. We can do 
this in a commonsense way. We can do this quickly. Let's get it 
  With that, 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. RUBIO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sasse). Without objection, it is so 

                                  S. 1

  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, in a few minutes here--in 45 minutes or 
so--the Senate is going to vote to decide whether we want to begin 
debate on the bill that is before us, S. 1, Strengthening America's 
Security in the Middle East Act of 2019. I remind everybody of why we 
began with this bill.
  I don't know what the number is, but I would say the overwhelming 
majority of the Members of the Senate did not agree when the President 
decided to pull us out of Syria for various different reasons. 
Everybody was asking us: Well, why don't you guys do something about 
it? As you know, it is difficult. The Congress cannot order the 
President to take military action. It can authorize it, it can fund it, 
and it can defund it, but it cannot compel it. That is the role of the 
Commander in Chief. There are some things we can do. However, because 
there are things we were concerned about with his decision, there are 
things we can do to sort of deal with the consequences of what, I 
believe, would be a mistake, and this bill endeavors to do that.
  We went through and said: Let's find some bills that would help our 
allies in the region--Israel, Jordan--and that deal with the human 
rights catastrophe in Syria. Let's find things that are bipartisan and 
have widespread support so that we are not starting with something 
controversial. Then let's put it all together in one bill so that the 
country will be able to see that the Senate is engaged in the foreign 
policy of this country and is acting out its constitutional role as a 
check and balance on the Executive.
  That is what we did. No good deed goes unpunished, though, because as 
that bill was filed, apparently, the Democratic leader and others in 
the leadership asked their Members to vote against even beginning 
debate on a bill that an overwhelming number of them supported, that a 
majority of the Democrats supported. They asked them to vote not to 
proceed on the bill, and the argument is because of the government 
  I still don't know how it makes any sense to respond to a government 
shutdown by shutting down the Senate. In essence, why did we even come 
up here this week? It appears they are not making any progress on the 
negotiations, and we are not moving on any bills or legislation. I 
don't know if it gives people any comfort to know that at least the 
Senate is shut down too. I don't know how that fixes the government 
shutdown situation. This should be a place that can walk and chew gum 
at the same time, meaning a place that works on solving and ending this 
shutdown, which is bad for everybody, that works on securing our 
borders, which is something we need to do for our country, but that 
also works on dealing with something like this, especially as timely as 
the decision is that was just made last month and the threats that are 
facing our allies in the region. That is what this bill is about.
  We are going to have another vote here for the second time this week. 

[[Page S126]]

that everybody understands, this vote is not even in favor of or 
against the bill; it is just to the question of whether we can start 
debate on this bill. I hope a few more Democrats will join us so that 
we can get the 60 votes we need just to begin debating the bill. If you 
still want to make your point at the end of the day, then go ahead and 
vote against it or whatever. I hope you don't, but let's at least begin 
debate on it. We will see what happens here in about 30 minutes. My 
sense is that we still won't have the votes to do that, and it is 
  I do want to address two things that have been brought up with regard 
to this bill--one thing that has been brought up and one element of the 
bill that I hope will change people's minds in terms of beginning the 
debate on it.
  First, let me talk about a provision in this bill that deals with 
BDS. BDS--boycott, divestment and sanctions--is an international effort 
to wage economic war on Israel in order to punish it for its supposed 
treatment of Palestinians. It boycotts companies that do business in 
Israel until they cut ties. It boycotts or pressures banks and 
investment firms until they divest of any investments that help Israel. 
It then asks governments to impose sanctions on Israel. That is BDS.
  Some people support it. There are two newly elected Members of the 
House who openly support it. I assume that is their right. I think they 
are wrong, but that is their right. The vast majority of people do not 
support it.
  What has happened across America is that there are States and 
counties and cities that have decided they don't support BDS. It is not 
illegal and we are not going to make it illegal if you want to be a 
company that participates in BDS. Yet we--the government, the cities, 
and the States--are not going to buy services or goods from any company 
that is boycotting Israel. All this bill does is protect them from 
lawsuits if they make that decision.

  The argument against this has been--and I have seen this now in 
numerous statements from those on the other side of the aisle--that it 
infringes on the First Amendment rights of individuals. I don't know 
what bill does that, but it isn't this one.
  To begin with, this bill doesn't even apply to individuals. 
Individuals can do whatever they want. If you don't want to buy stock 
in a company that does business in Israel, I think it is shortsighted, 
but no one is stopping you from doing that. If you want to divest your 
investments from companies that do business in Israel, no one is 
stopping you from doing that. If you don't want to shop at or buy from 
companies that do business with Israel, that is not illegal. This 
doesn't apply to any individuals.
  By the way, it doesn't even make it illegal for companies to make 
that decision. This is not banning participating in BDS. You have every 
right to support it. You are wrong, but you have every right to support 
it. You have every right to carry it out if you are a company or an 
  This bill does not apply to individuals. Any time people say they are 
protecting the individual First Amendment rights of Americans by 
opposing this legislation, I don't know what they are talking about 
because this does not apply to individuals.
  All this says is to go ahead and do it. If you, company X, want to 
boycott Israel or divest investments from Israel, you can, but the 
people who disagree with you can boycott and divest from you. You see, 
free speech is a two-way street. If you want to proclaim something or 
say something, you have every right to do it, but the people who 
disagree with you have a right to do that as well. If there is a First 
Amendment right to companies to boycott or divest from Israel, then 
there has to be a First Amendment right to boycott or divest from those 
  If you oppose this bill, then you are in favor of shielding from 
counter-boycotts anyone who decides to take these actions. That is what 
you are for, which is de facto support for BDS, because what you are 
basically saying is to go ahead and boycott Israel and divest from 
Israel, but no one can do that to you. That is not what the First 
Amendment is. The First Amendment protects your right to speech, and it 
protects from government infringement an individual's right to speak. 
It does not protect you from people who disagree with you. It does not 
protect you from people who speak out against you. So if you are a 
boycotter, you yourself can be boycotted. If you are a divestor, people 
can divest from you. I am talking about the elected representatives of 
our cities and counties. If the members of that community do not agree 
with that decision, they can vote them out of office.
  Why does a city or a county have to be forced to buy products from 
companies that are undertaking a foreign policy action, which is what 
this is? This is not an effort to influence domestic policy; this is an 
effort to influence the policies of a foreign country. Why should a 
city or a county be forced by law to have to do business with those 
that a city or a county or a State disagrees with? That is all this 
bill is.
  When people go around talking about how this infringes on the First 
Amendment rights of individuals, it is just not honest. It is just not 
true. This doesn't even apply to individuals. In fact, the bill says 
very clearly in writing--right there--that nothing under this act shall 
be construed to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of any 
  As they continue to say that, just know that this bill only applies 
to cities, counties, and States being able to not buy things from 
companies. This doesn't give you the right to fire an employee who 
posts a pro-BDS thing on Facebook. This doesn't give you the right to 
refuse to sell a home to or provide housing for or discriminate in any 
way against individuals who support BDS. This doesn't give anyone the 
right to put you in jail for supporting BDS. It doesn't do anything to 
infringe on anyone's First Amendment right. All it does is protect the 
First Amendment right to be against BDS and to do to the boycotters 
what the boycotters are doing to Israel. It is a two-way street. Those 
are the facts. If you are hiding behind that in order to oppose this 
bill, you are not being frank about what the bill does.
  The second part of this bill that I wanted to talk about today 
shouldn't be controversial at all because we are all now painfully 
familiar with the grave humanitarian crisis we have seen in Syria. I 
would say and most would agree that what we have seen over the last 8 
years of this conflict is the worst humanitarian crisis since the end 
of the Second World War. It began as anti-government protests, but it 
led to the fighting for political freedoms that has now escalated into 
a bloody civil war with a bunch of foreign fighters flowing in. It is a 
mess of all kinds of different groups from foreign countries and of 
radical jihadists.
  Caught in the middle are innocent people who have been bombed and 
gassed. In fact, this administration has had to take action to punish 
militarily the Assad regime for dropping chlorine bombs and chemical 
weapons on civilian populations. We have seen these images of children, 
babies, and everyday people--bakers and plumbers and small business 
owners and professionals--who 1 minute were walking around and the next 
minute were choking to death because their own government, with the 
support of Russia and Iran, dropped chemical weapons on their 
communities and killed countless people.
  Not only is this sort of activity horrifying, it is a war crime. It 
is a war crime to deliberately target civilian populations, and it is 
particularly cruel to do it with a gruesome form of death--that is, 
death by chemical weapon. That is what we have seen.
  That is what we have seen supported, by the way, by Vladimir Putin. 
He knows for a fact what they are doing and doesn't care. He gives them 
cover, and he makes up these ridiculous stories about how it is the 
opposition that has done it. Everyone knows who has done it. There is 
zero doubt about it. That is why they don't allow inspectors to go in 
and find evidence and point it out. But it is abundantly clear who is 
doing it, and they have done it.
  Even as this administration is deciding to pull out, the prospects 
grow and the likelihood grows every day that the people who have made 
these decisions will never be held accountable for what they have done. 
These war criminals--these savages--will never be held accountable for 
what they have done if trends continue the way they are going. This 
bill tries to address that.
  The now chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Senator from

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Idaho, Mr. Risch, filed a bill last year, called the Caesar Syria 
Civilian Protection Act, that is now included in this bill. I believe 
he will be here shortly to speak about it. It is called the Caesar 
bill--it has nothing to do with Rome--because it is named after a 
Syrian military defector. It is named after someone who was in the 
Syrian military whose code name was ``Caesar'' who smuggled out tens of 
thousands of pictures of what was going on inside of Syria, the images 
of the thousands of people who were killed while being detained in 
Syria. They were images of the torture, of the brutalization of women 
and innocent men and even sometimes children by the Assad regime and by 
those who supported them.
  The pictures show the true face of what we are dealing with here--the 
face of an evil and criminal regime, a regime that needs to be held to 
account. All those who support them and are allowing them to do it 
should also be held accountable.
  What Senator Risch's bill does is it provides the Trump 
administration new legal authority to bring some accountability for the 
people who have done this.
  First, it requires a determination and a report by the Treasury on 
whether the Central Bank of Syria is a financial institution of primary 
money laundering concern. Why does that matter? Because they are using 
that bank to clean and launder money to fund their operations, to 
remain in power, and, ultimately, to gas and kill their own people.
  The other thing it does is it imposes new sanctions on anyone who 
does business with or who provides financing to the Government of 
Syria, including Syrian intelligence and security services, or the 
Central Bank of Syria; who provides aircraft or spare aircraft parts 
that are used for military purposes in Syria; who does business with 
transportation or telecom sectors controlled by the Syrian Government; 
or who supports Syria's energy industry.
  These aren't just about punishing them. It is about hurting them in 
their pocketbooks so they can't afford to put those planes up there to 
drop these bombs on innocent people. It gives the administration the 
authority to do this.
  By the way, this bill also requires the administration to brief 
Congress. You hear them talking about holding the administration 
accountable and conducting oversight. This bill requires them to come 
before us and tell us what their plan is to deliver humanitarian aid.
  By the way, I want to know how we are going to deliver humanitarian 
aid if there is no U.S. presence on the ground and the only people left 
are the Russians, the Turks, the Iranians, and the Assad regime. It 
would be interesting to be briefed on that plan with us not there, but 
it requires them to come forward and either tell us what their plan is 
or admit that there isn't a plan because we are not there anymore.
  That is what this bill does. I would love for everyone here to 
support it, but before you can even vote for it, we have to start 
debate on it through the rules of the Senate. In about 15 minutes, we 
are going to vote on this thing, and there are going to be people who 
vote against even starting a debate on it, and the argument is that it 
is because of the shutdown.
  I hope people reconsider. I don't understand the logic of it, but 
when you talk about the threats that are facing Israel, which the 
overwhelming majority of the Senators here say they are strong 
supporters of, and when you talk about the importance of Jordan and our 
alliance with Israel, something that every single person here basically 
agrees with, for the most part, and when you talk about these 
horrifying war crimes for which there should be some accountability, 
which I believe everybody here was outraged by, how does stopping a 
bill or refusing to move on to debating a bill that deals with those 
things help end the shutdown? It doesn't. It makes no sense, but, 
apparently, that is what some are willing to do.
  They probably aren't watching at this point. They are probably off at 
their caucus lunches or doing something else, but I hope that over the 
last 48 hours, some of my colleagues on the Democratic side have 
thought about it and have said to themselves that it really doesn't 
make any sense to deal with the government shutdown by shutting down 
the Senate.
  I hope they will reconsider and vote differently this time. If they 
don't, then, I am just not sure how we can explain to people why it is 
that we will not agree to even begin debate on something almost all of 
us agree on for reasons completely unrelated to it. In essence, that is 
what happened earlier this week and what could potentially happen here 
very shortly.
  I actually, oftentimes, wonder what must go through the minds of 
visitors to the Capitol. I understand most people in America aren't 
watching this. Very few people probably are. I wonder. You come up 
here, and these groups from Close Up were here. It is a great 
organization. It brings high school kids up here. You try to explain to 
normal, regular human beings that there is a bill that 90 of the 100 
Senators support, but we are not even going to be able to debate it 
because they are voting against debating it. They would look at you 
like you have three heads and say: What are you talking about? They 
support the bill, but they don't want to have a debate on the bill yet? 
Why? Because of the government shutdown. Well, what does that have to 
do with it?
  There are no other aspects in our lives where we would do that. I 
have never heard that in my life. I have never heard someone say: I am 
not going to work today because I am upset that my favorite team lost 
the game yesterday, or I am not paying my bills this month because I 
don't like the fact that they charged me too much for changing my 
tires. If you did that in any part of your life, people would think you 
were crazy. Yet that is what is happening here.
  What kind of leverage is this--that you are going to hold up a bill 
we all agree on as leverage to force us to negotiate? The Democratic 
leader and the Democratic Members know that in order for a bill to 
become law, it needs the support of the House, which their party 
controls, 60 Senators, which they can keep us from getting, and the 
President who will sign it. They know full well that this has nothing 
to do with that, but, nonetheless, a majority of them seem to be 
prepared to vote against even debating it.
  I don't know how to explain that. I certainly don't know how to 
explain it to high school students up here visiting from Close Up or to 
anyone else, for that matter, but that is what happened earlier this 
week, and that is what might happen today here in a few minutes.
  I hope I am wrong. I hope people have reconsidered because, honestly, 
this is an issue that deserves our earnest attention.
  I will close with this. Please do not go around saying that Congress 
needs to do more to hold the administration accountable or to conduct 
oversight of our administration policy, when we started this Congress 
trying to do that and you decided to keep us from doing it for some 
other reason. Don't say that Congress needs to be more involved in the 
foreign policy of the United States, when this is exactly what we are 
trying to do here today and you will not let us for reasons unrelated 
to it.
  This country needs a strong Senate more than ever before, not one 
that is shut down. I hope people will change their minds so we can get 
to work on this right now.
  The Senate should be able to walk, chew gum, write, and read at the 
same time--or a lot of us. There are 100 people here. We should be able 
to do multiple things at the same time. We do it all the time.
  You don't need to shut down the Senate, and you don't need to stop 
debate on this bill to solve the government shutdown. One has nothing 
to do with the other. Everyone knows that. Americans understand that. 
Normal people recognize that.
  Let's act normal. Let's stop being weird about these things, and 
let's move on something like this and get the debate going, even as we 
work on the government shutdown and on border security.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. RISCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.

[[Page S128]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. RISCH. Mr. President, I rise today, again, to discuss S. 1 and to 
urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this.
  We had a vote just the other day on this, and it has been 
reconsidered. All Republicans voted for it. Four of our friends on the 
other side of the aisle also voted with us on this, and I would urge a 
few more to do so. If that happens, we will actually pass this package 
of bills, which is so important.
  These have been kicked around for some time. The substance of these 
bills have near--although not complete--unanimous approval of this 
body. Indeed, Members of this body have voted for these, both in 
committee and on the floor, individually in the past, but they have not 
gotten across the finish line because we ran out of time in the last 
  Essentially, it is a package of three bills that support our friends. 
One, of course, supports Israel. One supports Jordan, one of our best 
friends in the Middle East. And, lastly, one of the bills refreshes and 
strengthens the sanctions against Bashar al-Assad and his government in 
  These should pass. You might ask yourself: Well, what is going on 
here? Why are we having these party-line votes on this? Well, my 
friends on the other side of the aisle have said: We are not going to 
vote on anything while the government is shut down, and we should be 
focused on this. I would remind my friends that there are a lot of us 
around here who are veterans of the 2013 Obama-Harry Reid shutdown.
  During that shutdown, the U.S. Senate continued to do its job, 
continued to consider resolutions, continued to pass bills, and 
continued to do confirmations, as it was required to do.
  That is what we have here today--something that we should be doing 
that reinforces our friends in the Middle East. Particularly with times 
being somewhat tumultuous there, it is important that we support our 
friends in the Middle East, and it is important that we put these 
sanctions on the people of Syria.
  I would also remind my friends on the other side of the aisle that 
they are forcing a vote on the Treasury regulations surrounding Mr. 
Deripaska, the Russian person who has had sanctions placed on him and 
who has gone through the process of getting them removed. My friends on 
the other side are requiring that we debate and then vote on those, 
which is a good thing to do. First of all, there are some issues that 
need to be aired there, and, secondly, it is important that we have the 
process for reviewing actions by the Treasury Department under the 
sanctions legislation in the past. It is good that we do that. But to 
say ``We can't do this, but we can do that'' because they want to do it 
really doesn't make sense. They also want to do this. I think if we had 
a straight-up vote on this, I would suspect the Democrats would vote 
unanimously to do this.
  This is just the wrong way to do business. We are the U.S. Senate. We 
are open for business. We are doing business. In the last shutdown, we 
did business, and there is no reason we can't do this.
  Mr. President, fellow Senators, for all of the reasons I have just 
said, I urge an affirmative vote on this good legislation. Get it on 
its way, and get it doing the things that we want to see done.

                             Cloture Motion

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Pursuant to rule XXII, the Chair lays before 
the Senate the pending cloture motion, which the clerk will state.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to 
     proceed to Calendar No. 1, S. 1, a bill to make improvements 
     to certain defense and security assistance provisions and to 
     authorize the appropriation of funds to Israel, to 
     reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act 
     of 2015, and to halt the wholesale slaughter of the Syrian 
     people, and for other purposes.
         Mitch McConnell, John Hoeven, Roger F. Wicker, John 
           Cornyn, Rick Scott, Mitt Romney, Cory Gardner, Marco 
           Rubio, John Thune, Chuck Grassley, Todd Young, John 
           Barrasso, Deb Fischer, Lindsey Graham, Johnny Isakson, 
           James E. Risch, John Boozman.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum 
call has been waived.
  The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the 
motion to proceed to S. 1, a bill to make improvements to certain 
defense and security assistance provisions and to authorize the 
appropriation of funds to Israel, to reauthorize the United States-
Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, and to halt the wholesale 
slaughter of the Syrian people, and for other purposes, shall be 
brought to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Texas (Mr. Cornyn), the Senator from Texas (Mr. Cruz), the Senator 
from Kansas (Mr. Moran), and the Senator from Georgia (Mr. Perdue).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Texas (Mr. Cornyn) 
would have voted ``yea.''
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cassidy). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 53, nays 43, as follows:

                       [Rollcall Vote No. 2 Leg.]


     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--4

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 53, the nays are 
43. Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted 
in the affirmative, the motion is rejected.