EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 176
(Senate - November 05, 2019)

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[Pages S6366-S6374]
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                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of David 
Austin Tapp, of Kentucky, to be a Judge of the United States Court of 
Federal Claims for a term of fifteen years.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                         Defense Appropriations

  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, let me begin by echoing what the leader 
said earlier about the importance of passing the Defense appropriations 
bill.
  I just came from a meeting with members of our Defense Department 
where we talked about how important it is that the appropriations 
process moves forward. The Defense authorization bill, the broader bill 
that sets the priorities for military spending, is also stalled out 
here. That is something that both sides have agreed to for 58 years. It 
sets out how we are going to make sure that we take care of our men and 
women in uniform and that they have the equipment, the weaponry, and 
the training they need to do their jobs and to keep America safe. The 
authorization bill is stalled right now. That is the priority bill.
  The appropriations bill, the part that funds all of that--that, too, 
has been blocked last week, most recently by the Senate Democrats, who 
filibustered the Defense appropriations bill.
  So both the authorization bill and the funding bill are now both 
stalled out here in the Senate because of obstruction and delays by the 
Senate Democrats. That is unfortunate for the men and women in uniform 
in this country because in that Defense appropriations bill is the 
largest pay increase in a decade for our men and women in uniform, not 
to mention all of the important priorities that are funded when it 
comes to the weapons systems and the most sophisticated technology that 
is necessary, again, to keep Americans safe both here at home and 
around the world.
  I can't emphasize enough how important it is for our Democratic 
colleagues to come to their senses and conclude that taking care of 
America's military is job No. 1. If we don't get national security 
right, the rest is conversation. It really is. All these other things 
that we talk about are secondary and pale in comparison to making sure 
that we are taking the steps necessary to protect Americans, as I said, 
both here at home and around the world.
  The Defense appropriations bill funds all of those priorities, all 
those things that are important, from pay and benefits for our men and 
women in uniform to, again, all the things that are necessary for them 
when it comes to training, equipment, and weaponry to do their jobs and 
to do them well, to continue to keep Americans safe both here at home 
and around the world, and to be able to project American power where 
necessary in a world that is increasingly dangerous.
  I would just urge the Democrats here in the Senate to allow this 
appropriations process to move forward. Give us a vote. Let's vote on 
it. Let's get the military funded. Every day that goes by where it is 
not funded is lost time, and there are resources that can't be put into 
those important priorities

[[Page S6367]]

that are so essential to America's national security interests.
  We have a filibuster being conducted by the Senate Democrats. It 
needs to be stopped. We need to move forward with the Defense 
appropriations bill, and I hope the Senate Democrats will come to the 
conclusion that this is the right thing to do, not only for the Senate 
but, more importantly, for our country.


                     Filter Bubble Transparency Act

  Madam President, the internet has brought Americans a host of 
benefits: a wealth of information at our fingertips, unparalleled 
convenience, new opportunities for education and commerce, and 
innumerable new methods of communication. But I don't need to tell 
anyone that along with the countless benefits of the internet have come 
a number of concerns.
  One thing that is on the mind of many consumers is privacy. As the 
internet gradually permeates every area of our lives, internet 
companies become the repository for an ever-increasing amount of our 
personal data and our personal information, from what we ate for dinner 
last night to the temperature we like to keep in our house.
  As chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, 
Innovation and the Internet of the Senate Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation Committee, I spent a lot of time focused on data privacy 
issues. This past June, I convened a hearing entitled ``Optimizing for 
Engagement: Understanding the Use of Persuasive Technology on Internet 
Platforms.''
  At that hearing, we heard from a variety of experts about the ways 
companies use consumers' personal data to determine what individuals 
see online. As I said at the time, one reason I decided to hold the 
hearing was to inform legislation I was developing that would require 
internet platforms to give consumers the option to engage without 
having the experience shaped by algorithms that are driven by their 
user-specific data.
  Last Thursday, I introduced that legislation, called the Filter 
Bubble Transparency Act, here in the Senate. I am proud to have a 
number of bipartisan cosponsors on this bill. Senator Blumenthal, 
Senator Moran, Senator Blackburn, and Senator Warner have all 
cosponsored this legislation, and I am grateful for their support.
  The Filter Bubble Transparency Act is designed to address one aspect 
of the privacy problem, the issues that arise from internet companies' 
use of consumers' personal information to shape what consumers see on 
their platforms. Many people are unaware that much of the content they 
see on the internet is determined by sophisticated algorithms and 
artificial intelligence that draw on data about each consumer's online 
activity.
  For example, a recent Pew Research Center study found that 53 percent 
of U.S. adults don't understand how Facebook News Feed works. Many of 
us know that Netflix is curating information and recommendations 
specifically for us based on the movies and the shows that we watch. 
They use past behavior to project what future behavior is going to be, 
and they take all that information and they aggregate it. Then, they 
use that to recommend certain things that we might want to see.
  A lot of us are aware that Amazon is delivering product 
recommendations based on our purchase history. In other words, when you 
buy things online, you see the ads for the types of things that you buy 
online. But the reality is that internet companies have moved far 
beyond just recommending TV shows or just recommending things that you 
might want to purchase. Increasingly, every aspect of our online 
experience is personalized based on the vast amount of information that 
companies collect about us--from our age and occupation to how many 
times we visit certain websites.
  The data used by these companies to make predictions about us comes 
from a wide range of sources--from smart devices like Alexa, Google 
Assistant, Ring doorbells, and Nest devices; scanned emails and 
documents; data acquired from third parties, like banks, credit card 
processors, and health data services, among many other sources. This 
data is used to make statistical predictions about how we are going to 
behave in the future.
  This statistical prediction-making is happening on a massive scale. 
For example, Facebook has stated that the artificial intelligence that 
it uses for its News Feed can make 6 million predictions per second. 
Billions of people are being fed content on internet platforms that is 
basically selected for them by algorithms trying to make predictions 
about what will keep each user engaged on the platform. Clearly, the 
powerful mechanisms behind these platforms, meant to enhance 
engagement, also have the ability, or at least the potential, to 
influence the thoughts and behaviors, literally, of billions of people.
  That is why there is widespread unease about the power of these 
platforms and why it is important for the public to better understand 
how these platforms use the information they collect to make 
predictions about our behavior.
  As I said, a significant cause for concern is that most people are 
not always aware that the information they see is being filtered. We 
are trapped in what one observer has termed the ``filter bubble,'' our 
own private world of filtered search results and tailored content, 
without even knowing that we are there.
  There are real concerns that the ever-increasing use of filters to 
shape our internet experience contributes to political polarization, 
social isolation, and addiction, as well as permitting companies to 
manipulate user behavior.
  My bill, the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, takes aim at these 
concerns by requiring major internet platforms to notify consumers that 
the information they are seeing has been selected for them using 
filters based on their personal data. It would also require these sites 
to give consumers the option of seeing unfiltered results.
  Twitter provides a good example of what the Filter Bubble 
Transparency Act will do. Twitter gives consumers an option to view an 
unfiltered timeline through the use of a prominently displayed icon 
that is easy to access throughout a user's time on that particular 
platform. Consumers have the option of viewing the timeline that 
Twitter has curated for them, which pushes the posts that Twitter 
thinks they want to see to the top of their feed or viewing an 
unfiltered timeline that features all posts in a chronological order.
  That is the kind of option that my bill would give the consumers on 
other types of social media platforms. Consumers will be able to choose 
whether to see an unfiltered social media feed or search results or 
whether to view the curated or personalized content that the site 
chooses for them. It would be an option. We believe this gives 
consumers more choice and more control. They would be able to easily 
switch back and forth between the two options whenever they wanted. 
After all, consumers may want to see the filter-driven content in some 
cases. I mean, I would certainly prefer to see Netflix recommendations 
that are tailored to my viewing history, and if you have 1,000 tweets 
to read, it can be useful to see the ones that you are most likely to 
be interested in at the top of that feed. But consumers should also 
have the option to escape from that filter bubble and to see 
information that has not been selected specifically for them.

  I strongly support a light-touch approach to internet regulation that 
allows the free market to flourish. The internet would not have grown 
the way that it has had it been weighed down with heavy-handed 
government regulations. In order for free markets to work effectively, 
consumers need as much information as possible, including a better 
understanding of how internet platforms use artificial intelligence and 
complex filters to shape the information that those users see and 
receive.
  My bill would provide transparency and consumer control without 
jeopardizing the opportunity and innovation that we have come to expect 
from the tech industry. As internet companies collect and make use of 
more and more of our personal information, it is important that 
consumers know how their data is being used. At an even more basic 
level, it is important for consumers to know that their data is being 
used to curate the content they see.
  That is exactly what the Filter Bubble Transparency Act would do--
allow

[[Page S6368]]

consumers online to know, one, that their information is being filtered 
and that they are seeing content that is being curated for them by that 
particular social media platform, and, two, give them an option to see 
unfiltered and uncurated content that would just come to them in normal 
chronological order.
  I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this 
legislation. I think it is an important first step in making sure that 
consumers know more about their information as it is being collected 
and how it is being used by internet companies. I will continue to work 
as we try to deal with this broader debate on data privacy, which is so 
important in the online world in which we live.
  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. CORNYN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                              Legislation

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I return to the floor again this week to 
discuss Congress's progress on important legislation--or, rather, the 
lack of it--since the obsession with impeaching the President began.
  When the House decided to proceed full steam ahead on impeachment, 
they promised that it wouldn't interfere with our ability to get other 
important work done for our constituents. While it has been less than a 
week since the House formally authorized their impeachment inquiry, the 
crusade to impeach the President and remove him started nearly 3 years 
ago.
  For example, on January 20, which was actually Inauguration Day, 
2017, at 12:19 p.m. the Washington Post ran the story with the headline 
``The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.'' That was on 
Inauguration Day in 2017. Nineteen minutes into his Presidency, the 
writing wasn't only on the wall. It was on the front page of the 
Washington Post.
  Our Democratic friends are on a kamikaze mission to get President 
Trump out of office less than a year before the next election, and, in 
the process, they are preventing Congress from solving the big problems 
facing the American people.
  The latest casualty of this impeach-at-all-costs strategy is a bill I 
introduced with my Democratic colleague from Connecticut, Richard 
Blumenthal, called the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act. This 
legislation would lower the cost of Americans' prescription medication 
and save more than a half billion dollars in taxpayer money.
  Here, in the Senate, it counts the Democratic whip, Senator Durbin 
from Illinois, as well as the Assistant Democratic Leader, Senator 
Murray from Washington State, as cosponsors. With that kind of lineup, 
you would think this would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, drug pricing 
legislation isn't the only consensus effort that has gotten caught up 
in impeachment mania.
  For a quarter of a century, the Violence Against Women Act has 
provided resources to assist women who are victims of domestic violence 
and sexual assault. Unsurprisingly, this program has consistently 
maintained broad bipartisan support. There is agreement that we must do 
more to provide services and protection for victims of domestic 
violence and sexual assault, but it is safe to say that there are 
disagreements on how best to accomplish that goal.
  Those differences in opinion came to a head in February of this year. 
We were fresh off the heels of the longest government shutdown in 
history and working to fund the government through the remainder of the 
year, but our Democratic colleagues threw a curve ball when they 
insisted that we should not include a temporary extension of the 
Violence Against Women Act, which had expired in September of 2018.
  Even amid the political jockeying we have been seeing in this 
Congress, this was a shocking omission. Republicans were in favor of a 
short-term reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to provide 
time and space for bipartisan negotiations for a long-term 
reauthorization. Surprisingly, our Democratic colleagues in the House 
blocked this reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. So it 
expired.
  Fortunately, though, our friends on the Appropriations Committee have 
continued to fully fund these programs, but the authorizing statute has 
expired because of this gamesmanship. Despite continued bipartisan 
negotiations led by the Senator from Iowa, Ms. Ernst, over the last 8 
months, we haven't been able to come up with a consensus agreement to 
reauthorize the program on a long-term basis.
  This has been an 8-month negotiation. This isn't all that 
complicated. We should be able to do it in the space of an afternoon, 
but, clearly, there is no desire to get this resolved.
  Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is a top priority for 
Members on both sides of the aisle, and I hope we will work harder to 
make it happen rather than to use this important law to play partisan 
political games. Sadly, the Violence Against Women Act is not the only 
program to get caught up in the political crosshairs.
  The Debbie Smith Act, another traditionally bipartisan bill here in 
the Senate, expired at the end of September because of the refusal of 
the House to take up the Senate-passed version and to send it to the 
President.
  The Debbie Smith Act, you will recall, provides funding to State and 
local crime labs to test DNA evidence and reduce the rape kit backlog. 
The Senate unanimously passed the bill in May to reauthorize this 
program, but the House simply refused to act. At a roundtable I held in 
Houston, a few months ago, I heard from rape victims and their 
advocates about how troubling and, frankly, how insulting all of this 
was.
  After months, the House has now finally relented and voted to 
reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act, after the pressure on them became 
unbearable. I am glad they changed their minds, and I am hopeful we can 
get this bill to the President's desk soon. Although I would have 
welcomed less drama this time around, the Debbie Smith Act 
reauthorization will hopefully be an example of what Congress can 
accomplish when you put partisan political fights aside and work for 
our constituents; in other words, do the job we were elected to do when 
our constituents sent us here.
  It is really disappointing that some of our colleagues on the other 
side of the aisle would rather relitigate the 2016 election--again, 
less than a year before the next election--rather than do the work of 
the American people. This obsession with impeachment mania has consumed 
our Democratic colleagues and is preventing us from getting work done 
on a nonpartisan basis. That is what our constituents want us to do.
  Texans are worried about high prescription costs, worried about the 
state of our roads and bridges, and worried about our national 
security. In the case of the Democratic leader, I would be willing to 
wager that New Yorkers are worried about many of these issues too. So 
it is time to stop the partisan games. They don't result in pay raises 
for our troops, which have now been voted against two times by our 
Democratic colleagues. They don't advance victims' rights and give 
justice to survivors like the reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Act 
and the Violence Against Women Act would do. They don't increase the 
public's trust in our institutions of government and assure them that 
we really have their best interests at heart. Definitely, these games 
don't help make Americans' lives better.
  We have heard our Democratic colleagues say ad nauseam that 
impeachment will not interfere with their ability to legislate, but the 
evidence suggests otherwise. What Americans want is action. What 
Americans want is for us to do our job. We can give them what they want 
by allowing legislation we know has a chance of becoming law, such as 
my drug pricing bill, the Debbie Smith Act, and the Violence Against 
Women Act, to come to the floor, get passed, and sent to the President. 
That would be doing our jobs, and I believe that is what our 
constituents want from each of us--not this single-minded obsession 
with impeachment that started the day the President was

[[Page S6369]]

sworn into office, less than 1 year before the next election.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Ms. ERNST. Madam President, before I begin my remarks today, I do 
want to thank the senior Senator from Texas for his remarks on the 
Violence Against Women Act and the Debbie Smith Act. I think it is 
vitally important that both of these acts are reauthorized this year 
and the sooner the better so our advocates can get their work done. 
Thank you very much for those remarks.


                         Defense Appropriations

  Madam President, last week we saw our Democratic colleagues once 
again playing politics ahead of the defense of our great Nation. They 
are putting their actions ahead of the support that we need to give to 
those who defend our Nation. For the second time this year, as has 
already been stated today, Senate Democrats have blocked funding for 
our servicemembers. The kicker, folks, is that the vote they blocked 
was one that would have simply allowed us to debate the issue. It 
sounds unbelievable even while saying it now, folks, but it is the sad 
reality of where we are today.
  What message does it send to our men and women in uniform when every 
single Senator of the Democratic Party votes against providing the 
funding our troops need for training, for new defense programs critical 
to our national defense strategy, for the largest military pay raise in 
10 years--which our troops more than deserve after nearly two decades 
of fighting for their country.
  When I was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in the early days of the war 
on terror, the most important thing was not only to ensure my soldiers 
and I had the right training and equipment to carry out our missions 
but knowing, without a doubt, that the American people and the 
policymakers of government who sent us to war stood behind us and 
supported us every step of the way. It was placing faith in our 
country's leadership to make the sound decisions to effectively employ 
military force and to have the will, the resolve, and the tenacity to 
make tough decisions without regard to politics.
  The decision of the Democrats last week to not even open debate on 
what our troops need to fight and win is so sorely disappointing. What 
will it take in order to get our servicemembers at home and abroad the 
resources they need? Will we really deprive our troops of critical 
training opportunities to hone their readiness in the most dangerous 
strategic environment since the end of the Cold War?
  Will we actively aid our enemies by failing to fund those things 
which we have identified as critical to maintaining an edge against our 
adversaries? It is absolutely unacceptable that Democrats would even 
entertain these possibilities.
  If they want to have a debate, then let's have a debate, but to say 
they support the troops and then obstruct the ability to discuss in 
this Chamber what our servicemembers need doesn't even add up.
  That is why I am on the floor today to call upon all of my colleagues 
who sank the prospects of defense funding to come down and do the job 
that all of us were sworn to do when we took our oath of office. It is 
time to give our troops what they need to do their jobs, and it is time 
to stop running this government through wasteful continuing resolutions 
in an increasingly dangerous world.
  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. CARDIN. 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.


                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 2486

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, we need to pass the FUTURE Act to help 
students in historically Black colleges and universities, minority-
serving institutions, and we need to do that now.
  I am here to advocate on behalf of Maryland's four HBCUs that face a 
funding cliff due to congressional inaction. Without the immediate 
passage of the FUTURE Act, Bowie State University, Coppin State 
University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland 
Eastern Shore face a collective $4.2 million funding shortfall now that 
the Higher Education Act's authorization for mandatory funding for 
these institutions lapsed October 1 of this year.
  This clean, bipartisan, and paid-for 2-year authorization gives 
breathing room to continue to negotiate the full reauthorization of the 
Higher Education Act without holding these historically underfunded 
institutions hostage.
  Our HBCUs and MSIs know they can count on this mandatory funding each 
year to strengthen their course offerings and in-demand STEM programs, 
make infrastructure improvements, and provide academic counseling and 
student support services to first-generation and historically 
underrepresented students.
  Throwing the budgets of these institutions into chaos directly harms 
their ability to serve their students and communities. Institutions 
would have to make decisions about potentially reducing levels of 
academic services, delaying needed infrastructure investments, and make 
longstanding staffing decisions. These decisions are being made all 
across the country at schools of each of our States. Collectively, the 
MSIs risk losing out on $255 million in mandatory funding. This is an 
unnecessary obstacle our HBCUs and MSIs do not need to face. We have a 
paid-for available for us today to address this issue.
  We can get this done now. The House is prepared to accept this 2-year 
extension, which gives us a chance to negotiate a complete 
reauthorization of the Higher Education Act but does not hold these 
institutions hostage with the mandatory funding that is provided by 
law.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the 
immediate consideration of Calendar No. 212, H.R. 2486; that the Murray 
amendment at the desk be agreed to; that the bill, as amended, be 
considered read a third time and passed; and that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.
  I thank the distinguished Senator from Maryland for giving me this 
opportunity to present the right way to help historically Black 
colleges and universities, and I intend to do that when he is finished 
speaking about this and explain what we can do together.
  Unfortunately, the bill he proposes is a shortcut the House took, 
which has no way to pass the Senate. It is based upon a budget gimmick 
and uses a method of funding that many Senators object to. It creates a 
new funding cliff within 23 months, and it is unnecessary because the 
Secretary of Education has written all of the heads of historically 
Black colleges and universities to say that there are sufficient funds 
until next September so there is no funding problem.
  This gives me an opportunity--which I will do in a just a moment--to 
suggest the right way to do it. The right way to do it is to do 
permanent funding of historically Black colleges and universities in a 
package of bills I have introduced. That package includes other 
legislation--which I will discuss when my time comes--which include 
simplifying the FAFSA.
  It is a bill Senator Jones and I have introduced which will help 20 
million families, including almost every student at a historically 
Black college or minority-serving institution. The bill package also 
includes grants for prisoners and short-term Pell grants, and it 
simplifies the student aid letters.
  This package is ready. It includes short-term Pell grants, as I 
mentioned. This package has been put together by a number of Democratic 
and Republican Senators. It is ready to pass the Senate and ready for 
the President to sign it. It permanently funds Black colleges and 
universities instead of this shortcut.
  In a moment, I will talk more about that, but in the meantime, I 
object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Maryland.

[[Page S6370]]

  

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I greatly respect the chairman of the 
committee. I know of his sincerity in dealing with higher education and 
education in our country, but the issue is pretty simple. Without the 
continuation of mandatory funding as provided by current law, 
historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving 
institutions cannot rely upon the funding source the chairman is 
talking about. There are going to be tough decisions that have to be 
made on infrastructure improvements, tough decisions on staffing, and 
there is no need for it.
  We all agree that mandatory funding should continue. I am all for 
permanent extension. This UC will give us the 2-year window to make 
sure we pass the Higher Education Act reauthorization to fund that.
  The issues the chairman is going to talk about are all matters that 
are under discussion and debate that have to be worked out between the 
members of his committee, the floor, and reconciliation between the 
House and the Senate. In the meantime, historically Black colleges and 
universities and minority-serving institutions will suffer.
  I fully support what the chairman is trying to do getting matters 
accomplished, but if I understand the unanimous consent he will be 
asking for, it doesn't deal with all the issues that need to be dealt 
with. We have to fully address the challenges students face with 
college access, affordability, accountability, and campus safety. The 
chairman's bill does not meet that test and limits what we could do in 
the future to meaningfully address the cost of attending and succeeding 
in colleges. The bill continues to let the realities of getting a 
college degree--the challenges of childcare, housing, food, textbooks--
go unaddressed for our country's growing diversity of students, 
including student veterans, students with disabilities, students of 
color, and students of low-income families or those who are the first 
in their families to attend college.
  I agree with the chairman. Let's bring the Higher Education Act 
forward and debate it but don't hold these institutions that have 
historically been discriminated against hostage to a program we all 
agree needs to be continued.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, why would we hold hostage bipartisan 
legislation that would simplify the FAFSA from 108 questions to 18 to 
30--the Federal aid that 20 million families fill out every year in 
this country--unnecessarily? Why are we holding that hostage? Why are 
we holding hostage the legislation introduced by Senator Portman and 
Senator Kaine and cosponsored by Cardin, Gillibrand, Hassan, Klobuchar, 
Stabenow, Baldwin, Brown--these are all Democrats--here is a 
Republican, Capito, Coons, Ernst, Jones, Moran, Shaheen, Sinema, Smith, 
Wicker, and Braun.
  This is legislation we all agree on--or at least that many agree on--
on short-term Pell grants. Then we have Senators Grassley, Smith, 
Cassidy, Ernst, Hassan, Jones, Klobuchar, Manchin, and Rubio, who would 
like to simplify the Federal aid letters so you don't get a letter in 
the mail, if you are living in Maryland or Tennessee, and think you 
have a grant you don't have to pay back, when in fact it is a loan you 
do have to pay back.
  We also agree on increasing the maximum Pell grant. We also agree on 
how to pay for it. We also agree on permanent funding for the 
historically Black colleges and institutions in a way that the Budget 
Committee can easily approve, and it can pass the Senate.
  If we can agree on all that and it all helps students at historically 
Black colleges and minority-serving institutions, then why don't we 
pass it? Why don't we do that? Why do we come up with a short-term, 
gimmick-supported, House-passed bill that sets up a new cliff? Why 
don't we take a permanent funding, with a Budget Committee-approved way 
of paying for it, and do some other things that we have been working on 
for 5 years in a bipartisan way? This is not an Alexander proposal. 
This is a package of proposals by 29 Senators--17 Democrats and 12 
Republicans. It is ready to pass the Senate; it is ready to be worked 
on with the House of Representatives; and it is ready to be signed by 
the President of the United States.
  Let me add to this. The Secretary of Education, and people seem to 
ignore this, has written all the presidents of the historically Black 
colleges and said there is enough money in the bank to pay for all 
their funding until next September. So we have nearly a year to do this 
the right way instead of the wrong way. We are not on vacation. I know 
everybody is talking about impeachment, but we have lots of students 
around this country who would like to have a simpler way to go to 
college. We have lots of historically Black institutions and minority-
serving institutions that would like to have a permanent method of 
funding. We have lots of employers and potential employees who want a 
short-term Pell grant.
  Simplifying FAFSA would actually add, according to the Congressional 
Budget Office, 250,000 Pell grants, and it would increase the number of 
Americans who are eligible for the maximum Pell grant. All that is 
ready to go. All that is ready to go so why don't we do that instead?
  I thank the Senator from Maryland for giving me an opportunity and a 
reason to bring up my package of bills with permanent funding of the 
historically Black colleges and universities paid for, not by a 
gimmick, but by a Budget Committee-approved method that President Trump 
and President Obama both had in their budgets.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 2557

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on Health, 
Education, Labor, and Pensions be discharged from further consideration 
of S. 2557--that is my bill--and that the Senate proceed to its 
immediate consideration. I ask unanimous consent that the bill 
providing permanent funding for historically Black colleges and 
universities and other matters be considered read a third time and 
passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid 
upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, in reserving the right to object and for 
the reasons I have already stated, there will be ample time to bring up 
the permanent reauthorization of the funding for historically Black 
colleges and universities and minority institutions. That is why the 
unanimous consent for which I asked was for 2 years.
  My party doesn't control the activities on the floor of the Senate. 
This reauthorization bill is going to take some time on the floor. We 
are going to have to deal with amendments, and we are going to have to 
reconcile the differences between the House and the Senate. There is no 
other category of expenditures that is mandatory of this nature to 
underserved and historically discriminated institutions that is being 
held hostage as we debate a broader bill. I think this is a truly 
unique circumstance and should not be held hostage.
  We need to have a way of debating the issues to make sure that in a 
reauthorization that occurs only every so often within the Higher 
Education Act that we deal with the current gaps we have for 
diversity--for students with disabilities, for students of color, for 
students from low-income families, and for those who are the first in 
their families to attend college.
  For those reasons, I object to the request.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, we have been working for 5 years, for 
example, on simplifying the Federal aid form that students fill out to 
go to college--5 years. We have bipartisan support for it in the Senate 
and in the House. We have families who, in my State, will be 
discouraged from going to college because of this complex form.
  Why don't we pass it? It is important to fund historically Black 
colleges; that is true. They have funding for another year. So why 
don't we add to that the simplifying of the FAFSA form, which, I would 
imagine, 95 percent of the students in historically Black colleges have 
to fill out every year? In addition to that, they have this 
verification process that they go through during which somebody catches 
them telling the IRS one thing and the Department of Education another 
so that they jerk their aid. They think that is important.

[[Page S6371]]

  I have the president of a community college in Memphis who tells me 
he loses 1,500 students a year because of the burdensome nature of the 
application.
  Former Governor Bill Haslam, of Tennessee--our State--has the highest 
percentage of students who fill out the FAFSA, which is the Federal aid 
form for grants and loans. He says the single biggest impediment toward 
there being free tuition for 2 years of college in our State is the 
complex FAFSA.
  I don't think it is unreasonable to say, while we help students at 
historically Black colleges, that we help those same students by 
simplifying their FAFSAs. Why don't we give them the short-term Pell 
grant that Senator Kaine and Senator Portman and a dozen other 
Senators, including the Senator from Maryland, have introduced? Why 
don't we increase the size of the Pell grant in a way that we agree in 
a bipartisan way?
  In other words, we don't have to discuss something until we find 
something we can't agree on. Why don't we take the things we do agree 
on, which are considered in the package that the Senator just objected 
to, and pass them?
  There are 29 Senators--more Democrats than Republicans--who have 
formed these bills. If we can add to that other pieces of legislation, 
let's do it. Yet let's take the permanent funding for historically 
Black colleges--the simplification of the FAFSA, the short-term Pell 
grants, and the Pell grants for prisoners--and pass that.
  As I said, we are not on vacation. We should be able to do this in 
the next few weeks or in the next few months. I mean, how long does it 
take just to pass something we already agree on? It shouldn't take us 
very long.
  I am disappointed that the Senator has objected. I hope to keep 
coming to the floor and asking for the Senate to approve it. More 
importantly, I hope to keep working with the distinguished Senator from 
Washington State on our Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and 
Pensions. We have often been able to work these matters out even when 
they are contentious and offered to the Senate a bipartisan package. I 
hope we can do that.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.


                  Tribute to Major General Jeff Burton

  Mr. ROMNEY. Mr. President, I wish to congratulate MG Jeff Burton, a 
man of remarkable achievement and character, on a career dedicated to 
public service. After 7 years of serving as the adjutant general of the 
Utah National Guard, Major General Burton leaves behind a distinguished 
legacy.
  The Utah National Guard provides military forces that are ready to 
assist both State and Federal authorities in times of emergency and in 
times of war. It is comprised of 7,300 soldiers and airmen from the 
Utah Army National Guard and the Utah Air National Guard.
  As adjutant general, Major General Burton oversaw the training and 
military preparation of soldiers and airmen throughout the State. He is 
a principled and dedicated leader who has set a high standard of 
conduct for the men and women under his command.
  Major General Burton and his wife, Charn, have always cared for and 
supported Guard members and their families, particularly in the tragic 
times of loss. Their devotion to the servicemen and servicewomen of 
Utah cannot be overstated.
  Major General Burton's life of service extends beyond his time as 
adjutant general. He was an assistant professor at both Brigham Young 
University and Utah Valley University, where he taught military 
science.
  He was awarded the Bronze Star for his exceptionally meritorious 
service as the commander of the 1457th Engineer Combat Battalion during 
Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which his unit played a significant 
role in the initial ground war. Under his leadership, his unit also 
helped to rebuild the country after its having been devastated by 
conflict.
  Our great State of Utah owes Major General Burton a debt of gratitude 
for his decades of service. We wish the honorable general all the best 
in his next chapter.
  Thank you, Major General Burton, for your service to our State and to 
our Nation.
  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. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.


                              Impeachment

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, last week, the House of Representatives 
voted in favor of a set of procedures to govern its impeachment 
inquiry, laying out a formal process to examine the facts in a 
deliberate and fairminded process.
  Our Republican colleagues keep changing their arguments as to why 
they are opposed to what the House is doing. First, there needed to be 
a vote. There was a vote. Second, make it public. Now it is public. 
Third, there is no quid pro quo. Now there is a quid pro quo, they even 
admit.
  So now they are saying it is not impeachable. The shifting stands of 
the Republicans' argument in the House and Senate, which seems to shift 
all the time, indicates they don't seem to have a real interest in 
following the facts to where they lead but rather just defending Trump, 
regardless of the facts. That is a huge mistake for the Republic and 
for the Senate and how we should conduct ourselves.
  So let me elaborate. For weeks, congressional Republicans criticized 
House Democrats for not scheduling a vote. As soon as the vote was 
taken, the same Republicans criticized the process once again.
  Republicans criticized House Democrats for conducting classified 
hearings, even though the material discussed concerns our national 
security and Republicans readily participated in those hearings. Then 
once the House voted on the plan for open hearings, predictably, the 
same Republicans kept criticizing the process, coming up with a new 
argument: The idea that there was no ``quid pro quo,'' which the 
President himself stated, although he was contradicted by Mr. Mulvaney, 
and that seemed to be the linchpin of their defense of the President in 
the last few days and weeks.
  But now, all of the sudden, knowing maybe what is coming out, all of 
the sudden, our Republican colleagues are saying: Yes, there was a quid 
pro quo, but it doesn't matter. It is not impeachable. Some of them 
even think it is not even wrong, which is absolutely absurd.
  So instead of the shifting sands of defenses of the President on a 
near daily basis, my Republican friends should let all the facts come 
out and make their judgments based on the facts. Instead of changing 
their argument every third day when faced with new facts, they should 
remain dispassionate and say we are going to look at the facts, instead 
of just jumping to find a new defense of the President no matter what 
the facts.
  If you are defending the President because there is no quid pro quo 
and there is quid pro quo, maybe you should be saying: Maybe something 
is going on here. But, no, a new argument pops up.
  The investigation is not yet complete. Jumping to conclusions before 
all the facts come out is misguided. It is unbefitting of a Senator's 
role as judge and juror of a potential impeachment case.
  Now, last night, the President held a political rally in Kentucky 
with several Republican elected officials, including the junior Senator 
from Kentucky who publicly and explicitly urged the media to expose the 
identity of the Federal whistleblower. The President, of course, 
quickly praised the Senator's idea.
  I cannot stress just how wrong this is. We have Federal whistleblower 
laws designed to protect the identity and safety of patriotic Americans 
who come forward to stand up for the Constitution. There are Members on 
the other side of the aisle, including senior Members and chairs of 
committees, who spent their entire careers defending whistleblowers and 
the laws that protect them and their families.
  So where are they now? I was pleased to hear that my colleague, 
Senator Thune, spoke out and said that whistleblowers must be 
protected. I believe

[[Page S6372]]

that Senator Grassley is saying the same. They are both right. But 
there should be bipartisan outrage at the public attempts by the 
President and a Member of this body to expose the identity of a Federal 
whistleblower. You do not get to determine when our whistleblower laws 
apply or do not or whether you like what the whistleblower said or you 
do not. They are laws. This whistleblower, whose complaint was deemed 
``credible'' and an ``urgent matter'' by a Trump appointee, is 
protected by these statutes. Every single Member of this body should 
stand up and say that it is wrong to disclose his or her identity.
  Our rhetoric can sometimes be overheated, but I am appalled by these 
developments. There is no other word for it. We are in a moment of 
history when the Republicans, over only a few weeks, have shifted from 
saying that no laws were broken to saying that laws were broken, but it 
is not impeachable, to outright advocating that laws be broken.
  Where is the internal gyroscope, the clock of decency and honor on 
the other side? They are twisting themselves in contradictory pretzels 
to defend this President who is going to bounds that we have rarely 
seen in this body with any party with any President.
  I don't understand what sort of effect President Trump has on people 
of integrity and some degree of strength, who just fold whenever he 
says something, twist their arguments, change their arguments, do 180-
degree hairpins about their arguments, all because they are afraid of 
telling the truth to power, the truth to this President who never likes 
to hear it.


                            Gun Legislation

  Mr. President, on guns, on August 5, days after mass shootings in El 
Paso and Dayton, President Trump declared that ``we cannot let those 
killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain.'' He said, 
``Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong 
background checks.''
  Those were the words of President Trump. A few weeks later, Leader 
McConnell promised that a debate on background checks would be ``front 
and center'' in the Senate after the summer work period. These were 
Leader McConnell's words. He said, ``What we can't do is fail to pass 
something,'' he said.
  Well, it has been 3 months since those statements. Leader McConnell's 
Senate has not only failed to pass them, it has not even debated some 
of them. And then on Friday, the Washington Post released a story that 
all but confirms the worst fear of families torn apart by guns 
violence--the headline of the Washington Post: ``Trump abandons 
proposing ideas to curb gun violence, after saying he would, following 
mass shootings.''
  According to the Washington Post, the President has abandoned his 
brief flirtation with supporting expanded background checks because his 
advisers believe it will hurt his chances of reelection, ``a reversal 
from the summer when the President insisted he would offer policies to 
curb firearm deaths.''
  Maybe it is not surprising with this President--it isn't 
unfortunately; he goes back on his word day after day--but it is 
profoundly disappointing. Democrats, despite our skepticism, tried to 
work in good faith with our Republican colleagues to respond to the 
tragedies in El Paso and Dayton. Many of my colleagues, Senator Murphy 
and Senator Manchin and others, worked with Republican Senators and 
ferried back and forth to the White House to find a proposal that could 
become law that would save American lives. We gave the White House 
every chance to get to ``yes.''
  But despite those efforts, Leader McConnell has not moved even one 
gun safety bill to the floor, and President Trump is opposing votes on 
any--any--potential compromise, just like on infrastructure, just like 
on immigration reform, just like on a myriad of other issues, President 
Trump would rather do nothing to help the American people because it 
would upset political allies like the NRA.
  He will make bold and sometimes surprising promises in the heat of 
the moment. When there was a huge pressure to do something about 
background checks because of the shootings across the country, he said 
he would, but then this man who tries to portray himself as a tough guy 
backs off when lobbyists say he can't do it. That doesn't show 
strength. It shows weakness and shows a lack of candor and honesty to 
the American people. It shows he is using the American people for his 
own political purposes, which he does over and over again.
  Only time will tell how many lives it will take before President 
Trump and the congressional Republicans come to their senses and work 
with us to finally do something about the epidemic of gun violence in 
America.


                             Climate Change

  Now, climate--yesterday, the Trump administration formally sent a 
notice to the UN that the United States will withdraw from the Paris 
Agreement in 2020. In the long list of dangerous policy decisions that 
President Trump has advanced over the years, this ranks as one of the 
very, very worst.
  Future generations will look back on this decision as a dramatic step 
backward in the fight to address climate change. Future generations 
would note this date and how it hurt our planet, our economy, and our 
national security in the decades that followed.
  President Trump has been an enemy of climate science in ways that no 
other President has been. Before becoming President, he called climate 
change a hoax, and unfortunately, his Presidency has treated it like 
one. He has stuffed his administration to the brim with lobbyists for 
Big Oil and Big Coal; he has crippled the Federal Government's ability 
to research climate change. He rolled back emission standards and used 
fake science to underreport the effects of climate change.
  Instead of protecting the interests of the people, President Trump 
has catered shamelessly to the interests of oil companies and corporate 
polluters. History will look harshly on President Trump's failure to 
lead the United States through our planet's climate crisis, and they 
will equally look on the Republican Senators who have just stood mute 
as he has done this.
  Mr. President, 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. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                            Turkey and Syria

  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to talk about 
the U.S. relationship with Turkey and certain actions that the U.S. 
must consider in order to protect our national security interests and 
those of our true allies in the region.
  Today, more than ever, we need strong allies and partners in Europe. 
As the Trump administration does nearly everything in its power to 
erode our alliances and denigrate our closest friends, we find 
increasingly emboldened regimes in Russia and China. The U.S. cannot 
stand up to them alone. Throughout the Cold War, our diplomats worked 
assiduously to build strong bonds with allies, knowing that having 
close partners was better than having enemies on the world stage.
  Our strongest allies should be those in NATO, those that have made a 
treaty commitment to mutual defense, those who share our values, those 
who work in concert with us to face the threat from countries like 
Russia and Iran with common cause. Unfortunately, Turkey under Erdogan 
embodies none of those things. Today, I would like to lay out a fact 
pattern that so many of my colleagues have come to see in recent weeks, 
that Turkey under Erdogan should not, Turkey under Erdogan cannot be 
seen as an ally.
  How many more times do we need to see Turkey betray the values upon 
which NATO was established? How many more times do we need to see 
President Erdogan visit Moscow, Sochi, or any other Russian city to 
kiss Putin's ring? How many more journalists need to be locked up by 
Erdogan before we stop calling Turkey a democracy?
  Enough is enough. Over my 27 years in the House and the Senate, I 
have followed developments in the Eastern Mediterranean quite closely. 
Turkey's

[[Page S6373]]

invasion of Cyprus in 1974 was a shocking attempt to redraw borders in 
Europe in the wake of World War II. To this day, Turkey's invasion of 
northern Cyprus must be see for what it is: an illegal occupation that 
must end. Turkey's action over those days in 1974 were not the actions 
of a democratic country. They were not the actions of a reliable ally. 
They were not the actions of a responsible actor on the world stage.
  But the events of 1974 would only presage Turkey's aggressive posture 
in the eastern Mediterranean in the years to come. To this day, Turkey 
under Erdogan continues to aggressively bully international energy 
companies, including U.S. companies, and the Republic of Cyprus. Their 
sin? Conducting completely legitimate exploration in the Cypriot 
Exclusive Economic Zone. This is not territory under dispute or an 
issue for debate. Turkey's hostility towards these companies is the 
kind of gunboat diplomacy that belongs to eras past and has no place in 
today's world.
  Examples abound where Turkey continues to operate in bad faith when 
it comes to Cyprus. It could abide by UN Security Council resolutions 
to transfer the fenced area of Varosha, Farmagusta to the 
administration of the United Nations.
  These calls to return this area to its original inhabitants, whom 
Turkey ejected during the 1974 invasion, have gone unheeded. Instead, 
several Turkish Ministers have recently visited and threatened to move 
forward with commercial development--a true affront to those forced 
from their land more than 40 years ago, as well as to the U.N. Security 
Council resolution.
  In the eastern Mediterranean, for years Turkey has also aggressively 
violated the airspace of neighboring Greece, also a NATO ally. These 
dangerous maneuvers have threatened the lives and safety of Greek 
pilots, as well as civilians living on the islands below. Greece wants 
a good neighbor in Turkey and has sought to find common ground upon a 
constructive relationship. But with these airspace violations, Turkey 
has shown its true colors, and the international community must come to 
terms with this.
  We have seen Turkey's belligerence abroad manifest itself even here 
in the United States. Who can forget when President Erdogan's 
bodyguards attacked U.S. citizens in a Washington park peacefully 
demonstrating, as is their constitutional right? And as momentum builds 
following the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution in the House 
of Representatives, Turkey and its lobbyists are working overtime to 
block it in the Senate because they know that if this resolution, which 
both I, Senator Cruz, and bipartisan Members on both sides have 
sponsored, were to come to the floor for a vote, it would pass 
resoundingly and send a clarion message that recognizes the truth. The 
Armenian genocide happened, it was a monstrous act, and those who deny 
it are complicit in a terrible lie. Genocide is genocide. The Senate 
should not bow to this pressure. It cannot bow to this pressure. Let's 
pass this resolution today.
  Erdogan's behavior abroad has roots inside of Turkey, where the 
democratic process has significantly eroded and religious freedom is 
under sustained pressure. In particular, the Ecumenical Patriarch 
Bartholomew of the Greek Orthodox Church--and its community--faces dire 
consequences as the spiritual head of the world's second largest 
Christian church. His church properties have been confiscated, and 
President Erdogan restricts his religious freedom. This is wrong, and 
his All Holiness deserves our attention and our ongoing support. For 
those who speak about religious freedom in this Chamber--and I admire 
the many who have--as well as on the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee, this is also an issue of religious freedom.
  Of course, Erdogan's repression of his own citizens does not stop 
with restricting religious freedom. Following its emergency decree 
after a failed coup attempt, Turkish authorities engaged in a draconian 
crackdown and roundup of citizens across the country. The U.N. reports 
that close to 160,000 people were arrested in an 18-month period, 
including over 100 women who were pregnant or had just given birth, 
often on grounds of nothing more than that they were associated with 
their husbands, many of whom were suspects on trumped-up charges.
  As we examine Turkey's increasingly destructive role in the world, we 
must never turn a blind eye from those Turkish citizens who want a more 
democratic future for themselves and their families.
  In July, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed my Eastern 
Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act with a strong 
bipartisan vote. We are working for full passage in the Senate, and I 
understand the House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up the 
legislation soon.
  I traveled to Greece and Cypress in the spring and told leaders in 
both places that this was not--not--an anti-Turkey bill and that we all 
wanted Turkey to be a constructive and democratic partner in the 
region. At the time, this vision seemed a long ways off, but now, given 
Erdogan's recent choices, it has become virtually impossible. Let's 
review events since my visit to the region in the spring of this year.
  First, Erdogan took delivery of the S-400 air defense system from 
Russia. Let me repeat. Turkey, a supposed NATO ally, purchased an air 
defense system from NATO's main adversary--the reason that NATO largely 
came to be. This choice endangered the security of the United States 
and other NATO partners. The United States made a good offer of the 
Patriot missile system--an offer that would have maintained the 
security equilibrium in the region and enabled Turkey to remain a NATO 
member in good standing. That offer was rejected.
  The Trump administration did the right thing in removing Turkey from 
the F-35 program. It was clear to all involved that the S-400 could not 
be parked next to an F-35. After all, it is meant and it is intended to 
be able to shoot down an F-35--this from a NATO ally.
  But the administration has fallen well short of its obligations under 
the law. Under the CAATSA law, which I helped write, the administration 
is required to sanction any entity that conducts a significant 
transaction with the Russian military or intelligence sectors. This 
provision of law is not permissive. It is not optional. Under no 
credible definition would the purchase of an S-400 Russian system not 
be considered significant. The administration is breaking the law by 
ignoring this provision and kowtowing to Ankara. According to U.S. law, 
Turkey must be sanctioned for the S-400 system, and it should happen 
today. Otherwise, it will send a global message that we are not serious 
about sanctioning significant transactions with the Russian military.
  Some have said that such an approach is unwarranted and unwise lest 
we push Erdogan into Putin's arms. He is already there. He clearly is 
already there.
  In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Syria, I held up 
this poster, and I asked the Secretary of State: What is wrong with 
this picture? This picture of President Erdogan, President Putin, 
and President Rouhani of Iran says everything--says everything. They 
are two of our biggest foreign policy challengers. And who is there 
with them? Erdogan. I argued that we were ceding American leadership in 
Syria and the region to leaders and countries whose policies were 
intrinsically at odds with our own. Unfortunately, today we are seeing 
the terrible consequences of this abdication of leadership.

  Erdogan's warm relationship with Putin should ring alarm bells across 
the NATO alliance, raising concerns about NATO's exposure at Incirlik 
and intelligence vulnerabilities with respect to the alliance's 
presence in Turkey. It raises concerns about how Erdogan and Putin may 
be working together to counter U.S. interests across the Middle East, 
in the Balkans, and around the world. NATO is an alliance of shared 
values. None of those values are respected--none of them--by the 
current occupant of the Kremlin or in Ankara.
  Second, provided with a green light from the Trump administration, 
President Erdogan's invasion of Syria to attack our Kurdish partners is 
an unconscionable act of brutality that has caused death and untold 
suffering among our Kurdish friends and partners. Tens of thousands 
have fled the area, creating an even greater problem

[[Page S6374]]

of refugees in that war-torn region. The consequences of these actions 
by Turkey and its proxies will persist for years to come.
  Turkey's incursion poses a direct threat to U.S. national security 
interests in the region, not the least of which is by facilitating 
Russian foreign policy ambitions in the region and opening the door for 
ISIS to reconstitute.
  At its inception, Turkey did not take the threat of ISIS seriously 
enough, and in the early days, ISIS's ability to easily traverse the 
Turkish-Syrian border bolstered its ability to grow in strength and 
numbers. Turkey did nothing--nothing--to stop them, did nothing to stop 
foreign fighters going into Syria. While Turkey has legitimate security 
concerns from the PKK, its singular focus on extending this feat to the 
whole Kurdish population risks its ability to effectively confront 
other terrorist organizations, including ISIS and al-Qaida.
  There must be a full accounting by Turkey of these atrocities. That 
is why I am today introducing an expedited resolution of request for 
the Secretary of State to inform the Senate in 30 days of the extent of 
Turkey's human rights abuses in Syria. This resolution invokes 
statutory authority under the Foreign Assistance Act to require the 
Secretary of State to assess and report to Congress on Turkey's human 
rights abuses in Syria. This resolution calls for the administration to 
provide all available information concerning alleged violations of 
internationally recognized human rights by Turkey, its armed forces, 
and associated groups in Syria. It calls for a description of the steps 
the United States has taken to promote Turkey's respect of human rights 
in its Syria operations. The resolution also calls for a determination 
of whether Turkey's actions have resulted in the release of ISIS or 
other extremists inside of Syria.
  I am also working closely with the chairman of the Foreign Relations 
Committee, Senator Risch, on the Promoting American National Security 
and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act of 2019, which would impose 
targeted sanctions on Turkey for its actions in Syria. A similar 
bipartisan measure passed the House last week, and I urge the Senate to 
deliberate on the measure. Based on changing circumstances on the 
ground, we are updating the language to condition sanctions based on 
Turkey's actions. I hope it will be marked up in the coming days.
  For years, the world held out hope that Turkey could be the bridge 
between east and west--a democratic, secular country that could be a 
democracy in Europe and a responsible actor on the world stage. I, for 
one, was always skeptical but certainly supported the sentiment. Today 
we are the furthest from that dream we have ever been. The most 
imprisoned journalists in the world--in the world--are not in North 
Korea, Russia, or Iran; they languish in Turkish prisons. This doesn't 
happen in a democracy.
  As international pressure mounted following Turkey's invasion of 
northern Syria, Erdogan threatened to unleash thousands of refugees 
onto the European Union's shores, a wave like we saw in 2015. These 
aren't the statements of a rational, responsible actor. Yet where is 
U.S. policy? The Trump administration was its normal erratic self in 
recent weeks as it flailed from sanctions on Turkey to claiming 
victory. The Kurds are the ones who emerged as the clear loser. Erdogan 
was eager to sign on to the Pence-Pompeo plan because it gave him all 
he wanted--full control of the Kurdish areas of Syria and carte blanche 
to wipe out swaths of the community.
  In addition to claiming victory, President Trump now wants to invite 
Erdogan to Washington with open arms. Stunning. The photo of Trump and 
Erdogan in the Oval Office will not only be the nail in the coffin for 
any Kurdish aspirations to live in peace and security, it will also be 
the death knell for any credibility the United States hopes to maintain 
with any combat partners in the future.
  President Trump, I urge you to cancel this invitation and side with 
the bipartisan consensus in the Senate and the House that Turkey, under 
Erdogan, is no friend to the United States. Do not ruin our reputation 
further by fawning over yet another authoritarian leader. You want to 
repair the damage that has been done? Show our commitment to our allies 
by inviting the Syrian Kurdish leadership to the Oval Office for a 
meeting on how we prevent a resurgence of ISIS. That is how you protect 
our interests. That is how you protect our national security.
  It is time to challenge Erdogan to live up to NATO's values and to 
respect the international order. It is time to stop enabling Turkey to 
be a bad actor. It is time for the Senate to act.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cruz). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. YOUNG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________