EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 185
(Senate - November 19, 2019)

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[Pages S6633-S6642]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Robert 
J. Luck, of Florida, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.

                         Defense Appropriations

  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, our most fundamental responsibility as 
Members of Congress is to provide for our Nation's defense, and a big 
part of that is ensuring that our men and women in uniform have the 

[[Page S6634]]

they need to defend our country. That means, of course, that we have to 
ensure that our military receives adequate funding to meet today's 
priorities and to prepare for the threats of tomorrow. It also means we 
need to ensure that our military receives timely funding.
  Our military doesn't just need sufficient funding to cover defense 
priorities; it also needs to receive that money on time, on a 
predictable schedule. That means passing the Defense appropriations 
bill before the end of each fiscal year instead of forcing the military 
to rely on temporary funding measures that leave the military in doubt 
about funding levels and unable to start important new projects.
  Right now, we are almost 2 full months into the 2020 fiscal year. We 
should have passed the Defense appropriations bill by the end of 
September, but we didn't because, unfortunately, our Democratic 
colleagues were unable to resist the chance to pick yet another fight 
with the President. This wasn't supposed to happen. At the end of the 
summer, the congressional leaders of both parties and the President 
reached an agreement on funding levels for 2020 and 2021. The leaders 
also agreed on a number of guidelines for appropriations bills, 
including a ban on poison pills intended to derail appropriations 
legislation. The idea behind this agreement was to pave the way for the 
timely passage of appropriations bills and to prevent the kind of 
situation we are in right now--almost 2 months behind on passing 
defense and other funding. Unfortunately, the Democrats chose to renege 
on this agreement.
  The Senate Democrats are currently holding up defense funding by 
insisting on the type of poison pills they promised to forgo just a few 
months ago. The leader has attempted to bring up the Defense 
appropriations bill twice, and both times the Senate Democrats have 
filibustered the legislation. It is deeply disappointing. I understand 
that my Democratic colleagues are looking for any opportunity to pick a 
fight with the President, but funding for our men and women in uniform 
should not be subjected to the Democrats' partisan whims.
  Thanks to the Democrats, right now, our military is operating under a 
continuing resolution that leaves the military short of the funding it 
needs for the 2020 fiscal year. That has real consequences. In addition 
to leaving the military underfunded, a continuing resolution prevents 
the military from starting key projects that will help to ensure our 
men and women in uniform will be prepared to meet the threats of the 
future. The Pentagon can't start new procurement projects. New research 
and development initiatives that keep us a step ahead of our 
adversaries are put on hold. All told, under a continuing resolution, 
the military's purchasing power is reduced by, roughly, $5 billion each 
  To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent of losing out on 
about 56 Joint Strike Fighter planes, depending on the variant, every 3 
months. That $5 billion the Pentagon is going without is urgently 
needed funding for critical military priorities. The longer the 
Pentagon goes without this funding, the greater the consequences for 
our military preparedness.
  Playing politics with our national defense is unacceptable. We owe 
our men and women in uniform timely, reliable, and adequate defense 
funding, and we owe every man, woman, and child in the United States 
the same thing. The safety of every person in this country depends on 
the strength of our military. I hope that at least some of my 
Democratic colleagues will see their way to joining the Republicans in 
getting this year's Defense appropriations bill to the President's 
desk. It is time to get our men and women in uniform the funding that 
they need and that they deserve.
  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. DURBIN. 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.


  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, on September 11, President Donald Trump 
held a press conference with the First Lady in the Oval Office. He 
announced that his administration would finally be taking bold action 
to combat our Nation's youth vaping epidemic. The epidemic is what the 
Food and Drug Administration characterized as the vaping that is going 
on in schools across America today--not just high schools, where 27 
percent of the students are currently vaping, but middle schools and 
grade schools as well.
  Seated next to the President on September 11 in the Oval Office was 
the First Lady. On the other side was the Secretary of the Department 
of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar. Directly across from the 
President was then-Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug 
Administration, Dr. Ned Sharpless.
  At the press conference, President Trump stated:

       We have a problem in this country . . . and it is called 
     ``vaping''--especially vaping as it pertains to innocent 
     children. . . . And we're going to have to do something about 

  Then Secretary Azar said:

       An entire generation of children risk becoming addicted to 
     nicotine. . . . So with the President's support, the Food and 
     Drug Administration intends to finalize a guidance document 
     that would . . . require that all flavors other than tobacco 
     flavor would be removed from the market.
       This would include mint and menthol flavoring, as well as 
     candy flavors, bubblegum flavor, fruit flavor, and alcohol 

  Explaining why this action was necessary, the Acting FDA 
Commissioner, Dr. Sharpless, said:

       Flavored e-cigarette products drive childhood use.

  Secretary Azar and Acting Commissioner Sharpless committed to 
finalizing this guidance, in their own words, within ``a couple of 
weeks.'' Yet here we are more than 2 months later with no e-cigarette 
flavor ban in place.
  What is worse, now there are reports that President Trump has decided 
to reverse himself, to break the promise he made to American families, 
as a direct result of lobbying from big tobacco and big vape companies. 
We know whom this President is hearing from. He is hearing from JUUL, 
the company primarily responsible for today's youth vaping epidemic. He 
is hearing from Altria, the big tobacco company that just bought a 
major stake in JUUL. He is hearing from the Vaping Technology 
Association, a lobbying organization that represents vaping shops 
nationwide. It makes sense that these companies would want the 
President to reverse himself, to break his word to American families, 
because they make profits on the backs of our kids, just like Big 
Tobacco did for so many years.
  Today, almost 30 percent of all high school-aged children are vaping. 
That is more than 5 million kids. Where did they come up with these 
numbers? From this administration's report to the American people. Four 
percent of adults are vaping and up to 30 percent of high school kids. 
When they show these pictures of adults walking around with buttons 
that say ``We vape and we vote,'' it is a tiny sliver of America. The 
kids should be wearing buttons that say ``We vape, and our health is at 
  Over the last 2 years of Donald Trump's Presidency, the number of 
children vaping has increased by 135 percent. More than 1 in 4 high 
school kids are using e-cigarettes, and more than 1 in 10 middle school 
children are following their example. Kids are using these products 
because of the cool, sleek designs of devices like JUUL and because of 
the flavors designed to appeal to just kids. Listen to them: cotton 
candy, unicorn milk, cool mint, mom's sugar cookie, and, of course, 
  According to the Food and Drug Administration, more than 80 percent 
of children who vape started with flavored e-cigarettes. Does anyone 
believe that these vaping flavors are actually intended for a 50-year-
old chain smoker looking to quit cigarettes--flavors like Farley's 
Gnarly Sauce, Bubble Purp by Chubby Bubble, Blue Razz by Candy King, 
and Cotton Candy by Zonk? Do you honestly think a 50-year-old trying to 
break a tobacco cigarette habit is going to buy Cotton Candy by Zonk 
  Every single one of these products is on the market today without 
review or authorization from the Food and Drug

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Administration. That is because under President Trump, the FDA decided 
to delay regulation of these products for years. And while the FDA 
dithers, children get addicted. As a result, it is the Wild Wild West 
out there with respect to unapproved, unregulated, dangerous, and 
addictive vaping products, and it is our kids who are paying the price.
  Despite what Big Vape says, these products are not safe. In recent 
months, we have seen thousands of illnesses and 42 deaths associated 
with vaping, including four in Illinois.
  Two weeks ago, a woman came up to me and said: You don't know me. I 
am a nurse. And she gave me the name of the hospital. She said: I just 
want to tell you, I was there when that 22-year-old man died last week 
from vaping. He had been in our hospital for months waiting for a lung 
transplant because of the damage he had done to his lungs by vaping. He 
couldn't find a donor, and he died.
  There are other known dangers associated with e-cigarettes and 
nicotine. Nicotine is a toxic, highly addictive substance that raises 
blood pressure and spikes adrenaline, increasing the risk of heart 
disease. Nicotine can have short- and long-term negative health impacts 
on the developing brain. Kids who use e-cigarettes are more likely to 
transition to tobacco cigarettes, and those kill 480,000 Americans each 
year. There is hardly a family in this country who hasn't been touched 
by tobacco-related death and disease.
  A Dartmouth study shows that e-cigarette use leads to 81 new smokers 
for every 1 smoker who quits. Don't buy the pitch from JUUL that you 
ought to be vaping so that you can get off of tobacco cigarettes. It is 
running just the opposite--kids starting on vaping and converting to 
tobacco cigarettes.
  What do we know about e-cigarettes? They are predominately used by 
our children. Flavors play a major role in hooking kids on nicotine. 
Nicotine use harms the developing brain, and kids who vape are more 
likely than their peers to transition to tobacco cigarettes.
  Now let's consider what we don't know about e-cigarettes. We don't 
know whether they are safe. We don't know whether they actually help 
adult smokers quit. We often don't know what the ingredients are in 
those devices.
  E-cigarette flavors need to come off the market unless or until they 
can prove they have a public health benefit--and good luck to that.
  The President of the United States, the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services, and the head of the Food and Drug Administration all told us 
on September 11 that they were on the side of kids and families and 
public health, and they promised us they were going to do something 
about it. Today, I am sending the President a letter asking him to keep 
his word, to ban e-cigarette flavors, which threaten our kids with a 
lifetime of nicotine addiction, illness, and, sadly, even death.
  Along with families nationwide, I am hoping the President cares more 
about children than he does about the lobbying pressure from big 
tobacco and big vape companies. Just because they can buy an ad on FOX 
TV does not mean they are right.
  For goodness' sake, Mr. President, stick with your promise of 
September 11. Protect our kids from this vaping epidemic.
  I ask unanimous consent that my letter to the President be printed in 
the Congressional Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                  U.S. Senate,

                                Washington, DC, November 19, 2019.
     Hon. Donald J. Trump,
     President of the United States,
     The White House, Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. President: As President of the United States, you 
     have a responsibility to put the health and safety of our 
     people--especially our nation's children--above all else. On 
     September 11, 2019, you were poised to do just that, 
     announcing a long-overdue plan from the Oval Office to 
     quickly ban all non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes, including 
     flavors such as cotton candy, sugar cookie, fruit medley, 
     cool mint, and menthol. Sitting alongside the First Lady, 
     Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, and then-Acting 
     Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, it had all 
     the trappings of a made-for-television event you seem to 
       Along with all major public health, education, and parent 
     organizations, I praised this move because e-cigarettes--and 
     their accompanying kid-friendly fiavors--are reversing 
     decades of hard-fought progress our nation has made in 
     reducing youth smoking rates. And now, along with all major 
     public health, education, and parent organizations, I have 
     watched in horror over the past two months as you have 
     seemingly caved to Big Tobacco and Big Vape lobbying 
     pressure, breaking your promise to address our nation's youth 
     vaping epidemic.
       Here is what we know about e-cigarettes:
       We know that, in the past two years of your presidency, our 
     nation has experienced a 135 percent increase in youth use of 
       We know that five million children are now vaping, 
     including more than one in four high-school students and more 
     than one in ten middle-school students.
       We know that nearly 30 percent of children under the age of 
     18 are now vaping, compared with less than 4 percent of 
       We know that JUUL has fueled this youth public health 
     ``epidemic,'' as it has been defined by every major federal 
     health official in your Administration.
       We know that e-cigarette flavors--including mint and 
     menthol--are why children first try and become addicted to e-
       We know that more than 2,000 Americans have recently been 
     sickened as a result of vaping. We also know that, to date, 
     42 people have died--including four in my state.
       We know that not a single e-cigarette product available for 
     purchase today is on the market with authorization from the 
       Finally, we know that your Administration has completely 
     abdicated its duty to protect the public health by repeatedly 
     delaying and refusing to regulate any of these dangerous and 
     addictive products.
       Here is what we do not know about e-cigarettes:
       We do not know the short- or long-term health impacts of 
     using these products, especially in children (though we do 
     know that use of nicotine in the developing brain has many 
     negative and long-term health consequences).
       We do not always know what ingredients--beyond nicotine--
     are in e-cigarettes and the accompanying flavors, nor do we 
     know the short- or long-term health impact of the use of 
     those ingredients. We do not if e-cigarettes and flavors 
     actually help adult smokers quit cigarettes (though we do 
     know that e-cigarette use leads to 80 new smokers for every 
     one smoker who reports quitting).
       We do not conclusively know why so many people who vape are 
     getting sick and dying.
       We do not have answers to these questions because the 
     tobacco and vaping industries--shrouded in secrecy and 
     deception--have refused to conduct the much-needed clinical 
     trials and studies, instead preferring to keep the health 
     consequences a secret. Perhaps even more concerning is that 
     your FDA--the federal agency responsible for regulating 
     tobacco products--has not required them to do so.
       More than two months ago, when you announced the impending 
     e-cigarette flavor ban, you stated, ``We have a problem in 
     our country . . . It's a problem nobody really thought about 
     too much a few years ago, and it's called `vaping'--
     especially vaping as it pertains to innocent children . . . 
     And we're going to have to do something about it . . . We're 
     looking at very strong rules and regulations.''
       You further stated, ``Vaping has become a very big 
     business, as I understand it--like a giant business in a very 
     short period of time. But we can't allow people to get sick, 
     and we can't have our youth be so affected.''
       During your September Oval Office press conference with the 
     First Lady, you made big promises that you now appear to be 
     breaking. Children and families nationwide are still hoping 
     that you will reverse course and quickly implement an e-
     cigarette flavor ban that protects our next generation from a 
     lifetime of nicotine addiction, illness, and death.
                                                Richard J. Durbin,
                                                     U.S. Senator.

                          Affordable Care Act

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 20 
million Americans have health insurance, including more than 1 million 
in my State of Illinois. Why is it so important? Let me tell you the 
story of Stefanie from Oak Park, IL. Recently, Stefanie wrote about her 
son, who has a history of mental health and substance abuse issues. 
Because of the Affordable Care Act, her son will be able to stay on her 
health insurance plan until he reaches the age of 26.
  The Affordable Care Act also required that all health plans cover 
mental health and addiction treatment. It is hard to imagine that 
people were selling health insurance in America that did not cover 
mental health and addiction.
  Two Senators on the floor of the Senate--Paul Wellstone, who stood 
right over there, and Pete Domenici, who stood there--teamed up to 
require that every health insurance plan in America cover mental 
illness. It is so obvious. It is an issue many families face. But 
health insurance plans were excluding it. Why did these two Senators 
who were wildly different politically decide they would team up for 
this? Paul

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Wellstone had a brother and Senator Domenici had a son who were 
struggling with mental illness, and they didn't have protection in 
their health insurance, so the Senators fought to include it.
  Thank goodness they did. Because of that health law, insurance 
companies cannot discriminate against Stefanie's son because of his 
medical history. Her son just graduated college. She is thankful he can 
stay on her company's policy until he gets a job, and she is thankful 
her premiums are not higher due to her son's health needs. Stefanie is 
afraid that if these protections go away because of a court case that 
is currently pending or the actions of the Republican majority in this 
Senate, her son will be uninsurable or face enormous medical bills that 
he will be unable to pay. Stefanie wrote to me, and she said that if 
the Affordable Care Act were to be eliminated, they are ``contemplating 
leaving this country to seek manageable health care.''
  Democrats are fighting to keep healthcare protections for people like 
Stefanie and her son. Because of the Affordable Care Act, people with 
preexisting conditions can no longer be denied coverage or charged 
higher premiums. Is there anyone among us who doesn't know someone with 
a preexisting condition? I have one. This protects 5 million people in 
Illinois who have a preexisting condition.
  Insurance companies are no longer allowed to impose annual or 
lifetime caps on benefits or to deny coverage for mental health, 
substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, or hospitalizations, and 
young people are allowed to stay on their parents' plan until they 
reach age 26.
  Despite the Republican and Trump administration's continued efforts 
to repeal these protections both in Congress and in the courts, health 
insurance under the Affordable Care Act is open for business. If you 
are interested and want to know the policies available, healthcare.gov 
is the website to visit.
  Open enrollment for 2020 health plans began on November 1 and ends on 
December 15. If you can, sign up. It is a protection that you hope you 
will never need, but if you need it, it is good to have it.
  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. CASEY. 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. CASEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, beginning with Russia's interference in our 
2016 national elections, to the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from 
Syria, President Trump has made multiple statements and decisions that 
serve only to benefit Vladimir Putin's agenda to undermine democracy 
and expand Russia's influence around the world.
  Taken together, these actions aren't just a threat to U.S. national 
security, but they also undercut and diminish some of the core tenets 
and values of American democracy and global leadership. The U.S. 
Senate, as part of a coequal branch of government, must recognize this 
threat and act as a body to ensure our institutions at home and 
interests abroad are protected. Thus far, we have not lived up to this 
solemn responsibility.
  Let me start with a seminal news article from the Washington Post, 
just recently. White House reporter Anne Gearan, in her October 15, 
2019, article, catalogs how the Trump administration has allowed Russia 
to assert dominance globally. The headline reads: ``Trump's moves in 
Ukraine and Syria have a common denominator: Both help Russia.''
  Anne Gearan writes as follows, and I will quote in pertinent part.

       . . . President Trump has taken action that has had the 
     effect of helping the authoritarian leader of Russia.
       . . . [The President's] actions in Syria and Ukraine add to 
     the list of policy moves and public statements that have 
     boosted Russia during his presidency, whether that was their 
     central purpose or not, confounding critics who have warned 
     that he has taken too soft a stance toward a nation led by a 
     strongman hostile to the United States.

  Anne Gearan goes on to discuss how President Trump's withdrawal of 
U.S. troops from Syria has allowed Russia to assert a more dominant 
role in the region. She also discusses how the President's intimidation 
of Ukraine's recently elected President Zelensky has become the subject 
of a domestic impeachment inquiry and distracted from actual engagement 
and support to Ukraine as it continues to grapple with Russian 
  Anne Gearan also notes:

       [President] Trump has publicly questioned the usefulness of 
     NATO--the post-World War II military alliance established as 
     a bulwark against first the Soviet Union and now Russia--as 
     well as the utility of the European Union, a political and 
     economic alliance Putin would love to weaken.

  This is all written by Anne Gearan.
  These actions have led to a growing consensus among the national 
security community that the President is not serving the national 
interest. Let me move to a second part of this.
  Sadly, President Trump's recent actions with regard to Syria and 
Ukraine are, unfortunately, not isolated. President Trump has been 
consistent in taking actions that favor Russia. As early as April of 
2016, then-candidate Donald Trump vowed to pursue closer ties to Russia 
if elected to the Presidency. Even before he took office, by way of 
Twitter and other platforms he was signaling to Vladimir Putin his 
deference to a Putin-driven U.S.-Russia dynamic.
  From there, the American people have only learned more about the 
Trump campaign's ties to Russia and Russia's interference in the 2016 
Presidential election.
  The intelligence community's unclassified report concluded:

       We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an 
     influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential 
     election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in 
     the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and 
     harm her electability and potential presidency. We further 
     assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear 
     preference for President-elect Trump.

  The interference with our election process by a hostile government 
was an attack on our democracy and a threat to our national security 
carried out by Russian operatives at the direction of Vladimir Putin 

  Since Special Counsel Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel 
to investigate Russia's attack, 34 indictments have been returned in 
connection with the investigation, including indictments against 
Russian individuals and Russian companies, as well as former Trump 
campaign manager Paul Manafort and deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, 
who were charged with ``conspiracy against the United States.'' Special 
Counsel Mueller also secured guilty pleas from other campaign advisers, 
including George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn.
  Despite this ample evidence of wrongdoing, the President attempted to 
impede the Russia probe at every step of the way. The U.S. intelligence 
community, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Robert Mueller and 
his team of investigators have done a great service to our Nation in 
investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia and Russian 
interference in our election. The findings further confirm that 
President Trump not only benefitted from Russian interference but, as 
Anne Gearan wrote in the October 15 Washington Post story, President 
Trump ``has also disputed, at times, the U.S. intelligence community's 
conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to boost his 
candidacy, and he only reluctantly signed a bill imposing sanctions on 
Russia for the transgression after weeks of resisting the measure, 
which he called, `seriously flawed.'''
  Anne Gearan is referencing the Countering America's Adversaries 
Through Sanctions Act, known by the acronym CAATSA, or C-A-A-T-S-A. 
That is legislation that I supported, and it passed both Houses of 
Congress with bipartisan support to impose sanctions on U.S. 
adversaries, including Russia, for its incursions into Ukraine and 
Syria and interference in our elections.
  I believe it is likely that if CAATSA did not clearly prohibit it, 
President Trump would have removed preexisting Russia sanctions by now.
  So the evidence is clear. By interfering in our national elections 

[[Page S6637]]

elevating Donald Trump's prospects for success as a candidate, Vladimir 
Putin was assuring that a personal ally would be installed in the White 
House and that that particular ally would clear the way for Putin to 
advance his foreign policy goals around the world.
  Let me move to a second--or, I should say, a third--part of this. If 
it isn't bad enough that the President is himself undermining our 
intelligence community's findings, he has deployed Attorney General 
William Barr to try and discredit those findings--those findings by our 
intelligence community with regard to interactions with allies.
  William Barr has been traveling the world chasing conspiracy theories 
and investigating President Trump's complaints about the origins of the 
government's investigation into Russian election interference. 
Specifically, the Attorney General is examining whether U.S. 
intelligence and law enforcement agencies acted properly when they 
examined possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which 
ultimately led to Special Counsel Mueller's investigation. We have 
learned that this probe is now a criminal investigation, suggesting 
that it is focused on the unfounded allegations pushed by the 
President's allies about how the Russia probe was started.
  Considering that Special Counsel Mueller, the intelligence community, 
and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee all confirmed in great 
detail that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, it is entirely 
unclear what legal or factual predicate Attorney General Barr is even 
relying on to justify this criminal investigation into the origins of 
the government's investigation into Russia's election interference.
  Attorney General Barr is pursuing these efforts, despite the fact 
that Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stated that Italy's 
intelligence services played no role in the Russian investigation. It 
appears that Attorney General Barr is using the Justice Department to 
chase unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that could benefit the 
President politically and also undermine Special Counsel Robert 
Mueller's Russia investigation.
  The Attorney General has also demonstrated eagerness to prejudge his 
own investigation by already telling lawmakers in April that he 
believed that ``spying did occur'' by the FBI on the Trump campaign. So 
the President has dispatched a top U.S. law enforcement official around 
the world to pursue a biased investigation into an effort to undermine 
our intelligence agencies and to undermine the work of a special 
counsel who was appointed by the very same Justice Department that 
Attorney General Barr leads, with the primary goal--the primary goal--
being to clear Vladimir Putin's government of wrongdoing. It is hard to 
comprehend or adequately articulate how disturbing that is.

  Let me move to another part of the evidence with regard to how the 
President deals with President Putin and his government--the Helsinki 
summit. President Trump's dangerous deference to Vladimir Putin was 
most evident at the July 2018 summit in Helsinki. Putin and President 
Trump had a 2-hour one-on-one meeting, followed by an unprecedented 
press conference.
  President Trump appears to overwhelmingly favor one-on-one, closed-
door, direct communications with Putin on a regular basis. I have to 
ask at least two questions, among many we could ask. Question No. 1 is, 
What is he hiding? No. 2 is, Why not have experienced U.S. personnel 
present at such bilateral meetings?
  Even more disturbing were the President's statements following the 
Trump-Putin meeting. Here is a brief summary of what happened at that 
  President Trump praised Putin and his leadership.
  No. 2, he repeatedly sided with Putin over our intelligence 
community, asserting that Russia did not, in fact, interfere in the 
2016 elections. The President repeatedly siding with Putin over our 
intelligence community was a grave offense by the President that made 
our Nation less safe--in my judgment, for sure less safe. It was one of 
the worst moments in any American Presidency.
  No. 3 in my brief summary of that public meeting in Helsinki is that 
Mr. Putin was silent the whole time when this was happening.
  President Trump's rambling comments over several minutes reflect not 
only the President's disturbing desire to flatter and to show support 
for Putin but also his complete failure--in that instance, his complete 
failure--to advance U.S. interests.
  Let me move to the impeachment that is underway regarding Ukraine.
  The transcript of the now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian 
President Volodymyr Zelensky that is the subject of the current 
impeachment inquiry also reflects the President's failure to prioritize 
U.S. national security interests when it comes to Russia.
  Going back to Anne Gearan and the Washington Post story of October 15 
of this year, she wrote: ``During that call, Trump did not mention 
longstanding U.S. policy goals for Ukraine, including standing up to 
Russian pressure, and he may have tarred and weakened Zelensky and his 
winning anti-corruption platform by dragging him into domestic U.S. 
  Such major omissions send a clear signal to Putin that he could 
expand his aggression in Ukraine beyond Crimea and to the Ukrainian 
people and also the message to the Ukrainian people that Zelensky is 
not going to be the strong leader with U.S. backing that Ukraine needs 
at this time.
  We have already seen the impact of President Trump's abandonment of 
Ukraine amid this impeachment scandal. In early October, President 
Zelensky was effectively backed into a corner to sign Ukraine on to the 
so-called Steinmeier Formula, which sets the path toward elections in 
the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine and eventual negotiations with 
Russia over the future of Russian-occupied territories. He did this 
without achieving previously imposed preconditions of Russian troop 
withdrawal and security for the elections.
  Zelensky was effectively shamed into pursuing this Steinmeier Formula 
after President Trump urged him to negotiate with Putin--with Putin--
several times on camera during the United Nations General Assembly 
meetings in September. As Anne Gearan puts it, ``The result: A country 
that was looking for strong U.S. backing, amid worries that Russia 
could seek to move its aggression beyond the annexation of Crimea, has 
been left to wonder about the Trump administration's commitment to its 
national interests.''
  Let me move to Syria. President Trump's latest moves in Syria only 
further amplify the alarm over this President's affinity for Vladimir 
  In early October, President Trump announced the abrupt withdrawal of 
U.S. troops from Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to pursue a 
military operation against Kurdish allies of the United States in 
northern Syria. Following an initial U.S.-brokered ceasefire, Turkish 
and Russian authorities have agreed to a more permanent status, sharing 
control of Syria's northern border.
  Turkish and Russian forces are not only occupying Kurdish-held areas 
but also further expanding Russia's role in Syria and committing war 
crimes against Kurdish civilians, according to the United Nations.
  Russia has already occupied U.S. military camps in the region, and 
Turkish President Erdogan's deepening relationship with Vladimir 
Putin--as evidenced by Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile 
system--only undercuts U.S. influence in Syria, all but guaranteeing 
that U.S. interests will not be represented in a future Syrian 
political settlement.
  President Trump's decision serves to benefit Vladimir Putin. Prior to 
withdrawal, the United States was Russia's only military equal in 
Syria, but Russia is now the primary and, according to some analysts, 
the sole power broker in Syria.
  In the vacuum left by the United States, Putin will be able to return 
control of the country to Bashar al-Assad, exercise increased control 
over Turkey--a NATO ally--and return to Russia's Cold War-era dominance 
in the Middle East.
  As Georgetown University Russia specialist Andrew Bennett put it, 
``[W]hat is clear is that Russia and the [Bashar al-] Assad regime that 
it backs have been the big winners in Trump's abrupt retreat. . . . 
Now, suddenly

[[Page S6638]]

Putin is back in the driver's seat in Syria, with leverage over all 

  Mr. President, it is even worse than that. Let me recount some recent 
news with regard to actions by Vladimir Putin.
  President Trump's transgression goes beyond simply allowing Russia to 
fill a vacuum. On October 13, just 2 days before Anne Gearan's 
Washington Post story, the New York Times reported that ``the Russian 
Air Force has repeatedly bombed hospitals in Syria in order to crush 
the last pockets of resistance to President Bashar al-Assad.''
  The Times published evidence in that story that the Russians bombed 
four Syrian hospitals in a 12-hour period in May of this year. During 
the assault, the Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital in Idlib Province was 
struck four times in 30 minutes. Let me say that again. A hospital was 
struck four times in 30 minutes. Dozens of hospitals and clinics in 
Idlib Province have been struck since, and Syrian medical workers live 
in constant fear of the next strike.
  Russia continues to act with impunity. Not only did it bomb another 
hospital in Idlib last week, Russia is using its sway at the United 
Nations Security Council--where U.S. leadership has diminished 
significantly under this administration--to limit the scope and the 
impact of a U.N. inquiry into these bombings.
  Such atrocities go beyond the pale of violating the Geneva 
Conventions and the laws of war; they demonstrate just how ruthless 
Putin and his regime are and the lengths they are willing to go to 
assert Russia's influence in the Middle East. The tragedy is, this 
administration is allowing it to happen. Under this administration, we 
have seen U.S. leadership erode and multilateral institutions 
deteriorate to the point where the U.N. is powerless to hold Russia 
accountable for these atrocities.
  I cannot emphasize enough that this administration is not only 
failing the American people with regard to our relationship with Russia 
and national security interests, but it is also making us less safe by 
allowing unspeakable atrocities to occur against innocent civilians--
all on our watch.


  Mr. President, I will be brief because I know I only have about 5 
minutes before we have to move on, but I want to turn to some brief 
comments about the courageous public servants whom we have watched and 
will continue to watch testify before the House Intelligence Committee 
both last week and again this week in the impeachment inquiry.
  We have heard from George Kent, Ambassador Taylor, Ambassador 
Yovanovitch, and today, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and others, and my 
remarks go out to do justice to all those who will testify for their 
courage. I want to make some brief comments.
  These individuals and so many others are putting their careers and 
reputations on the line to testify publicly in defense of U.S. national 
security, moral leadership, and our democratic institutions. It is 
outrageous--and that is an understatement--that they have been 
subjected to partisan attacks--public servants who have sacrificed so 
much for our Nation. In the case of the diplomats, the diplomats have 
been attacked without any support or defense from Secretary of State 
Pompeo or other senior Department of State officials.
  We should all be inspired by these and countless other public 
servants who work to protect and serve the United States every day. 
When I reflect upon their service to our country and their integrity, I 
am reminded of just one line from ``America the Beautiful: ``O 
beautiful for patriot dream, That sees beyond the years.'' One of the 
dreams of a patriot, of course, is to see beyond our own circumstances, 
to dream about a better future by upholding our institutions and by 
serving the rule of law, our democracy, and our Constitution.
  I will skip over all of the information we already know about the 
service of these Ambassadors and just conclude with some comments about 
what happened today.
  Today, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, before questioning by the 
committee Members, was going through his experience. I will go through 
it briefly: infantry officer, foreign area officer specializing in 
European and Eurasian political military affairs, political military 
affairs officer, serving on the National Security Council, and serving 
our country in combat and paying the price of being wounded in combat.
  At the end of his statement today, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman talked 
about his father. He said:

       His courageous decision [to come to this country] inspired 
     a deep sense of gratitude in my brothers and myself and 
     instilled in us a sense of duty and service. All three of us 
     served or are currently serving in the military. Our 
     collective military service is a special part of our family's 
     story in America.

  He went on to say:

       I am grateful for my father's brave act of hope 40 years 
     ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and 
     public servant, where I can live free of fear for mine and my 
     family's safety.

  He contrasted that with what happens in Russia. I think it is a good 
reminder for all of us.
  Let me conclude with these thoughts. It is appalling to see 
individuals such as Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who dedicated their 
entire lives to the safety and security of the United States be smeared 
by the President and by his attack dogs who are more concerned about 
tweets and FOX News headlines than protecting our Nation's domestic 
  Nothing the President has said or done in his nearly 3 years as 
President convinces me he has any understanding of public service. 
Looking beyond the current impeachment inquiry, this administration's 
blatant disregard and disrespect for career diplomats has had a grave 
impact on the State Department and our National Security Agency's 
ability to recruit the next generation of talented, committed public 
servants who promote U.S. interests abroad.
  I will not allow this administration's continuing assault on our 
diplomats to undermine, devalue, or dishonor their service or the 
service of future patriots who choose to make a career of serving and 
protecting our Nation.
  The Ambassadors and officials who testified last week, as well as 
today--others, including Lieutenant Colonel Vindman--have lived 
honorable and dutiful lives in service to the United States of America. 
We owe them our deepest gratitude and appreciation for their integrity 
and commitment to American values. These are real American heroes who, 
despite the President's bullying and harassment, have stood up in 
defense of our democratic institutions and the values the Founders 
fought for to guide our Nation.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.

                       Wind Production Tax Credit

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I have come to the floor to talk about 
the wind production tax credit. This is a subject that I've talked 
about before. The Senator from Pennsylvania, Mr. Toomey, will, I 
believe, come soon to talk on the same subject.
  The wind production tax credit is so generous with taxpayers' money 
that wind developers can actually give away their electricity for free 
and still make a profit. Let me say that again. I am talking today 
about the wind production tax credit, which is a tax subsidy--taxpayer 
dollars--given to wind developers, and it is so generous that the 
developers can actually, in some cases, give away their electricity for 
free and still make a profit.
  That wind production tax credit has been extended 11 times. It has 
been on the books for more than 25 years. This was a tax credit that 
was supposed to jump-start a new industry--that's 25 years of jump-
starting. Four years ago, Congress agreed to end it. We thought that 
was it. In doing so, Congress asked taxpayers to provide another $24 
billion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to extend the 
wind production tax credit--$24 billion more in subsidies for another 5 
years and gradually phase out the credit. That is what we thought we 
did 4 years ago. We would spend $24 billion more in exchange for 
phasing out and ending the wind production tax credit. This is on top 
of the nearly $10 billion taxpayers paid between 2008 and 2015 and the 
billions more the taxpayers have paid since the wind production tax 
credit was created in 1992. That was supposed to be the end of the wind 
production tax credit 4 years ago. Remember, it

[[Page S6639]]

was supposed to jump-start a new industry. President Obama's Energy 
Secretary said years ago that wind is already a mature industry. That 
was during the Obama administration.
  Now some Members of Congress are trying to break the agreement of 4 
years ago to end the wind production tax credit. Earlier this summer, 
the House Ways and Means Committee reported legislation that extends 
that credit through the end of 2020. This huge amount of money is not 
the only thing wrong with that proposal.
  First, the wind production tax credit undercuts reliable electricity 
like nuclear power. This is called negative pricing, which is when wind 
developers have such a big subsidy that they can give away their 
electricity and still make money. If you are a wind developer, for 
every kilowatt hour of electricity one of these 40-story-high wind 
structures produces, the taxpayers will pay you up to 2.3 cents, which 
in some markets is more than the cost of the wholesale value of each 
kilowatt hour of electricity. Negative pricing such as this distorts 
the marketplace. It puts at risk more reliable forms of energy such as 
nuclear power, which produces 60 percent of all the carbon-free 
electricity in the United States. In contrast, wind produces about 19 
percent of all the carbon-free electricity in the United States. I 
think it is important to produce carbon-free electricity. I believe 
climate change is a problem and that humans are a cause of the problem.
  Why would we undercut the production of nuclear power--which is 60 
percent of our carbon-free electricity--by the negative pricing of this 
big, expensive wind production tax credit? With nuclear power 
available, expecting a country the size of the United States to operate 
on windmills is the energy equivalent of going to war in sail boats.
  Second, in my view, windmills destroy the environment rather than 
save it. You could run these 40-story structures from Georgia to Maine 
to produce electricity, scarring the entire eastern landscape or you 
could produce the same amount of electricity with eight nuclear power 
plants. If you did run these giant structures from Georgia to Maine, 
you would still need natural gas or nuclear power to produce 
electricity when the wind is not blowing, which is most of the time.
  There is a much better way to spend the dollars that are available 
for clean energy. Instead of subsidizing wind developers, the United 
States could use that money to double the nearly $6.6 billion that the 
Federal Government spends on basic energy research to make truly bold 
breakthroughs that will help us provide cleaner, cheaper energy and 
raise family incomes.
  Earlier this year, I came to the Senate floor and called for a New 
Manhattan Project for Clean Energy, a 5-year project with 10 grand 
challenges that will use American research and technology to put our 
country and the world firmly on a path toward cleaner, cheaper energy. 
Specifically, I encouraged funding breakthroughs in advanced nuclear 
reactors, natural gas, carbon capture, better batteries, greener 
buildings, electric vehicles, cheaper solar, fusion, advanced 
computing, and doubling energy research funding. All of that is a 
better use of funding than more funding for wind developers, which is 
so generous that in some cases they can give away their electricity and 
still make a profit. Let wind energy go where we said it should go in 
2015; let it go unsubsidized into the free market. That is where we 
thought we sent it 4 years ago, and that is where it should go.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I want to join my colleague from Tennessee 
in explaining why we ought to allow this deal to stand--the deal that 
was struck some years ago to phase out these incredibly inefficient 
  I thank my colleague from Tennessee for his leadership on this issue. 
As you know, this is a very large tax subsidy. The government is 
already set to spend about $67 billion in energy tax subsidies just 
over the next 5 years, and we should be very clear about this: These 
subsidies lead to a lower standard of living. When we choose to take an 
inefficient form of energy and throw a lot of money at it, it just 
lowers the standard of living. We have less resources available for all 
the other things we could be doing with that money.
  As my colleague from Tennessee mentioned, the wind production tax 
credit began in 1992 for the very straightforward, simple reason that 
it couldn't compete. It is completely economically uncompetitive. The 
idea is, we will have this temporary subsidy to enable the wind 
production to reach an economy of scale, reach a maturity in the 
industry that would allow it to compete, and the consensus at the time 
was that ought to be achieved by about 1999. After about 7 years of 
taxpayer subsidies, the industry should be on its feet, should be 
competitive, and there would be technological improvements and 
everything would be fine. That was 20 years ago. We have been 
subsidizing it ever since.
  We extended this program 11 times. The wind component of all of our 
energy subsidies is about $25 billion over a 5-year period, and they 
still can't compete. The reason it can't compete is because it is just 
extremely expensive to build the electricity-generating capacity if it 
is a windmill. It is much more expensive than alternative forms of 
energy. The cost of building wind capacity versus natural gas, for 
instance, is pretty stark. It costs less than $1,000 per kilowatt of 
capacity for a natural gas-fired powerplant. It costs over $1,600 per 
kilowatt for wind production.
  Obviously, after the production is done, windmills don't require 
ongoing fuel. Amazingly enough, that savings is not enough to ever 
recoup the huge amount of capital you have to lay out upfront to build 
this very, very expensive technology. You don't have to take my word 
for it. Warren Buffett had something to say about this. He knows 
something about investments. He knows something about economic 
efficiency. Warren Buffett said:

       We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That 
     is the only reason to build them. They don't make sense 
     without the tax credit.

  That is the reality we have. It is compounded by the fact, of course, 
that wind energy is inherently unreliable. This will come as no 
surprise to my colleagues. You don't generate electricity from a 
windmill unless the wind is blowing. Unfortunately, it is just a fact 
of nature that wind generation tends to peak in the middle of the night 
and early morning hours when our energy needs are at their lowest.
  It is very hard to store electricity, so we end up with this bizarre 
situation that the Senator from Tennessee alluded to, where sometimes 
the wind farms are generating tremendous amounts of electricity, when 
no one needs electricity, because there is a wind storm in the middle 
of the night, but because they are so heavily subsidized by taxpayers, 
the wind farm companies are willing to pay the electric grid operator 
to take their electricity. Normally, you sell your electricity. They 
actually will pay money to have the electrical grid take their 
electricity. This is extremely disruptive for the conventional sources 
of electricity, whether it is nuclear or gas or coal, because they have 
to be there all the time to adjust for the wild fluctuations that come 
from wind-generated electricity. It is very hard for them to have a 
vehicle business model when occasionally the product they produce has a 
negative value. It is just bizarre.
  I want to stress another element of this, which is the original 
rationale. The original rationale was that this was a new industry. It 
was going to need some help getting on its feet and getting 
established, and after some period of time, it would be able to compete 
on its own. This is no longer even remotely the case. In fact, there is 
a tremendous amount of wind-generated electricity in America because 
these subsidies have been so big for so long.
  In 1999, we had only 4\1/2\ billion kilowatt hours of electricity 
generated from wind. In 2018, we had 275 billion kilowatt hours--a 
6,000-percent increase in two decades. It is now 7 percent of all U.S. 
electricity generation because these subsidies are so expensive.
  I think it was, in part, because of the enormous growth of this 
industry and the maturity of it--the decades-long history--that 
Congress finally decided back in 2015 that we would phase out these 
subsidies. We wouldn't do it immediately, but we would phase them

[[Page S6640]]

out by 2019. So 20 years after the subsidies were supposed to end, we 
are now on a glide path to phasing this out and having these taxpayer 
subsidies expire at the end of this year.
  At the time the Wind Energy Association looked at this in 2015, they 
said: ``Growth in the wind industry is expected to remain strong when 
the PTC is fully phased out.'' PTC is the production tax credit. That 
is what we are talking about. Lo and behold, we get to the end of 2019, 
or nearly so, and, sure enough, some folks in Congress are saying: 
Well, let's not stick to that deal. Let's continue this subsidy even 
longer. So we had a markup in the Ways and Means Committee of the other 
Chamber to add yet another year's extension to the wind tax credit that 
will cost another $2 billion.

  I just don't think we should break the deal that we had in 2015. This 
is an inefficient use of taxpayers' money. This makes our economy less 
efficient. This lowers our standard of living and is disruptive to the 
ongoing base sources of electricity that we need across the country.
  The last point I want to make is that it is not as though we have an 
energy shortage in this country. It is not as though we are going to 
have to turn to hostile foreign sources to get the energy to replace if 
we don't continue heavily subsidizing wind production. The fact is we 
have staggering amounts of natural gas--enough natural gas to serve our 
electricity generation needs for the indefinite future. In 2017, the 
United States became a net exporter of natural gas. It is a huge, 
growing source of electricity generation that is clean, that is 
reliable, and that is incredibly abundant. We came to the right 
conclusion some years ago. Now is our opportunity to stick to it.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cruz). The Senator from Texas.

                       Senate Legislative Agenda

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, history has taught us that the closer you 
get to election day, the harder it gets to pass legislation here in the 
Congress. It is hard, anyway, by design. You have to pass a bill 
through committees in the House and in the Senate. Both bodies have to 
pass a bill if they are different. They have to reconcile those in a 
conference committee. Then, you have to negotiate with the White House 
in order to get the President's signature. So, by design, it is hard to 
pass legislation, but it shouldn't be this hard.
  With less than a year to go before the 2020 election, we are racing 
against the clock. We started this year with bipartisan ambitions to 
address healthcare costs, to bolster international trade, and to get 
the appropriations process back on track and avoid unnecessary 
government shutdowns. Yet, somewhere along the way, politics hijacked 
the process.
  Our colleagues across the aisle decided that no matter how critical 
legislation may be, foiling President Trump was even more important. 
They are so outraged by the President and so consumed by his every word 
and every tweet that they have brought the work of this body to a 
screeching halt in an effort to remove him from office less than a year 
before the next general election. It seems they have no desire 
whatsoever to pass legislation that would benefit the American people, 
let alone any urgency to get things moving. The only thing our 
Democratic colleagues seem to care about is stopping the President from 
getting anything that could be construed as a win.
  Over in the House, the Democrats have put legislating on the back 
burner and are spending their days trying to nullify the results of the 
2016 election. They are slow-walking negotiations on the National 
Defense Authorization Act, which has passed every year without fail 
since 1961. Their negotiations with the administration over the USMCA--
that is the successor to NAFTA, which helped to benefit the employment 
of roughly 13 million Americans--have kept farmers, ranchers, and 
manufacturers in limbo for months. Along with the necessary funding to 
help to make up for the lack of funds in the highway trust fund, they 
have also complicated efforts to get a long-term highway bill 
reauthorization passed.
  Despite the partisan frenzy in the House, I have always believed the 
Senate should do its best to stay above the fray, but the minority 
leader has proven me wrong. In fact, last week, I came to the floor to 
ask unanimous consent to pass a bill that Senator Richard Blumenthal, 
of Connecticut, a Democrat, and I, a Republican, introduced together. 
Incredibly, this bill passed unanimously out of the Committee on the 
  Our legislation is designed to do what all here in Washington say 
they want to do, which is to reduce drug prices--in this case, by 
stopping drug makers from gaming the patent system. Our bill strikes a 
delicate balance of protecting innovation, which is very, very 
important--we must not lose sight of that--while it increases 
competition, and you know competition helps to bring down prices. As an 
added bonus, it would lower Federal spending by more than a half a 
billion dollars over 10 years. That is not even talking about what it 
would do in the nongovernmental sector for savings.
  Senator Blumenthal and I have done what you are expected to do here 
in a legislative body, which is to work hard to build consensus and 
come up with a bill that could gain bipartisan support. By any measure, 
we have succeeded in doing that, as it has a dozen bipartisan 
cosponsors. As I mentioned, when this legislation was reviewed by the 
Committee on the Judiciary--a committee that, notably, can be pretty 
contentious at times--the committee passed it unanimously. Every 
Republican and every Democrat voted for it.
  I had hoped that would have been some indication that this bill would 
have quickly passed the full Senate when brought to the Senate floor. 
Apparently, the minority leader, the Senator from New York, had other 
plans in mind, because when I, along with Senator Blumenthal, came to 
the floor last week to try to get this legislation passed, he 
objected--hence, the Schumer graveyard.

  On November 18, 2019, when referring to S. 1416, regarding the 
lowering of drug prices, Senator Schumer said: ``Democrats are happy 
and eager to work on those issues.''
  One thing I have learned around here is that it is not just what 
people say but what they do that counts, and he objected to this 
virtually unanimously supported bill, on a bipartisan basis, to lower 
drug prices. He actually called it a good bill. He said it was well-
intentioned, but he said there were other ideas that had to be included 
before he would lift his objection. So he doesn't have any objection to 
our bill. He understands it is a good bill but that it may not be as 
comprehensive as he would like.
  Another thing I have learned in my time in the Senate is that if you 
demand everything and are not willing to compromise, you are going to 
end up with nothing. Apparently, that is what the Democratic leader is 
happy with, including for his constituents in New York, by the way, who 
will have to pay more money out-of-pocket as a result of his objection 
to this commonsense bill.
  I would hope that he would talk to his own Members who have 
cosponsored this bill. Most notably, the Democratic whip, Senator 
Durbin, of Illinois, has cosponsored the bill as well as Senator 
Murray, of Washington, who is the ranking member on the Committee on 
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. They are both cosponsors of 
this bill that the Democratic leader objected to.
  While all Senators have said they want to address rising drug prices, 
Senator Schumer has the distinction of being the only Senator to have 
actually blocked a bill that would do exactly that. Why would he do 
that? He claims--I think, mistakenly so--that passing my bill would 
somehow render the Senate incapable of passing any other drug pricing 
legislation. That is, obviously, ridiculous and untrue.
  I happen to sit not only on the Committee on the Judiciary but on the 
Committee on Finance. There is a significant bipartisan Committee on 
Finance bill, together with the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions 
Committee's bill, that has been produced by Senator Alexander and 
Senator Murray. Both of those contain many good ideas. I wish we had 
the time and the bandwidth to debate and vote on those on the Senate 
floor and in the House. But for the fact that our House colleagues are 
so obsessed with impeachment and seem incapable of doing anything else, 
I think we could do that.
  Of course, even though the Democratic leader himself is the reason 

[[Page S6641]]

bill did not pass last week, it hasn't stopped him from complaining 
about the lack of progress on other legislation. Yesterday evening, for 
example, he came to the floor and said: ``Democrats are happy and eager 
to work on those issues.'' I would suggest, when he says they ``are 
happy and eager to work on those issues,'' that it is just happy talk, 
not our actually rolling up our sleeves and working together to get the 
work of the American people done, which is the reason I thought we were 
  The Democratic leader went on to say that the Senate Democrats are 
waiting with bated breath for the Republican leader to put any of these 
bills on the floor and for any Republican to speak out and demand they 
go on the floor. Yet, when I asked for this bill to be passed on the 
floor, it was not a Republican who blocked it. It was the same person 
who said he would be happy and eager to work on those issues. Again, 
what people say in Washington, DC, is not what they actually do 
sometimes. I suggest it is important to see what people do, not just 
listen to what they say.
  Sadly, this isn't the only time the Democratic leader has blocked 
progress on bipartisan priorities. It is just the latest. Here are some 
other tombstones in the Schumer graveyard.
  Over the summer, our colleagues on the Committee on Appropriations 
had the foresight to prepare for the funding fight that we expected 
this fall. That was a normal part of the process. They negotiated a 
spending caps agreement to make the appropriations process much more 
straightforward in both Chambers of Congress, and the House and the 
Senate approved the terms. We agreed to that top-line funding level 
both for defense and nondefense spending. There was also a promise not 
to derail the process with poison pills in the form of policy riders. 
We got all of it done with plenty of time to spare.
  After we voted on that, there was reason for hope and optimism in 
that, somehow, we had made it much easier for us to do the Nation's 
business when it had come to the spending bills. While there was still 
a lot of work to do, we thought this put us on a strong footing to get 
funding bills passed before the end of the fiscal year. Yet here we are 
today, on November 19--a long time from those votes in August--and we 
still don't have those spending bills passed.
  Our Democratic colleagues have, on two instances, actually objected 
to even debating the Defense appropriations bill, which provides a pay 
raise for our troops. They will not even talk about it. They will not 
offer amendments. They just blocked it. They just stopped it dead in 
its tracks. You would have thought everybody would have learned not to 
play politics with the appropriations bills. Our Democratic colleagues 
have held up government funding due to a disagreement that is equal to 
about 0.3 percent of the discretionary spending budget, and they are 
trying to reopen the very budget agreement that they agreed to last 
summer that has become law.
  They blocked vital education funding, which would have provided more 
than $71 billion to the Department of Education. This spending bill 
would bolster a number of the grant programs that our students and our 
schools rely on, and it would promote college access and affordability 
to help more prospective college students. That same funding bill would 
have invested nearly $4 billion in our fight against the opioid 
epidemic, supported workforce training programs, and strengthened our 
nationwide mental health system.
  Could the majority leader put aside politics just long enough to let 
this funding bill, which would do so much good, pass? Well, apparently 
  If you think that is bad, it just gets worse. Our most fundamental 
responsibility in Congress is to provide for the common defense. Before 
we can worry about anything else, we need the safety and security that 
our military provides to fight, if necessary, our Nation's wars and to 
defend our democracy. Actually, the strength of our military is 
directly related to our ability to live in peace because when our 
adversaries see us as tentative or weak or withdrawing or unwilling to 
fund our military training and readiness, they view that as a sign of 
weakness, which itself can be a provocation, which, again, ignores our 
most basic job as Members of the Congress.
  There have always been disagreements about exact dollar figures; we 
are not talking about that. But the top-line figures were agreed upon 
last summer, so I thought we were ready to fund our military on time.
  Well, shame on me for being an optimist or at least optimistic enough 
to believe that people would keep their commitments, keep their word, 
and we would somehow head down this path to funding the U.S. 
  Here we are, with one continuing resolution expiring in 3 days' time. 
I believe the House will vote on an additional continuing resolution 
that will take us to December 20, and then the Senate will have to do 
that just to keep the lights on here in Washington, DC--just to make 
sure that government actually functions.
  None of this is necessary, and all of it is directly related to 
hyperpartisan conflict, which we all understand, but it simply is 
getting in the way of our ability to do our business.
  The one that strikes me as the most indefensible, beyond the 
prescription drug objection, is blocking funding for our troops. We 
depend on an all-volunteer military, and obviously many of our military 
members are not just single; they have families who depend on them and 
on the funding that Congress provides. But our colleagues blocked it 
two different times--again, voting against the motion to proceed to the 
bill which, in plain English, is just saying that they didn't even want 
to start talking about or amending the underlying bill, which each 
Senator would have the opportunity to do if they would allow us to 
begin that process, which they blocked.
  Well, the Democratic leader loves to talk about the legislative 
graveyard here in the Senate. What he really means is that he wants to 
control the agenda, even in his seat as the minority leader. Well, he 
knows the rules of the Senate don't permit the minority to control the 
agenda. That is why it is so important that Senator McConnell is where 
he is and that Republicans have a majority.
  We are not saying that you have to do it our way or the highway. We 
are saying: Let's engage in the legislative process. Let's take up 
legislation on the floor of the Senate and let Senators offer their 
amendments, their suggestions, and then let's vote on them. But let's 
not just stop things dead in their tracks because of partisan politics 
or because somebody doesn't want somebody who happens to be on the 
ballot in 2020 to get a ``win.'' That is really beneath the dignity of 
the Senate or any Senator. It is less than what the American people 
have a right to expect of us.
  I would ask the Democratic leader again: Please don't head down this 
path by creating a graveyard of your own for bipartisan legislation 
that could and should become law. It is not my way or the highway. We 
have to work on this together, and we are willing to do our part.
  Let's work on bills that strengthen our military, lower drug prices, 
help students, assist in the fight against the opioid crisis, and so 
much, much more.
  I think it is a shame that our Democratic colleagues seem to be 
unable to compartmentalize their feelings about the President from the 
urgent need for them to do the jobs they were elected to do here in the 
Congress. They have been given countless opportunities to engage with 
us on a bipartisan basis to pass meaningful legislation that would make 
the American people's lives better. Again, that is why I think we are 
here, but they refuse to do anything that could be construed as giving 
somebody a victory because of political considerations. While Senator 
Schumer continues to kill bipartisan bill after bipartisan bill--
really, because of it--the work of this Congress has become paralyzed.
  We are not going to give up, though. We will keep fighting to ensure 
that the American people are not the ultimate victims of our Democratic 
colleagues' war against this President--again, less than a year before 
the election. Why can't they channel all of their anger, all of their 
energy into the election rather than invoking the impeachment process? 
This would be the fourth time that has been initiated in American 
history, and it has never been successful in getting a Senate 
conviction and a removal of any President in American history. Our 
Democratic colleagues know they are likely

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headed to the same conclusion here, but they nonetheless want to occupy 
all of our time and all of our attention on something that they know, 
ultimately, will likely be futile, will be unsuccessful, and in the 
meantime leave the American people on the sideline and not care or do 
anything that would help make their lives just a little bit easier and 
our country just a little bit stronger.
  I yield the floor.