EXECUTIVE CALENDAR; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 177
(Senate - November 06, 2019)

Text available as:

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


[Pages S6421-S6434]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the nomination.
  The legislative clerk read the nomination of Jennifer Philpott 
Wilson, of Pennsylvania, to be United States District Judge for the 
Middle District of Pennsylvania.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I thought it would be appropriate to come 
to the floor to celebrate the second anniversary of the Tax Cuts and 
Jobs Act.
  For years I heard from Texans who thought that the Tax Code was 
simply too complex, too burdensome, and that the Federal Government 
simply took too much of the fruits of their labor.
  They were absolutely correct. Our Tax Code hadn't been reformed in 
more than three decades, and Republican and Democratic Presidents have 
long pointed out how America was at a competitive disadvantage relative 
to other countries because of our Tax Code.
  Then, of course, there is the drag of high tax rates on our domestic 
economy--especially following the great recession during the Obama 
administration--which made jump-starting the economy a top priority 
last Congress.
  The good news is that we delivered. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered 
the individual tax rates across the board for every bracket. It 
increased the standard deduction, doubled the child tax credit, and 
made tax rates for businesses more competitive. Our goal was to make 
our Tax Code work for the American people, not the other way around.
  I know there are a lot of naysayers who said it wouldn't work. Some 
of them are still saying that. But I think the results speak for 
themselves.
  First, we saw waves of positive headlines announcing that companies 
big and small were using their tax savings to provide pay raises, pay 
bonuses, 401(k) match increases, and other benefits to their employees.
  I made a point of asking my constituents in Texas about their 
experience under the new Tax Code, and here is some of what I heard:
  Tejas Office Products is a Hispanic-owned and operated family 
business in Houston. They were able to hire more workers in Southeast 
Texas and expand their business as a result of their tax savings from 
the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  There is American Bank in Corpus Christi. They projected that they 
could lend an additional $120 million over the next 5 years in the 
Coastal Bend, which was absolutely critical, especially following the 
natural disaster known as Hurricane Harvey.
  Then there is Happy State Bank, my favorite name for a bank--Happy 
State Bank--in Amarillo, which increased wages for more than 600 of its 
700 employees. It upped their starting minimum wage and increased their 
dollar-for-dollar retirement plan match from 6 percent to 7 percent, 
all of which was good news.
  Well, it didn't take long for that good news in these anecdotal 
cases, for example, to translate into a much improved economy across 
the board, which helps everybody.
  We have seen rapid and consistent job growth with more than 4.3 
million new jobs since tax reform became law--4.3 million new jobs.
  In September, the national unemployment rate fell to a 50-year low, 
and Texas unemployment remains below the national average at only 3.4 
percent.
  The thing I hear the most from employers and job creators in Texas is 
that they can't find enough qualified workers to fill the good jobs 
that exist. We have one of the tightest labor markets in decades.
  Wages are going up as a result of competition for workers. The 
poverty rate has hit its lowest level since the turn of the century. 
American families are seeing more of their hard-earned dollars in each 
paycheck.
  Despite evidence to the contrary, we are still hearing from some of 
the same old critics who say that tax reform was a flop. The Atlantic, 
for example, published a story last week with the title ``The GOP Tax 
Cuts Didn't Work.'' The author claims that tax reform didn't live up to 
the hype and that because our economy didn't grow as much as some of 
the estimates believed it would, consecutive, positive growth is 
absolutely worthless.
  Well, that doesn't make any sense at all--not to mention the fact 
that economic growth has outpaced even the forecast of the 
Congressional Budget Office prior to tax reform.
  This author also mentions that the Institute for Supply Management--
or ISM--manufacturing index dipped in September. But the ISM 
manufacturing index is a survey of purchasing managers who may be 
swayed by sentiment as much as actual activity. We have seen this index 
at a similar level before, and the economy continued to grow.

[[Page S6422]]

  In addition, the critic in this article points to declining exports 
as a factor in this, despite the fact that our trade deficit fell 4.7 
percent in September.
  The critics still refuse to admit the connection between increased 
consumer spending and Americans bringing home more in each paycheck. In 
other words, they are trying to cherry-pick the evidence and ignore any 
evidence that the American people have benefited from the Tax Cuts and 
Jobs Act.
  In fact, the critics--who I think are more concerned about an agenda 
than they are the economy or the welfare of the working American 
family--continue to try to paint a picture of doom and gloom of our 
Nation's economy to further that political agenda.
  It was not that long ago when some were even highlighting that tax 
refunds were reduced because of tax reform. It is a bogus measurement 
of tax relief. We know that at the end of the day, the data showed the 
average refund check was not that different from the previous year. 
Wouldn't you want your tax refund to be lower because you were simply 
paying less withholding each month? That is an interest-free loan to 
the Federal Government.
  Well, while we seem to have moved beyond that argument, we are now on 
to the next one. Our Democratic colleagues point out that some 
companies are using their savings for stock buybacks and try to portray 
this as a corporate blood thirst, claiming it hurts workers in the 
economy. But by repurchasing their own shares, companies are 
reinvesting in themselves and their shareholders. Many times, this is 
teachers or police officers or other first responders. Interfering with 
stock buybacks, as some of our friends across the aisle have 
recommended, would not only hurt our economy, but would do serious 
damage to the pension and retirement accounts of many working Texans 
and other Americans.
  The message of these partisan critics is: The government can spend 
your money better and more wisely than you can. But Washington cannot 
even manage its own books and uses ``smoke-and-mirrors'' accounting 
measures that would make even Bernie Madoff blush. But that is only the 
start of the concerning proposals that we have heard from the folks on 
the left. Our colleague from Massachusetts said if she wins the 
Presidency, she will soak the American taxpayer even more in an attempt 
to fund her completely unworkable healthcare proposal.
  The differences are pretty stark in the approach: pro-growth, job-
creating, economy-growing policies or Big Government, even socialist 
policies. Those seem to be the two most obvious choices. I know what 
camp I am in, and I know what camp that Texans are in on this topic.
  This constant effort to belittle the progress we have made because of 
tax reform reminds me of when Nancy Pelosi compared the savings of the 
American people under tax reform to ``crumbs.'' She called them 
``crumbs.''
  One Texan named Mark told me that his take-home pay increased $302 a 
month. That may be crumbs to Nancy Pelosi, but Mark said it would cover 
his cable, his internet, and his auto insurance bills. He doesn't 
consider that crumbs.
  Another gentleman named Gilbert told me that he and his wife are 
retired and living on pensions. When they saw a decrease in their 
Federal tax deduction that allows them to bring home an additional $400 
a month, they said at first they thought it was a mistake, until they 
learned it was true and, good news, $400 a month more.
  A retired Air Force colonel from Brownsville named David told me that 
the benefit seems like more than ``crumbs'' to him.
  But I have no doubt that here in this hyper-politicized environment 
of Washington, DC, that pundits and folks on the left will continue to 
try to criticize tax reform and belittle the progress that we have 
made, but those Texans who are reaping the benefits of this law every 
day are proof positive that they are wrong and that the law is working 
as we intended.
  Despite what I hear from folks on the left, this is an incredible 
time for our economy. We have made taxes simpler, fairer, and lower for 
hard-working American families. And we will keep working to remove the 
regulatory burdens that will help unleash the power of the free market. 
For more than 150 years, we have been the world's largest economy, and 
because of pro-growth policies like tax reform, that will only continue 
to get better.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). The Senator from Iowa.


                              Veterans Day

  Ms. ERNST. Mr. President, having worn our great Nation's colors in 
Operation Iraqi Freedom, veterans hold a special place in my heart. 
Some of my favorite moments in Iowa are centered on honoring our 
veterans and their families with the medals and the recognition they 
have earned. Oftentimes, these humble heroes don't want to step forward 
and receive the honor they are due.
  Glenn McDole is a great example of this. Glenn served in World War II 
and faced some very, very dark days, being only 1 of the 11, out of a 
total of 150, who survived the Palawan massacre. Glenn was captured in 
1941, and he came home to Iowa in 1945. It wasn't until the early 1980s 
that he started speaking about his military experience.
  When he returned home from the war, he didn't skip a beat in his 
service. Glenn quickly joined the Iowa State Patrol and then the Polk 
County Sheriff's Office. Glenn lived a very full life of service. Yet 
his heroic actions in uniform would go unnoticed for so many years.
  I am so grateful that his family got in touch with my office, and we 
were able to track down the more than 13 medals that he should have 
received for his service. Presenting the medals to his family earlier 
this year in my office in Des Moines was truly a beautiful moment.
  The medals presented to Glenn's family--and the number of other 
veterans and families across Iowa who have received these well-deserved 
recognitions--represent duty, honor, and sacrifice. It is the heroic 
stories of these very veterans, like Glenn, that truly inspire me to 
keep fighting for our veterans day in and day out.
  As someone who commanded men and women overseas during Operation 
Iraqi Freedom and then served as the battalion commander of the largest 
battalion in the Iowa Army National Guard, I have a deep connection and 
appreciation for our veterans.
  Just this past weekend, as I was wrapping up my 99-county tour in 
Iowa, I was able to spend some time with more of those Iowa veterans at 
my veterans' resource fair. We were sharing stories about those hard 
times. We were laughing about the good times. We talked about concerns 
they have with the VA and making sure they are getting the quality of 
care they have earned. We talked about the work we have done in the 
Senate to improve their well-being.
  In just the past few years, under the Trump administration, we have 
been able to expand access to services through legislation like the VA 
MISSION Act, a bipartisan bill that I proudly helped to get signed into 
law. This important bill included a number of my priorities, like 
allowing qualified VA health providers to practice telemedicine across 
State lines and veterans to receive their care through telemedicine, 
including vital mental healthcare treatment, and doing it from the 
comfort of their own home.
  President Trump just signed another one of my bills into law, the 
HAVEN Act, which protects the economic security and well-being of 
veterans and their families who rely on disability benefits and may be 
experiencing financial hardship.
  I continue to press the VA to take a hard look at their hiring 
practices and to make sure the people treating and providing care to 
our veterans have a record of quality care, specifically by introducing 
the bipartisan Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans Act.
  The legislation ensures that the VA is absolutely held accountable 
for how they help care for their veterans, and I am continuing to press 
them on that issue. We must work tirelessly to restore hope in the 
institutions that have asked so much of our Nation's heroes, plain and 
simple. Veterans must have reliable, quality mental and physical 
healthcare. There is no other option.

[[Page S6423]]

  Folks, as we take a moment to reflect on the work we have done and 
continue to do in Congress on behalf of these men and women, we should 
also pause, as we do every year on Veterans Day, to simply honor their 
service and the sacrifices they have made for our country and for our 
freedom.
  Serving in the military provided me some of the best years, the best 
friends, the best experiences, and the best memories of my life.
  Each year, Veterans Day serves as a stark reminder of the daily 
sacrifice made by those who have served this country bravely and 
selflessly.
  Veterans in Iowa and across our Nation, you have my support and my 
deepest gratitude today and every day of the year.
  When men and women sacrifice time with their families and give up 
holidays, comfort, and their livelihoods to protect our Nation and 
defend the freedoms we often take for granted, we must fulfill our 
commitment to caring for them when they return home.
  To all of my fellow veterans, may God bless you and keep you.
  To their families, I thank you so much for standing behind your loved 
ones in our country's time of need.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, first of all, I want to say how much I 
appreciate Senator Ernst. When she talks about veterans, she talks 
about her own experience but also the veterans she has served with and 
sees every day. This goes to the heart of her great dedication to the 
people who are currently serving.
  Veterans Day is a day that we come to celebrate every year. It is a 
national holiday, but in so many ways, it is uniquely a local holiday. 
Events across Missouri and across all of our States are dramatically 
different based on where you are and the way that community, over time 
or maybe on a special occasion, has decided this is going to be the way 
they are uniquely going to celebrate Veterans Day. These ceremonies 
often include gestures of respect that are repeated over and over 
again, and that is exactly what you should do with respect. Respect 
doesn't wear out. We lay wreaths. We play music. We pledge to the flag, 
I think in many unique ways on Veterans Day, as we think about those 
who have been willing to defend that flag at all costs. There may be a 
21-gun salute. There may be a parade.
  There are lots of different ways we celebrate, and every community 
honors its own neighbors in a different way. If you grew up in that 
community and you look at the wall with the community members' names or 
you look at the register at the courthouse with the names of those who 
gave their lives in one of our wars, you recognize those names. They 
are the last names of the people you went to school with. They are the 
last names of the people you grew up alongside of. They are often the 
names of families who still live in that community.
  I was thinking about this, and I thought about a name that was given 
to one of my good friends. His middle name was after his uncle who had 
died in World War II, and he didn't particularly like his middle name. 
One day, he said to my dad: ``I hate that name. I don't like my middle 
name. I wish it wasn't my middle name.'' What he didn't know was that 
my dad was on his uncle's basketball team. My dad quickly pointed that 
out. He said: ``Your uncle was one of the finest young men I ever knew, 
and he never got to be an older man because he gave his life in World 
War II.'' When my friend was born 15 years later, his family wanted to 
remember the name of that person who served and made the ultimate 
sacrifice. Those are the kinds of things we think about in communities 
on Veterans Day.
  I will be going to several events--one at Camdenton High School in 
Camdenton, MO. They will be recognizing 32 veterans at that event. They 
will also be recognizing the new Junior ROTC Program at the high 
school. When talking about local character, that is sort of what we are 
talking about. In Camdenton, they are honoring not only those who 
served and sacrificed previously but also a new generation that is 
stepping up and willing to serve among those being recognized on 
Veterans Day.
  I am going to go to a ceremony in Wright County, which is just a 
little bit down the road, just an hour and 15 minutes away from 
Camdenton. In that ceremony, they are dedicating a new Wright County 
Patriots Memorial in Hartville. The memorial honors people from the 
area who served and died in every conflict from the Civil War to the 
War on Terror. The organizers have made it clear that this is a day of 
celebration and honor, not of sorrow. It is a day to celebrate those 
who served. Some got their names on the wall. Others didn't give their 
lives in conflict but were willing to put on the uniform and go through 
the training and in many cases into dangerous situations. Maybe they 
didn't have to make the ultimate sacrifice, but on Veterans Day, we 
recognize veterans who were willing to serve. That is exactly what 
Veterans Day should be.
  This will be the 100th anniversary of the first Veterans Day, which 
was originally called Armistice Day. It was Armistice Day because it 
commemorated the end of World War I. World War I was called The Great 
War, and it was called The War to End All Wars. That is not what 
happened, but that is what people thought, in the hours after World War 
I, might have happened. It was so horrible, so terrible, and so many 
lives were lost that they thought it might be the war to end all wars. 
It ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years 
ago.

  The United States lost 116,000 people in the relatively short time we 
were in that war. We got in the war late. We made a difference in the 
war, but 116,000 people were lost in that period of time, in that truly 
grueling battle in World War I. Another 200,000 U.S. troops were 
wounded in that war.
  The first Veterans Day 1 year later was not about what was lost; it 
was a celebration of what was won. It began with the end of the war. It 
reaffirmed a commitment to democracy. On that first holiday 100 years 
ago, President Wilson said that ``the reflections of Armistice Day will 
be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the 
country's service and with gratitude for victory.'' We remember the 
heroism of those who were lost and all who were willing to serve, and, 
as on that first anniversary of the end of World War I, we remember the 
victory that was achieved. We use this occasion to honor and remember 
our veterans with pride and gratitude.
  I am glad we are continuing to build new memorials, like the one in 
Wright County. I am glad we continue to honor people who are willing to 
serve, like the recognition of the new JROTC Program at Camdenton High 
School.
  A lot of things have changed in the 100 years since the end of World 
War I, but the point is, Veterans Day hasn't changed. This is not 
something Americans used to do; this is something we continue to do, 
and, as Senator Ernst said so well, it is something we need to do every 
day.
  Veterans Day is a special day of recognition, but we need to ensure 
that veterans have what they need while they are serving, and once they 
become veterans, we need to make sure they have everything they were 
promised and then some, including every access to healthcare that they 
were promised.
  I think we have successfully expanded not only the kind of healthcare 
people can get but also the way they can get their healthcare, respect 
and appreciation, remembrance of what they did and how that might have 
led to a behavioral health challenge or a health challenge of some 
other kind, and a country willing to step up for those who were willing 
to step up for us.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. YOUNG. Mr. President, in August I had the honor of traveling to a 
tiny town, to a small diner in Auburn, IN. The purpose of my visit was 
to present a military service medal that was nearly 75 years in the 
making. Over the last few months, I have had a lot of opportunities to 
think about those moments in Sandra D's Cafe and what they have meant 
to me. As we approach Veterans Day, I would like to share a few of 
those lessons.
  I served in the military for 10 years, and I saw firsthand the 
sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. As an elected 
representative, I have had further opportunity to visit veterans who 
served in conflict zones and families who made incredible sacrifices to

[[Page S6424]]

keep us all free. I learned just how much a sacrifice we truly ask of 
our troops and their families.
  In the Marine Corps, we have a motto: ``Semper Fidelis.'' Rarely do 
we tell folks what it means. It means ``always faithful''--faithful to 
our Nation and faithful to all those who protect it, faithful to all 
those who serve in peacetime and are prepared to protect it. It is why 
I wear this memorial bracelet around my wrist. The folks back home know 
I wear it. I remind them of it often because it is important. This 
bracelet honors LCpl Alec Terwiske. He was a fellow U.S. marine from a 
small town in Dubois, IN, in southern Indiana. On September 3, 2012, he 
was tragically killed--for all of us--in Afghanistan.
  His mom, Sandy, has become a close friend. She asked me to wear this 
bracelet to honor his memory, and I do so. I do so proudly every day to 
remember Alec and Sandy and the rest of their family and also to 
remember all those men and women who love our country and what it 
stands for so much that they are prepared, if necessary, when called to 
do so, to put their lives on the line for all of us. It takes a special 
person to take up arms in defense of our country. It takes a belief and 
cause much greater than ourselves. That cause is, in fact, what America 
is all about. It is that very belief that makes me think back to that 
cafe in Auburn.
  Sandra D's father, Robert Egli, was a World War II veteran who 
survived the war. He lived a long and happy life back home in Indiana 
and didn't say much about his military service. In fact, when I showed 
up, Sandra didn't know much about the story. I did a little personal 
internet research in the car on the way there to deliver her father's 
missing Bronze Star, and what I found out was very interesting.
  It was World War II, in the Philippines, the Pacific theater. 
Robert's unit was involved in a battle that saved the lives of 511 
American prisoners of war. His actions and those of the other American 
GIs with him allowed those Americans to return home, to marry their 
sweethearts, to start a family, and to pursue the American dream.
  Now, think about it. This is the beauty and the magic of the gift 
that so many of our men and women in uniform have given or are prepared 
to give. Because of the sacrifice of Robert Egli, there are hundreds of 
Americans who have had children and grandchildren who are now alive 
today. As a result of his beautiful act of courage, his selfless act of 
service on behalf of all of us, his patriotism, his sacrifice, maybe 
tens of thousands of people across America are alive.
  For these reasons and many, many more, we must never stop working to 
ensure that our veterans receive the respect they deserve. That 
includes ensuring that our veterans receive the care they are due after 
they are back, safe and secure, at home.
  The Senate has already taken up and passed many pieces of nonpartisan 
legislation--commonsense legislation which I cosponsored and was proud 
to see become law that will improve the lives of our veterans.
  The VA MISSION Act is perhaps the most notable and ambitious effort 
where we have all come together to support our veterans. This law has 
already dramatically improved the way veterans receive their 
healthcare. We have also taken steps to speed up the appeals process 
for veterans through the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization 
Act. No one should ever have to wait years or, perhaps even in the 
worst instance, pass away, waiting on their benefits. We made 
significant improvement with respect to that process.
  We improved the way our veterans are cared for in nursing homes, and 
we worked together to provide urgently needed support for veterans who 
may be contemplating suicide. This year, I have introduced another 
piece of legislation, working with Tammy Duckworth, a wounded warrior 
herself and distinguished Member on the other side of the aisle. We 
introduced the VETS Safe Travel Act to provide TSA Precheck benefits 
for those veterans who have been severely wounded on the battlefield. 
This VETS Safe Travel Act would help 70,000 amputees, 100,000 paralyzed 
veterans, and 130,000 blind veterans who are currently subjected to a 
rigorous and demeaning screening process when traveling. Unfortunately, 
the legislation has, at least so far, been languishing in the House of 
Representatives, and its delay, of course, means veterans in need will 
be left waiting. I would really hope that before the House takes 
another recess week, they can take up and pass this important 
legislation. I think our veterans have more than earned it.
  Working together, we made significant strides for our veterans in 
recent years, but of course we must always keep striving to do more. It 
was George Washington, a veteran himself, of course, who once said:

       The willingness with which our young people are likely to 
     serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly 
     proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier 
     wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.

  Let's treat them well. Let's appreciate them fully this Veterans Day 
and every day. I encourage you to remember your neighbors, the 
servicemembers in your State, and servicemembers around the country and 
deployed around the world. I encourage you to think of all those people 
before and those still with us who are proud to call themselves 
veterans of our military.
  May God bless our veterans. May God continue to bless America.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. President, as you know, this coming Monday, November 
11, is Veterans Day. I have heard my colleagues pay tribute to veterans 
in their own special way, and I wanted to be a part of that group today 
to offer a mighty thank-you to our men and women who serve.
  I stand before you to honor the brave men and women of the U.S. armed 
services, past and present, who have stood up to protect us and our 
freedoms that we hold so dear.
  Veterans Day, to me, is a day to reflect on the sacrifices made by 
all of those who served. It is a time to say thank you. It is a time to 
pause and think about the veterans themselves and their families. It is 
also a time for younger people, and I am talking elementary-aged 
students, to really see the pride and the commitment our veterans over 
time have had. Whether you are going to your hometown parade or going 
to a cemetery ceremony or just talking about it within your own home, 
throughout America's history, our military has been regarded as the 
greatest in the world, and it sure is. Our military would not be what 
it is without the men and women of our All-Volunteer Force.
  I am a daughter of a World War II veteran. I grew up hearing 
smidgeons of his stories off and on the battlefield, and I have always 
been in awe of those who served. He was very proud of his service in 
World War II. November 20, 1944, my father, SSG Arch A. Moore, Jr., 
from Moundsville, WV, was serving somewhere on the Belgium-German line 
when he was shot in the face, and he was left for dead on the 
battlefield for 2 days. He talked about it was in a beet field. I 
remember him saying it was in a beet field. I didn't like beets, and 
now I knew why I really didn't like beets. He also talked about how he 
was equipped with some painkiller that he could put on his leg to sort 
of ease the pain as he lay there hoping somebody would come and get 
him. That was the end of his service on the battlefield. He was taken 
and miraculously had a great recovery after probably a year of recovery 
over in England.
  For his actions on the battlefield, he received the Purple Heart, 
Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, and the European Theater of 
Operations Ribbon with three battle stars. Like my father, so many of 
the veterans of World War II faced a harsh reality in this conflict. 
This year marks the 75th anniversary of two of World War II's most 
notable battles: D-Day and Battle of the Bulge. Battle of the Bulge is 
going to be in December next month. Actually, my dad's platoon went on 
to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, and only three of his platoon 
survived.
  D-Day is known as the turning point in the war because those brave 
soldiers pushed their way through German forces to take back Normandy. 
If anybody wants to see what a sacrifice our country made in World War 
II, and more for young people to see, I would recommend going to the 
cemetery in Normandy and seeing those white

[[Page S6425]]

markers of a very young American force. While there were 
many casualties, the United States and our allies prevailed and managed 
to change the direction of the war at the same time.

  As I said, next month we will remember the 75th anniversary of the 
Battle of the Bulge. Many Americans lost their lives fending off the 
German offensive, but we were eventually victorious, which paved the 
way to the end of the war 5 months later.
  West Virginia is also home to one of the last remaining Medal of 
Honor recipients from World War II, and that is our own Hershel 
``Woody'' Williams. He turned 96 last month. He travels the country 
talking about veterans and love of country. I ran the Marine Marathon 2 
weeks ago in honor of all marines, but I thought about Woody as a 
marine. I say I ran my first marathon--probably my last--but I thought 
about Woody as he valiantly fought in the battle of Iwo Jima and 
rightfully earned the military's most prestigious medals for his 
actions during the war. Anecdotally, I think he will be leading the 
parade in New York City on Veterans Day.
  With the growing age of this Nation's World War II veterans, I 
encourage our youth to take the time to listen to the stories of 
heroism from our ``greatest generation.'' Without their valiant actions 
and dedication to preserving our freedoms, this country would not be 
what it is today.
  We also must honor all of our veterans from all our eras. Whether it 
is World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the selfless actions of 
our U.S. soldiers must not go unrecognized. They put their lives on the 
line to afford us the opportunity to live in the greatest country on 
Earth. We can have our own religious freedom, freedom of speech, 
freedom of the press, but all the freedoms we enjoy are because of the 
folks who went before us who were dedicated and willing to serve.
  On Capitol Hill, as we know, there are many divisive issues, but 
ensuring that our veterans receive the support they have earned through 
their dedicated service to our country is something we all agree on. 
Like the gentleman here today, the Senator from North Dakota, I happen 
to serve on the Appropriations Committee. I am on the Subcommittee on 
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies. It has 
been our priority to make sure veterans programs receive the funding 
necessary to best assist our men and women who have served the country.
  In recent years, Congress has made great strides in trying to improve 
the VA system, which can always be improved even more, but the 
legislation we put forward, the VA MISSION Act, I think, will help and 
has helped. It improved the VA healthcare system by establishing a 
permanent veterans community care program and expanding our VA 
caregiving benefits to veterans from all eras. When they say it is 10 
miles as the crow flies in mountainous States like West Virginia, if 
you are driving in West Virginia, that is not going to take you 10 
minutes. That could take you an hour, and that is not because of the 
traffic. Providing community care to our veterans is important because 
it allows them to receive the care they need without having to travel 
these long and sometimes arduous routes.
  Our work must not stop here. We must continue to work on legislation 
that will benefit our veteran community. As a Senator, one of my 
greatest privileges is to make sure our veterans receive the respect 
and admiration they have earned throughout their service. This is 
especially true given that West Virginia has one of the largest per 
capita populations of veterans in this country. The pride West Virginia 
veterans have is truly remarkable. After service, these men and women 
are the bedrock of our communities and make significant contributions 
to making them better.
  Rightfully so, Virginians have a great amount of admiration for those 
who have served, and it is reflected in our communities. We have a lot 
of statues, a lot of parks, a lot of commemorative highways, a lot of 
moments of silence in West Virginia to honor our veterans we have lost 
and those who have gone before us.
  I was marching in the Ripley Veterans Day parade last Veterans Day, 
and I was overwhelmed by the support a small town would show its 
veterans. Whether someone has served in combat or assisted with the 
daily operations of the military, their dedication to defending this 
country must not be unnoticed.
  On Monday, I urge everyone to take a moment to thank a veteran. At 
the same time, this shouldn't be limited to just Veterans Day. We 
should thank our veterans each and every day. It is important that we 
pay them the respect when the opportunity arises. I really feel good 
when I am getting on a plane and the announcement is made that our 
military in uniform are allowed to enter the plane. You know how those 
crowds get up when it is time to get on the plane. Many times, the 
crowd will part and, in admiration of our military, welcome that little 
bit of a head start they get to board the plane. Without great 
sacrifices and dedication to defending this flag, this country would 
not be what it is.
  I say God bless our veterans. God bless our country.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota.
  Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I rise to recognize and thank our veterans 
and their families. I commend the good Senator from the State of West 
Virginia. I appreciate her remarks and her incredible support for our 
veterans. Frankly, I want to mention my admiration for her having just 
completed the Marine Corps Marathon. I think that is absolutely 
remarkable. I know she is an avid runner, but to complete a marathon is 
no small achievement. Of course, to do it as part of the Marine 
Marathon is another great way to honor our marvelous and wonderful 
veterans. My father was in the Marine Corps, so I have a special 
affinity, of course, because of that as well. I appreciate all of our 
amazing, wonderful veterans.

  I am really honored to join my colleagues. I know the good Senator 
from Kansas is next. As he chairs our Ag Committee, he and I have had a 
lot of opportunity to work on agricultural issues. He is also another 
member of the Marine Corps, and I know he has served with great 
distinction.
  Again, it is a great honor to be here today and to join my colleagues 
in honoring our phenomenal veterans.
  In June, I had the opportunity to join a Senate delegation in 
Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We had the honor of meeting 
with some of the veterans who had landed on the beaches of Normandy and 
were again reminded of the tremendous sacrifices that our Nation's 
veterans have made to preserve our way of life and keep our Nation 
free. It really was an honor to meet with some of those veterans and to 
be there in Normandy on the 75th anniversary. To see where they had 
landed and then to talk with them about it was an incredible way to 
relive history and, of course, to honor their incredible sacrifice.
  We also recognize that those who serve do not serve alone. We 
appreciate, too, the sacrifices of their families and their loved ones, 
who have supported them and our Nation's veterans in their service, who 
have done so throughout the history of our country, and who serve 
today, along with their veteran family members--their husbands or wives 
or sons or daughters, whoever they may be--who have donned the uniform 
to serve this great Nation. We honor their service and the service of 
all those who are in harm's way today.
  While we set aside a day each year to express our gratitude, every 
day, we are reminded of the dedication of those who have served to 
protect our freedom and our liberties. Our veterans cannot be thanked 
enough. Given their service and sacrifice, the least our Nation can do 
is to uphold its commitment to provide our veterans with the 
healthcare, benefits, and recognition they have so richly earned.
  In the Senate, we have passed landmark legislation, including the VA 
MISSION Act, to support our veterans and provide them with the care and 
services they have earned. The VA MISSION Act strengthens the VA's 
ability to provide care for our veterans, and when the VA is unable to 
do so, it gives our veterans more options by allowing them to seek care 
in their home communities. This has been a top priority for veterans in 
my State, in the

[[Page S6426]]

rural State of North Dakota. Giving veterans more options closer to 
home for healthcare and long-term care is and must continue to be an 
absolute priority.
  We are also continuing to work with the VA and long-term care 
providers to ensure that the providers who want to treat veterans are 
able to do so without undertaking unnecessary burdens. We are helping 
veterans access long-term care--nursing home care, home-based care--
closer to home and near their loved ones.
  In the course of their dedicated service, our military members make 
sacrifices in many ways. This includes injuries both seen and unseen. 
We owe our veterans the best possible care in treating these wounds. 
That is why we have been working to improve and strengthen the VA's 
mental healthcare and suicide prevention programs. This includes 
expanding access to alternative treatment options, like hyperbaric 
oxygen therapy, HBOT, for veterans who have not benefited from 
traditional therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.
  Additionally, I am a cosponsor of the Improve Well-Being for Veterans 
Act--legislation introduced by Senator Boozman--that would expand and 
better coordinate services that are aimed at preventing veteran 
suicide.
  As chairman of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I recognize that 
Native Americans serve in our Nation's Armed Forces in higher numbers 
than does any other ethnic group. That is why I continue to advance 
legislation, like our bipartisan Tribal HUD-VASH Act, that supports 
Native American veterans.
  Additionally, we are working to provide our veterans with resources 
and opportunities to help them continue to utilize the skills they 
learned in the military as they transition back to civilian life. One 
example is our effort to help veterans receive training to be 
commercial pilots.
  Last week, the Senate passed its fiscal year 2020 Transportation 
funding bill with provisions from the American Aviator Act. I 
introduced the bipartisan legislation with Senator Baldwin so as to 
expand commercial pilot training opportunities for our veterans. Our 
country needs commercial pilots, so it only makes sense that we 
leverage the skills our veterans learned in the military to help them 
meet this need. It is good for our country, and it is good for our 
veterans.
  These are just a few examples of our efforts to support our veterans.
  Our freedom has been secured by the sweat and sacrifice of the 
courageous men and women who throughout our history have bravely done 
what has been needed in order to protect our Nation and our way of 
life. We honor the courage and sacrifice of this Nation's veterans by 
ensuring they have the resources and support they need and have earned.
  To veterans in my home State of North Dakota and to veterans across 
the country, we say thank you, not only on Veterans Day but every day.
  May God bless these brave Americans and this great country they 
serve.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, at the end of World War I--the supposed 
war to end all wars; we all wish that it did--in the 11th hour, in the 
11th month on the 11th day, we declared armistice. The war was over. 
Armistice Day is still recognized, but it is now called Veterans Day.
  This coming Monday, on 11/11, as we always do on the 11th day of the 
11th month, we will pause as a nation and say thank you to the men and 
women who serve us in the U.S. military. It is the most moral and the 
most lethal fighting force the world has ever known, and we are 
grateful. To the men and women who make up our veterans, those serving 
Actively, those serving in the Reserves, those serving in our National 
Guard, and those who have served both at home and abroad, we are 
grateful for their service.
  It has been an absolute privilege to serve our veterans in Oklahoma. 
There are members of my own family, like my Uncle Robby, who is a 
marine, and my next-door neighbor, who is in the National 
Guard. Scattered throughout my family and throughout my own 
neighborhood, I have a chance to smile and say thank you to folks on a 
regular basis for what they have done in the past and what they 
continue to do right now.

  Over the past several sessions of Congress, we have worked to help 
our veterans and to help those who are serving currently. We have 
passed legislation like the VA MISSION Act, which dramatically 
increases veterans' care and gives veterans the opportunity to go to 
different places in order to get care. Now they don't have to drive 
across my great State to get to a VA center. They can go somewhere 
closer to home, where it is more convenient for them, rather than go to 
a VA center. That is a great asset to them and to their families, who 
have sacrificed over and over again so that their loved ones can serve. 
They shouldn't have to sacrifice even more now.
  This Congress has made major improvements to and has expanded the GI 
bill. We have improved the onerous disability compensation and appeals 
process for the VA, which has long been an issue. We have increased the 
quality of care at the VA, and we have made sure that staff members who 
work at our VA centers are held to account. By far, the majority of 
people who serve in our VA centers serve on behalf of our veterans and 
are passionate and grateful to do that. Yet, for some who cannot get 
the job done, we shouldn't give our veterans lesser care because of 
those individuals.
  Those are all of the things that have been done just to say thank 
you. Yet it is interesting to me, the number of times I have talked to 
veterans and have said ``thank you for your service,'' and they have 
responded with something like ``it is the least I could do'' or 
``absolutely'' or ``no thanks necessary'' or ``it was my honor to do 
it.'' This is a group of individuals who knows what it means to serve. 
We will continue to say thanks to them.
  On this Veterans Day, I will pause with a family at a bridge in 
Oklahoma as the name of the bridge transitions to the Damon Leehan 
Bridge in remembrance of an Oklahoman who, in 2011, died in Afghanistan 
while protecting our freedom.
  Our veterans don't ask for our thanks, but we can't give them thanks 
enough for what they and their families have done to keep this great 
Nation secure.
  Thank you to our veterans.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, for generations, America has been a beacon 
of hope and freedom around the world. When confronted with tyranny and 
evil, America has always overcome. In every generation, patriots have 
answered the call to service in defense of our country and in defense 
of freedom and democracy. Their bravery and willingness to serve is a 
testament to the American and Montanan spirit.
  It is my highest honor to serve as a voice for Montana's veterans in 
the Halls of Congress. You see, Montana has one of the highest veteran 
populations per capita in the United States. Montana's veterans are 
what make living in Big Sky Country all the more special.
  I know I speak for most Montanans when I say, while growing up, we 
learned very early on about the importance of service to our country. 
For me, that lesson was taught by my father. My dad is a marine who 
served in the 58th Rifle Company out of Billings, MT. He instilled in 
me the values of hard work, of sacrifice, of service to others, and of 
humility. I am grateful for his service to our country, and I am proud 
to live every day with the values that he taught me when I was so 
young. Those same values that my dad taught me are held by veterans all 
across Montana.
  I am grateful for Montana's veterans. I am grateful to have several 
veterans serve on my staff both in Montana and in Washington, DC. I 
thank Denny in Helena, Robin in Great Falls, Jim in Bozeman, and 
Christy in Washington, DC. They are all Montanans who are also veterans 
who serve on my team and serve the people of Montana.
  We have an extraordinary legacy of service in Montana. We are home to 
heroes like Medal of Honor recipient Army SSG Travis Atkins, who was 
honored by President Trump at the White House this year for his 
ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. Right now, in Congress, I 
am working to rename the Bozeman VA healthcare

[[Page S6427]]

facility after this great, fallen, Montana hero. Travis and I attended 
the same high school in Bozeman.
  I make it my top priority to hear from all of our veterans across all 
corners of our State and to learn about the issues they face, such as 
access to rural healthcare, or to ensure they receive the recognition 
they deserve. In fact, just last month, I was in Great Falls to help 
honor veteran Alfred E. Shryer with the Bronze Star Medal for his 
service in Vietnam. It was recognition that was long overdue--nearly 50 
years in the making.
  After all our veterans and their families have given to our Nation, 
it is due time that our country gives them the care, the treatment, and 
the recognition they have earned. That is why I am taking action. I 
have introduced a number of bipartisan solutions to help resolve issues 
that plague our vets, like my bipartisan bill to protect veterans' 
pensions from scam artists. I have also led a bipartisan effort to 
ensure that our Blue Water veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange 
while they served in Vietnam receive the healthcare they deserve. Those 
who risk it all--those who put their lives on the line in defense of 
our freedom--deserve the utmost honor, thanks, and care.
  To all of our veterans, thank you for your service. Our country is 
freer and our country is safer because of you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, thank you to my colleagues from West 
Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and now the great State of Montana.
  The distinguished Senator from Montana is sitting at the desk that 
was occupied by Conrad Burns, a Senator from Montana who was a private 
in the U.S. Marine Corps.
  I thank the Senator from Montana for his remarks and for his service 
in this body.
  I rise today to speak in support of our Nation's veterans, Veterans 
Day, which is coming up on Monday, and the 244th--244th--birthday 
Sunday of our Nation's force in readiness, the U.S. Marine Corps.
  I am a marine--the senior marine in the Congress--and my dad was a 
marine serving in Guam, Kenya, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. Tough duty.
  On this holiday, we remember those who have sacrificed for our 
freedoms, especially the more than 1 million who have given their lives 
for our country. Every American should remember these heroes.
  As a nation, we are also home to more than 18 million living heroes 
who have served with distinction in our armed services.
  On this Veterans Day, I would especially like to single out a great 
veteran who has also served with honor and respect in this body--
Senator Johnny Isakson.
  John Hardy Isakson, born December 28, 1944, just 3 short years after 
the attack on Pearl Harbor, began his service to our country in the 
Georgia Air National Guard from 1966 to 1972, leaving the service at 
the rank of staff sergeant.
  He then continued to serve as a member in both the Georgia State 
Senate and House, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives, before 
his fellow Georgians sent him to the U.S. Senate.
  In 2005, he came back full circle to his military roots, joining the 
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in 2015, he took over the 
chairmanship.
  Let the record reflect that, as chairman, he has worked tirelessly--
tirelessly--to reform veterans' healthcare and benefits, as well as to 
bring oversight and accountability to the Department.
  Under his leadership, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs has 
passed 57 pieces of legislation that were signed into law--57. You 
heard that correctly; 57 bills became law.
  I think I have had the gavel in four different committees--57? I 
don't think I have gotten to that yet.
  Let me just go through some of the most significant reforms that 
Johnny Isakson steered through the Senate that became law: the VA 
MISSION Act, which puts veterans in charge of their own healthcare; the 
Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower 
Protection Act, which holds the VA accountable to the veterans it 
serves; the Harvey W. Colmery--happens to be a Kansan--Veterans 
Educational Assistance Act, which improves veterans' GI bill benefits; 
the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, which 
modernizes the VA's appeal process; and one of the most important, the 
Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which helps get 
mental health services to our warfighters who need them the most.
  This is only a small portion of his long list of accomplishments, and 
his committee is not resting on their laurels. As of this morning, they 
have held 110 hearings, conducted more than 80 oversight visits, and 
have confirmed 23 Presidential nominations.
  In my experience as chairman of a Senate committee--I think three of 
them, maybe four--you simply can't get this type of work done without 
help from those across the aisle.
  This is just another example of who Johnny is as a person and a 
legislator. He doesn't make promises he can't keep, and he is willing 
to put partisanship aside in order to get the absolute best care for 
our Nation's men and women who have served.
  In this body, there are those who choose ideology--I understand 
that--and partisan issues--I understand that as well. But Johnny 
Isakson is someone who works with his colleagues to pass legislation 
benefiting not only our Nation's veterans but every American's 
pocketbook and daily life.
  I have a lot of personal memories when Johnny would rope me in to 
coming to a meeting, a bipartisan meeting, to try to get what we 
thought was a very important bill done. Sometimes I had some concerns 
about joining those outfits that he seemed to put together when nobody 
else could, but I learned pretty quickly that I better go, first, to 
find out what was going on and then, second, to watch this man 
carefully craft a bipartisan agreement, working with colleagues, 
listening to them. When Johnny spoke, people usually got to the edge of 
their chairs and listened. That is how he got it done.
  On behalf of the more than 18 million veterans and their families 
this Veterans Day, we celebrate his leadership and sense of duty to 
country.
  Johnny--Johnny Isakson--thank you for your service. Senators 
eventually come and go. I do not think we will see the likeness of 
Senator Johnny Isakson for years to come.
  Semper fi, my dear friend. I love you. We love you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader.


                             Whistleblowers

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, before I get into the substance of my 
remarks on a very serious subject, I want to thank my dear friend from 
Kansas for his nice words about Johnny Isakson.
  There is no word short of ``beloved'' that you would affix before 
Johnny Isakson's name in terms of this Chamber, and I think that would 
probably be true for every single Member--certainly the Senator from 
Kansas and certainly the Senator from New York.
  On July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress passed unanimously the 
following resolution: ``Resolved, that it is the duty of all persons in 
the service of the United States . . . to give the earliest information 
to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or 
misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of 
these states.''
  That was in the Continental Congress before our Nation was even 
formed--a duty of citizens to protect the American people from those in 
government who might conduct misconduct, fraud, or misdemeanors.
  From the earliest days of our Republic, our government has 
acknowledged the vital role that whistleblowers play in ensuring good 
governance and rooting out corruption, malfeasance, and self-dealing.
  Two nights ago, appallingly, at a political rally, President Trump 
and a Member of this Chamber, the junior Senator from Kentucky, 
publicly and explicitly urged the press to disclose the identity of the 
Federal whistleblower whose complaint triggered an impeachment inquiry 
in the House of Representatives.
  A few days later, the same junior Senator threatened to reveal the 
identity of the whistleblower himself.
  I cannot stress enough how wrong and dangerous--dangerous--these 
efforts are.

[[Page S6428]]

  The United States is a nation of laws. Whistleblower laws have 
existed since the founding of our Republic to protect patriotic 
Americans who come forward and stand up for our Constitution. We don't 
get to determine when these laws apply and when they don't. We don't 
get to decide if the law applies whether you like what the 
whistleblower said or whether you don't. These are laws. No person--no 
person--is above the law.
  This whistleblower, whose complaint was deemed credible and urgent by 
a Trump appointee, is protected by these statutes. There is no legal 
doubt about that. Every single Member of this body--every single one--
should stand up and say that it is wrong to disclose his or her 
identity. That is what my colleague Senator Hirono will ask us to do in 
a moment.
  Before she does, I want to thank my colleagues on the other side of 
the aisle who have spoken up in defense of whistleblower protections. 
Some of my Republican colleagues have spent their careers defending 
whistleblowers. We need them today. We need these Republican 
colleagues, who should be here standing up for the protection of 
whistleblowers.
  The threats we have seen over the last few days are so egregious--so 
egregious--that they demand bipartisan outrage from one end of this 
Chamber to the other, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, 
Independent, liberal, moderate, or conservative.
  What is happening here is another erosion of the values of this 
Republic for political expediency. Exposing the whistleblower's 
identity would endanger their health and safety and that of their 
families. It would also be a chilling message to future patriots that 
they do their duty to report wrongdoing at the risk of exposure, 
retaliation, and retribution.
  Why don't we see a single other Republican stand up in favor of this 
today? We should.
  Let's send a message today that the Senate reaffirms our Nation's 
longstanding tradition of defending whistleblowers. I urge every single 
Member of the Senate to support it, and I recognize somebody who has 
been valiant in this fight to protect the duty enshrined by the 
Continental Congress and the Constitution, my good friend, the Senator 
from Hawaii.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.


                 Unanimous Consent Request--S. Res. 408

  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, if you work for the Federal Government, 
you work for the people. You have a duty by law to come forward to 
report misconduct, fraud, misdemeanors, and other crimes going on in 
government.
  This duty has been on the books since 1778. Why? Because people 
working in government are in a pretty good position to see when 
something is not right in their workplace.
  We want a government that is doing right by us.
  It is not easy for whistleblowers to come forward to report 
wrongdoing in government. That is why we have laws that protect a 
whistleblower from intimidation, discrimination, and retaliation, and 
laws that protect their identity.
  On August 12, a whistleblower--and we don't know whether this was a 
man or a woman, so for ease of reference, I will refer to the 
whistleblower as ``she''--came forward, as the law required, to file a 
complaint with the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community.
  The complaint alleged that the President was ``using the power of his 
office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. 
election.''
  The inspector general, also as required, determined that the 
complaint was credible and involved an urgent concern.
  The House, on learning of the whistleblower's complaint, began to ask 
questions. What did the House investigation uncover? That the 
whistleblower's complaint was right.
  Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine; Tim Morrison, the top 
Russia and Eastern Europe expert on the National Security Council; and 
others have corroborated the whistleblower's complaint about the 
President.
  Just yesterday, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon 
Sondland, confirmed that security assistance for Ukraine was dependent 
on the Ukranian Government's launching an investigation into the 
President's political opponents.
  Let's face it. What Donald Trump did was wrong. It is wrong for the 
President of the United States to shake down the Ukrainian President to 
get dirt on his political rivals in return for almost $400 million in 
U.S. military aid to help Ukraine fight Russia. Faced with growing 
evidence of Donald Trump's wrongdoing, what happens? What happens is a 
President and his minions attack the whistleblower, suggesting that she 
was spying and guilty of treason.
  Donald Trump has threatened the whistleblower with ``Big 
Consequences''--capital B, capital C--and put her safety at risk with 
comments such as: ``I do not know why a person that defrauds the 
American public should be protected.'' Guess what, he wasn't talking 
about himself.
  Donald Trump's devoted rightwing allies have been quick to echo and 
amplify the President's attacks. The whistleblower's own attorney 
warned Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire that the 
President's threats are compromising her personal safety. Just last 
Sunday, Donald Trump said: ``There have been stories written about a 
certain individual, a male, and they say he's the whistleblower . . . 
if it's him, you guys ought to release the information.''
  House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also insisted that the 
whistleblower ``should come before the committee . . . he needs to 
answer the questions.'' While speaking at a Trump campaign rally, my 
colleague from Kentucky who has joined me on the floor today, demanded 
that the media print the name of the whistleblower. Representative   
Jim Jordan, one of Donald Trump's fiercest allies, dismissed the 
whistleblower as biased and called for her identity to be made public.
  With his attacks on the whistleblower, Donald Trump has made clear 
that he will use the full power of his office to bully, intimidate, and 
threaten anyone who dares to stand up to him or to speak out against 
him.
  Can you imagine what a young career foreign service officer at the 
State Department might do after seeing the President tell the world 
that whistleblowers are spies who defraud our government? Do you think 
that person would risk destroying their career and suffer the wrath of 
Donald Trump and his fiercest allies and supporters in reporting the 
President's misconduct?
  How about a career employee at the Department of Defense who sees 
that military aid is being held up to pressure a foreign government to 
help the President of the United States win reelection? Do you think 
that Defense Department employee would risk being accused of betraying 
our country and acting as a spy?
  Let's be clear here: The real purpose of these attacks is to scare 
anyone else who may be thinking of coming forward to stay silent. We 
see the President, time and time again, through tweets, in interviews, 
at his rallies, openly attacking anyone who questions or disagrees with 
him. The chilling effect of what the President is doing cannot be 
overstated. It totally undercuts our whistleblower laws. These are not 
normal times. In normal times, we would be protecting whistleblowers. 
That is what this resolution does.
  The resolution I am presenting affirms that if anyone expects public 
servants to report misconduct, we have a corresponding duty to protect 
their identity and safeguard them from retaliation, from threats. The 
whistleblower has done her duty. Now, we need to do ours.
  Madam President, as if in legislative session, I ask unanimous 
consent the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. Res. 
408 introduced earlier today; that the resolution be agreed to; the 
preamble be agreed to; and the motions to reconsider be considered made 
and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 2798

  Mr. President, I support whistleblowers, and I do think they have a 
role to play in keeping government accountable. They should not lose 
their jobs or be prosecuted because of their willingness to speak, but 
what we have seen over the last few years is that we have a system that 
we should continue to refine.

[[Page S6429]]

  When Edward Snowden exposed the breadth of unconstitutional 
government spying, that everything you do can be seen and stored by the 
government without cause, without an individualized order, in secret, 
in bulk, in defiance of the Fourth Amendment, not one finger was raised 
by those voices who are so proud now to defend whistleblowers, not one 
of them stood up for Edward Snowden.
  Many, in fact, in Congress condemned him. They wanted to bring him to 
trial. Senators talked about hanging him from the closest tree, about 
executing him. People called into question his motives. Hillary Clinton 
implied that Edward Snowden was a foreign spy. Chuck Schumer, who now 
has such outrage and defense of the whistleblower statute, lifted not 
one finger for Edward Snowden. In fact, he called him a coward.
  So really I think that the outrage we see here is selective outrage, 
and it is because they are intent on overturning the election of the 
people. They are intent on removing Trump from office, no matter what, 
and they will use whatever means they can to do it.
  Interestingly though, despite all of these people calling Edward 
Snowden a traitor, Congress ended up abolishing the bulk collection 
program that he exposed. Congress knew that they had done something 
illegal by collecting all of your metadata, all of your phone call 
data, without the permission of a judge and that it violated the Fourth 
Amendment.
  They knew that he had probably become the greatest whistleblower of 
all time; yet where are the voices defending Edward Snowden now? Not 
one of these people who fake outrage over this whistleblower and 
President Trump and impeachment--not one of them will stand up for 
Edward Snowden. They would still put him in jail for life, if they 
could.
  In the end, we did end bulk collection because Edward Snowden bravely 
came forward and said that the government was lying to us, that James 
Clapper, now a big President Trump hater, came before the Senate and he 
lied directly to Senator Wyden when he said: We are not collecting your 
data.
  Yet where is Edward Snowden in all of this, as these great defenders 
of the whistleblower statute are here? Not a word for Edward Snowden. 
Snowden himself said that he didn't have adequate protection to bring 
his claims internally because he was a government contractor and not an 
employee and not subject to the whistleblower statute.

  Subsequently, Congress fixed that. Now, contractors in the 
intelligence community can make whistleblower claims. I agree with 
that. There are also now protections for some other contractors. We 
should extend and expand the protections, and we should make this 
protection retroactive to account for people like Snowden.
  So the bill I will introduce today will expand the Whistleblower Act, 
it will be made retroactive so Edward Snowden can come home to live in 
his own country. All he did was expose that his government was not 
obeying the Constitution. If this fake outrage here is really towards 
whistleblowing, why don't we make it retroactive and defend the most 
famous whistleblower of all time? That is what my bill would do.
  While Snowden's disclosures were in defense of the Fourth Amendment, 
the Sixth Amendment guarantees an individual the right to face their 
accuser; yet the House of Representatives has been conducting a secret 
impeachment inquiry based on secret claims made by a secret 
whistleblower.
  My bill would make clear that the Sixth Amendment is not superseded 
by statutes and that the President should be afforded the same rights 
that we all should, to understand the nature of the allegations brought 
against them and to face their accuser. This is in the Sixth Amendment.
  So for all the caterwauling about whistleblower statutes, there is a 
high law of the land. It is the Constitution. It is the Bill of Rights. 
The Sixth Amendment says if you are accused of a crime, you get to face 
your accuser.
  In fact, there was a resolution last week placed by 50 members of the 
Republican Caucus that condemns the process going on in the House. It 
condemns it because it says specifically, in the resolution signed by 
50 Republicans, that the President should get to face his accusers, 
that he should have counsel and call on witnesses and to understand the 
basis of the charges against him.
  See, here is the thing: The whistleblower should be called because 
they are making accusations against the President. That is the Sixth 
Amendment. We don't do away with the Sixth Amendment because we are 
talking about impeachment or talking about the President. But the 
whistleblower is also a material witness. The whistleblower is a 
material witness because he worked for Joe Biden. He worked for Joe 
Biden when Joe Biden and Hunter Biden were involved in corruption in 
Ukraine.
  This person worked on the Ukraine desk. This person traveled to 
Ukraine. This person was involved with aid. So when Joe Biden says we 
are going to deny aid to Ukraine unless you hire a prosecutor that is 
looking into my son's company that is paying Hunter Biden $50,000 a 
month, don't you think we have the right to call these people? Don't 
you think that Joe Biden should appear? Don't you think that Hunter 
Biden should appear? Absolutely, the whistleblower should appear 
because he is an accuser, but also because he is a material witness to 
the conflict of interest scandal that involves Hunter Biden and Joe 
Biden.
  Fifty Republican Senators signed on to a resolution that says the 
President should get to face his accusers. My bill, the Whistleblower 
Act of 2019, would make that clear, that the Sixth Amendment is not 
superseded by statutes and that the President should be afforded the 
right to understand the nature of the allegations brought against him 
and that the President should get to face his accusers.
  Mr. President, as in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent 
that the Senator modify her request so that, instead, the Senate 
proceed to the immediate consideration of my bill, the Whistleblower 
Act of 2019, S. 2798, introduced earlier today; I further ask that the 
bill 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 (Mr. Cotton). Does the Senator so modify her 
request?
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, reserving my right to object.
  My colleague's bill was just dropped literally on my lap just now. I 
certainly have not had a chance to read through the bill, but the last 
paragraph of this bill--which by the way I think it is called the 
Whistleblower Protection Act--anyway, the last section of his bill 
caught my eye, and I will read it to you.
  ``Section 5. Ensuring Sixth Amendment protections. Congress reaffirms 
that in the case of criminal proceedings, prosecutions, and impeachment 
arising from the disclosures of whistleblowers, that the accused has a 
right to confront his or her accuser in such proceedings and that right 
is not superseded by the Whistleblower Protection Act.''
  So suddenly the Sixth Amendment right for a defendant to confront the 
accuser is being applied to the impeachment proceeding. It has never 
been done before. By doing this, the Senator from Kentucky, in my view, 
is truly undermining the Whistleblower Protection Act. So to call his 
bill the Whistleblower Protection Act of 2019 is, in my view, 
laughable.
  By the way, in this particular instance we don't need the 
whistleblower's testimony. The whistleblower's complaint, the substance 
of her complaint, has been corroborated numerous times. So all this is 
to send the message out there that all you people who work for the 
Federal Government, if you see some kind of wrongdoing misdeed going 
on, don't come forward because expect retribution, expect the President 
to come after you, expect the President's minions to come after you.
  What is the point of having a whistleblower statute which--you know, 
which is a duty, it imposes a duty on Federal employees to come 
forward--and at the same time as we impose this duty, we have the good 
Senator's resolution saying: Yes, come forward, but we are going to out 
you, subject you to threats, intimidation, retaliation.
  This whistleblower's own attorney has said that her safety is in 
question, so using the Sixth Amendment and

[[Page S6430]]

sort of tie it to impeachment proceedings is--I am just flabbergasted.
  Mr. President, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard. Is there objection to 
the original request?
  Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.
  I am disappointed that any Senator would come to the floor and find 
the Bill of Rights laughable. The Sixth Amendment is an important part 
of our Constitution, and the right to face your accuser is incredibly 
important. It is disappointing that an actual U.S. Senator would come 
to the floor and say that it was laughable to apply the Bill of Rights 
to the President. I am disappointed that it has come to this.
  I will hope that Americans would look at this and say, absolutely, 
the President deserves the same protections that the rest of us 
deserve.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. I think the Senator from Kentucky should listen because I 
certainly did not find the Sixth Amendment laughable. I found his 
resolution, calling it the Whistleblower Protection Act, which in fact 
undermines whistleblower protections, appalling and laughable.
  With that, I, once again, object to his request.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


           Testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman

  Mr. CASEY. Thank you, Mr. President.
  First, I want to briefly recognize this afternoon the brave public 
servants who have testified in the House in recent weeks in defense of 
national security, the rule of law, and our democratic institutions--
most recently, LTC Alexander Vindman.
  Despite Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's two decades of military service 
and a Purple Heart for his sacrifice to our country in Iraq, his 
character has faced brutal attacks from cable news and from some 
current and former Members of Congress. These comments about him are 
reprehensible attacks with no basis in fact.
  Verbal abuse of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman not only disrespects his 
integrity and his service but undermines our institutions and 
ultimately makes our Nation less safe--less safe. So questioning the 
character, loyalty, or patriotism of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is an 
attack on all veterans and is also an attack on our military.
  Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul put it this way in a 
Washington Post column just last week, and I will quote part of the 
column:

       Such smear tactics are revolting and un-American. Vindman 
     has served our country with honor and distinction, both on 
     and off the battlefield. . . . And he is a patriot--as you 
     would expect from someone with his outstanding resume. . . . 
     The idea that Vindman might have dual loyalties with another 
     nation is preposterous. Vindman was born in the totalitarian 
     Soviet Union, not ``the Ukraine.'' His family, which is 
     Jewish, fled religious persecution. He is not Soviet or 
     Ukrainian or Ukrainian American: He is simply an American. 
     Using birthplaces or hyphenated adjectives to disparage 
     fellow Americans is always wrong. It is especially so in the 
     case of Lt. Col. Vindman.

  That is the op-ed from a distinguished Ambassador.
  When I reflect upon Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's service to our 
country and his integrity, I am reminded of one of the lines--we could 
use many--from ``America the Beautiful'':

     Oh, beautiful for patriot dream
       That sees beyond the years

       That is what he was doing when he testified, just like that 
     was what he was doing when he was serving our Nation in Iraq 
     and when he was wounded in Iraq, and what he has done as a 
     member of our national security team as part of the work he 
     has done in this administration--seeing beyond the years. 
     Part of the dream of a patriot is thinking about the impact 
     of your actions on future generations.

  We need to make sure that we are very clear about where we stand on 
his character, on his commitment to the country, and on his courage in 
coming forward.


                            Turkey and Syria

  Mr. President, I want to move to the grave question of Syria and what 
has happened over just the last couple of weeks. I know this is a 
position held by Senators in both parties, but I oppose President 
Trump's recent decision to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from Syria.
  Following a phone call with Turkish President Erdogan on October 6, 
President Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing 
U.S. troops from northern Syria. This cleared the way for the Turkish 
Armed Forces to proceed with an operation--an effort to target Kurdish 
and Islamic State, or ISIS, fighters in northern Syria. The President's 
decision is already impacting U.S. national security, as many analysts 
have predicted.
  We have abandoned our Kurdish allies, who have been instrumental in 
not only retaking territory from ISIS but also in detaining ISIS 
combatants. We learned last week that they made the most important 
contribution of critical intelligence, helping U.S. forces locate and 
eliminate ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
  That leads me to the role that Russia plays, especially in the 
aftermath of the decision the President made about our troops 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 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 
the 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. Also, he will be able to 
exercise increased control over Turkey, a NATO ally, and also return to 
its Cold War-era dominance--the Russians, that is--in the Middle East.
  I am holding an article, which, from a distance, you can't see the 
headline. It is from the Washington Post, dated October 16 of this 
year. It says that in Ukraine and Syria, Trump's moves are helping 
Putin. It was written by Anne Gearan. Anne Gearan is a respected 
reporter on national security issues and foreign policy. This article--
and I will not go through all of it--catalogs how the Trump 
administration has allowed Russia to assert dominance globally. I 
mentioned the headline, but here is some of the text of the article. 
The first few paragraphs of the article by Anne Gearan say as follows:

       Whether by chance or by design, the foreign policy crises 
     involving Syria and Ukraine that have enveloped the White 
     House have a common element. In each case, President Trump 
     has taken action that has had the effect of helping the 
     authoritarian leader of Russia.
       Russian forces are now operating between the Turkish and 
     Syrian militaries, helping to fulfill Moscow's main aim of 
     shoring up its alliance with Syria and the Russian military 
     port housed there--an outcome Russian President Vladimir 
     Putin has sought for years.
       Trump'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--

  She is referring to our President here--

     too soft a stance toward a nation led by a strongman hostile 
     to the United States.

  Anne Gearan goes on to describe the long list of President Trump's 
actions that demonstrate the strange deference to Russia, which has 
ultimately compromised the furtherance of U.S. national security 
interests in Syria and beyond.
  I also want to make reference to another recent news article. The 
headline at the top of this New York Times article, dated Sunday, 
October 13 of this

[[Page S6431]]

year, reads: ``12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed.'' It reads: ``12 
Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed.''
  The next page, which is full of more detail and an illustration, 
gives you their conclusion: ``Evidence Reveals One Culprit: Russia.'' 
In pertinent part, here is what this article says: ``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 New York Times published evidence 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. This is a hospital. Dozens of hospitals and 
clinics in Idlib have been struck since, and Syrian medical workers 
live in constant fear of the next strike.
  I don't think I even have to say what I am about to say, but it bears 
repeating for the record. Such atrocities go beyond the pale of 
violating the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war. They demonstrate 
just how ruthless and brutal Putin and his regime have been and the 
lengths to which they will go to assert Russia's influence in the 
Middle East.
  Under this administration, we have seen U.S. leadership erode and 
multilateral institutions deteriorate to the point where the United 
Nations is powerless in holding Russia accountable for these 
atrocities. As to holding Mr. Putin accountable, this administration 
has made us less safe.
  Let me move to the Kurds. The Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the 
Kurdish YPG, have been steadfast U.S. partners in counterterrorism 
operations, as well as in other ways in the Middle East.
  As the United States provided training, intelligence, and aerial 
support, some 11,000 Kurdish fighters died in the fight against ISIS--
11,000 Kurdish fighters. Without their courage, sacrifice, partnership, 
and protection, the United States would have either lost the fight 
against ISIS--and the coalition would have lost--or won it at a major 
cost to the lives of U.S. servicemembers and their families.
  The Trump administration has abandoned the Kurds. Since the President 
radically departed from a longstanding strategy in the fight against 
ISIS, we have seen mass displacement. We have also seen, of course, 
Russian incursion and the initial signs of an ISIS resurgence in the 
region.
  According to the United Nations, 160,000 people have been displaced, 
including 70,000 children. Kurdish authorities state that at least 785 
persons affiliated with ISIS have escaped.
  I ask a couple of basic questions: How exactly does allowing the 
conditions for humanitarian catastrophe and the escape of sworn enemies 
of the United States make America safe? How does unilaterally making 
decisions without consulting U.S. national security leaders and 
experts, or also our allies who have joined us in the global coalition 
to fight ISIS, build credibility for U.S. leadership around the world? 
How do we expect to protect the interests of our ally Israel from 
threats along the Syrian border? And, finally, how do we justify such a 
rapid departure in U.S. policy to promote and protect democracy in the 
Middle East?


                     Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

  Mr. President, let me move to the al-Baghdadi killing.
  We know that on October 27, just weeks after the U.S. withdrawal, the 
President announced that U.S. Special Forces, those brave fighters who 
are the best in the world, with support from the U.S. intelligence 
forces, conducted a raid and confirmed the death of ISIS leader al-
Baghdadi.
  The President's failure to credit our Kurdish allies, who provided 
critical intelligence that led to a successful U.S. operation, is 
further evidence of his total abandonment of the Kurds and the lack of 
appreciation for the critical role the Kurds have played in promoting 
U.S. interests in Syria.
  Let us also not forget that the President credited Russia's 
cooperation in opening Russian-controlled airspace to U.S. aircraft 
conducting the raid. He credited them before--before--he credited the 
U.S. Special Forces who laid down their lives for the mission. I think 
he could have at least, at a minimum, switched the order there, and he 
should also have credited the Kurds, as I have stated.
  While al-Baghdadi's death is certainly a major victory for our 
counterterrorism efforts, the fight against ISIS is far from over. I am 
deeply troubled--and I know a lot of Members of the Senate in both 
parties are deeply troubled--by the President's and, frankly, some of 
my colleagues' assertions that our withdrawal from Syria was justified.
  The U.S. Defense Department estimates that 10,000 to 15,000 ISIS 
fighters are working to reconstitute themselves as a major terrorist 
threat after U.S. withdrawal from Syria.
  Let us be clear. Killing al-Baghdadi is not the end of ISIS and 
certainly not the end of the U.S. commitment to eliminating ISIS.
  The decision-making process leading up to U.S. withdrawal carried the 
hallmarks of chaos and recklessness that are so indicative of how this 
administration operates when it comes to these issues. Two weeks ago, 
the U.S. Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Jim 
Jeffrey, testified that he was neither consulted nor made aware of the 
President's intent to green-light Turkey's planned offensive but was, 
rather, briefed afterward.
  Special Envoy Jeffrey has decades of experience in the region, and 
the lack of consultation ahead of this major foreign policy decision 
shows the lack of deference this administration gives to seasoned 
career national security officials. Weeks after the withdrawal, 
Secretary of Defense Esper; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
Milley; Special Envoy Jeffrey; the CENTCOM commander, General McKenzie; 
and the intel community briefed the Senate regarding the events of the 
last several weeks. It is unacceptable that it took over 3 weeks for 
Congress to receive a briefing on such a critical change in U.S. 
foreign policy.
  I will speak for myself, but I left that briefing with genuine 
concern. There is still, in my judgment, no definitive consensus 
strategy--weeks after withdrawal--to prevent the resurgence of ISIS and 
ensure the promotion of U.S. national security interests in the region.
  This is why Congress must reclaim its authority to conduct oversight 
over this administration's unilateral policymaking, which only makes 
America less safe. The administration's failure to consult with 
Congress on its plans in Syria, its support for Saudi Arabia's campaign 
in Yemen, and its incendiary actions toward Iran over the last year 
alone--all of that raises the need for Congress to debate and to vote 
on an updated authorization for the use of military force, and I will 
say authorizations, plural. We likely need more than one.
  If the President is truly serious about ending U.S. involvement in 
``endless wars,'' he should work with the Congress to repeal the 2001 
AUMF, which is out of date, and pass an updated authorization that 
addresses the threats we face today. We must not only ensure that 
Congress asserts its constitutionally enabled warmaking authority but 
also that we thoroughly consider the consequences before sending brave 
men and women into harm's way.
  The President's plan to secure oilfields in northeastern Syria is 
misguided and obtuse. Experts agree that many of these oilfields are 
already under Kurdish control, and the Kurds have not asked for U.S. 
support in protecting them. Leaving behind a ``small'' U.S. force would 
likely be an ineffective and insufficient gesture after our radical 
betrayal of Kurdish allies.
  This administration must formulate a coherent strategy for a path 
forward in Syria that goes beyond oilfields and encompasses civilian 
protection, humanitarian support, and the prevention of the resurgence 
of ISIS.
  Looking ahead, the U.S. goals must focus on three elements: No. 1, 
preventing the resurgence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria; No. 2, holding 
Turkey accountable for its war crimes and human rights violations 
against the Kurds; and No. 3, accomplishing both by keeping the 64-
nation Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS intact.
  Our allies are the keys to any hope of success here. However, working 
with allies and coalition partners is exceedingly more difficult due to 
the President's reckless actions of late and his constant denigration 
of U.S. allies.

[[Page S6432]]

  Ambassador Jeffrey and former Special Envoy Brett McGurk's efforts to 
build and maintain the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS are the primary 
reason we were able to convene allies, build and leverage relationships 
on the ground, and mobilize resources to reclaim territory from ISIS 
through Iraq and Syria.
  Finally, I reiterate my call on the majority leader to allow for a 
debate and a vote on an updated authorization for the use of military 
force--and I would say that again, plural--for Iraq and also for 
Afghanistan. I also call upon the administration to present a clear 
path forward for U.S. engagement with Syria and Iran.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
an article from the New York Times International, dated October 13, 
2019.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From the New York Times, Oct. 13, 2019]

       12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia.

                 (By Evan Hill and Christiaan Triebert)

       The Russian Air Force has repeatedly bombed hospitals in 
     Syria in order to crush the last pockets of resistance to 
     President Bashar al-Assad, according to an investigation by 
     The New York Times.
       An analysis of previously unpublished Russian Air Force 
     radio recordings, plane spotter logs and witness accounts 
     allowed The Times to trace bombings of four hospitals in just 
     12 hours in May and tie Russian pilots to each one.
       The 12-hour period beginning on May 5 represents a small 
     slice of the air war in Syria, but it is a microcosm of 
     Russia's four-year military intervention in Syria's civil 
     war. A new front in the conflict opened this week, when 
     Turkish forces crossed the border as part of a campaign 
     against a Kurdish-led militia.
       Russia has long been accused of carrying out systematic 
     attacks against hospitals and clinics in rebel-held areas as 
     part of a strategy to help Mr. Assad secure victory in the 
     eight-year-old war.
       Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group that tracks 
     attacks on medical workers in Syria, has documented at least 
     583 such attacks since 2011, 266 of them since Russia 
     intervened in September 2015. At least 916 medical workers 
     have been killed since 2011.
       The Times assembled a large body of evidence to analyze the 
     hospital bombings on May 5 and 6.
       Social media posts from Syria, interviews with witnesses, 
     and records from charities that supported the four hospitals 
     provided the approximate time of each strike. The Times 
     obtained logs kept by flight spotters on the ground who warn 
     civilians about incoming airstrikes and crosschecked the time 
     of each strike to confirm that Russian warplanes were 
     overhead. We then listened to and deciphered thousands of 
     Russian Air Force radio transmissions, which recorded months' 
     worth of pilot activities in the skies above northwestern 
     Syria. The recordings were provided to The Times by a network 
     of observers who insisted on anonymity for their safety.
       The spotter logs from May 5 and 6 put Russian pilots above 
     each hospital at the time they were struck, and the Air Force 
     audio recordings from that day feature Russian pilots 
     confirming each bombing. Videos obtained from witnesses and 
     verified by The Times confirmed three of the strikes.
       Recklessly or intentionally bombing hospitals is a war 
     crime, but proving culpability amid a complex civil war is 
     extremely difficult, and until now, Syrian medical workers 
     and human rights groups lacked proof.
       Russia's position as a permanent member of the United 
     Nations Security Council has shielded it from scrutiny and 
     made United Nations agencies reluctant to accuse the Russian 
     Air Force of responsibility.
       ``The attacks on health in Syria, as well as the 
     indiscriminate bombing of civilian facilities, are definitely 
     war crimes, and they should be prosecuted at the level of the 
     International Criminal Court in The Hague,'' said Susannah 
     Sirkin, director of policy at Physicians for Human Rights. 
     But Russia and China ``shamefully'' vetoed a Security Council 
     resolution that would have referred those and other crimes in 
     Syria to the court, she said.
       The Russian government did not directly respond to 
     questions about the four hospital bombings. Instead, a 
     Foreign Ministry spokesman pointed to past statements saying 
     that the Russian Air Force carries out precision strikes only 
     on ``accurately researched targets.''
       The United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, 
     opened an investigation into the hospital bombings in August. 
     The investigation, still going on, is meant in part to 
     determine why hospitals that voluntarily added their 
     locations to a United Nations-sponsored deconfliction list, 
     which was provided to Russia and other combatants to prevent 
     them from being attacked, nevertheless came under attack.
       Syrian health care workers said they believed that the 
     United Nations list actually became a target menu for the 
     Russian and Syrian air forces.
       Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the secretary general, 
     said in September that the investigation--an internal board 
     of inquiry--would not produce a public report or identify 
     ``legal responsibility.'' Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian 
     permanent representative to the United Nations, cast doubt on 
     the process shortly after it was announced, saying he hoped 
     the inquiry would not investigate perpetrators but rather 
     what he said was the United Nations' use of false information 
     in its deconfliction process.
       From April 29 to mid-September, as Russian and Syrian 
     government forces assaulted the last rebel pocket in the 
     northwest, 54 hospitals and clinics in opposition territory 
     were attacked, the United Nations human rights office said. 
     At least seven had tried to protect themselves by adding 
     their location to the deconfliction list, according to the 
     World Health Organization.
       On May 5 and 6, Russia attacked four. All were on the list.
       The first was Nabad al Hayat Surgical Hospital, a major 
     underground trauma center in southern Idlib Province serving 
     about 200,000 people. The hospital performed on average 
     around 500 operations and saw more than 5,000 patients a 
     month, according to Syria Relief and Development, the United 
     States-based charity that supported it.
       Nabad al Hayat had been attacked three times since it 
     opened in 2013 and had recently relocated to an underground 
     complex on agricultural land, hoping to be protected from 
     airstrikes.
       At 2:32 p.m. on May 5, a Russian ground control officer can 
     be heard in an Air Force transmission providing a pilot with 
     a longitude and latitude that correspond to Nabad al Hayat's 
     exact location.
       At 2:38 p.m., the pilot reports that he can see the target 
     and has the ``correction,'' code for locking the target on a 
     screen in his cockpit. Ground control responds with the green 
     light for the strike, saying, ``Three sevens.''
       At the same moment, a flight spotter on the ground logs a 
     Russian jet circling in the area.
       At 2:40 p.m., the same time the charity said that Nabad al 
     Hayat was struck, the pilot confirms the release of his 
     weapons, saying, ``Worked it.'' Seconds later, local 
     journalists filming the hospital in anticipation of an attack 
     record three precision bombs penetrating the roof of the 
     hospital and blowing it out from the inside in geysers of 
     dirt and concrete.
       The staff of Nabad al Hayat had evacuated three days 
     earlier after receiving warnings and anticipating a bombing, 
     but Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital, three miles northwest, was 
     not as lucky.
       A doctor who worked there said that the hospital was struck 
     four times, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The strikes landed about 
     five minutes apart, without warning, he said, killing a man 
     who was standing outside and forcing patients and members of 
     the medical staff to use oxygen tanks to breathe through the 
     choking dust.
       A spotter logged a Russian jet circling above at the time 
     of the strike, and in another Russian Air Force transmission, 
     a pilot reports that he has ``worked'' his target at 5:30 
     p.m., the time of the strike. He then reports three more 
     strikes, each about five minutes apart, matching the doctor's 
     chronology.
       Russian pilots bombed two other hospitals in the same 12-
     hour span: Kafr Zita Cave Hospital and Al Amal Orthopedic 
     Hospital. In both cases, spotters recorded Russian Air Force 
     jets in the skies at the time of the strike, and Russian 
     pilots can be heard in radio transmissions ``working'' their 
     targets at the times the strikes were reported.
       Since May 5, at least two dozen hospitals and clinics in 
     the rebel-held northwest have been hit by airstrikes. Syrian 
     medical workers said they expected hospital bombings to 
     continue, given the inability of the United Nations and other 
     countries to find a way to hold Russia to account.
       ``The argument by the Russians or the regime is always that 
     hospitals are run by terrorists,'' said Nabad al Hayat's head 
     nurse, who asked to remain anonymous because he feared being 
     targeted. ``Is it really possible that all the people are 
     terrorists?''
       ``The truth is that after hospitals are hit, and in areas 
     like this where there is just one hospital, our houses have 
     become hospitals.''


                             Climate Change

  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I am going to turn to another matter of 
importance for U.S. national security, and that is climate change. 
Climate change is the most significant challenge our world faces right 
now, transcending borders and affecting every aspect of our lives.
  Climate change is a threat to human life. It is caused by human 
activity, and we must confront it. Our Nation has a moral imperative to 
protect the Earth, God's creation, and the people living on that Earth, 
particularly children whose health and well-being will be affected--I 
would say adversely affected--by climate change in incomprehensible 
ways.
  For far too long we have discussed climate change, food insecurity, 
and political stability in separate silos. However, these issues are 
inextricably

[[Page S6433]]

linked, and we must apply an integrated approach to ensuring that 
global food supply keeps pace with population growth amidst a 
continuing trend of climate change in a way that promotes stable, 
transparent democratic societies around the world.
  The late Senator Dick Lugar from the State of Indiana asked me to 
work with him to introduce the Global Food Security Act way back in the 
2007-2008 time period. At that time, Senator Lugar wanted to try to 
pass legislation that would authorize USAID's Feed the Future Program. 
Senator Johnny Isakson was a steadfast partner in actually passing the 
Global Food Security Act. We passed that legislation years after 
Senator Lugar and I were starting the work.
  The Global Food Security Act is empowering the USAID to develop a 
more integrated, interagency approach to food security across 
agricultural value chains and expanding farmers' access to local and 
international markets through the Feed the Future Program.
  We, as a body, must continue to advocate for the next generation of 
agricultural policy: Promote sustainable agriculture that will be able 
to keep pace with growing global demand, population growth, and climate 
change.
  As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and 
Forestry, I am increasingly concerned about our ability to keep pace 
with agricultural production as global population grows. The global 
population is expected to grow from 7.7 billion to 10 billion by 2050, 
and with that, demand for meat and dairy could increase between 59 and 
98 percent, according to Columbia University's Earth Institute.
  The impact of climate change on food systems across the globe will be 
almost incomprehensible, but perhaps nowhere larger than Sub-Saharan 
Africa. Now, 90 percent of the region's cropland, meaning Sub-Saharan 
Africa--90 percent of that region's cropland is expected to see yield 
losses of up to 40 percent--90 percent seeing yield losses of up to 40 
percent.
  We face some of the same challenges here at home, and we are working 
to help farmers adapt to these pressures while also being part of the 
solution through climate-friendly agricultural policies.
  While we have made advances in recent decades, we still have high 
rates of undernourishment and child stunting around the world. The 
number of chronically hungry people around the world has increased 
today to 821 million people, representing one out of every nine people 
on the planet, many of whom are women and children. I will say that 
again. The number of chronically hungry people around the world has 
increased to one in every nine people on the planet.
  The number of children under 5 affected by stunting has decreased by 
10 percent in the past 6 years. That is a little bit of good news, but 
149 million children are still stunted. This pace is too slow to meet 
our United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to cut stunting in half 
by 2030--just 11 years away.
  Our own intelligence community has linked global food insecurity to 
instability, which can lead to a rise in violent extremism and 
international crime that will affect the United States. In January 
2014, the worldwide threat assessment of the U.S. intelligence 
community reported that ``lack of adequate food will be a destabilizing 
factor in countries important to [U.S.] national security.''
  The ``2010 Quadrennial Defense Review'' marked a turning point in how 
the United States grappled with the issue of climate change. For the 
first time, in 2010, climate change was cited as a ``threat 
multiplier'' by the Department of Defense, noting ``the impacts of 
climate change may increase the frequency, scale, and complexity of 
future missions.''
  From Syria to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, but also in urban 
upheaval in Sudan, we see the impacts of environmental stress and high 
food prices on political stability in regions vital to U.S. national 
security interests.
  This brings me to political stability. According to the U.S. Global 
Food Security Strategy, food insecurity exacerbated by climate change 
will contribute to ``social disruptions and political instability. . . 
. Projections indicate that more than two-thirds of the world's poor 
could be living in fragile countries, where state-society relations are 
already strained, by 2030.''
  When societies break down because governments are unable to provide 
resilient infrastructure against climate events, as well as protect 
local markets from vulnerabilities due to climate events, trust in 
institutions erodes and nations are ripe for conflict. If we permit 
climate change to proceed without aggressive action, investment, and 
coordination with partners around the world, we are not only allowing 
millions around the world to suffer extreme hunger resulting from 
climate-related disasters, but we are also allowing conditions for the 
rise of extremism and the breakdown of democratic institutions to 
foment unchecked.
  For millions of people across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 
climate change means more frequent and intense floods, droughts, and 
storms, accounting each year for up to 90 percent of all natural 
disasters. These disasters can quickly spiral into full-blown food and 
nutrition crises.
  I will wrap up with this: As we look to the hard work of 
congressional oversight over the Feed the Future Program, I am pleased 
that USAID has already begun to bridge its emergency humanitarian 
programming with its longer term development efforts to build 
resilience for communities affected by conflict and climate change.
  The United States cannot do this alone. We need to work together on a 
global scale not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also to 
mitigate economic risk and ensure that agricultural and food supply 
chains can withstand climate events. This administration's decision to 
withdraw from the Paris climate agreement was a huge blow to U.S. 
leadership in climate policy. I and many Members of Congress and 
individuals throughout the U.S. Government, along with our State and 
local government partners, as well as leaders in the business community 
across the United States, will continue to fight for policies that 
bring the United States in line with its Paris goals, ensuring we are 
doing our part to address this global threat to human life.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.


                         Judicial Confirmations

  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I come to the floor to talk about the 
work we have been doing in the Senate this week and the work we have 
been doing in the Senate the last 3 years, and that is the work of 
confirming a record number of judicial nominees.
  I want to specifically focus on our record on circuit court judges. 
As you know, these are the courts just one layer below the Supreme 
Court, and their decisions have enormous consequences for the country. 
We have confirmed 45 highly qualified circuit court judges. We have 
done it across all 12 appeals courts nationwide. These judges will 
decide 99 percent of the Federal cases in America.
  President Trump has nominated each of these judges. Senate 
Republicans confirmed each of these judges. These judges now hold a 
full one-quarter--one out of every four--circuit court seats in 
America. All of these judges have lifetime appointments. These circuit 
court judges are ruling right now, and they are doing it on major cases 
all across the country.
  How are they making a difference in people's lives? No. 1, by 
protecting Americans' constitutional rights, by upholding our 
individual freedoms, by putting a check on government power, and above 
all, these judges are applying the law as written, not legislating from 
the bench.
  Based on the 45 circuit court judges we have seated and the judges we 
will continue to seat, Senate Republicans have delivered conservative 
judges who will serve our Nation for decades to come.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. WICKER. 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. WICKER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.

[[Page S6434]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                              Veterans Day

  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, I am wearing a pin on my right lapel that 
was presented to me by some folks today who appreciate veterans, and I 
appreciate being recognized.
  I am a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve. I retired 
from that organization, and I appreciate their coming to put an extra 
pin on me today.
  We will celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, and I will be making 
speeches. Hopefully, many of us will be properly recognizing those of 
us who have worn the uniform and taken the oath and are serving in that 
respect.
  Today I want to talk about another group of folks, and those are the 
future veterans. By that, of course, I mean the soldiers, sailors, 
airmen, marines, and servicemembers who are serving their country now 
on Active Duty. I make a plea to my colleagues on both sides of the 
aisle, at both ends of this building, to get our work done at least for 
national security.
  We are at a time of heightened politics. There are tensions in this 
building as there often have been, but at this critical juncture, with 
so much at stake around the world, it seems to me we ought to be able 
to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, of which the 
distinguished chairman, Chairman Inhofe, and his ranking member, 
Senator Reed from Rhode Island, have prepared and are ready to go on. 
It seems we ought to be able to come to an agreement with the other 
body and get that to the President for his signature.
  We are now 5 weeks into the current fiscal year, and we don't have an 
appropriations bill done for the Department of Defense. We have to have 
the authorization act, which I mentioned, but at the beginning of 
October, we are supposed to have the government funded, and we don't.
  We are under a continuing resolution, a CR, and it sounds so 
harmless, like we are just continuing the funding until we get all the 
numbers right. That is not true. Every defense expert in the 
government--formally in the government and outside of the government--
will tell you that a continuing resolution is harmful to our Nation's 
defense. It not only sends the wrong signal, it has us sending money in 
the wrong direction and has us not spending money where we need to 
spend it.
  At the end of this month, when the current CR ends, we need to be 
ready with a permanent appropriations bill for the Department of 
Defense for this current fiscal year. Just think of what we are looking 
at right now. Iran is the largest State sponsor of terror, and it is on 
the warpath. Iran knocked out the world's largest oil facility in Saudi 
Arabia just a couple of months ago and is attacking tankers in the 
gulf. This is no time to not have a permanent appropriations bill for 
this fiscal year. Vladimir Putin's Russia is in a shooting war against 
our partners in Ukraine. The Communist Government of China is 
brutalizing its own people on the streets of Hong Kong violating the 
``one nation, two systems'' policy.
  That is not the half of it. The Chinese dictator, Xi Jinping, is not 
keeping his repressive ambitions at home as we know from what is going 
on in the Pacific. As my friend, the chairman of the full Armed 
Services Committee, pointed out, the People's Republic of China has 
increased military spending by 83 percent. China has increased military 
spending by 83 percent over the last decade at a time when we can't 
even agree on the funding for the current fiscal year we are in. That 
sends a signal around the world. You best believe Xi Jinping knows we 
can't get our act together through a funding bill.
  Now my hat is off to the leaders, both Republican and Democratic, in 
this body who have done their job and are ready to go forward with the 
funding bill, but we need to join hands and actually get it done. For 
some reason, we have not been able to do that. I am begging my 
colleagues, let's fund our military, and let's fund these future 
veterans who are serving on Active Duty right now. The current 
continuing resolution is doing real damage to our national security. It 
is harming the progress we have already made to rebuild our military 
since the sequester--and wasn't that a disaster. It is harming our 
military men and women and making it harder for them to do their jobs 
going forward.
  I want to quote General Mattis, former Secretary Mattis, who said 
this, as Secretary, about continuing resolutions:

       It's not like we even maintain the status quo if we go into 
     one of these situations yet again. We actually lose ground.

  I urge my fellow colleagues in the Senate and in the other body to 
heed the words of this great military leader. We are losing ground 
today, November 6, 2019, because we are under a CR. We have seen it 
before, and unfortunately we are losing money and losing readiness 
right now. Extending the CR any further will harm military personnel in 
every branch. The Air Force is short 2,100 pilots. Keeping the CR going 
would cut $123 million from undergraduate pilot training.
  Under a continuation of the CR further than the end of this month, 
naval training will be scaled back dramatically. We will not be able to 
fix dangerous housing that we have had hearings about and there has 
been a scandal about in the press. We will not be able to attend to 
that because we are working under a continuation of last year's old-
fashioned numbers. Vital research and development programs will go 
unbegun. Not only that, keeping a CR going not only doesn't save money, 
it actually costs us money because we are spending dollars on programs 
we have decided not to be involved in anymore. We want to move in a 
different direction. The House and Senate leaders have decided to do 
that, the Members of the Pentagon have decided to do that, but under 
the CR we are forced to keep spending money on programs we don't need 
anymore.
  According to General Martin, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, delays 
and misallocated funds cost $7 billion every month, and that is just 
for the Army.
  We have an opportunity to correct this, or we have an opportunity to 
waste another $20 billion on a yearlong CR. I am urging the American 
public to make it known to those of us at Veterans Day programs this 
weekend and next week. I am urging my colleagues to stress this when 
they talk to the public.
  There are appropriations bills that are not yet worked out, but for 
heaven's sake, let's at least do the bill that pays the troops and 
sends a signal to the rest of the world in these trying times that we 
are at least going to fund our Defense Department and our future 
veterans who are on Active Duty and who have taken the oath today and 
that we will do them in a modern and timely fashion. We are 5 weeks 
late. Let's not make it another 5 weeks after this and another 5 months 
after that.
  Pass a full-funding appropriations bill for our troops, for the 
Department of Defense, and give them the type of representation and 
government that they deserve based upon their worthy service.
  I yield the floor.

                          ____________________