EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 166
(Senate - October 21, 2019)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Pages S5909-S5914]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

 PROTOCOL TO THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY OF 1949 ON THE ACCESSION OF THE 
                      REPUBLIC OF NORTH MACEDONIA

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following 
treaty, which the clerk will state.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       Calendar No. 5, Treaty document No. 116-1, Protocol to the 
     North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on the Accession of the 
     Republic of North Macedonia.

  Pending:

       McConnell amendment No. 946, to change the enactment date.
       McConnell amendment No. 947 (to amendment No. 946), of a 
     perfecting nature.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.


                               Healthcare

  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I want to tell you a quick story about a 
woman from Atlanta. Her name is Dawn Jones. Dawn bought what is 
commonly referred to in the insurance industry as a short-term health 
insurance plan. She brought it from the Golden Rule Insurance Company,

[[Page S5910]]

which is a unit of UnitedHealth, and she needed it because she needed 
some coverage in between jobs. She was then diagnosed with breast 
cancer, and she went through a heartbreaking experience, trying to get 
her insurance company to cover her for her $400,000 medical bill.
  In the end, she could not get her short-term health insurance plan to 
cover her breast cancer treatments, and here is the reason why. The 
insurer didn't need to cover preexisting conditions. Short-term plans 
do not need to cover things we traditionally think of as healthcare 
insurance today. The protections of the Affordable Care Act require 
that insurance cover you regardless of whether you are diagnosed with a 
serious disease, but short-term plans don't need to cover you for those 
things.
  This short-term plan didn't cover her breast cancer, despite the fact 
that she wasn't diagnosed with breast cancer until after she signed up 
for the plan. So you may ask: Why is that a preexisting condition if 
she wasn't diagnosed with breast cancer until she was on this short-
term plan?
  Well, the insurer in this case made a very innovative argument. It 
said that she actually had the cancer before she signed up for 
insurance. So even though she didn't know she had cancer and even 
though she hadn't been diagnosed with cancer, because she technically 
had cancer before she got the insurance plan, she had a preexisting 
condition, and, thus, they would not cover her.
  This is a pretty typical story about what happens on these short-term 
insurance plans in this country. They are more commonly referred to 
these days as junk insurance plans because, for millions of Americans 
who sign up for short-term insurance, they find out that it really 
doesn't cover much of anything.
  One Golden Rule plan excludes pregnancy and provides a lifetime 
maximum benefit of $250,000. That is, by the way, an incredibly low 
amount of lifetime coverage--$250,000. One hospital stay for a serious 
illness can be over $250,000. And the icing on the cake--this 
particular junk plan from Golden Rule doesn't cover a hospital room or 
nursing services for patients admitted on a Friday or Saturday. So good 
luck if you get sick on a Friday or Saturday because you are not going 
to get coverage on those 2 days of the week. These are junk plans 
because they don't cover what you need, and you, by and large, don't 
find out about that until you actually need the insurance.
  How about a gentleman from San Antonio who actually had his short-
term plan for about 6 years? He had been paying it and paying it for 6 
years. Because they are technically short-term plans, he was renewing 
them over and over and over again, and when he was diagnosed with 
kidney disease, they wouldn't cover him because they went back to his 
medical records and found out that he had some blood work done earlier 
that had shown the initial signs of kidney disease, but he wasn't 
diagnosed until later on.
  What they said--just as they did for the woman in Atlanta--was this: 
Because you had signs of kidney disease when you were insured with us a 
year ago, we are not going to cover you now because, technically, you 
are on a new plan.
  He had been getting a plan every 6 months every year. He didn't have 
any gaps in insurance, but because he technically was signing up for 
short-term plan after short-term plan, he didn't get covered for his 
kidney disease.
  Over and over, we hear these stories about individuals who go on 
these junk plans and then find out that they can't get insured for 
anything--can't get insured for hospital stays on Fridays and 
Saturdays, can't get insured for mental health treatment, no 
prescription drug benefits, no coverage for maternity, and all sorts of 
backbending activity to try to stop people from getting coverage for 
illnesses.
  Yet these plans are becoming more and more prolific. Why is that? The 
reason is that the Trump administration is using an innovative method 
to try to get more Americans to sign up for these junk plans, and that 
is what I wanted to come to the floor and talk about today.
  These junk plans are a nightmare for people who get on them and then 
find themselves on the outside of coverage. When you sign up for health 
insurance, you basically think it is going to cover a set of things 
like hospital stays on weekends and coverage for your cancer diagnosis, 
but these junk plans don't cover those things.
  The administration has decided to use a section of the Affordable 
Care Act that was designed to strengthen our healthcare system and, 
instead, use it to weaken the healthcare insurance system by providing 
for more and more of these junk plans.

  Here is a little bit of legislative history. There is a section of 
the ACA that was set up so that you could apply to the State for a 
waiver to improve coverage. The waiver says that you can do some 
innovative things in the ACA so long as you prove that whatever you are 
going to do is going to provide health coverage that is just as 
comprehensive as what is required under the ACA, that you are not going 
to cost consumers any more than what they are paying under the ACA, 
that the number of people who are insured under the ACA in your State 
isn't going to down--it is going to stay stable or go up--and you are 
not going to increase the Federal deficit.
  Well, President Trump, in October of 2018, issued new guidance that 
essentially guts all of those protections for these waivers. President 
Trump basically says that these short-term insurance plans can be 
approved, even if they cost people more, even if they don't cover 
things like preexisting conditions, and even if they result in fewer 
people getting insurance.
  This October 2018 guidance allowed for these junk plans to be sold in 
more States to more consumers. Even worse, the 2018 guidance said that 
these junk plans could be sold side by side with the Affordable Care 
Act plans right on the same web page, disguising the fact that some 
plans would actually cover you for your preexisting conditions and 
others wouldn't.
  So, today, we have more and more of these junk plans available to 
individuals and more people who are vulnerable to all of the old abuses 
that used to happen left and right in the healthcare insurance system, 
largely to people who have pretty serious illnesses.
  Now, 130 million Americans have a preexisting condition. In my State, 
over a half million people have some sort of preexisting condition. If 
they sign up for one of these junk plans--either because they were 
marketed the plan under the belief that it would cover them or by 
mistake because they didn't notice the difference between the ACA-
regulated plans and the junk plans on the website that they went to--
they are at risk of not getting covered for their preexisting 
condition.
  It gets even worse than that because what economists tell us is that 
these junk plans, which cover very little, are admittedly going to be 
attractive to some people who are presently pretty healthy. Young 
people and people who don't have any preexisting conditions may sign up 
for those junk plans because it doesn't really matter to them at the 
time that they don't get coverage for much at all; the junk plans are 
going to have prices that are lower, in most instances, than the plans 
that cover basic healthcare services. In the short term, that might be 
OK for the people who are relatively healthy until, of course, they get 
sick and find out that their junk plan doesn't cover anything. But for 
the people who have preexisting conditions, who can't sign up for the 
junk plans, and who need to be on the plans that are regulated by the 
Affordable Care Act, their premiums are going to skyrocket.
  This is health insurance 101. As more healthy people go to the junk 
plans, leaving behind on the Affordable Care Act plans folks who have 
these preexisting conditions, their prices will go up.
  The Trump administration's junk plan rule is, frankly, bad news for a 
lot of people who are on junk plans if and when they actually need 
healthcare insurance, but it is also really terrible news for the 130 
million Americans who have preexisting conditions, who are likely going 
to see their insurance rates skyrocket.
  Next week we are going to have a vote on the floor of the U.S. 
Senate, a vote on a resolution of disapproval for the administration's 
junk plan guidance. I have listened for a long time to

[[Page S5911]]

Members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle talk about how the one 
thing we agree on is that we need to protect people with preexisting 
conditions, and though many of our Republican colleagues might not 
support the Affordable Care Act, they do agree that we should support 
people with preexisting conditions, which I generally read to mean that 
we should make sure we don't pass legislation and we don't let the 
administration do anything that will make it even harder than it 
already is to live with a cancer diagnosis or a diagnosis of serious 
heart disease.
  Yet it is completely clear that the Trump administration's guidance 
is going to make life a lot worse for people with preexisting 
conditions, for those who go on the junk plans, and for those who stay 
behind.
  Here is a quote from an article in The Atlantic magazine, which did a 
summary of these junk plans and what they are like and, frankly, how 
important they are to insurance companies. The article says that these 
short-term junk plans ``make up a high-profit portion'' of the 
insurance industry's business.

       They are largely designed to rake in premiums, even as they 
     offer little in return. And even when they do pay for things, 
     they often provide confusing or conflicting protocols for 
     making claims. Collectively, short-term plans can leave 
     thousands of people functionally uninsured or underinsured 
     without addressing or lowering real systemwide costs.

  That is the story of junk plans. They are a pretty good deal for the 
insurance industry, which is why they have been pushing the Trump 
administration to allow more of these junk plans to be sold. They are a 
good deal for the insurance companies because ultimately they don't 
require the insurance companies to pay out a lot in benefits, but they 
ultimately make a ton for the insurance companies in the premiums they 
collect.
  It is time for everybody in this body who has stood up and said that 
they support individuals with preexisting conditions to vote that way. 
Next week, we will have an opportunity to stop in its tracks the Trump 
administration's rule allowing for more of these junk plans to be sold 
to consumers. Because we know the House of Representatives will join 
us, we now have the chance to actually do something about it and stop 
this erosion of healthcare for people with preexisting conditions 
before it is too late.
  I get that the country and this Congress are rightly consumed with 
the ongoing scandal surrounding the impeachment inquiry and the recent 
heartbreaking, unconscionable events in Syria, but that doesn't mean 
folks in our States are as concerned with those headline-grabbing 
issues as we are. They still have to make their budgets balance every 
single month, and they are deeply worried--at least those families I 
talked to in Connecticut who are still struggling with serious 
illnesses--about our ability to make sure the protections for 
preexisting conditions, which were a lifeline for millions of Americans 
when we passed the Affordable Care Act, are not undermined by this 
President. We have a chance to step up and do something about it next 
week.
  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. SCHUMER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Ernst). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The Democratic leader is recognized.


                             Appropriations

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, before I get into my main remarks on 
Syria, I just heard the majority leader, Leader McConnell, say that he 
wants to see if we can do appropriations bills, that he will see if the 
Democrats want to legislate. Give me a break. Since we have started to 
legislate, we have been waiting for 6 months, 9 months. It is well-
known in the country that the Senate is the legislative graveyard, that 
Leader McConnell has not put on the floor bill after bill on major 
issues that affect the country and that demand attention. Most 
everybody knows that he is proud that he is the Grim Reaper. So now, in 
his asking if the Democrats want to legislate, it is all up to Leader 
McConnell.
  On the appropriations bills, of course, we want to legislate when it 
is being done in a fair way. There are some bills that came out of the 
Appropriations Committee in a bipartisan way. I think there are four of 
them that the leader is thinking of putting on the floor, and we would 
like to move forward on those and have a vigorous process as we go 
forward.
  There are certain bills that were not done with any consultation--the 
taking of money out of things like MILCON and HHS and putting it for a 
wall that he knows the Democrats will not go for. Those kinds of things 
we can't legislate until they become bipartisan, until we work 
together. There are certain bills--HHS, Defense, MILCON, DHS--that we 
can't move forward on until we have some bipartisan agreement. Yet, on 
the bills on which there is agreement, we would be happy to move 
forward. Of course, that doesn't solve the problem.
  After that happens, our House colleagues--Speaker Pelosi, Chair 
Lowey--have since suggested that there be a 302(b) conference because 
even the 302(b)s are different than these bills, and that is the right 
place to go once the Senate passes these less controversial bills.
  I hope we can move forward. I hope we can. The first package of 
bills--four of the five--is not controversial. The fifth, they didn't 
even bring to the floor of the Committee on Appropriations--MILCON. 
Yet, on those four, moving forward would be a fine thing. Hopefully, we 
could work out an amendment process whereby Members could offer 
amendments.
  So we will finally legislate after 9 months, not just move judges and 
other appointees, and that is a good thing. I am glad that Leader 
McConnell has finally, maybe, felt the pressure and wants to legislate.


                            Turkey and Syria

  Madam President, let's go to Syria.
  Saturday night, President Trump announced on Twitter that he was 
reversing his decision to host next year's G7 summit at his golf resort 
in Doral, FL. The President's original decision was the textbook 
definition of self-dealing--an outrageous move that provoked immediate 
and rightful condemnations. Over the weekend, multiple outlets reported 
that the President decided to back down only after hearing of intense 
opposition from members of his own party, many of whom told him 
privately they would not defend him on the issue.
  It is obvious to almost everyone in America that you don't suggest a 
resort that you own as the place to have a conference. It makes no 
sense. Is the President so interested in making a few extra dollars--
reports are that he brags what a multibillionaire he is--that he would 
risk violating the rules and laws of this country, the emoluments 
clause? It makes no sense.
  It is unfortunate that this wasn't the only decision that made no 
sense. There is an obvious parallel between the President's decision 
about the G7 and his decision to precipitously withdraw our forces from 
Syria. Both were done in a sort of whimsical way whereby, from all 
reports, the President didn't consult with the experts in this latter 
case--with the military, the State Department, and the CIA.
  Both have resulted in condemnation from across the political 
spectrum. In fact, last week, over 120 House Republicans voted in favor 
of the resolution criticizing the President's Syria policy. Leaders 
McCarthy, Scalise, and Cheney are hardly moderates, in the middle, who 
always seek compromise. These are pretty hard-nosed people, and they 
voted to condemn it, so it must be pretty bad. Of course, it is. Former 
military commanders and some of the President's staunchest allies in 
the Senate have echoed those sentiments.
  Just like the President reversed course on the G7 after a torrent of 
criticism from his own party, President Trump must dramatically and 
drastically rethink his policy in Syria, which is far more dangerous 
because of one word above all else--``ISIS.'' By his abruptly having 
pulled troops out of northern Syria, the President has betrayed and 
deserted our partners and

[[Page S5912]]

allies and has created a security vacuum that our longest standing 
adversaries--Iran, Putin, and Assad--are exploiting. He put American 
lives in danger by letting hardened ISIS fighters escape captivity and 
regroup.
  As American troops leave Kurdish areas, videos show Kurdish locals 
hurling rotting vegetables and shouting ``America lies.'' That is 
painful. Do you know to whom it is the most painful? Our soldiers who 
fought alongside the Kurds. The Kurds sacrificed some of their own 
people so that Americans wouldn't have to die.
  One leading Russian newspaper, which is, no doubt, part of the Putin 
propaganda machine, ran a column this week that proclaimed Russia's 
unexpected triumph in the Middle East and that Putin won the lottery. 
Meanwhile, public reports suggest that at least 200 people with 
suspected links to the Islamic State have escaped the displacement camp 
in northeast Syria as a result of the Turkish invasion, and we in New 
York know better than anyone what a small group of bad, bad 
terrorists--evil terrorists--can do in untold damage to our homeland.
  This policy is reckless, unthought out, and dangerous. It has been 3 
weeks since the announcement of the President's decision, and he has 
yet to articulate any plan for what happens next. As a 5-day pause on 
hostilities comes quickly to an end tomorrow, every Member of this 
Chamber ought to be asking: What is President Trump's strategy to 
secure the enduring defeat of ISIS? How does the President plan to find 
the escaped ISIS prisoners? How does he plan to fix this mess? These 
ISIS people are dangerous and can create a problem right here in our 
homeland.
  This morning, according to the New York Times, the President is now 
considering leaving a small force in eastern Syria. We need to know if 
that is true. If so, how many? What would be the force's mission and 
for how long? Maybe the most pressing question is, How would a 
deployment in eastern Syria secure ISIS prisoners and help track down 
those who have escaped? This presents such a great danger to our 
country.
  The President is flitting from one idea to the next and has no 
coherent, apparent strategy. His own Cabinet officials have yet to even 
agree on a time to brief the Senators on the administration's plan. We 
have been waiting, and we want to hear from the top people--Secretary 
Esper, Secretary Pompeo, and CIA Director Haspel. This is serious 
stuff. The Congress has to be briefed. We are worried the reason we are 
not being briefed is that there is no strategy and that these three 
people who are in charge of major portions of the American Government--
the military, the CIA, the diplomatic corps--don't have any idea what 
the President is up to.
  The quickest, simplest, and most powerful way to send that message to 
the President would be for the Senate to take up and pass the 
bipartisan House resolution on Syria. Last week, I asked for the 
Senate's consent to take it up, but unfortunately it was blocked. We 
are going to keep going back to it.
  It makes a difference when my Republican colleagues stand up to the 
President. That can affect him more than anything else, so they 
shouldn't duck it or be allowed to duck it. When the Republicans 
pressure the President, as they did on the G7, he considers changing 
course. So, when it comes to our national security, vital matters of 
foreign policy, and, yes, especially when it comes to the Constitution, 
the rule of law, or the integrity of our democracy, the Republicans 
must put the country over the party.
  On Syria and the fight against ISIS, that means Leader McConnell and 
Senate Republicans should let us vote on the House resolution 
criticizing the President's withdrawal.
  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. CASEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Boozman). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                          Trump Administration

  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to talk about the 
question of impeachment, which, of course, is being debated across the 
country.
  Evidence continues to mount regarding actions the President has 
taken. Of course, this issue is not only worthy of debate but also 
worthy of inquiry and review and even debate and discussion here in the 
Senate.
  From the Mueller report to the recent revelations regarding the 
President's dealing with Ukraine and its President, evidence indicates 
that the President is not only willing to take actions which, in my 
judgment, amount to an abuse of power--in fact, I think the behavior of 
the President on the phone call with the Ukrainian President was a 
textbook case of abuse of power. Apparently, he wants to enlist others 
to defend the indefensible--this behavior--and has said other things 
that are troubling to so many Americans.
  I think it is important to provide some historical perspective on 
impeachment, and I will seek to do some of that today. This is by no 
means a full review of the history, but I think it is important to talk 
about some of the questions our Founders were wrestling with.
  Our Founders grappled with many different questions as they debated 
the Constitution itself, particularly the nature and the power of the 
Office of the President of the United States. As our Founders debated 
how to hold the President accountable during the 1787 Constitutional 
Convention in Philadelphia, Elbridge Gerry said as follows regarding 
the issue of impeachment: ``A good magistrate will not fear 
[impeachments]. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them.''
  Consistent with Gerry's remarks, our Constitution provides an 
impeachment process for ``Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and 
Misdemeanors.'' At the time of the drafting, our Founders' 
understanding of ``high Crimes and Misdemeanors'' was informed by 
centuries of English legal precedent.
  We know, as Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist No. 65, 
impeachment should stem from ``abuse or violation of some public 
trust.'' I will say it again: ``abuse or violation of some public 
trust.'' Informed by this history, Congress has consistently 
interpreted the phrase broadly to mean ``serious violations of the 
public trust''--that was one understanding--and has explained that 
``the phrase refers to misconduct that damages the state and the 
operations of governmental institutions, and is not limited to criminal 
misconduct.'' That is an important distinction--``not limited to 
criminal misconduct.''
  There is no requirement for a President to engage in a quid pro quo. 
Any kind of quid pro quo arrangement is not required for impeachment, 
although it is certainly an impeachable offense to engage in that kind 
of conduct. Rather, our Constitution merely requires ``abuse or 
violation of some public trust,'' as Hamilton spoke to.
  Since Special Counsel Mueller issued his report on Russian 
interference in the 2016 election and, more recently, as testimony has 
emerged about President Trump's conduct toward Ukraine, I have 
attempted to assess how President Trump's actions fit in our historical 
and current understanding of what ``high Crimes and Misdemeanors'' 
means.
  This is an undertaking that must be done in a considered manner and 
after reviewing all of the relevant information that is available. But 
I am increasingly convinced that Speaker Pelosi was correct in calling 
for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump's conduct. A 
failure by Congress to pursue impeachment in the face of grave offenses 
by the President would be insulting to our Constitution and insulting 
to our values.
  Let's talk about the Ukraine example for a moment. Over the past 
several weeks, our Nation has been confronted by credible and detailed 
press reports, as well as exhaustive testimony, in some cases lasting 8 
hours, 9 hours, 10 hours at a time, just for one witness, and this 
testimony has come from both career diplomats and State Department 
officials indicating that the

[[Page S5913]]

President has been employing his personal attorney to manage a shadow 
diplomacy agenda focused on personal vendettas and unfounded conspiracy 
theories in Ukraine.
  In a telephone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine, President 
Trump--immediately after the Ukrainian President raised the issue of 
purchasing Javelins to defend his country from Russian aggression--
asked the Ukrainian President to ``do us a favor though'' by working 
with his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and launching an investigation into a 
discredited conspiracy theory regarding a DNC server in Ukraine. To say 
that theory is discredited is an understatement. It has been debunked, 
so said a former Homeland Security Advisor to President Trump, among 
others.
  President Trump also asked President Zelensky ``to look into'' Joe 
Biden's son and explained that ``a lot of people want to find out'' 
about Biden--a political rival who, of course, is running for 
President.
  After a memorandum of the phone call was released to the public, the 
House Intelligence Committee released a text message from the top U.S. 
diplomat in Ukraine, who indicated that he thought it was ``crazy [for 
the President] to withhold security assistance for help with a 
political campaign.''
  Other officials have since come forward, some even resigning because 
of their serious concerns over the White House's handling of Ukraine 
policy. Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to the U.S. Secretary 
of State, testified that he resigned for two reasons: ``the failure, in 
my view, of the State Department to offer support to Foreign Service 
employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry on Ukraine, and, second, 
by what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to 
advance a domestic political objective.'' That is what Mr. McKinley, 
who just left the State Department, said.
  Our Founders had the foresight to ensure that the power of the 
President was not unlimited and that Congress could, if necessary, hold 
the Executive accountable for abuses of power through the impeachment 
process. Surely, not every instance of Presidential wrongdoing merits 
impeachment. Using the vast powers of impeachment in a cavalier fashion 
would be an insult to our Constitution.
  This inquiry is not simply about President Trump's abuse of power. 
This inquiry is about our democracy and the values that the Founders 
agreed should guide our Nation.
  Impeachment is not what anyone in this town would prefer. It is what 
our Constitution demands--demands--when an Executive abuses his or her 
power in a manner that ``damages the state and the operations of 
government institutions.'' That is from an earlier impeachment in the 
1860s.
  As Hamilton said so long ago--but so prescient--when there is an 
``abuse or violation of some public trust,'' we are summoned--
summoned--by our constitutional duty to act.
  To fail to act would be a dereliction of that duty, thereby inviting 
this executive and future executives to abuse that public trust with 
impunity. We should never do that.


                               H.R. 3055

  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, very briefly, I wanted to highlight a story 
that was in today's Wall Street Journal, entitled ``As Court Case 
Imperils Affordable Care Act, Some States Prepare Contingency Plans.'' 
That is the headline. The subheadline is this: ``Lawmakers explore ways 
to preserve coverage, benefits if the health law is struck down.''
  This is the opening paragraph that I will read--it is not very long, 
but I want to read it--from the story today:

       A federal appeals court decision that could strike down the 
     Affordable Care Act as soon as this month has rattled 
     officials in several states who are pursuing legislation to 
     preserve some coverage in the absence of any Trump 
     administration contingency plan.
       Lawmakers in states including Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico 
     and California have passed bills or are reviewing action 
     aimed at dealing with the fallout if the ACA is overturned.

  That is from the very beginning of the article. I will not go 
further, other than to say that this is a grave matter. If a Federal 
appeals court were to rule in favor of the moving party on appeal--or I 
should say the moving party at the beginning of the suit--and affirm 
the district court, what would happen if that were the case? The 
patient protection in the Affordable Care Act would be wiped out, and 
it would cause not just chaos but would take away protections from 
people like those who have protections for a preexisting condition and 
would also take healthcare coverage away from millions, if not tens of 
millions.
  This is a critically important matter, and it deserves and warrants 
the attention of Members of the Senate and the House as well.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.


                             Appropriations

  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, thank you very much for the opportunity to 
speak to my colleagues on the Senate floor this evening.
  I really come to talk about something that shouldn't be momentous, 
shouldn't be unusual, and should be routine around here. Unfortunately, 
as you and I have experienced, it is not routine. What is not routine 
is the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Congress getting its job done. Part of 
that job is the appropriations process, and it ought to be something we 
do every year on a routine basis.
  Every city council, every county commission, and every school board 
in the State of Kansas every year passes a budget and determines the 
spending for that school board or that city council or for that county 
commission. Yet, when we come to Washington, DC, over the years, it has 
become problematic and it has become difficult for us to do one of the 
basic things of a functioning government: to determine the amount of 
money to be spent, in broad terms, and then to fill in the spaces with 
what we should do for individual Agencies and Departments within that 
budget agreement.
  We are poised for a vote tomorrow, a motion on cloture. What that 
means to folks in Kansas is this: Should we begin the process of 
debating, amending, and passing appropriations bills? I am here to urge 
my colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats, to vote yes on cloture, 
to bring us to the point in which we can have the debate.
  I wouldn't have thought when I came to the U.S. Senate that one of my 
primary tasks, at least as I saw it, would be to try to help this place 
function and have an appropriations process that is thoughtful, that 
establishes priorities, that allows every Member of the Senate to have 
input. That is something we ought to be able to accomplish without a 
lot of work, and I hope that we demonstrate that we can do that in the 
vote tomorrow.
  The appropriations process has involved an Appropriations Committee 
of which you, Mr. President, and I serve on. Many of the bills have 
been considered and voted on. There will be four bills as a package in 
this motion to invoke cloture that will be presented to the full Senate 
tomorrow.
  For the subcommittee that I chair--Commerce, Justice, Science--that 
appropriations bill will be a part of that cloture package. 
Agriculture, something hugely important to my constituents in Kansas 
and across the country, Interior, Transportation, Housing, and Urban 
Development--those four bills have passed unanimously out of the Senate 
Appropriations Committee in September. Every Republican on the 
committee and every Democrat on the committee voted in favor of them.
  I know in my own circumstances, on the Commerce, Justice, Science 
bill, I worked closely--perhaps a better way to say it is that the 
ranking member of our subcommittee, the Senator from New Hampshire, 
Mrs. Shaheen, and I worked closely together--to try to find a path by 
which we could avoid those issues that would prevent us from finding an 
agreement that allowed our bill to move forward. I am pretty certain 
that occurred in the other three subcommittees.
  Presented tomorrow is an opportunity for the Senate to take up 4 
appropriations bills--4 out of 12--and those 4 are ones that were 
unanimously agreed to by the Appropriations Committee. I commend 
Chairman Shelby and Vice Chairman Leahy for their efforts in the full 
committee to bring us together to get us in a position where we have 
those four bills now, soon, I hope, to be pending in front of the 
Senate.

[[Page S5914]]

  Why does this matter? There is a lot of work that has gone into 
trying to determine what those appropriations bills should say and 
should contain. Certainly, how much money we spend is important, but if 
you sidetrack the appropriations process, you eliminate the 
prioritization. We need to make decisions every year on behalf of the 
American people. Is there something that we should spend no money on? 
Last year it received money but not this year. It is not enough 
priority for us to spend enough money on this year. Are there things we 
are spending money on today, this year, that are about right, and are 
there a few things we should spend more money on?
  That is a process that involves hearings. It involves witnesses. It 
involves testimony. It involves other Members, the U.S. Senators, and 
100 of us have the opportunity to provide input as to how much money 
should be spent in those various areas of the appropriations bill. Are 
there things that are higher priorities, programs that work better than 
others?
  We ought to care about this from a fiscal point of view--how much 
money we spend. Are we on a path to get us toward greater fiscal 
sanity, getting our books to balance? But at the same time, in the 
process of doing that, are we making decisions that determine that 
something is more important than something else because we know we 
shouldn't and can't spend money on everything?
  That is what the appropriations process does. Maybe we didn't get it 
exactly right, but allowing the bills to come to the Senate floor 
allows 99 of my colleagues to join me in the ability to offer 
amendments to change those priorities. So every Member of the Senate, 
on behalf of their constituents back home in their home States, ought 
to care about an appropriations bill being on the Senate floor.
  Perhaps, this is the point when I should say that if we fail to do 
this, what this normally will mean is that we have what we call a CR, 
or a continuing resolution, meaning that we are going to fund the 
Federal Government next year at the same levels and in the same way as 
we did this year.
  That lacks any kind of common sense or a basis for making a good 
decision. Not everything is equal. Just because we spent something last 
year in this amount doesn't mean it is the right amount next year. If 
we have been doing continuing resolutions one year after another, what 
that means is decisions we made about spending 3 or 4 years ago remain 
the priorities for next year's spending.
  We ought to avoid the continuing resolution. We ought to do our work. 
Tomorrow's vote puts us on a path to do that. Again, we are only on 
that path if the Members of the Senate decide that this is something we 
are going to proceed to accomplish.
  Fiscal order, prioritization of spending--I also think that Congress 
over the years has deferred too often to Federal Agencies and 
Departments. I tell my constituents that I know the American people are 
not satisfied with the nature of Congress as an institution and perhaps 
not satisfied with even their own Senator or U.S. Congressman or 
Congresswoman, but we are the closest thing that you have to the 
ability to make your will known and cause and effect in Washington, DC.
  Someone can visit with me and someone can visit with every U.S. 
Senator and have a consequence here. It is through this process, if you 
allow us all to participate in the legislative process, that we can 
take our constituents' will and bring it to Washington, DC, on their 
behalf.
  In the absence of that, it just means the Departments, the Cabinets, 
the Cabinet Secretaries, the Agency heads, the Bureau chiefs, and the 
people who work within the bureaucracy have more say if we don't do 
appropriations bills than elected officials representing Kansans and 
the people of 49 other States.
  This is a way we can bring the people of the United States into 
decisions made in Washington, DC. When we defer, when we do a 
continuing resolution, it means it is more likely that no person within 
the bureaucracy has any reason to pay any attention to our interests. A 
constituent brings me a problem and says: Something is going on at the 
Department of Interior, and this is what we are seeing, and this is how 
it affects us. Could you help solve that problem? Can you get 
somebody's attention at the Department of Interior? Could you get 
somebody's attention at the Department of Commerce?
  If we don't do appropriations bills, our ability to influence people 
at the Department of Commerce--the power of the purse strings--
disappears. It means that we have less ability not only to determine 
how money is to be spent but to be able to tell an Agency head or a 
Cabinet Secretary: This makes no sense. What you are doing to folks 
back home is very damaging to them. Let us explain to you.
  If human nature, being what it is, says that if you are the person or 
if you are the organization--in this case, the U.S. Senate--that 
determines how much money an Agency, Department, or Cabinet Secretary 
gets within their realm of authority, you are going to be much more 
likely to listen to a Member of Congress and help us solve problems on 
behalf of our constituents.
  The appropriations process matters greatly. I think we are poised for 
the opportunity to demonstrate that this place can work, it can 
represent the American people, and we can allow all of our colleagues 
to have input in the appropriations process, which has been ongoing 
since last year.
  I hope the conclusion tomorrow by my colleagues is that this is a 
worthy endeavor. The U.S. Senate ought to return to the days in which 
we did 12 appropriations bills on an annual basis and allowed the 
American people their input in the appropriations process.

                          ____________________