(Senate - January 31, 2019)

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[Pages S777-S794]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. McCONNELL. I move to proceed to Calendar No. 7, S. 47.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion to proceed.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 7, S. 47, a bill to 
     provide for the management of the natural resources of the 
     United States, and for other purposes.

                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I send a cloture motion to the desk 
on the motion to proceed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  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. 7, S. 47, a bill to provide for the 
     management of the natural resources of the United States, and 
     for other purposes.
         Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Shelley Moore Capito, Mitt 
           Romney, Richard Burr, John Cornyn, Rick Scott, Mike 
           Crapo, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Michael B. Enzi, Kevin Cramer, 
           Mike Braun, John Boozman, Steve Daines, James M. 
           Inhofe, Thom Tillis, Joni Ernst.

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
mandatory quorum calls be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. 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. THUNE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                                  S. 1

  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, I am pleased the Senate is finally 
debating S. 1 after three inexplicable Democratic attempts to 
filibuster the bill. This package of Middle East policy bills, all of 
which have bipartisan support, addresses a number of key issues.
  For starters, this legislation will further strengthen our 
relationship with our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel. It 
authorizes 10 years of military support funding to Israel. It reaffirms 
the U.S. commitment to ensuring that Israel has better weapons and 
equipment than its enemies. It will also foster increased technical 
cooperation between Israel and the United States to support the 
security of both of our countries.
  The legislation also strengthens our relationship with another close 
ally of ours in the Middle East, the Kingdom of Jordan. The Senate 
Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday was a timely reminder of the 
importance of investing in our alliances. Senior intelligence officials 
testified that China and Russia are becoming increasingly aggressive in 
seeking to increase their influence, not just in their own regions but 
in other parts of the world. Russia's support in the Syrian regime is a 
prime example.
  Now, more than ever, it is vital that we maintain close relationships 
with our allies. The legislation before us also contains the Caesar 
Syria Civilian Protection Act. This legislation will help hold 
accountable individuals who have supported the atrocities of the Assad 
regime. It directs the Treasury Department to investigate whether the 
Central Bank of Syria launders money for the Syrian Government.
  The conflict in Syria has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and 
driven literally millions of Syrians from their country. While the 
United States cannot solve every conflict around the world, it is vital 
that we make it very clear the United States will not tolerate those 
who have contributed to the brutality of Bashar al-Assad's government.
  Finally, the legislation we are considering today will protect the 
right of State and local governments to decline to do business with 
entities that have chosen to boycott Israel. As I said, all of the 
bills in the legislation before us today have bipartisan support, and I 
hope the Senate will pass this legislation with a strong bipartisan 

                            Amendment No. 65

  Madam President, I also would like to take a few moments to talk 
about an amendment the leader has proposed. As I noted, this week, our 
intelligence community leaders gave a frank assessment of the threats 
we face to our national security and to our interests, from ISIS and 
al-Qaida to the danger posed by a growing alignment between Russia and 
China, to Iran's destabilizing activities in the Middle East. As 
intelligence officials made clear, the U.S. faces numerous persistent 
threats, and we should be wary of letting our guard down or becoming 
complacent about our strength. For that reason, I would like to state 
my support for Leader McConnell's amendment to express the sense of the 
Senate that we should be cautious about any premature withdrawal of our 
troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
  We don't have to look back very far for a reminder that prematurely 
withdrawing our troops can create a power vacuum that terrorists and 
others will step in to fill. Our too-hasty withdrawal from Iraq, on a 
timeline we announced to our enemies, created the circumstances that 
allowed for the rise of ISIS. We need to be wary about allowing 
something like that to happen again.
  Terrorist groups are not the only entities we have to worry about. 
Adversaries like Russia and Iran are already trying to flex their power 
in the Middle East and would be more than happy to take advantage of an 
early U.S. withdrawal to strengthen their foothold in the region.
  While I understand and respect President Trump's desire to bring our 
troops home and to end these protracted wars, we must do so in a way 
that ensures enduring stability and protects our interests and those of 
our allies. The leader's amendment is an important reminder of the need 
for caution and reflection as we consider troop withdrawals and would 
reassure our allies that the United States does not intend to abruptly 
leave them in the midst of the battle.
  I hope all my colleagues will support the leader's amendment when we 
vote on it later this afternoon.

                          USS ``South Dakota''

  Madam President, before I close, I would like to mention the 
commission of the Navy's newest Virginia-class attack submarine, the 
USS South Dakota, which will occur this Saturday, February 2, 2019, in 
Groton, CT. Designated SSN 790, the USS South Dakota will be the 17th 
submarine of her class, pushing the envelope of U.S. maritime 
technology and undersea dominance.
  We are proud the State of South Dakota will once again be represented 
in the fleet by this engineering marvel, which will project America's 
strength and protect our national interests throughout the maritime 
domain and beyond.
  In March 2012, I led the South Dakota delegation, which then included 
Senator Tim Johnson and Congresswoman Kristi Noem, in writing Secretary 
of the Navy Mabus to request that the Navy name its next attack 
submarine the USS South Dakota. I join them and all South Dakotans in 
saying we are excited to see this honor come to fruition.
  The South Dakota will build off the legacy of her forebears, a 
Pennsylvania-class armored cruiser that served as a troop escort in 
World War I and a battleship that was one of the most decorated 
battleships in World War II. The battleship South Dakota was a proud 
representative of the 68,000 South Dakotans who answered their 
country's call to serving the war, earning 13 battle stars in the 
Pacific theater.
  The South Dakota led with her nine 16-inch guns in the battles of the 
Santa Cruz Islands and Guadalcanal, which earned her a reputation as a 
fighting machine by defending U.S. aircraft carriers and disabling the 

[[Page S778]]

  In her second Pacific tour, the South Dakota supported marine 
landings on the Marshall Islands with shore bombardments before joining 
the Battle of the Philippine Sea and fighting through a bomb hit in 
order to defend our fast carriers. As information on U.S. military 
action was limited at the time, she was often referred to as 
``Battleship X'' and ``Old Nameless.''
  The submarine South Dakota will continue this distinguished tradition 
of service, and as is the nature of the submarine force, the 
accomplishments of this new boat and her crew may be even more 
secretive than those of her battleship predecessor's. In fact, it could 
be decades until we fully appreciate all the South Dakota might do in 
her 30-plus-year service life. We may very well read about her exploits 
in a sequel to ``Blind Man's Bluff''--the daring account of early U.S. 
submarine espionage and power projection.
  Because of the nature of their work, the so-called Silent Service is 
often an undersung hero of the U.S. military's. I have certainly never 
seen a submarine at an airshow or coming down Main Street in a parade. 
The nature of the sub force's mission is as secretive as it is high 
stakes, but at any given moment, the U.S. submarine force is patrolling 
the depths of the ocean and is monitoring littoral waters for threats 
against our Nation and our allies.
  The South Dakota will project power at sea and ashore with her 
payload of torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can be 
delivered without warning. Undetected, she will carry out the seven 
core competencies of the submarine force--anti-submarine warfare, anti-
surface warfare, the delivery of special operations forces, strike 
warfare, irregular warfare, intelligence, surveillance and 
reconnaissance, and mine warfare--all while keeping adversaries on 
their toes.
  While Saturday will be a time for our Navy and the country to 
celebrate this milestone, the South Dakota won't just be talked about 
here at home; around the world, our adversaries are taking note as this 
submarine will further strengthen our global presence and ability to 
protect the interests of the U.S. and our allies. Our adversaries are 
already undertaking significant efforts to challenge U.S. military 
capabilities and international order.
  While they can try to copy our designs, mimic our operational 
concepts, or even try to replicate the way we train, one thing they 
will never be able to do is to imitate our people. The commissioning 
crew has proven its aptitude and professionalism in the months leading 
up to this point. The men and women of our submarine force, like those 
who serve in the ranks across the Department of Defense, are the root 
of America's military strength.
  As Americans, we are grateful for all who have answered the call to 
serve and the families who support them, especially those who endure 
spending months apart during long deployments. The lives of submariners 
are not easy, and they are not easy for their loved ones. We thank them 
for their sacrifice.
  The South Dakota's complement of 135 talented officers and sailors 
will put its population in line with those of South Dakota towns like 
Isabel, Pierpont, and Java. Like South Dakota's rural towns, the USS 
South Dakota will be a tight-knit community of its own, albeit one that 
is uniquely confined to a submersed vessel just over a football field 
long and with a nuclear reactor.
  The indigenous inhabitants and early pioneer settlers of the State of 
South Dakota instilled a resourceful and resilient ethic in the culture 
of our State that continues to this day. This was driven by the remote, 
austere, and often unforgiving conditions on the Great Plains. I am 
confident that such hardiness will be replicated in all officers and 
crew members of the South Dakota as they live up to the boat's motto, 
which means ``Under the sea, we rule.''
  As boat sponsor Deanie Dempsey brings the boat to life on Saturday, 
we thank the officers and crew of the South Dakota for their dedicated 
service to our country.
  May God bless the USS South Dakota and keep watch over her as she 
patrols the seas.
  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. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Scott of Florida). Without objection, it 
is so ordered.

                                  S. 1

  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I want to continue talking about a 
subject that I talked about yesterday, and that is our situation in the 
Middle East--specifically, but not exclusively, with respect to Syria.
  To focus my thoughts, I want to begin talking about S. 1, which we 
are considering and will be considering shortly. We have been 
considering the procedural matters.
  S. 1 is the Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act. 
Its sponsor is the senior Senator from the Presiding Officer's State, 
Senator Rubio. He has done an extraordinary job with this bill. We both 
know Senator Rubio. He is whip-smart, as I said yesterday. Speaking for 
me, he has forgotten more foreign policy than I will ever know.
  This is a good bill. I will just mention a couple of things. Senator 
Risch has worked very hard on it as well. He is, of course, the 
chairman of our Foreign Relations Committee.
  There is a lot to like in S. 1. I just made a list walking over here. 
No. 1, S. 1 is going to reaffirm our commitment to protecting Israel. 
Israel is easily our most important ally in the Middle East and is 
easily our most important friend in the Middle East. On some days, I 
think they are easily our only friend in the world, and we should 
support our friends. Let me say that again. We have to support our 
friends, and Israel is a friend. This bill will support Israel, and I 
like that. So I am going to vote for the bill.
  No. 2, Senator Rubio's bill strengthens our bond with Jordan, another 
key ally. Jordan is a key ally in fighting terrorism and the 
humanitarian catastrophe caused by Assad's butchering of his own people 
in Syria, along with the help of Vladimir Putin in Russia.
  No. 3, Senator Rubio's bill will combat a radical economic welfare 
campaign against Israel. That is very important. You either support 
Israel or you don't. It is time for everybody to stand up and be 
counted. I do.
  Finally, Senator Rubio's bill creates new sanctions on the Government 
of Syria. I am not sure they are going to be enough, but it is a start. 
It targets those who have been laundering money to help the Assad 
  I support all of these things. I support S. 1, sponsored by Senator 
Rubio. I thank him, Senator Risch, and everybody who has worked so hard 
on S. 1.
  There is a way to make S. 1 better, and I have an amendment pending 
that will do that. I have heard some of my colleagues correctly say 
that S. 1 is about standing with our allies, and that is important. 
Certainly, America's foreign policy is centered, in part, around 
interests but not exclusively around interests. Values are important 
too. If you have a foreign policy just based on your nation's 
interests, all you do is go from deal to deal to deal, and everything 
becomes expendable, depending on what day it is.
  America's foreign policy has never been based exclusively on 
interests. I am not saying interests aren't involved, but it has been 
based on values. One of our values in America is that we stand with our 
allies. That is what S. 1 does. It stands with our friend Israel. It 
stands against our enemy Assad. It stands with Jordan.
  I will tell you who it doesn't stand with--the Syrian Kurds. The 
Kurdish people are one of the largest--if not the largest--minorities 
in the world that is stateless. There are Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, 
and Syria. They don't have a caliphate. They don't have a country. They 
are occupying northeast Syria right now, and I believe they want peace. 
I believe--some of my colleagues disagree with me--that they believe in 
democracy, and that they, in large part, embrace Western values.
  I understand that is debatable, but I will tell you one thing that is 
not debatable. We would not have defeated ISIS without the help of the 
Syrian Kurds. That is just an actual fact. You can write that one down 
and take it home to Mama.

  Before somebody starts saying, well, we haven't defeated ISIS, I say: 

[[Page S779]]

never defeat the terrorist group. They will just change their names. 
Has every jihadist in the world been eliminated in the Middle East? No. 
Duh. We will never eliminate all of them, but that doesn't mean the 
President was wrong to say a couple of years ago, when he became 
President: I don't know how many jihadists are calling themselves 
members of ISIS.
  There were 100,000. There sure aren't 100,000 today. I know they had 
a capital in Raqqa. I know they had a caliphate in the Middle East. I 
know there were at least 100,000 of them, but there aren't 100,000 of 
them now.
  We wouldn't have beaten back ISIS without the help of the Syrian 
  The President has announced that he is going to pull American troops 
out of Syria, and he is talking about pulling American troops out of 
Afghanistan. I know there is a lot of debate about that. To be 
truthful, I don't know who is right and who is wrong.
  Senator McConnell has a vote on his amendment to S. 1 today. I am not 
sure I am going to vote for it. It is not because I think he is wrong, 
but it is because I am not sure he is right. I am not sure who is 
right. The President says one thing, his intelligence community says 
another, and Members of the Senate say a multitude of things, as we 
always do.
  We have to get this one right. There is a lot of talk, not by 
Senators, but I have seen the opinions in the press. They say that this 
is all just a bunch of cynical politics, that the whole purpose of S. 
1--and I don't believe it, but I have heard people say it, and I guess 
I can see their point--is about making somebody take a tough vote; that 
is all it is about.
  Well, I don't care about tough votes or easy votes or the politics of 
this. I think what the American people are looking at is that we have 
been in Syria, and we have been in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have 
spent trillions of dollars. Why are we there? Have we accomplished why 
we are there? And if not, when are we going to accomplish it? And, by 
the way, how much more will it cost?
  I think the President makes a very valid point about nation-building 
and about mission creep. I have listened to this debate, and I honestly 
don't know, and I don't think the American people know. I know the 
intelligence community may be split, but we in the Senate, all of us--I 
have met every Member of the Senate--all have brains above a single 
cell organism. We can have experts come over here and brief us and tell 
us the pros and the cons. We haven't done that, and that really bothers 
  I am not here to criticize Turkey or President Erdogan. I am not 
saying I agree with everything President Erdogan does or everything 
Turkey does, but Turkey is a NATO ally, and that means a lot to us. 
Turkey is supposed to be a friend. I wish we could have better 
relationships with Turkey. I would like to have a trade deal with 
Turkey, but I also want to protect our friends the Syrian Kurds.
  It is no secret and it is no understatement to say that President 
Erdogan, his administration, and Turkey have had some pretty harsh 
things to say about the Syrian Kurds and about some of the things that 
Turkey might do if we pull out and the Syrian Kurds are left exposed. I 
know that puts us in a very difficult situation. It puts the Senate in 
a very difficult situation. It puts the President in a very difficult 
situation. Well, that is why we are here.
  The purpose of this amendment, which I hope the Senate will support--
I hope I will be allowed to bring it up--is not to make anybody take a 
tough vote or an easy vote. It is not about the 2020 elections. It is 
not about trying to get back at the House. It is about trying to allow 
us to focus and, hopefully, resolve a problem coming down the pike, 
like thunder on a summer night, that we are going to have to face: What 
are we going to do if we pull out or minimize our presence in Syria, 
and our friends the Turks attack our friends the Syrian Kurds? What are 
we going to do?
  I don't want to see us wait until that happens and have us all 
running around like a bunch of sprayed roaches trying to figure it out. 
We need to deal with it now. We don't need to deal with it on the 
politics, and we don't need to deal with it in terms of who we are 
trying to make take a tough vote.
  I would like to see the Senate have a briefing. I would like to bring 
experts over to talk to us--those who believe we ought to remain in 
Syria, those who believe we ought to leave. While we are at it, let's 
do the same thing about Afghanistan.
  Then let's talk to the American people straight up: Here is what we 
have decided, and here is why. Here is the game plan. Here is when it 
is going to be completed, and here is what it is going to cost.
  I am going to go back to where I started. I am not naive, nor is the 
Presiding Officer. A country's foreign policy always has involved with 
it interests--your own interests--but it is not interests alone. There 
has to be a moral component to a nation's foreign policy, and our moral 
principle is that we stand by our friends.
  I am glad we are standing by Israel. I am going to vote for the bill. 
I am not sure I am going to vote for the amendment this afternoon, but 
I am going to vote for the bill. I just wish we would stand by our 
friends the Syrian Kurds.
  Thank you.
  I yield to the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. I recognize the Senator from Idaho.
  Mr. RISCH. Thank you, Mr. President.
  First, let me thank Senator Kennedy. I think he has articulated a 
number of things that are important to us, and it is important that we 
do debate these things. When the Founding Fathers put the Constitution 
together, they were very clear on article I rights, legislative rights, 
and some on the executive branch rights. On foreign policy, I think 
that was a work still in progress with them, and they left it with both 
branches to have a role in both crafting the foreign policy of this 
country and also in execution of the foreign policy of this country. In 
essence, that is what we are doing with S. 1.
  S. 1 is a work that has been going on for a considerable period of 
time, and it addresses the relationships we have with a number of our 
friends in the Middle East. I think I heard the Senator say he did 
agree with S. 1 and the things that are in there, trying to help our 
friends the Israelis, trying to help our friends the Jordanians, and 
also trying to help what friends we have in Syria to help them shed the 
yoke of Bashar al-Assad, which is the Caeser bill, which is included in 
this. This is a conglomeration of about four different bills. It is 
bipartisan, not something that is common around here these days, but it 
is bipartisan in almost all respects, and it does do a lot of the 
things we want it to do. So I appreciate hearing his support for S. 1. 
I want to talk for just a minute about a couple of issues he raised.
  No. 1, talking about the debate that has been going on within the 
executive branch on certain issues. This is the way it is supposed to 
work. Most of the time, this is done in the Intelligence Committee and 
in the Foreign Relations Committee in closed hearings. Occasionally, it 
bubbles over, as it has recently, where there were some statements made 
by the intelligence community that the President didn't necessarily 
subscribe to, but the intelligence community was doing its job.
  There are 17 committed intelligence Agencies of the United States. 
Every day, they gather a massive amount of information which they try 
to boil down and understand where we are headed. Their job is to gather 
that and to submit it to policymakers--this body, to the Foreign 
Relations Committee, to the Intelligence Committee, this entire body, 
and, most importantly, to the President of the United States and all 
policymakers throughout government. They do that, and they do a good 
job doing it. Not everyone agrees.
  The intelligence communities--I think I can say without breaching 
confidences--from time to time have a different level of confidence as 
to a conclusion they reach regarding a certain situation. Sometimes we 
debate these things publicly. The vast majority of times, we don't. As 
policymakers, we do have to make decisions.
  The President of the United States has recently talked about the 
military activities we are doing both in Syria and in Afghanistan, and 
it has properly spawned a debate as to what we are

[[Page S780]]

doing there, as the Senator suggested, what we have accomplished there, 
and what our continuing work there should be. I think that is a work in 
progress today.
  I think everyone agrees that no matter what, the nation-building we 
did after World War II in Germany and Japan and after the Korean war in 
South Korea was incredibly successful. We spent a lot of money there, 
we imported American values there, and we did a great job. Over the 
last few decades, we have tried to use the same model in the Middle 
East, and it has been very unsuccessful. Before you can be successful, 
people have to want what you are giving them. That has not been 
unanimously accepted in the Middle East, and I think the President is 
right that we need to examine the nation-building and, for that matter, 
standing up our fighting forces that again have not been particularly 
competent in the Middle East.
  In any event, it is a good debate to have. We are in the middle of 
that debate right now. I think everyone agrees that, no matter what, we 
have to maintain a sufficient military presence in the Middle East in 
various places. I think the military people are better making that 
decision than we are, but we have to have a military presence in 
certain places so that when we get a threat to America, we can respond, 
and we will respond. I don't think there is anything the President has 
said that backs us away from our commitment to respond, when necessary, 
to threats to the United States by terrorists. We are going to continue 
to respond. I think he has rightly identified that we should reexamine 
our nation-building efforts and expenditures in some areas, and I think 
he is right there.
  I want to touch on, for just a minute, what the Senator said about 
the situation between the Turks and the Kurds, and then yield to my 
friend from Texas. You are absolutely right. The Kurds have been a 
great friend of ours for a long time. They have stood by our side. They 
have helped us in Syria and in other places when we have been fighting 
over the recent decades in the Middle East. They are good people. I met 
with them yesterday, and as I always do, I thanked them for their 
commitment to us and the sacrifices they have made. I realize they are 
there in their homeland and protecting their homeland. They have been 
magnificent fighters, and they are great people to have alongside us.
  Some elements of the Kurdish people have had issues with Turkey. 
Turkey has been a long ally of the United States. We have a significant 
military presence there and a significant base there. This has been 
going on for a long time. They are a member of NATO. They are an 
official NATO ally of ours, which gives us certain responsibilities and 
gives them certain responsibilities.
  The fact that the Kurds and the Turks are having issues with each 
other should very much concern us. No matter what happens, as the 
Senator mentioned, we have American values, and both the Turks and the 
Kurds have to understand that they need to respect human rights, they 
need to respect the rule of law, and we have to stand by and watch that 
this occurs. There have been conversations going on--I don't think it 
is a secret to anyone--about how this is going to play out and what 
role the United States plays in this regard, but it is a difficult 
situation, as the Senator referred to.
  At this time, I am going to oppose the amendment the Senator has 
proposed. I do so reluctantly because I think he is trying to speak to 
the fact that we need to stand by our friends, and we do need to stand 
by our friends. Our relationship with the Turks, I don't think it is a 
secret to anyone that it has hit a rough patch, but simply because we 
are in a rough patch doesn't mean we throw the baby out with the 
  We are going to have to continue to keep our commitments. We are 
going to have to, as the Senator suggested, see that we stand by our 
friends. It is going to be difficult. It is difficult in the situation 
we are in, but we can do this, we are committed to do this, and we are 
going to continue to work at it.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.

                       Prescription Drug Pricing

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, on Tuesday of this week, the Senate 
Finance Committee had a very important hearing on the skyrocketing 
costs of prescription drugs, something the Presiding Officer knows a 
lot about.
  In 2017, a study found that more than half of Americans regularly 
take some form of prescription medication. Modern medicine has made 
living with chronic health conditions that would have once been 
debilitating or fatal--like diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma--
modern medicine has made living with those conditions manageable. That 
is a blessing for which we are all grateful.
  I know, at the same time, many of my constituents and many Americans 
struggle to buy prescription drugs to treat common health problems, not 
because they aren't widely available but because they simply are 
unaffordable. For many higher cost, brand-named drugs, generic 
alternatives are available at a lower price. For example, I happened to 
take a drug called Lipitor, which previously was covered by a patent. 
As a result of that patent, the cost of the drug was higher because the 
producer of the drug had a monopoly. We grant that monopoly for a 
period of time--I believe it is 12 years--in order for them to recoup 
their research and investment dollars. Unfortunately, many of these 
efforts to come up with lifesaving drugs are unsuccessful. So in order 
to encourage innovation and lifesaving discoveries, we have to find a 
way to allow drug companies to recover their sunk costs and make a 
  Generic drugs have really been a lifesaver for many people. That same 
Lipitor that I take now is off of patent and is available for a few 
dollars for a 30-day supply. That is just one example. One study found 
that 93 percent of generic prescriptions are filled at $20 or less, 
with the average cost being just more than a little over $6, but for 
many drugs, there are no low-cost alternatives, and people are 
increasingly struggling to cover the rising costs of their medication.
  One witness from Indiana, Kathy Sego, I think, speaks for a lot of 
parents who have children suffering from diabetes needing insulin, and 
I think her story was emblematic of that problem across the country.
  In her case, she is a wife, a mother of two, and a choir teacher. Her 
son Hunter is one of the more than 30 million Americans who suffer from 
diabetes, and he relies on insulin to manage his blood sugar.
  Kathy told us that when her son Hunter started college, he started to 
go to the pharmacy to pick up his insulin prescription himself. That is 
when he discovered that it cost $1,700 a month, even with health 
insurance. The copay--the part they were responsible for and had been 
paying for Hunter, unbeknownst to him--is $1,700 a month. Kathy assured 
him that, unfortunately, that cost was correct; $1,700 only covers a 1-
month supply.
  Over the next few weeks, their family began to notice a change in 
their son Hunter. He was losing weight, falling behind in school, and 
was depressed--a far cry from what she said was his normally positive 
and energetic self. Unbeknownst to his parents, Hunter had only 
purchased one vial of insulin when he needed four, and he began 
rationing his supply of the drug. To try to counterbalance that, he 
began skipping meals--which is dangerous for a diabetic to do, let 
alone an incredibly active college football player like him. 
Fortunately, in time, his family realized what had happened, and they 
intervened, avoiding what could have been fatal consequences, but her 
family still battles with the expense of this insulin.
  Kathy says she worries about what happens when Hunter graduates from 
college, noting that his life choices are contingent upon his ability 
to pay for the medicine he needs to keep him alive. She wondered at our 
hearing: Can he afford an apartment, utility bills, and repay his 
student loans? Hunter, she said, needs insulin to live, but should that 
need for insulin keep him from living?
  About 1.5 million Americans have type 1 diabetes like Hunter, where 
their body produces no insulin to deal with the blood sugar, but as I 
mentioned earlier, 30 million Americans, according to the Centers for 
Disease Control, have diabetes, and about 3 million of those 30 million 
are in my State of Texas. Three million Texans have diabetes for which 
insulin is a required treatment.

[[Page S781]]

  While we know it is common to see higher drug prices for new drugs 
that have recently completed the costly research-and-development phase, 
that is not the case for insulin, which has been around for nearly a 
century and is a type of biologic drug which is generally more 
expensive to produce.
  I hope Kathy and Hunter's story--which could be told millions of 
times by other families across the country--impels us to investigate 
the causes for these unreasonable costs for some of these prescription 
drugs. I hope we find a solution--and I am confident we will if we try 
hard enough--that will allow families like Kathy's to live without the 
burden of wondering how to pay for their healthcare costs, particularly 
when it comes to prescription drugs.
  At Tuesday's hearing, I also questioned our witnesses about a 
phenomenon known as rebates and the way pharmacy benefit managers deal 
with pharmaceutical companies.
  I noted that, ordinarily, it was a crime to kick back money to a 
provider. For some reason that nobody could justify, there was an 
exclusion for these rebates by pharmacy benefit managers to 
pharmaceutical companies.
  In the case of prescription drug pricing, rebates and discounts 
provided by manufacturers could mean the difference between a drug 
being covered by your insurance plan or not, and, certainly, whatever 
the net price is after the rebate is not transparent to anybody, much 
less to the consumer, or returned directly to the consumer. Not only 
does this drive up the list price and out-of-pocket cost of lifesaving 
drugs, but it makes it impossible for Congress or anybody to determine 
where each dollar goes.
  I find this lack of transparency alarming. It shouldn't take an 
advanced degree to figure out where your money is going when you buy 
prescription drugs or how to shop for the most effective drug at the 
right price. When it comes to prescription drugs, we need to promote 
transparency first and foremost, and we need to streamline and 
eliminate regulations and laws that allow the middlemen to 
unnecessarily drive up prices. We know we have the opportunity to do 
that in the coming months.
  We shouldn't require people suffering from chronic diseases to 
subsidize the healthcare costs of healthy people. There is something 
strangely wrong about this picture. I am glad we had the opportunity to 
listen to witnesses on this topic, and I thank them for taking the time 
to share their insights.
  I look forward to continuing to work with all of our colleagues on 
the Finance Committee and generally to identify ways to make 
prescription drugs more affordable and accessible to the American 
  As the Presiding Officer knows, given his background in healthcare, I 
am confident he can be an important part of that solution, as well.

                       Tribute to Susan Pamerleau

  Mr. President, switching gears just a bit, I want to share a quick 
good-news story of two outstanding Texans who blazed the trail for 
women in public service.
  While I was in San Antonio, my hometown, a couple of weeks ago, I had 
the chance to congratulate our new U.S. marshal for the Western 
District of Texas, Susan Pamerleau. Over the years, she has held many 
impressive titles--general in the Air Force and sheriff--and now she is 
a U.S. Marshal. In addition to each of those, I have always been proud 
to know her under a different title--as a friend.
  At Susan's ceremonial swearing-in, Chief Judge Orlando Garcia opened 
by noting the historical significance of her being the first female 
marshal ever in the Western District of Texas, which was established in 
  Susan's long and impressive career began at Lackland Air Force Base 
in Texas, where my dad happened to have been stationed at one time, 
where she received her commission through officer training school. Over 
the course of her 32-year career in the Air Force, she rose through the 
ranks and retired, ultimately, as an Air Force major general in the 
year 2000.
  When she returned to Texas, Susan joined USAA as a vice president and 
later became senior vice president. It wasn't until 10 years later that 
her career in law enforcement began when she was elected sheriff of 
Bexar County, TX, which is the 11th largest sheriff's office in the 
  Susan was the first woman to hold that role as well, but she said:

       It was not about being the first woman. It was really about 
     redefining the role of what the Bexar County sheriff does.

  Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with her on a 
number of issues impacting my constituents and our constituents, 
including mental health and law enforcement reforms. I think she has 
made an enormous contribution to both of those areas.
  Needless to say, I was thrilled when the President nominated Susan to 
be the new U.S. marshal for the Western District of Texas and when she 
was confirmed last fall. Her integrity, leadership, and management 
skills are critical to the Western District of Texas, which comprises 
68 counties and more than 6 million people.
  I wish, once again, to congratulate my dear friend Susan Pamerleau on 
becoming the U.S. marshal, and I look forward to continuing to work 
with her as we serve together the people of Texas

                     Remembering Mary Lou Robinson

  Mr. President, finally, when you talk about women opening doors in 
Texas, you can't leave out Mary Lou Robinson, who sadly passed away 
last weekend at the age of 92.
  Her long and distinguished legal career began at the University of 
Texas School of Law, where she met her husband, A.J. After law school, 
they returned to Amarillo, TX, where they opened up the firm 
appropriately named Robinson & Robinson.
  In 1955, she left the private practice of law when Potter County 
commissioners appointed her judge of the Potter County Court at Law, 
making her the first in a series of firsts for this remarkable woman.
  Judge Robinson found her passion, and she was hooked. In the coming 
decades, she became an advocate for women's rights, and she helped to 
promote the passage of the Texas Equal Rights Amendment, a 
constitutional amendment voted on by the people in 1972.
  Over the course of her remarkable 63-year judicial career, Judge 
Robinson served as the 108th District Court judge, followed by 
associate and then chief justice of the 7th Court of Appeals, located 
in Amarillo.
  In 1979, she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to be a judge of 
the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas, where she 
served for nearly 40 years.
  Her career is impressive, not only for its length but for its 
quality. One attorney practicing before Judge Robinson noted: ``Lawyers 
may disagree on a lot of things, but almost all agree that she treats 
everyone equally and fairly.'' That is high praise for a district 
  Judge Robinson will be remembered as an inspiring and devoted judge, 
an early advocate for women's rights, and a beloved member of her 
  Last summer, Senator Cruz and I introduced a bill to rename the 
Federal building and courthouse in Amarillo the J. Marvin Jones Federal 
Building and the Mary Lou Robinson United States Courthouse.
  This lasting testament to her judicial career will live on for 
generations, and I am proud that Senator Cruz and I were able to cement 
this legacy for this legal pioneer.
  While our family sends our prayers to the family of Mary Lou 
Robinson, we can all be proud of her distinguished career of service, 
not only to her beloved community in Amarillo but to the State of Texas 
and to the Nation as a whole.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. I recognize the Senator from North Carolina.

                         Combustible Cigarettes

  Mr. BURR. Mr. President, I was not next in the queue. Senator Gardner 
was, but since I don't see him, I am going to jump in, in great Senate 
  I rise today to educate my colleagues and the American people on 
actions that are currently being taken by the Food and Drug 
Administration. It deals with one specific thing that is familiar to 
all of us: combustible cigarettes. It revolves around a decision the 
FDA has just announced earlier this year: their plan to ban menthol 
combustible products. Their rationale for doing this is that menthol is 
the doorway for youth usage of tobacco products.

[[Page S782]]

  Let me start and end at the same point. I am going to start with this 
chart. This chart displays, from 2011 to 2017, the CDC's annual study 
of youth usage of tobacco products. Specifically, this one addresses 
the use of menthol cigarettes, where we have seen a reduction of 5.8 
percent to 2.5 percent.
  Somehow, as this chart displays, we have had a significant reduction 
in the use of menthol products for youth in this country. With this 
trend line, we are now making the case, as the Federal Government, that 
we have to ban this product because it is what is fueling an increase 
in youth usage.
  Over the same period, youth usage of combustible cigarettes has 
dropped by 12.5 percent. By any standard we would look at, we would say 
that we have an education program in America that is actually having 
the right impact here. Between what we educate, parental guidance, and 
school pressures, the usage of our youth is going down.
  This would be something that typically we would praise, but, no, an 
administration that came in primarily saying that we are here to reduce 
the regulation of the Federal Government, has picked one area that not 
only is it not reducing, but it is disregarding the trends that we see, 
and it is coming out with new regulations that, at the end of the day, 
are going to impact adults for whom we haven't either provided the 
tools to stop using combustible cigarettes or who have made a conscious 
choice that they want to use a legal product they know up front is 
harmful to their health.
  To successfully talk about this, I have to hit rewind and go back 10 
years, because it was 10 years ago, in 2009, that the Congress of the 
United States took up the Tobacco Control Act. I will say that it was a 
controversial debate. I spent hours on this floor.
  Here are some of the points I made in 2009--that H.R. 1256, which was 
the Tobacco Control Act, did not provide a pathway to market for new 
tobacco products. New tobacco products were products that 
technologically we could create that provided a level of satisfaction 
for its users but didn't have the harmful effects of the combustion of 
tobacco. Innovative products--we see them in the market place today. 
They are there not because of the guidance of the Food and Drug 
Administration, with over 10 years of total control over the tobacco 
industry. They are there because the marketplace demanded it. Consumers 
said: Give me a tool to switch. We have gone from gum to patches, to 
now electronic cigarettes.
  It was believed, at the time, that because we centralized tobacco 
regulation within an Agency that understands how to use scientific 
information to make decisions, they would look at trend lines like this 
and would make decisions that were consistent with it--that as 
technology became more available, we could determine how to put a heart 
valve in with it being less invasive through the use of technology. 
Over 10 years, we haven't figured out how to write a foundational rule 
to tell companies how they need to apply to get an e-cigarette 
  When we went into this 10 years ago, HHS claimed that the Department 
would need $100 million to establish an Agency solely focused on 
tobacco products. We did them one better. We imposed user fees on the 
tobacco industry. For every piece of tobacco product that is sold, they 
paid to the FDA a user fee on that product. It is that user fee that 
has funded the FDA effort.
  In 2019, the FDA received $712 million in user fees from the 
industry. Let me put that in perspective. Everybody who buys a tobacco 
product is paying a higher price today so that this money can go to the 
FDA so the FDA, hopefully, will create a foundational pathway that will 
allow them to approve and receive applications for reduced-harm 
  It is very consistent with this trend line of money we pumped into 
education to reduce youth usage and to encourage adults to switch, but 
until it is illegal in the United States, adults ought to have the 
freedom to choose the products they want.
  Unfortunately, 10 years later, we are in no better position than we 
were 10 years ago, where the choices are combustible products or 
products that have yet to even have an established pathway by the FDA.
  Those who are venturing out today offering e-cigarettes and 
alternatives are doing it with the understanding that tomorrow the FDA 
could walk in and say: We are going to pull this product off the 
marketplace because it hasn't been approved. Yet the FDA has never 
created the pathway and shown an individual or a company the 
application process to get a product like this approved.
  Ten years ago, before TCA was signed into law, there were 14 Agencies 
that regulated tobacco in the United States. It was the Treasury 
Department, the Transportation Department, Commerce, Justice, the 
Executive Office of the President, HHS, Education, Labor, and the 
General Services Administration. It is now consolidated into one. You 
would think that we would do a much better job of doing it.
  I am going to share with you the conclusion, and I will come back to 
this a couple of times.
  There is an age restriction on the purchase of tobacco today. It is 
18. We can have a debate as to whether it should be 21. We can have a 
debate about moving the age.
  But when an agency that has the sole control of tobacco cannot 
enforce the age requirement for it to be purchased, you have to ask 
yourself, by taking away options that adults have, does that in any 
way, shape, or form affect youth usage when the youth are illegally 
accessing the product today?
  You see, back when 14 agencies controlled it--and being a former 
Governor, the Presiding Officer may remember some of this--States 
actually enforced because the Federal mandate was to enforce the age 
requirements. They do it on alcohol today, and in some places, they do 
it on tobacco. But when we centralized all of the authority at the FDA, 
the FDA apparently gave up on the age requirement, and they only 
focused on things like this, where they can manipulate through 
government regulation, through onerous actions on the consumers, what 
they want to accomplish, which I would suggest to my colleagues and to 
the American people is not driven by facts or science; it is driven by 
politics. It is driven by those who want to see this product 
  I will say what I said 10 years ago: I am ready for the debate. Let's 
bring it to the floor, and we can talk about it and debate it.
  This is eerily similar to Canada a few years ago when they banned 
menthol products. How did they follow that up? This year, they 
legalized cannabis. Maybe that is the route we are on. We can have that 
debate at any point, but right now, that is illegal in the United 
States, and we put up with it with States that have legalized it. I am 
not sure it is a good move for adults, and I am not sure it is a good 
move for our youth. It certainly has the same combustible concerns we 
have with tobacco products. But there is a difference between the two--
this is legal. We have agreed that if you are over 18, you can choose 
to use it--with an extensive educational campaign to tell everybody why 
it is harmful to their health.
  Also 10 years ago, I offered an amendment to create a department 
within HHS known as the Tobacco Harm Reduction Center, requiring public 
ranking of tobacco products according to their risk. That amendment 
would have allowed for the development of new products to encourage 
individuals to give up traditional tobacco products and turn to less 
harmful products.
  I remember the debate well. My colleagues who were opposed to me in 
the debate said: If we centralize this at FDA, the natural reaction 
will be that they will migrate to not only the application being 
understood as to how to process it, but they will be inclined to 
approve those products quickly because of the alternative that we know 
  Here we are 10 years later, and we have no transitional, foundational 
pathway for a manufacturer to know how to apply to the FDA or what 
standards they have to meet. It is almost as if we are going to make it 
up as we go along. Therefore, these products are on the marketplace, 
but there is no application process at the FDA. They are susceptible to 
millions of dollars of investment being yanked tomorrow because 
somebody wakes up and says: My gosh. Youth have started using e-
cigarettes. The Presiding Officer knows there is an 18-year-old age 
requirement on e-cigarettes as well. Is the answer to that to remove 
all of

[[Page S783]]

that product for every American because we can't figure out a way to 
enforce an age limitation? I would suggest to my colleagues, if that is 
where we are headed, we are going to eliminate some products that will 
cause chaos in this country.
  I suggest that this will not cause chaos, but this will be the wrong 
signal to send to adults who prefer to use this product, and we do it 
under the false pretense that we are doing this because of America's 
youth. America's youth are doing the right thing. They are reducing 
their usage of combustible products. They are not enticed by things 
like menthol. Yet they are the ones whom we are using to be the fig 
leaf of all this new government regulation that the Food and Drug 
Administration is proposing to do.
  Within the office of tobacco control, there are 778 employees. There 
are close to 1,000 employees in the center for drug review. Put that in 
perspective--all the drugs that are out there, all the applications 
they are going through. We have almost as many people in the tobacco 
control agency as we do in drug review.
  Well, the one thing I can assure you about drug review is that they 
actually do process applications. It is long. It is laborious. We would 
like to speed that up. Under the latest PDUFA reauthorization, the user 
fee for drugs, there is a 304-day average to process an application. 
Well, the review of a modified risk--if you change the risk of a 
combustible, if you have decided as a manufacturer that you are going 
to change the paper on the cigarette because there is technology that 
assures you that paper is not going to burn and somebody is not going 
to fall asleep and burn down a house--when they change that, that has 
to go through a modification review at the FDA. How long does a 
modification review currently take? It takes 360 days--56 days longer 
than that of a new drug application actually working its way through 
the Food and Drug Administration. They can't claim there are not enough 
people. There are ample people, and the FDA has hired 267 employees in 
tobacco control since 2017. The numbers may actually be identical now.
  As I said earlier, in 2019 the FDA will receive $712 million in user 
fees from the industry. Of the $582 million in user fees collected by 
the FDA in 2018, which we have just completed, $205 million originated 
from the sale of combustible menthol cigarettes. So this one proposal 
is going to reduce by one-third the amount of money that the regulatory 
agency has.
  I might share with the Presiding Officer--because I think he would 
find this of great interest, having left the State of Florida as 
Governor--that there is a tax revenue piece tied to this. A ban on the 
sale of menthol cigarettes will generate a significant revenue loss for 
State, Federal, and local governments. Last year, menthol sales brought 
in $4.1 billion in Federal excise tax, it brought in $9.1 billion in 
State and local excise tax, and it brought in $1.8 billion in State and 
local sales tax. That is a total of $15.2 billion. Two-thirds of it 
is--State and local governments will lose over $10 billion in revenue 
from this one decision, the elimination of a choice for adults--all 
under the belief and sales pitch to the American people that this is 
going to stop youth usage of tobacco. Bull. We are not going to stop 
youth usage until we enforce the age limit, whether it is 18, 20, 21, 
wherever we set it. We eliminated enforcement of the age when 10 years 
ago we consolidated all of this into one entity at the Food and Drug 
  So my suggestion to my colleagues is we have gotten no benefit out of 
this. If anything, we have lost because we don't enforce age. We have 
gotten no new innovative products. We are not even on the horizon 
looking at a proposed pathway. There is not a pathway. I question 
whether there is even one perceived, even though we have 1,000 people 
working at CTP--soon to be cut by one-third by their own proposal that 
is going to eliminate user fees based upon the loss of sales of menthol 
  So I say to my colleagues, it is extremely important that you 
understand that when Commissioner Gottlieb announced his reform 
initiative for the regulation of tobacco on July 28, 2017--and I 
recognize the fact that we move from administration to administration, 
we move from Commissioner to Commissioner, and most come in and say: 
The last guy did it all wrong; I am going to do it differently. I hold 
him to his word on July 28 when he said that. He said in that 
announcement: The goals of the new approach will include the 
development of foundational regulations to provide the rules of the 
road for the review of tobacco product applications and a path to 
market for less harmful products as part of the solution to end the 
cycle of disease and death.
  Let me repeat what I said earlier. The FDA has yet to issue a single 
foundational rule as called for in July of 2017. The proposed version 
of one SE rule is currently under review at the OMB.
  If you are now the single agency in charge of the regulation of 
tobacco and you are looking at how to reduce the harm of the product, 
wouldn't your focus first be on how you approve technological products 
that meet the threshold of reduced risk? If you saw an increase in 
youth usage, would you not look at a period of time, like 7 years, and 
ask yourself, is this an anomaly?
  We will have a report next month from CDC of their annual tobacco 
survey. There must be something alarming in it relative to youth usage 
of e-cigarettes alone, and I don't dispute what they found. If, in 
fact, we find that menthol took a spike up and they say 11 percent of 
our youth are using it, I will question the science of their survey, 
with the trend that has consistently built over the last 7 years.
  But I would also make this point: If there is an age limitation on e-
cigarettes, just as there is on combustibles, are we not smart to first 
go in and find an enforcement mechanism for age if, in fact, our 
concern is that our youth are using the product?
  In essence, what they have done with the menthol rule is they 
suggested: We don't want to enforce the age thing. That is hard. What 
is easy for us to do is to do something that is political. It doesn't 
change much, but we can go out and say ``Look at what we did. We 
eliminated access to this product.''
  The majority of the people who use this product are adults. The tax 
revenues at the State, local, and Federal levels are huge.
  As a matter of fact, one of the settlements that were made prior to 
the Tobacco Control Act was the Master Settlement Agreement. That was 
before the Presiding Office was Governor and before some in this room 
might have been born. It was in 1998, and it was a significant change 
for an industry. They agreed not only to defray Medicaid costs at the 
State level; they agreed to an annual payment. That annual payment was 
more than $200 billion in manufacturer funds to defray the cost of 
healthcare to States through Medicaid resulting from the use of tobacco 
products and to develop cessation programs to get Americans to quit 
  Let me suggest to you that it is not the industry that is fighting 
this; it is the industry that is fueling this. They are funding it. 
They are the ones funding the CTP. They are the ones funding the 
education programs. They are actually the ones that are supplementing 
Medicaid funding in States.
  Well, let me say to Commissioner Gottlieb and to those bright folks 
over at CTP: When you do this, you are eliminating a portion of that 
$200 billion that is calculated based upon the sale of products in the 
marketplace, and you are reducing the shared cost of Medicaid. For many 
States that have diverted that money to other things, you are reducing 
economic development. I think one State was building sidewalks with 
tobacco money in one large city.
  I could be critical of how they have done it and what they have used 
it for, but I do know this: I went far enough in math to know that if 
you reduce the amount of sales and if the payment is figured based on 
sales, then you reduce the take States and cities are going to get from 
taxes or from the settlement.
  So I say to my colleagues, concentrate on this number--2.5 percent 
was the last number the CDC came out and said that of our youth, this 
is the percentage that use menthol products.
  We should not quit until that number is zero. If you want to make 
that number zero for youth under 18 today for all tobacco products, I 
have the answer: enforce the law. Hold retailers

[[Page S784]]

accountable. Do the same raids on tobacco that you do with alcohol. We 
probably will never get to zero, but we might do better than 2.5 
percent of menthol or 8.5 percent of overall tobacco usage.
  I want to summarize because I know there are other colleagues who 
wish to speak. I assure my colleagues, and I assure Commissioner 
Gottlieb and all the individuals who work at the CTP at the Food and 
Drug Administration, I am going to be down here every week. These 
speeches are going to get longer and longer and they will get more and 
more detailed because I want my colleagues who aren't here to 
understand the debate we went through, the decisions we made, and the 
assumptions that were made for consolidating these Agencies into one 
Agency versus multiple Agencies, and what they said would happen. I can 
give my own report card, and I am giving it to you. They have done 
zero. All of these matters about reduced-harm products that the FDA was 
going to set up, transitional, foundational rules don't exist.
  It is 10 years later. It is 2 years after the current Commissioner 
got in and said: We are going to do this.
  Well, I am still waiting. Rather than produce things which adults can 
take advantage of--tools to get off of combustible cigarettes--what is 
the action all of a sudden they take? To everybody's amazement, they 
said: We are going to ban menthol from the marketplace.
  I mentioned Canada earlier. They banned menthol and, 3 years later, 
they approved cannabis as a legal product. I am not accusing the 
administration of having that pathway, though it does raise suspicion 
because it is not the administration of reduced regulation and onerous 
government when you see what the FDA is proposing to a legal consumer 
product, but I will state that the Commissioner announced not long ago 
that they were beginning to review products that were derived from 
cannabis, oils, and other things that they thought they could safely 
approve for use in the United States.
  Well, Mr. Commissioner, you are only fueling my fears that you are 
following the roadmap Canada followed; that this is all a bait-and-
switch situation. Not only is it not valid to suggest we are doing this 
because of our youth, you are doing it to prove that the Food and Drug 
Administration can overreach and not be slapped and that somewhere down 
the road you may come to the same conclusion Canada did; rather than 
enforce cannabis and illegal drugs, let's just approve them. Let's make 
them legal. Boy, that is a sad day. It is shocking to me as one who has 
been engaged in this debate for now 25 years.
  We are extremely worried about the combustible impact of cigarettes--
and we should be--but States don't have any concerns about the 
combustible nature of cannabis. There are no filters on it. There are 
no regulations on the paper that is used, even though it is legal in 
some States. As a matter of fact, we have less research on cannabis in 
this country than any legal product that exists, including bandaids.
  There is more research and development and approval that goes into 
bandaids than goes into cannabis in the States where it is legal for 
either recreational or medical use.
  So I would state to Commissioner Gottlieb, in the insane world you 
have created, if you are going to head down this road, No. 1, expect 
Congress to weigh in but, No. 2, understand that if you begin to loosen 
up the legal use of cannabis, then we are going to hold you to the same 
standards you display for everyone else, everything that you hold a 
drug manufacturer to, that you hold a drug device manufacturer to, and, 
quite honestly, that you hold the tobacco industry to. Don't think you 
are going to slide this by and there are not going to be regulations or 
that we are going to adopt the Canada model or we are going to continue 
letting States do what they are doing.
  If you are worried about somebody burning a product and inhaling it 
into their lungs, there better be as much concern about that as it 
relates to marijuana use. Why is there no effort--given that this is 
legal from a recreational and medical standpoint--from the FDA to study 
this and put the science out?
  It only suggests to me that science is not important. Yet this is the 
institution that is the gold standard for the use of science. There is 
a scientific reason for why it takes 304 days to get a new drug 
approved. There is no scientific reason that it takes 360 days to 
approve as acceptable changing the paper on a combustible cigarette.
  I am not creating this pathway, the FDA did. It started with the U.S. 
Congress providing this much authority to one Agency, an Agency they 
believed could do everything. Because they are not funded by the U.S. 
Congress for this piece--they are funded by the industry--do you know 
what? They think Congress has no say in it.
  Do you know who funds 75 percent of new drug applications that are 
filed, reviewed, and approved? The drug industry. Seventy-three percent 
of applications they review and approve for the medical device industry 
are funded by the medical device industry.
  With regard to generic drugs, which we all want more of because they 
drive down the cost of drugs in America, all of a sudden the FDA has a 
backlog that is years-long for approving generic applications. They 
said, if only we had a user fee agreement for generic drugs, and that 
user fee agreement is over 60 percent of the cost of approving a 
generic drug. What has happened? The backlog is every bit as big today 
as it was when the user fee was created. So if my colleagues wonder why 
I am standing in the way of a user fee agreement for over-the-counter 
drugs, it is because I figured this out.
  They get funded by the industry. Their actual work goes down. The 
American people pay the tab for the user fees that are sent to the FDA, 
while the price of drugs, devices, cigarettes, and over-the-counter 
drugs goes up. When Congress stands up and says explain this, they look 
at us--and we control 25 percent of their budget for any given center--
and they say: We are going to go talk to the people who pay 75 percent 
of our budget, not to you.
  The last thing I will share is that 25 years ago it wasn't like this. 
Twenty-five years ago, we appropriated everybody's budget in the 
administration. One hundred percent of the money for the FDA was 
appropriated by Congress. When I, as a Member of the U.S. Senate, 
picked up the phone and called the FDA, they didn't want to answer my 
question over the phone. They wanted to come to my office that day and 
answer it. They wanted to actually solve the problem.
  I just went through a period of time where I gave FDA 2 weeks to 
respond to letters and, in some cases, it took a month to get a 
  They don't think we play a role in this. Yet we set legislation 
priorities for the country. I would suggest to my colleagues that this 
is an isolated example, that is true, but it is an example of a much 
bigger problem within the Food and Drug Administration and this 
Commissioner; that Congress is insignificant to them; that you can be 
called up to provide oversight in front of a committee, and you can say 
whatever because we have no clarity and no transparency inside the 
system. So they can tell me the review time has gone down 47 days since 
last year. I don't know whether it is accurate. I can only tell you 
this. I don't see it in the numbers of third parties that do reviews. I 
see actions such as this with no science to substantiate it, and I have 
to question the science they use across the landscape of products they 
  The Food and Drug Administration regulates 25 cents of every dollar 
of the U.S. economy. This ought to be something that not just my 
colleagues but the American people should be concerned with.
  If you believe my argument is half accurate and this is ill-advised, 
for God's sake, pick up the phone and call the White House switchboard 
and tell the President, who came in to reduce regulation, that there is 
an Agency that is not listening.
  Not only is there an Agency that is not listening, the President has 
a Commissioner that went on Twitter, and there was a tweet that said 
the President's numbers are going down, and the Commissioner ``liked'' 
the tweet. Maybe I will say that a few more times so the President will 
see it or hear it, but maybe somebody is listening who will tell him.
  I am not interested in a single individual's political goal. This has 
to be an individual political goal because

[[Page S785]]

there is no science to substantiate what they are doing, and the losers 
are the localities and States in taxes and States in settlement 
payments but, more importantly, adults who choose this product because 
it is legal.
  Now the FDA says, with the strike of a pen: We can eliminate it. It 
is no longer a choice you have.
  That is not the America I signed up for, but I did sign up to come 
here and fight for things I thought weren't in the best long-term 
interests of the country. This is at the top of my list right now. You 
will hear me often.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). The Senator from Iowa.
  (The remarks of Ms. Ernst pertaining to the introduction of S. 285 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Ms. ERNST. 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. SANDERS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Young). Without objection, it is so 
  (The remarks of Mr. Sanders pertaining to the introduction of S. 309 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, 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. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the cloture 
vote on the McConnell amendment occur at 3 p.m. today, and the filing 
deadline for second-degree amendments apply as if the vote occurred at 
the originally scheduled time of 3:30 p.m.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. THUNE. 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.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (The remarks of Ms. Collins pertaining to the introduction of S. 296 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Ms. COLLINS. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.

                       Transportation and Safety

  Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I rise to discuss challenges that 
influence nearly every component of our day-to-day lives and the 
opportunity to address these challenges in the 116th Congress.
  No matter who you are, where you live, or your level of income, every 
one of us is affected by our Nation's transportation system. I believe, 
as most Nebraskans do, that a core responsibility of the Federal 
Government is to provide sufficient and sustainable transportation and 
infrastructure to all of our citizens. Our transportation system is 
critical to our national security, to our economy, and to our public 
safety. Here in the Senate, I have worked hard to remove the 
unnecessary obstacles to the safe and efficient flow of goods and 
people throughout our country and around the world, and I plan to 
continue that work as we begin this Congress.
  This is a priority that is of particular importance to my State of 
Nebraska. Agriculture is the economic engine of our State's economy. 
According to the U.S. Trade Representative's office, Nebraska is the 
fifth largest agricultural exporting State. To continue moving our 
products from the heartland to the coasts and beyond, we need an 
efficient, an effective, and a safe transportation system. Few 
understand this better than Nebraskans. We rely on the connection of 
our roads and highways, railroads, ports, and ocean carriers to bring 
goods and services to the world market. We use trucks to haul livestock 
across the country. Our railroads and waterways move vast quantities of 
grain across the prairie and to the coasts, and our ports and ocean 
vessels move these commodities around the world.
  For Nebraska to continue benefiting from domestic and international 
trade, it is vital that we build and maintain our infrastructure, 
reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, and promote safety across the 
surface transportation network. We must also recognize that connections 
across all of these modes--truck, rail, waterway, ocean, and air--must 
function smoothly for the system to work.
  In the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, I am 
proud to, once again, chair the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation 
and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, which oversees 
the important surface transportation issues. This will be my fifth year 
as chairman, and I am looking forward to continuing the effective 
accomplishments that my colleagues and I have made.
  Specifically, in 2015, we worked across party lines to pass the 
Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, more commonly known as the 
FAST Act. This was the first long-term highway bill that had been 
passed by Congress in over a decade, and it included several positive 
reforms to our surface transportation system. It recognized the 
importance of freight movement as part of the broader infrastructure 
debate by including a new freight formula program and a freight 
specific grant program. It gave key State and local officials the 
flexibility they needed to develop strategic investments in their 
  Together, we have improved the flow of commercial traffic and 
increased the safety of America's roads, but there is still much work 
to be done. With the 116th Congress underway, we have much to do on 
transportation policy.
  Of note is the quickly approaching expiration of the FAST Act 
reauthorization in September of 2020. The transportation and safety 
subcommittee, which oversees the Department of Transportation and a 
number of modal administrations, will be hard at work on our part of 
that FAST Act reauthorization. Administrations under the jurisdiction 
of the subcommittee include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each of these modal 
administrations will be closely examined by the subcommittee.
  We will be holding hearings on Federal trucking policy and will be 
providing oversight for the FMCSA. The trucking industry is critical to 
our economy because it moves the most freight by volume and value 
across this country. As such, we will be examining a number of trucking 
issues, including hours of service requirements, the Compliance, 
Safety, Accountability Program, and the very wide scope of trucking 
regulations. Moving forward, we will work together to find safe, 
practical solutions to these issues.
  Additionally, we must carefully consider policies to support our port 
facilities and the connections they make between truck and rail 
networks to ocean shipping. It may sound funny to my colleagues that a 
Senator from a triple landlocked State like Nebraska is advocating the 
support of our ports and ocean shipping industry. Yet, as I noted 
earlier, Nebraska is the fifth largest agriculture exporting State in 
the Nation, and whether it is beef or grain or equipment, we depend on 
our ports to ensure our quality products reach around the world.
  There are currently a wide variety of issues facing this key portion 
of our transportation system. Ocean carriers are using even bigger 
vessels, which has greatly increased the amount of freight moving 
through the ports and is affecting the connections to other 
transportation modes.
  Port operations are becoming increasingly complex, and stakeholders 
are examining ways to support freight movement by better utilizing 
data, such as GE Portal at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
  Ports are taking advantage of new types of infrastructure, like 

[[Page S786]]

ports, while also addressing new challenges such as a shortage of 
chassis to move the containers.
  State and local governments, industry, labor, and the Commissioners 
at the Federal Maritime Commission are reviewing these and other 
important issues to the maritime commerce system. We need to hear from 
all of these stakeholders to better understand these challenges and 
these opportunities before us.
  Additionally, last year, the Federal Railroad Administration oversaw 
one of the biggest changes to our railroad network in recent history--
the implementation of positive train control, or PTC.
  There are 41 railroads that are required by Congress to install and 
to use PTC on their systems. I was glad to see the statement from the 
FRA that all 41 railroads met the deadline to submit documentation that 
they are either utilizing PTC or that they have completed the 
requirements to receive an extension, as required by the Positive Train 
Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015. This, however, was 
the first of two major deadlines for PTC implementation.
  Railroads that receive an extension must complete their PTC systems 
no later than December 31, 2020. Congress must continue its oversight 
of PTC implementation, especially as railroads work to achieve that 
interoperability across the network.
  The Transportation and Safety Subcommittee will be looking at PTC but 
also at regulations and railroad investments more broadly, both at the 
Federal Railroad Administration and at the Surface Transportation 
  Late in the 115th Congress, the Senate confirmed Patrick Fuchs and 
Martin Oberman to be members of the STB, and I look forward to working 
with the Board and its new members on rail commerce issues.
  The Transportation and Safety Subcommittee will also examine pipeline 
safety issues as we prepare for a reauthorization of the Pipeline and 
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. For families, consumers, 
workers, and businesses, the safety and security of our pipeline 
network must remain a top priority. America's pipelines move vital 
energy to homes and businesses in Nebraska and throughout our Nation. 
Congress must continue its robust oversight of our pipeline network.
  In 2016, we worked in a bipartisan manner to pass a bill I 
introduced--what ultimately became known as the PIPES Act--to 
reauthorize PHMSA through fiscal year 2019.
  The Transportation and Safety Subcommittee will be working to 
reauthorize PHMSA with an eye toward improving the efficiency and the 
effectiveness of the Agency's pipeline oversight. We will continue 
ensuring the Agency has what it needs to complete its pending 
  As Congress begins its work on these surface transportation issues, I 
look forward to working with the administration on policies that cut 
redtape and improve the movement of people and freight across our 
  During the last Congress, I was very pleased to twice host 
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to Nebraska, and I look forward to 
continuing to work with the Secretary and the Modal Administrators. I 
also look forward to working with Senator Duckworth, the new ranking 
member of the Transportation and Safety Subcommittee, and with all of 
my colleagues on the subcommittee so we can find bipartisan solutions 
for our surface transportation system.
  We have a very unique opportunity to work together to improve the 
daily lives of all Americans. This is so much more than just drawing a 
few lines on the map. It means making decisions that will help parents 
get their children to school using safe and reliable roads. It means 
ensuring our commercial truckdrivers, railroads, ports, ocean carriers, 
and all those in between can ship products made in Nebraska to the rest 
of the country and all over the world. It means connecting American 
  During my chairmanship, I will encourage strategic, targeted, and 
long-term investments that improve safety and more efficiently 
facilitate commerce. By working together, we can deliver solutions that 
will allow American families, communities, and businesses to thrive for 
generations to come.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.

                            Amendment No. 65

  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, I come to speak about the pending amendment 
we are going to vote on in about 25 minutes. It is an amendment that 
says it is a mistake to proceed with the withdrawal from Syria in the 
pace and scale that is currently proposed or that the White House has 
announced they are going to undertake.
  What I will say here today is what I said about it initially; that 
is, that I think it is a bad idea. I said it then, and I said it to the 
President in a subsequent meeting, and I think it is important to 
restate it here as we begin to vote, since I believe this issue is 
going to be covered in the press more as a political issue than as a 
foreign policy one.
  It is unfortunate that a lot of these issues are wrapped up as 
political decisions. These are not votes on political decisions. These 
are votes on the conduct of American foreign policy, which oftentimes 
have no partisan lines but rather are ideological, in some cases, or 
just simply a different way to view an issue.
  I share the White House's and the President's desire that as quickly 
as possible--the key words being ``as possible''--we end conflicts 
abroad. It is in the best interest of our Nation, our families, and the 
families of the service men and women who are stationed abroad and 
involved in conflict zones that this be the case. The problem is, if 
you do so in the wrong way, you end up dramatically increasing the 
likelihood of a future conflict that will involve even bigger wars, 
with an even higher investment of lives and resources to win.
  Our foreign policy in the Middle East today--particularly in this 
region we are talking about with Syria and Iraq--is focused on two 
primary objectives, as clearly stated by the policymakers. The first is 
the regional threat of Iran, its growing influence and its spreading 
reach, and the other is counterterrorism. These are the two linchpins 
of why we are there in the first place.
  The Iran threat is self-explanatory. They pose a threat to our allies 
in the region, particularly Israel but ultimately to the United States. 
The terror threat is one that reminds us how quickly we as a nation 
have a tendency to forget things.
  Now, no one has forgotten September 11, 2001, but what we sometimes 
fail to remember is what made it possible in the first place. What made 
September 11, 2001, possible in the first place was that a terrorist 
organization--al-Qaida--led by Osama bin Laden, had established within 
Afghanistan a safe haven. Al-Qaida was not the Government of 
Afghanistan--that was the Taliban--but the Taliban allowed them to have 
a safe haven in Afghanistan, and from that safe haven, they were able 
to plot terrorist attacks against America and ultimately strike us here 
in the homeland. It was possible because they had a place that allowed 
them to do this.
  It is, in fact, the key to any terrorist organization that would like 
to conduct external attacks and that would like to attack America. They 
have to have a place to operate from, and it cannot be a place where 
they are being followed, where they are being attacked, and where they 
are being wiped out by Americans or coalition forces. It has to be a 
safe haven.
  My No. 1 concern about this decision that has been made is that it 
could lead to the reestablishment of safe havens inside of Syria from 
which ISIS and al-Qaida could reconstitute themselves, conduct external 
plotting, and ultimately attack the United States.
  We already face this risk. In Northwest Syria today, there is very 
little sustained pressure on ISIS elements. In Idlib, there is 
virtually no pressure on al-Qaida. Now, imagine with even less 
coalition pressure being put upon them, how capable they can become and 
how quickly they can establish a place from which they can plot against 
  To understand why ISIS needs to plot against us and conduct 
spectacular attacks against Europe and the United States--this is a 
group that needs to prove it is still alive, and it is still strong. If 
they can't prove it, they

[[Page S787]]

can't recruit people, and they can't raise money.
  They are also in competition with other terrorist groups. In fact, 
ISIS is a spinoff of al-Qaida. These groups actually compete with one 
another for members and for resources. Both of them have a vested 
interest in attacking us abroad, not just in fulfillment of some 
ideological aims but as a means of survival because if these groups are 
able to conduct or inspire these kinds of attacks, it gives them 
credibility, they attract members and fighters, and it allows them to 
raise money for more attacks.
  Some people will tell you: Well, let the others who are in the region 
take care of them--Turkey or Iran or the regime or the Russians. The 
problem is, none of these groups have shown any interest in fighting 
ISIS, not even a limited interest.
  The Turks are largely interested in a buffer zone in the northern 
part of Syria--a buffer zone which the Kurds do not dominate because of 
their own internal politics. I am not claiming the Turks are fans of 
ISIS. I am saying ISIS is not their No. 1 priority.
  Their No. 1 priority is defeating Kurdish forces and gaining control 
of a buffer zone in the northern part of Syria. That is what they are 
going to prioritize above anything and everywhere else. They are not a 
reliable partner, nor do they have the capability to be a reliable 
partner in sustaining pressure on ISIS.
  Interestingly enough, if you look at what Turkey will need--even if 
they wanted to be a sustained partner against ISIS--it is logistical 
support from the United States of America. In essence, they can't even 
do what they are promising to do unless we are there with them to do 
it, but they don't want us to be there. That tells you they really just 
want us to leave so they can create this zone in the northern part of 
  The regime only cares about ISIS if they are in population areas or 
if ISIS is threatening critical infrastructure. If ISIS is taking ahold 
of an oil facility somewhere, they will care. If ISIS is in the middle 
of a big city, they will care. All of these other vast spaces, they 
don't have the resources, and frankly they don't care, as long as they 
don't pose a threat to the regime, they don't pose a threat to 
population centers they want to control, and they don't pose a threat 
to critical infrastructure like oil. If they are not there, they are 
not going to spend their limited resources.
  All things being equal, they probably want to defeat them, but they 
don't have the wherewithal to sustain pressure on them. They have 
limited resources, and they are going to invest those resources in 
controlling population centers and in controlling critical 
  So here is the answer: If the United States and the anti-ISIS 
coalition are not in Syria and operating until ISIS is completely wiped 
out, there will be no sustained pressure on ISIS or on al-Qaida, and 
they will both grow back stronger, and they will have the capability to 
plot against the homeland and American interests around the world. That 
is something we cannot allow to happen. We cannot have that happen.
  Some may say: Well, we can target them. We just don't have to have 
1,500 or 1,800 special operators on the ground. We don't need to do 
that. We can do it through the air and so forth. ISIS is becoming an 
insurgency. An insurgency is much different than a group with a flag 
that controls buildings and territory. You can find those people, and 
you can strike them. An insurgency is people who blend into the 
  By day, they are a baker or an accountant or a merchant, but in the 
evenings and at night, they are an ISIS fighter planting bombs and 
killing people. Insurgencies are very difficult to fight and almost 
impossible, if not impossible, to fight with simply airpower, which is 
why the situation in Syria has been so positive. Two thousand American 
servicemen and special operators, alongside thousands of Syrian 
Democratic Forces and Kurds--who are primarily doing the ground 
fighting with our logistical support and air support--have eroded 
ISIS's control of territory in the country, but they have not 
eliminated it, and there is enough of it left that it could 
reconstitute itself. In fact, it is in the process of doing so already. 
They are clearly capable of killing American servicemen, as they did a 
few days ago, and since that time, there have been a series of other 
IED attacks inside of Syria, some of which could have killed Americans.
  This is a group who has openly talked about their desire to possess 
chemical weapons, which they could use at any moment, potentially, 
against Syrian Democratic Forces and Kurds in that area--and, by the 
way, putting directly in danger our remaining service men and women 
alongside them. This remains a dangerous group capable of conducting 
attacks not just in Syria but potentially--especially if they have a 
safe haven abroad--here in the United States.
  That is not to even mention a group who doesn't get talked about 
enough anymore--al-Qaida. Al-Qaida still exists, and there is a part of 
Syria in which they are completely uncontested. No one is going after 
them. They completely dominate the area, and they do whatever they want 
from there. And I promise you they are not there starting a car wash; 
they are there working to expand their brand and reach, to resurrect 
the al-Qaida brand around the world. What is the fastest way to do 
that? By conducting an attack against the United States and our 
interests. We should be worried about that alone.
  The first reason why I am against this policy and why I support this 
amendment is that this policy directly undermines one of the two 
pillars of our strategy and our policy in this region, and that is 
counterterrorism. The second is the spread of Iranian influence. Let 
there be no doubt that this withdrawal as currently structured is a 
win--perceptually at a minimum but I believe in reality--for Iran.
  Let's begin in Southern Syria, the areas that border Israel and 
Jordan. Our withdrawal means Iran and their pro-Iranian forces that 
include Hezbollah militias will now have even more operating space from 
which to target Israel and will now be able to set up a more reliable 
ground route by which they can send weaponry into Lebanon to support 
Hezbollah so that one day they can attack Israel from the air with 
rockets, precision-guided munitions, and the like.
  We see it already, for example, in Natanz, where the United States 
still maintains a presence very near a huge refugee camp. We can 
already see the pro-Iran, pro-regime forces beginning to encroach 
closer and closer upon the American position, to the point where we may 
have to leave simply because we no longer have a defensive posture we 
can sustain. But what the withdrawal has done is it has allowed Iran 
and the pro-regime forces to go to our allies, to go to the groups on 
the ground whom we have been working with to fight ISIS and say to them 
``The Americans are unreliable. The Americans are leaving. You might as 
well partner up with us now. We are the only ones who can protect you'' 
or ``You can lay down your weapons and just go back to your families 
because Americans are leaving.'' I fear it is working. I fear that they 
may dictate the pace of our withdrawal, because that announcement alone 
has undermined our credibility in the eyes of the partners we have 
worked with in Southern Syria.
  What I just outlined is also true in the north, where the Kurds are 
facing the risk of military attack from the Turks, and they are saying: 
America is leaving, and the only people left whom we can partner up 
with to protect us are Iran and the regime and/or the Russians.
  In fact, we have left them no choice but to join up with Iran and the 
Russians and pro-regime forces because if the choice is between 
annihilation by a Turkish military attack and joining up with a regime 
to stop a Turkish intrusion, they are joining up with a regime in Iran, 
further increasing Iran's power in this country.
  It is not just contained within Syria; this announcement has actually 
accelerated the process of putting pressure on us to also get out of 
Iraq. All of the pro-Iran political parties inside the Iraqi Parliament 
are pushing very hard, very aggressively to pass a law that kicks 
America out of Iraq, and they are moving quickly on this. We see their 
tentacles in Afghanistan, where they are beginning to create internal 
political pressure through their

[[Page S788]]

parliamentary body to force America to pick a date: Tell us when you 
are leaving, a date certain.
  People may say: What is wrong with this? Get out of Syria. Get out of 
Iraq. Get out of Afghanistan. Why are we fighting other people's wars?
  We are not. These are not other people's wars; these are ours. These 
people who are going to operate in these safe havens and Iran--we are 
their target. They want to strike at us. And if we are not in 
Afghanistan and we are not in Iraq and we are not in Syria, then from 
where exactly are we going to conduct operations against terrorism? 
From where exactly are we going to be postured to defend ourselves if 
Iran decides to strike our other military facilities in the region? The 
answer is, we won't have anyplace to do that from. We won't. Not to 
mention what it says to the region.
  Understand this: The Iranians and our enemies in the region have been 
telling everyone for a long time--and the Russians echo this--``The 
Americans are unreliable. They always abandon their friends. You can't 
count on them'' or ``America is a declining power.'' That is the other 
argument they use openly: ``America is a great power in decline, and 
every year that goes by, you will see that they can't back up their 
words, and that is why you can't count on them. America is weakened.'' 
I don't believe that is true. In fact, we know that is not true. But 
halfway around the world, they do, and when we take actions that prove 
it, it makes it true in the minds of a lot of people and a lot of 
countries, and it actually is dangerous because it could invite someone 
to take a reckless and irresponsible action on the basis of 
miscalculation. Someone may actually believe ``America is now weak; 
let's attack them,'' and then we will be in a war.
  The best way to prevent a war is to make sure those who want to fight 
you know they have no chance of winning. If you give them any belief 
that they have a chance to win because you have withdrawn and, as a 
result, reinforced the narrative being used against you, I believe you 
will have increased the chance of war.
  This is being used against us right now. Iran is openly parroting 
this. They are holding this up as an example of an Iranian win. They 
are saying: This proves our strategy has been working. The Americans 
are leaving Syria. They are going to have to leave Iraq. They are going 
to leave Afghanistan with their tail between their legs. We are 
winning, and they are losing.
  It reinforces a narrative, by the way, that is also used against us 
by the Chinese and other parts of the world.
  This is a very dangerous situation. That is why this is a bad idea. 
This is about a lot more than just pulling out and not wasting any more 
money in these other places. There is no one in the world who wishes 
that more than I do. I wish the money, I wish the lives, I wish all of 
this investment had not had to be spent. I openly wonder, how much more 
could we be doing if we didn't have this threat? But here is the 
problem: Whether or not we want it to exist, the Iranian threat and the 
threat of terrorism exist.
  We cannot deal with the world the way we want it to be; we have to 
deal with the world the way it is. We didn't create the terror threat, 
but it is there. We can ignore ISIS, we can ignore al-Qaida, and we can 
ignore Iran, but they will not ignore us. We can decide not to go after 
them, but they will come after us.
  I think it is a grave mistake because if we allow al-Qaida or ISIS or 
both to have a resurgence, they will attack the United States of 
America, they will attack our allies and our interests around the 
world, and they will try and they will plot to attack us here at home. 
The Iranian influence operation and their growth and influence in Iraq 
and Syria and now in Lebanon and increasingly in Yemen--and God forbid, 
in the future, in Bahrain--pose an existential threat to all of our 
allies in this region--none more so than the State of Israel. That is 
why I support this amendment. That is why I hope all of my colleagues 
will support this amendment.
  It is important that the legislative branch and the Senate, which has 
a constitutional role to play in the setting of American foreign 
policy--they come to us to confirm people, and they come to us to fund 
these things--that we play our rightful role in the setting of American 
foreign policy. It is important that the Senate be on the right side of 
this issue so that we can hope to influence future actions and policies 
before they are taken and we can help change them once they have been 
taken in places headed in the wrong direction.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, the McConnell amendment expresses the sense 
of the Senate regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and 
Afghanistan, an action I have long supported. Many Senators, including 
several of the cosponsors of the amendment, have supported the exact 
opposite position and would prefer to send more U.S. troops to both 
  I believe that our military and diplomatic presence in Syria and 
Afghanistan should be determined by strategy and not by Presidential 
whims. I believe that our strategy should be developed with the 
thoughtful input of experts, both in executive agencies and in 
Congress. I believe that strategy should be consulted and coordinated 
with allies and partners and that it should be debated thoroughly in 
Congress. I believe that our commitments should not be open-ended and 
should have realistic and achievable goals that bring them to 
  As the new Congress convened, amidst a government shutdown, the 
majority leader sought to bring S. 1, this so-called Middle East 
security bill, to the floor. Now, he has brought a hastily drafted 
amendment to the table, one that on its face seems to rebuke the 
President's impulsive announcement earlier this month that he was 
precipitously withdrawing troops from Syria. Congress should debate 
this issue. I support bringing our troops home from Syria and 
Afghanistan, and the manner and pace in which that occurs should be the 
subject of a full debate here in the Senate. We should have a debate 
about the scope of authorities under current authorizations for the use 
of military force, AUMFs, and whether new AUMFs are warranted. This 
amendment may be designed to put Members on the record opposing the 
President's announcement, but in Congress, we should have more 
meaningful debates that influence policy and practice rather than fuel 
  I hope the majority leader will soon schedule that debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the vote 
scheduled for 3 p.m. occur now.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.

                             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 Senate 
     amendment No. 65 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 Thune, Thom Tillis, John Cornyn, 
           Mike Crapo, Roy Blunt, Josh Hawley, Rick Scott, Deb 
           Fischer, David Perdue, Mike Rounds, John Barrasso, 
           Johnny Isakson, Cory Gardner, Dan Sullivan, Steve 
           Daines, Todd Young.

  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 
amendment No. 65, offered by the Senator from Kentucky, Mr. McConnell, 
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.

[[Page S789]]

  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Tennessee (Mr. Alexander), the Senator from Missouri (Mr. Blunt), 
the Senator from Georgia (Mr. Isakson), the Senator from Kansas (Mr. 
Moran), the Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Paul), the Senator from Georgia 
(Mr. Perdue), and the Senator from Alaska (Mr. Sullivan).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Tennessee (Mr. 
Alexander) would have voted ``yea,'' the Senator from Kansas (Mr. 
Moran) would have voted ``yea,'' and the Senator from Alaska (Mr. 
Sullivan) would have voted ``yea.''
  Mr. SCHUMER. I announce that the Senator from Ohio (Mr. Brown) and 
the Senator from Illinois (Mr. Durbin) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Braun). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 68, nays 23, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 13 Leg.]


     Cortez Masto
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)


     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--9

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Braun). On this vote, the yeas are 68, the 
nays are 23.
  Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in 
the affirmative, the motion is agreed to.
  The clerk will report the bill by title.
  The bill 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 New Jersey.

                  Amendment No. 96 to Amendment No. 65

  Mr. Menendez. Mr. President, I call up Menendez amendment No. 96.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from New Jersey [Mr. Menendez] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 96 to amendment No. 65.

  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading 
of the amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

  (Purpose: To clarify that the amendment shall not be construed as a 
  declaration of war or an authorization of the use of military force)

       At the end of the amendment, add the following:
       (c) Rule of Construction.--Nothing in this section shall be 
     construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the 
     use of military force.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho.
  Mr. RISCH. I would like to ask Senator Menendez, is it your 
understanding that your amendment does not affect any existing legal 
authorities governing the use of military force?
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Yes, that is my understanding. My amendment should not 
be construed to affect in any way any existing authorities governing 
the use of military force. It only clarifies that the McConnell 
amendment is not an authorization for the use of military force or a 
declaration of war.
  Mr. RISCH. I thank Senator Menendez. Based on our understanding of 
your amendment, I will be supporting it.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, the Senate just invoked cloture on the 
majority leader's amendment, and I now rise to urge support for my 
second-degree amendment, the one where the colloquy included in the 
Record between the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and 
me leads to the conclusion of his support. I believe the amendment will 
also have the support of the majority leader and the rest of the body. 
The inclusion of my amendment will be essential for my vote in support 
in terms of moving forward.
  As I have stated over the past month, I continue to be seriously 
concerned that precipitously withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and 
Afghanistan will deeply harm American interests and security. With that 
in mind, I am generally supportive of Senator McConnell's amendment to 
S. 1, which echoes what I have been saying for much of the past 2 
years, calling on the administration to develop a real strategy for 
securing our interests in the Middle East, including combating 
terrorist groups and effectively confronting Iranian and Russian 
aggression, and calling on the administration to more effectively 
engage with the legislative branch.
  I share in the belief that the way in which the President announced 
his Syria withdrawal--with no plan, without consultation with Congress 
or our allies or consideration of the implication for our partners--is 
not in our interest. American troops on the ground are on the 
frontline, fighting for our interests and also providing leverage to 
achieve diplomatic success.
  At the same time, it is imperative that this body, which has the 
responsibility to authorize the use of military force, emphasize that 
such force alone will not protect our interests; that military force 
alone cannot defeat ISIS, al-Qaida, or other nonstate actors; and that 
military force alone will not provide enduring, sustainable peace and 
security against our adversaries.
  More importantly, when we do send our sons and daughters into combat, 
we should do so only after careful consideration and consultation and 
with clear objectives and strategy--a strategy that requires 
investments into diplomatic efforts in coordination with our allies and 
  I want to make it crystal clear that the McConnell amendment 
cautioning against a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops in no way 
constitutes Senate support for their permanent presence for an 
undefined mission. As a legal matter, my amendment makes clear one 
critical point: Nothing in the McConnell amendment can be construed as 
an authorization for the use of military force. Authorizing military 
force is simply not part of the debate on either the McConnell 
amendment or S. 1.
  At the end of the day, I would like to see all of our troops back 
home and off the battlefield. I believe we must continue to have 
comprehensive strategies to achieve that outcome.
  So, in conclusion, I believe the majority leader's amendment sends an 
important message to the President--that while he is the Commander in 
Chief, the legislative branch will continue to exercise the due 
diligence and oversight of his actions regarding our security and 
interests abroad. It also sends a message that the United States will 
not abandon our allies and our partners.
  I particularly worry about the Kurds in this regard, who have been 
some of the most significant fighters on the ground in Syria and who 
are also in pursuit of our interests there. We cannot send a global 
message that once we have finished using you for our purposes, we will 
leave you to die on the battlefield. That sends a message across the 
globe: Don't fight, and don't join the United States because when it 
finishes with you, it will leave you to die on the battlefield.
  I want to make it clear to the American people, however, that we are 
not in the business of authorizing open-ended conflicts or of keeping 
our troops on the battlefield forever. Our safety

[[Page S790]]

and security depend on holistic, comprehensive strategies, and I look 
forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to 
ensure that we are effectively using our powers to make sure the 
President is effectively using his.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.

    Select Committee on Intelligence's Hearing on Worldwide Threats

  Mr. KING. Mr. President, I rise to discuss for a few moments 
reflections upon the hearing we had this week in the Intelligence 
Committee on worldwide threats. This is an annual hearing and is in 
public, at least the first part. Then there is a closed session 
afterward with the heads of our intelligence Agencies--the CIA, the 
FBI, the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and, of course, with the 
Director of National Intelligence.
  This is an important hearing because it basically outlines to the 
American people the threats we face and the seriousness of those 
threats. It is an opportunity for those of us on the committee and for 
Members of the Senate in general to understand the nature of the 
threats, what the intelligence is, and what the information is that we 
have to help us make good policy decisions.
  Good intelligence is crucial to making good decisions. We live in an 
incredibly complex world, and my work on the Intelligence and Armed 
Services Committees over the past 6 years has educated me as to just 
how complex and difficult a lot of these issues are. I remember a long 
discussion about the Middle East at one of the Intelligence Committee 
meetings, and one of the members on the committee said that this is a 
really hard, complicated subject. The witness that day, who was from 
the CIA, said: ``Welcome to the Middle East.''
  These are very difficult issues, but in order to make rational, 
thoughtful, important, and very results-oriented decisions based upon 
the information from these hearings, we have to know the facts. We have 
to understand what the implications are and what the likely results are 
but also, more fundamentally, just what is going on, on the ground. 
Whether you look back 50 years, 100 years, or 150 years, often our 
worst foreign policy misadventures have been based on one of two 
things--either bad intelligence or intelligence that was somehow skewed 
in order to meet the desires of the policymakers. If we don't have good 
intelligence, we can't make good decisions.
  A lot of attention has been paid to the people who were testifying at 
that hearing--as I mentioned, the heads of the FBI and the CIA and the 
Directors of National Intelligence, Defense Intelligence, and the 
National Security Agency. Yet those individuals were speaking on behalf 
of thousands of other people who are scattered around the world, who 
often risk their lives to gain the information they were sharing with 
us that day. It was not Dan Coats' opinion or Gina Haspel's opinion or 
Paul Nakasone's opinion. They were distilling and presenting to us the 
intelligence and the information that had been developed by their good 
people over the course of the past month, week, years to inform us and 
to inform the President of the best information available so we can 
make the best decisions.
  After the hearing, what disturbed me was the reaction of the 
President of the United States. Instead of absorbing and listening to 
this information, he dismissed it. He not only dismissed the 
information, but he dismissed the messengers and said they had to go 
back to school or that they were being naive. Now, I don't want to be 
heard as having said that the intelligence community always gets it 
right. I know, in my having sat through hearings on Afghanistan and 
Syria and on many of the other difficult subjects we face, that there 
are mistakes made and that Dan Coats does not have a direct line to the 
Almighty in terms of the facts. They are not always right. Yet, if one 
is going to dismiss their findings, it should be based upon some 
additional set of facts or information from some source.
  There were two things that bothered me about the President's 
reaction. One was he essentially dismissed the facts in a whole series 
of cases--of Iran and ISIS. Those were two we talked about. With regard 
to North Korea and Russia, basically, he said: I don't believe any of 
it. The problem with that is, it undermines the confidence you have in 
the decision-making authority at the highest level if facts don't 
matter. The information that is supplied is not by Dan Coats, not by 
Gina Haspel, not by Paul Nakasone but is the view--the distilled 
wisdom--of the thousands of people whose job it is, whose profession it 
is, to ferret out the truth.
  At the beginning of the hearing, Dan Coats gave the best synopsis I 
have ever heard of the mission of the intelligence Agencies, of the 
mission of our intelligence community. It was very simple--to seek the 
truth and to speak the truth. That is exactly what they did at that 
hearing. They sought the truth through the auspices of these very 
professional, very thorough Agencies that are scattered throughout the 
world. Then they spoke the truth by telling us what they learned.
  The second problem I have with the President's reaction is a little 
more subtle, and this goes to the heart of the relationship between the 
intelligence community and policymakers. The subtle message that was 
being sent was: Don't tell the boss things he doesn't want to hear. 
Don't give it to us unvarnished. Style the information; sly the 
information; amend the information in order to meet what is perceived 
to be what the boss wants to hear. Whether the boss is this President, 
a past President, or a future President, that is disastrous. The 
intelligence community has to deal in facts and information, not 
policy, but if the message is sent down through the ranks of ``don't 
give me an assessment that disagrees with where I started,'' that will 
start to happen.
  Indeed, it is human nature. All of us want to be in the good graces 
of the boss. All of us want to give our superiors information they want 
to get. I was in law school over 50 years ago and had a friend who had 
been a captain in Vietnam. He told the story of being on the ground in 
Vietnam. There was a skirmish in which a half a dozen Viet Cong were 
killed. He filed his report. His report went to the division. At that 
point, half a dozen became 15. It went to headquarters where 15 became 
50. It then went to Washington where 50 became 150. That is because 
Washington wanted to see higher counts. That was the perception that 
corrupted the process, not because people were being corrupt in the 
sense of being evil or of wanting to do wrong but because they were 
doing what is human nature, which is ``I want to please the person 
above me in the chain of command.''
  If the President of the United States is not so subtly telling the 
intelligence community what he wants to hear, that will inevitably 
affect the quality of the product he receives, which, indeed, will also 
inevitably affect the quality of decisions he makes.
  Again, I am not saying the intelligence community is always right. I 
certainly believe the President or any other policymaker, including 
Members of Congress who receive this information, need to review it 
critically--ask questions, probe and prod--and try to be sure the 
information is correct, but to dismiss it out of hand in a tweet, it 
seems to me, is dangerous. It is dangerous because it undermines the 
Executive's authority to make good decisions based upon the facts, and 
it is dangerous because it has the potential for skewing the 
information itself in the future. Either one of those things is a 
danger to national security.
  If the President has facts that are different than those that are 
presented by the intelligence community, he should at least present 
them and say: This isn't consistent with what I learned at ``such and 
such'' a conference or what I am hearing from the State Department or 
from what I am hearing from Homeland Security. Yet to simply say they 
are naive, that they don't know what they are doing, and they should go 
back to school denigrates the work of thousands of loyal, patriotic 
Americans who are doing their level best to produce information upon 
which good decisions can be made.
  I stand today not to say the intelligence community always gets it 
right but to say the intelligence community should at least get an 
honest hearing and that the information they present is important to 
this country. It is important to the President, and it is important to 
the Congress. The day we

[[Page S791]]

start encouraging them to skew the information is the day the national 
security of this country is at risk.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                            Amendment No. 65

  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to express my 
opposition to the amendment before the Senate right now with respect to 
the disposition of American forces in Syria.
  First, for my colleagues, let me stipulate that President Trump's 
Syria policy has been an absolute mess. It has been a train wreck. It 
has been a dumpster fire on a daily basis. That is something 
Republicans and Democrats can agree on, and I assume that is the reason 
we are having this debate right now.
  There is bipartisan consternation over a policy in Syria that seems 
to change daily. It often changes based upon who the last person was to 
walk into the Oval Office or catch the President's ear.
  The current policy seems to be that the President is intent on 
pulling out the 2,000 or so troops that are there at the request of the 
leader of Turkey. He would love to see the United States pull out so 
that he could move his troops in and overrun the Kurdish forces, which 
have been our partners for several years in trying to root out ISIS and 
extremist groups from Syria.
  Let me also stipulate that I was one who did not support sending 
American troops into Syria in the first place. I have never believed 
that there is a military solution, led by the United States, to the 
host of problems that ravage that country. But once you have made that 
commitment, if you are going to undo it, you have to do it in some 
orderly fashion. To simply decide on a moment's notice, without any 
discussion with our allies or partners, that we are moving troops out 
is the wrong way to undo a commitment that I would argue was wrong in 
the first place.
  You have to have a plan in place for the security of those you are 
leaving behind--both the Kurdish forces that you have pushed to bring 
the fight to ISIS, as well as all of the civilians who could be caught 
in the crossfire between an advancing Turkish force and a defensively 
oriented Kurdish force.
  This is not why I am on the floor today--to try to, once again, 
rehash all of the ways that Trump's policy in Syria has gone wrong. I 
want to talk about why this amendment is not the right way for us to 
proceed as a means of correcting Trump's backward policies and how it 
could, frankly, get us more deeply mired into a series of conflicts in 
the Middle East, which are not supported--nor will they be supported--
by the American people.
  First, we should be debating an authorization of military force for 
American forces in Syria, not an amendment that restricts an illegal 
use of military force.
  The President does not have congressional authorization to use U.S. 
troops to fight ISIS in Syria or anywhere else. He claims he does 
because he has taken the 2001 AUMF and suggested that because some 
elements of al-Qaida eventually became elements of ISIS, that 
authorization continues. There is no one who voted then for that 
authorization some 17 years ago who thought that it would now be used 
as a means to fight a very different terrorist organization.
  We should be having a debate about renewing America's authorization 
of military force so that it is updated for the enemies we are actually 
fighting, instead of conceding that the President has what is now, 
potentially, unlimited ability to fight anyone, anywhere around the 
world, who has any kind of affiliation to a terrorist group named 17 
years ago. We are not doing that. Instead, through this amendment, in 
some way, shape, or form, we are ratifying the President's extra-
constitutional use of military force overseas, green-lighting the 
continued end-around on congressional authorization that this President 
and many other Presidents would like to continue.
  Let me also concede that this perversion of the 2001 AUMF was not 
invented by President Trump. It was invented by President Obama. I 
opposed it then, as I oppose it now.
  Second, the language of this bill suggests that our mission inside 
Syria is not just to fight ISIS. The language of this bill suggests 
that our troops are in Syria to fight Iran as well. Over and over 
again, this amendment is peppered with references to the rationale for 
our existence in Syria being not just to fight ISIS but also to counter 
Iranian influence.
  In fact, the amendment lists a series of conditions that we believe 
need to be filled before troops are to be withdrawn. Among those 
conditions is a strategy to ``stop Iran from dominating the region.'' 
That is an interesting debate for us to have: What should be the role 
of the United States to stop Iran from dominating the region?
  I agree with my Republican colleagues that it is not in the security 
interests of the United States, nor our allies, for Iran to continue to 
gain a bigger foothold in the region, but there is absolutely no 
congressional authorization for U.S. forces to be in Syria to counter 
Iran or to fight Iran or to try to be a bulwark against Iranian 
aggression. No matter what kind of hoops you jump through to try to 
contort the 2001 AUMF to counter ISIS, you cannot get it to cover Iran.
  This resolution--I don't know that it suggests, but it essentially 
admits--it asserts--that our troops are inside Syria today not just to 
fight ISIS but to stop Iran from gaining a bigger foothold there and, 
in fact, makes a condition of our troops' withdrawal be a strategy to 
continue to press back against the Iranians. There is no AUMF for that.
  Let me tell you my real worry. Putting a bipartisan stamp of approval 
today on an amendment that suggests our troops are inside Syria, in 
part, to counter Iran will ultimately empower those in the 
administration who are rooting for actual war with Iran. If Democrats 
and Republicans say here, today, that our mission inside Syria is 
ultimately to fight Iran, then doesn't that potentially put some 
imprimatur of congressional support for a bigger conflagration with 
Iran that some in the administration may be trying to achieve?
  Third, this amendment leaves the impression that there is an 
American-led military solution to all of the vexing problems inside 
Syria. There is none. There is none. If we really want to have a debate 
about the future of American policy in Syria, then we need to come to 
the conclusion that, ultimately, if we want to be a real player in the 
long-term disposition of Syria for the betterment of the Syrian people, 
then American diplomats, American refugee programs, and American 
economic development aid are going to be much more dispositive than 
2,000 American troops.
  Let me give you an example. In Northern Syria, where the Kurds exist 
and where American troops are for the time being, we have a problem. As 
I outlined before, the problem is a relatively simple one. We have 
pushed the Kurds to become more and more influential in the military 
and governance matters of that region. That was important for us 
because the Kurds were the most likely fighting force to be able to 
oust ISIS, but we knew ahead of time that this was going to create a 
problem with the Kurds, who see the YPG--the Kurdish military--as a 
terrorist group. We don't agree with them, but we knew ahead of time 
that the Turks would not stand for the long-term empowerment of the YPG 
in those portions of Syria.
  We have now reached the point at which the rubber hits the road--at 
which Erdogan has said: We are not going to stand for that. We are 
going to bring our troops in, creating a potential flashpoint there.
  There is a solution here, and Erdogan outlined it in an op-ed he 
wrote for a major American newspaper. He said: Well, listen, we 
understand the Kurds are going to have to be influential, but it has to 
be Kurds we support, not Kurds we believe to be affiliated with 
terrorist groups. That is a really tricky needle to thread, and I am 
not sure that it ever can be threaded. But the way you do that is, 
frankly, not with tanks or with American marines but with diplomats and 
with experienced

[[Page S792]]

foreign policy hands--people who know how to work out a complicated 
political arrangement in which the Kurds continue to be able to run 
that region but the Turks decide to hold back and not press forward 
militarily. That is a diplomatic and political quandary that cannot be 
solved by the American military.
  This amendment seems to suggest that we can solve all of our 
problems--or many of our problems--if we just keep 2,000 troops there.
  Fourth, the back end of this amendment lays out a series of criteria 
that have to be fulfilled before the troops can be removed. I mentioned 
one of them--that there has to be a strategy to combat Iranian 
influence. The final of these criteria is that ISIS has to have been 
substantially defeated in the region and a certification has to be made 
to that effect.
  Well, let me ask my colleagues this--it is a legitimate question, not 
a rhetorical one. I don't know the answer, and maybe someone can 
provide it to me. When was the last time this Congress tied the 
Executive hands in that way? When was the last time this Congress 
actually laid out the conditions by which the Executive cannot withdraw 
troops from a region? That seems to be a very curious exercise of our 
foreign policy oversight responsibility.

  I am someone who has suggested for a long time that we have largely 
abdicated that responsibility. I would love for us to be debating 
foreign policy and exercising our oversight more often, but the idea 
that we would, as a legislative body, tell the President that he cannot 
withdraw troops from a place unless x, y, and z criteria are met seems 
to be dangerous and restrictive because there are all sorts of 
conditions that you can imagine that aren't listed in this amendment by 
which a President may feel it is in our best interest to bring troops 
  The Constitution doesn't vest in this Congress the power to undeclare 
war. It vests in us the power to declare war. To me, I worry that by 
restricting the aperture by which the President can make an argument to 
bring troops home, we ultimately will end up having them be in harm's 
way for longer than is necessary.
  Maybe this isn't unprecedented. Maybe there are other times where we 
have done this, but it does seem to be fairly unprecedented for the 
legislature to tie the Executive's hands and tell him or her that he 
has to keep troops in a place for a certain period of time.
  I wanted to come down to the floor and express my reservations about 
this amendment. Again, I wish we were having a debate on an AUMF. I 
wish this weren't the way in which we were exercising our 
constitutional prerogative on foreign policy. I am deeply worried--
deeply worried--about language in this amendment that empowers those in 
the administration who are jonesing for a fight with Iran. I do not 
believe that however capable and brave our troops are in Syria, they 
ultimately are the answer. If we want to have a debate on Syria policy, 
let's talk about all the other ways that we need to engage in Syria in 
order to bring stability to that place. I do worry about how we tie 
this President's hands or any President's hands when they want to bring 
our troops home and get them out of harm's way.
  Trump has completely botched policy in Syria, but that shouldn't go--
even Trump's most ferocious opponents--from endorsing endless wars. 
That shouldn't require Democrats to be against everything that he is 
for. He is pulling our troops out in a way that I oppose, but I worry 
about the long-term implications of this Congress asking for a fight in 
Syria that is unauthorized and then tying the President's hands when it 
comes to getting troops out of harm's way in places in far-off lands.
  I oppose the amendment and encourage my colleagues to do the same.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.

               Lilly Ledbetter and Paycheck Fairness Act

  Mr. JONES. Mr. President, I rise to talk about the issues of 
fairness, of equality, and of basic dignity.
  In the greatest Nation on Earth and the leader of the free world, 
women are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men--80 cents for 
every dollar. That disparity is starker yet for women of color. Black 
women are paid 61 cents on the dollar. Latina women are paid just 53 
cents on the dollar. Alabama, my home State, has the fourth biggest 
gender wage gap of any State in the country. That is just inexcusable.
  Those cents add up to real money, about $10,000 on average for every 
woman working a full-time year-round job. That is a total of about $900 
million lost each year for American women--every single year, a total 
of $900 million. That is real money, and that is increasing.
  This gap persists regardless of education status and across different 
jobs, opportunities, and industries. It persists despite laudable 
efforts here in Congress over the past 50 years to start chipping away 
at this problem.
  Most importantly, these lost wages impact women's ability to pay 
their rent or mortgages, to save for their children's college tuition, 
or to pay off existing debt. Think about this. This disparity can have 
lifelong consequences for the quality of life of women and their 
  Fortunately, there are steps we can take that have already had 
tremendous support.
  I want to bring this home a little bit because we were looking at 
some statistics recently. If you factor in the fact that women are 
making so much less--a total of $900 million; think about this--this is 
not just a matter of discrimination. It is a matter of economics. 
According to a 2015 Center for American Progress report, 42 percent of 
mothers were the sole or primary breadwinners for their families in 
2015, bringing in at least--at least--half of their family's incomes. 
Black and Latina mothers are more likely to be the breadwinners than 
White mothers. In fact, 70.7 percent of Black mothers and 40.5 percent 
of Latina mothers were the primary or sole breadwinners in 2015, 
compared with 37.4 percent of White mothers.
  Not all of those women are going to be the subject of pay 
discrimination. We know that. But the fact is that there is likely to 
be a huge percentage. If there is $900 million, that is a pretty big 
percentage. By equalizing the pay for men and women--equal pay for 
equal work, which we all talk about but which in theory and in practice 
just doesn't happen--we can raise the standard of living for families 
across this country, and we can raise the standard of living for 
families in a State like Alabama, where it is desperately needed.
  These disparities, as I said, can have lifelong consequences for the 
quality of life of women and their families. Fortunately, there are 
steps that have already been taken.
  Just yesterday, I was proud to join my colleague Senator Murray and a 
host of others--in fact, I think it is almost all Democrats in the 
Senate, all Democrats in the House, and one Republican in the House--to 
reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act, a modest, commonsense solution 
to the problem of pay inequity which persists despite the existence of 
Federal and State equal pay laws.
  Introduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act also just so happened to 
fall on the day after the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Lilly 
Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The group who introduced this bill yesterday 
was joined here in Washington by Ms. Ledbetter herself.
  Lilly Ledbetter, from Alabama, is a great friend of mine and a native 
Alabamian. She was born in Jacksonville, AL, about an hour and a half 
hour from where I grew up, just outside of Birmingham, in Fairfield. 
She married her husband Charles after graduating from high school, and 
they had two children, Vicky and Phillip.
  After almost 20 years working at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant 
in Gadsden, AL, just as she was nearing retirement, Ms. Ledbetter 
learned she was making thousands of dollars a year less than the men in 
her same position. She decided to take some action. She sued to try to 
get her backpay and to try to end that discrimination. The case went 
all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  Unfortunately, the Court found that her claims were time-barred 
because she hadn't filed a lawsuit 180 days from the day of her first 
paycheck, 20 years earlier, even though she was totally unaware of the 
discrimination that existed for that 20-year period.
  Because of her fight--which, again, she took all the way to the 

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Court of the United States--Congress ultimately passed in 2009 the 
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restarts the 180-day clock every 
time a discriminatory paycheck is issued.
  Now, for the 12th time, Congress has introduced the Paycheck Fairness 
Act, which ensures robust protection against sex-based pay 
discrimination. This vital legislation has been introduced in every 
single congressional session since 1997. It is absolutely inexcusable 
that versions of this very commonsense bill have had to be introduced 
12 times and that it has yet to become law.
  The Paycheck Fairness Act would require employers to prove that 
disparities in pay are job-related and necessary and not based on sex. 
It would make it illegal to retaliate against workers for discussing 
their wages.
  It doesn't require employers to make wages public, unlike all of us 
who work for the government. It doesn't require that. It doesn't make 
them public, but it does make it illegal to retaliate against workers 
who simply discuss how much money they are making.
  It would amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963 so that wronged workers can 
participate in class-action lawsuits challenging systemic--systemic--
pay discrimination. It would also prohibit employers from relying on 
salary history in determining future pay so that pay discrimination 
doesn't follow women from job to job. Finally, this legislation would 
help businesses to facilitate equal pay practices.
  Earlier this month, a historic number of women were sworn in to the 
116th Congress--a historic number. Women are increasingly the primary 
breadwinner or the cobreadwinner in their families. Statistics are 
showing that every year those numbers increase. They cannot afford to 
get shortchanged.
  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was an essential step 
forward in the fight for equal pay. I am proud, as we commemorate the 
10th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to once again be 
a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will continue the fight 
started by my friend Ms. Ledbetter more than 20 years ago and provide 
employees and employers--employees and employers--with new tools to 
battle pay gaps and pay discrimination.
  Yesterday, Ms. Ledbetter came by to visit the office, as she always 
does. She comes by to see me. We were talking about this. My wife 
Louise was there, and we were having a discussion about how she was 
doing and how the bill 10 years ago affected her and so many others, 
and she made a really interesting statement.
  She said: You know, I really don't want to be here, Senator.
  Actually, she called me Doug. That is what she does, and she should.
  She said: I don't want to be here. I shouldn't have to be here. I 
shouldn't have to come up to the Congress of the United States every 
year simply to advocate for equal pay for women who are doing the same 
job as the men. I would prefer to be home, back in Alabama, playing 
with the family and the grandkids. I don't need to be here.
  It really struck me: Why are we doing this every year? What could be 
the possible reason?
  Then, this morning, I was doing a media call with some folks back in 
Alabama, and I was asked about this. There was a recent editorial in 
one of our media and in our newspapers. As is it always with all of the 
comments online, which these days I just refuse to read because they 
get so crazy, there were so many that talked about the fact that this 
is just fake news--that women really aren't treated differently and 
that their pay is not below. I couldn't believe it. Every statistic 
shows that.
  My response to that is, also, this: If that is the case, then no one 
should be afraid of this bill. If every business is treating their 
women employees as fair as their men, they shouldn't worry about this. 
They should encourage it, because we know there will be some out there 
that are not doing it.
  So if this is fake news, all the better. Let's pass this bill. Let's 
make sure we have in law the opportunity for women to get those equal 
  I have a daughter who is getting into the workforce after getting a 
Ph.D. She deserves the same pay as the Ph.D.s with similar experience 
wherever she ends up in colleges or universities.
  I have two granddaughters, Ever and Ollie, whom I want to grow up in 
a world where they don't have to worry about this, where they don't 
have to come to Congress in 30 years or 40 years--just like Ms. Lily 
Ledbetter has to do each year--to advocate for women and their rights, 
to make sure their families are taken care of in the same manner as 
their male counterparts' families.
  It is the least we can do for the women in our country who work so 
hard, who represent the backbone of the American way with their 
families, who raise their children, who work hard and do all of those 
things we need to be proud of. It is the least we can do to simply say: 
The Congress of the United States acknowledges you, we appreciate you, 
and we want to make sure you are treated fairly.
  I would urge all of my colleagues--particularly my colleagues on the 
other side of the aisle--to get behind this legislation, and let's get 
this passed this year so that we don't have to worry about it again.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.

                                 S. 130

  Mr. SASSE. Mr. President, this place fancies itself the world's 
greatest deliberative body, but we would be deceiving ourselves if we 
ignored the biggest debate that has been happening in America over the 
last 36 hours.
  A publicly elected official--Governor of one of the 50 States--has 
been defending a practice that is morally repugnant. The Governor of 
Virginia has been defending a practice that is repugnant to civilized 
people across the entire world.
  Here is just one of the ugly nuggets from Ralph Northam, the Governor 
of Virginia: ``If the mother is in labor . . . the infant would be 
delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be 
resuscitated (if that's what the mother and the family desired) and 
then a discussion would ensue between the physician and the mother.''
  Let's be very clear about what we are talking about. We are talking 
about fourth-trimester abortion or what anyone in the normal world 
calls infanticide. That is what we are talking about, and the Governor 
of Virginia has been defending this all day yesterday and again today, 
going out and trying to equivocate and qualify and then double down and 
again say he wants to defend this practice, which is infanticide.
  Let's be clear about what we are talking about. We are talking about 
killing a baby who has been born. We are not talking some euphemism. We 
are not talking about a clump of cells. We are talking about a little 
baby girl who has been born and is on a table in a hospital or a 
medical facility, and then a decision or a debate would be had about 
whether you could kill that little baby. We are talking about the most 
vulnerable among us, and we have a public official in America out there 
again and again defending this practice. This is infanticide that we 
are talking about.
  This should be so far beyond any political consideration. We are 
talking about a little baby--a baby with dignity, an image bearer. We 
are talking about a tiny life that has done nothing wrong to warrant 
being left to die cold and alone on a table.
  Everyone in the Senate ought to be able to say unequivocally that 
killing that little baby is wrong. This doesn't take any political 
courage, and if you can't say that, if there is a Member in this body 
who can't say that, there may be lots of work you can do in the world, 
but you shouldn't be here. You should get the heck out of any calling 
in public life where you pretend to care about the most vulnerable 
among us. There should be no politics here that are right versus left 
or Republican versus Democrat. This is the most basic thing you could 
be talking about. We are talking about a little baby born alive, and we 
have a public official in America defending the idea: Well, you could 
have a debate about killing her.
  That is why today I am starting a dual-track legislative process to 
make sure this body has a clear-eyed look at the issue before us, has a 
clear-eyed look at this atrocity, and to make sure the 320 million men 
and women who are actually our bosses--to be sure

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they have a clear-eyed look at what we stand for. Do we stand with 
those little, vulnerable babies in desperate need of care and comfort 
and support, medical treatment, food, or do we stand with the comments 
of the Governor of Virginia over the last 2 days?
  Tonight, I am beginning what is known as the rule XIV process. That 
is an expedited procedure for floor consideration of my legislation, 
the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
  In addition, I want to announce that on Monday night, I am going to 
be sure that every Senator has the opportunity to come to the floor and 
say whom we stand for and what we stand against. So I want to announce 
that in addition to the rule XIV process that I am going to initiate in 
a moment, I also want Senators to be aware that on Monday evening, I am 
going to be asking unanimous consent for Senators to come to the floor 
and pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act legislation. 
I am going to ask all 100 Senators to come to the floor and be against 
infanticide. This shouldn't be complicated.