EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 178
(Senate - November 07, 2019)

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[Pages S6454-S6460]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Lee 
Philip Rudofsky, of Arkansas, to be United States District Judge for 
the Eastern District of Arkansas.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I suggest the absence of a quorum.

[[Page S6455]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, Senate Democrats had hoped to work with 
our Republican colleagues this year on a fully bipartisan process. It 
got off to a great start when the four congressional leaders reached a 
budget deal over the summer, but it quickly went awry.
  Senate Republicans departed from the bipartisan process by 
unilaterally proposing their own allocations to the various agencies. 
This was not part of the agreement. This was not in the spirit or 
concept of the agreement. It was always, when we agreed, that we would 
work out the 302(b) allocations. Instead, the Republicans went ahead, 
unilaterally, and they proposed moving $12 billion--$12 billion--from 
critical health programs and military families to pay for the 
President's border wall, and that was way out of bounds.
  The Republican leader has accused Democrats, myself included, of 
breaking our budget deal by not going along with these very partisan 
bills. He knows--and every Member of this Chamber, Democrat and 
Republican, knows well--that Democrats are not going to support a 
unilateral move by the Republicans to take $12 billion away from 
military families, education, opioids, and NIH and put it into the 
President's vanity, partisan wall. So, until Republicans get serious 
about negotiating a bipartisan way forward, the partisan appropriation 
bills are all we have and they cannot move forward.
  Now, in the last few days, after conversations that I had with Leader 
McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy, we are seeing some 
positive signs that we can get the process back on track. This month, 
Democrats and Republicans worked through a package of bipartisan 
appropriation bills on the floor with few issues. Now, as we speak, 
both parties, both sides--Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate 
appropriators--have started talking again about restarting the good-
faith negotiations on the remaining bills.
  We hope this moves forward in a bipartisan way. Each side has to 
agree. I will repeat my view. If President Trump stays out of it, we 
will come to an agreement. If President Trump messes in, if the 
Republican leader feels so in obeisance to Donald Trump, who doesn't 
have any concept of how to get things done around here, then we will 
not get it done, and we may have a second Trump shutdown with the 
leader going along, which will not succeed. It will not succeed in 
getting them what they want.
  So I hope that with a little effort and compromise, we in Congress 
can find a way forward on appropriations by working together.


  Mr. President, on the whistleblower, yesterday, the House 
Intelligence Committee announced the schedule for its first week of 
public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry, including testimony 
from the current and former top U.S. diplomats in Ukraine. These public 
hearings are a reminder that the whistleblower's account has already 
been corroborated many times over by officials with firsthand knowledge 
of the situation.
  Yet there remains a searing focus by the President and one Member of 
this Chamber on the whistleblower. Even though his or her account has 
been verified by other sources, the White House and, most particularly, 
the junior Senator from Kentucky, seem committed to discrediting the 
whistleblower, disclosing the whistleblower's identity, and turning the 
rightwing media machine on this person--and they can be vicious.
  The junior Senator from Kentucky went so far as to block a simple 
resolution from my friend the Senator from Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, that 
would have reconfirmed the Senate's support for whistleblower 
protection laws--laws that have been on the books for a very long time.
  The whole concept started with the Continental Congress, even before 
the Constitution. We are going down a dangerous road when Members of 
this body are refusing to stand up for our Nation's laws, particularly 
those laws that enforce the rule of law and make sure our government is 
doing what the people want.
  These attempts to expose the whistleblower are unfortunately not the 
only example of how a few of my colleagues are taking the defense of 
this President too far. It seems that with each coming week, sometimes 
each coming day, the President's allies in Congress come up with a new 
tortured defense of his actions. House Republicans have gone from 
attacking the process because it was closed to attacking it because it 
was opened. They have gone from insisting on ``no quid pro quo'' to 
saying ``maybe quid pro quo but who cares?''
  Here in the Senate, we heard a new one from the chairman of the 
Judiciary Committee, who said the Trump policy on Ukraine was so 
``incoherent'' that the administration was ``incapable of performing a 
quid pro quo.'' That is a good one. Seriously, he said that. They are 
reaching. They are reaching as far as they can because they know that 
the facts--at least as we have heard from the House; we will wait until 
they come over here, if they do--that the facts about what the 
President did are so damning.
  There was even a Member of this Chamber who went so far as to insult 
the Speaker's intelligence at a political rally--a childish and nasty 
smear that is far out of bounds.
  Nobody is happy about the fact that the House is examining the 
potential impeachment of a President. It has always been a sad and 
somber process. But there is no excuse for jumping to conclusions, 
advocating for lawbreaking, or resorting to nasty insults. This is a 
time when we must check partisanship at the door, study the facts in 
the case, and make our own independent judgments. That is our duty. I 
will remind all of our colleagues that history will one day judge 
whether or not we lived up to it.

                           President Erdogan

  Mr. President, on ISIS, next week President Trump will welcome 
Turkish President Erdogan to the White House. Frankly, it is 
confounding that President Trump is rolling out the welcome mat to an 
autocrat whose recent actions have threatened our allies and partners.
  For over 5 years, American and coalition troops, including our Syrian 
Kurdish partners, worked shoulder to shoulder in northern Syria to 
bring ISIS to the brink of defeat. But after the President's calamitous 
decision to green-light Erdogan's military operation and precipitously 
withdraw American troops, Turkish forces and their proxies have 
advanced far into northern Syria, committing atrocities without 
accountability. It is a shameful betrayal of our Syrian Kurdish 
partners, and it has thrown our efforts to defeat ISIS into chaos. At 
least 100 ISIS detainees have reportedly broken out of prison and 
disappeared, and they could be very dangerous to us in our homeland.
  While we are glad that terrorists like al-Baghdadi have been taken 
off the field, a fundamental question remains: What is the 
administration's plan to secure and defeat ISIS?
  It is unacceptable that a month into this crisis, the President has 
chosen to welcome Erdogan to American soil before explaining to 
Congress his plan to defeat ISIS. So ahead of Erdogan's arrival next 
week, I and several of my Democratic colleagues are sending a letter to 
President Trump demanding that he submit to Congress a comprehensive 
plan to secure the enduring defeat of ISIS.
  There are questions that need to be answered immediately. How many 
ISIS members have been accounted for in the wake of our withdrawal? How 
are we going to stabilize former ISIS territory? What training will we 
give to the forces on the ground to continue fighting ISIS? These 
questions need to be answered at once. They are far more urgent than 
welcoming an autocrat who just bullied the President into giving him 
everything that this autocrat wanted.

                    Nomination of Steven J. Menashi

  Mr. President, finally, on Mr. Menashi, in a few minutes--maybe as of 
now--the Judiciary Committee will be holding a vote on a nominee who is 
dangerously unfit to serve on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of 

[[Page S6456]]

Steven Menashi of New York. His nomination should not be allowed to 
  Mr. Menashi has a very troubling record on race, women's equality, 
LGBTG rights, and the rights of immigrants. His conduct before the 
Judiciary Committee was insulting, his contempt for the Senate 
reprehensible, and his refusal to be forthcoming about his record is 
outright disqualifying.
  But if members of the committee needed any more evidence to vote 
against Menashi's nomination, they should read this morning's New York 
Times. The headline reads ``Appeals Court Nominee Shaped DeVos's 
Illegal Loan Forgiveness Effort.'' The Times reports that during Mr. 
Menashi's tenure working with Secretary DeVos at the Department of 
Education, he played a leading role in designing an illegal effort to 
deny debt relief to thousands of students swindled by for-profit 
  Let me repeat. Mr. Menashi concocted a plan to illegally use the 
private Social Security data of defrauded student borrowers to deny 
them debt forgiveness after they were preyed upon by for-profit 
schools. A Federal judge ruled that these efforts violated privacy 
  This is someone the President wants us to make an appellate court 
judge? A judge is supposed to uphold the law, interpret the law, and 
have a reverence for the law, not someone who schemes to break the law, 
as Mr. Menashi did.
  Mr. Menashi's nomination is an embarrassment to this country. It is 
an insult to millions of hard-working young Americans saddled with 
student debt. It is an insult to women and LGBTQ Americans, to African 
Americans and immigrants, and to everyone who believes in the rule of 
  If anyone has not earned the privilege of a lifetime appointment to 
the bench, it is Mr. Menashi. I urge every Member of the Judiciary 
Committee to vote against his nomination.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.

                         Defense Appropriations

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, on Tuesday morning, I visited with 
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. We talked about the military's needs 
and national security priorities, and we talked about the fact that 
more than a month into the new fiscal year, Congress still hasn't 
funded the military for fiscal year 2020. We shouldn't have needed to 
talk about that. We should have passed the Defense appropriations bill 
for 2020 weeks ago, but Democrats won't let us.
  Last week, Democrats blocked consideration of the 2020 Defense 
appropriations bill for the second time. Apparently they have every 
intention of continuing to block military funding. This is politics at 
its worst. And make no mistake--this is politics. A couple of months 
ago, Democrats and Republicans got together and agreed on defense and 
nondefense funding levels for 2020 and 2021. The idea was to pave the 
way for the passage of appropriations bills in a timely fashion. It 
seemed for a moment that despite Democrats' fixation on partisan 
politics and impeachment, we could actually go about funding the 
government and the military in a somewhat bipartisan fashion, but 
apparently that was too much to ask of the Senate Democrats. Senate 
Democrats are currently running from the agreement, attempting to 
derail the defense funding bill with poison pills that would prevent 
the bill from ever being enacted into law.
  Funding our military should be the first priority of every Member of 
Congress. The safety of our country depends on the strength of our 
military. If we don't get national security right, the rest is 
conversation. Getting national security right means making sure our 
military is adequately funded, making sure we are funding the needs of 
the current military and preparing for future priorities. It should go 
without saying that an essential part of this responsibility is getting 
that funding passed in a timely fashion.
  Right now, since we haven't passed the 2020 funding bill, the 
military is operating under a continuing resolution that maintains 
funding levels from last year. There are multiple problems with that.
  In the first place, the military is operating without all the funding 
it needs. For example, the Pentagon can't fully support the pay 
increase military members should be getting.
  In addition, the continuing resolution prevents the military from 
starting key projects that will help ensure our men and women in 
uniform are prepared to meet the threats of the future. The Pentagon 
can't start new procurement projects. New research and development 
initiatives that keep us a step ahead of our adversaries are put on 
  All told, under a continuing resolution, the military's purchasing 
power is reduced by roughly $5 billion each quarter. Five billion 
dollars each quarter that we continue to operate under a continuing 
resolution is the amount of purchasing power that is lost to our 
military to meet their critical priorities. To put that in perspective, 
that is the equivalent of losing out on about 56 F-35 Joint Strike 
Fighter planes, depending on the variant, every 3 months; or nearly 2 
complete Virginia-class attack submarines, like the recently 
commissioned USS South Dakota; or about 5,000 Joint Air-to-Surface 
Standoff Missiles, like those used to clean up the site of the Baghdadi 
raid or strike Syrian chemical weapons facilities in 2018. That $5 
billion isn't spare change; it is funding for critical military 
  In November of 2018, the bipartisan National Defense Strategy 
Commission released a report warning that our readiness had eroded to 
the point where we might struggle to win a war against a major power, 
like Russia or China. That is a dangerous situation for our country to 
be in, and we need to keep working to rebuild our military. That starts 
with making sure our military is fully funded in a timely fashion.
  On the floor last week, I noted that Democrats would like us to 
believe that they are serious about legislating and that their years-
long obsession with impeaching the President isn't distracting them 
from doing their job. After the Democrats' defense filibuster last 
week, it is becoming clear that the Democrats are incapable of putting 
anything ahead of partisan politics, including the safety of our 
country and the well-being of our military.
  It is particularly ironic that the Democrats are blocking this 
defense funding bill, which would provide $250 million in assistance to 
Ukraine, at the same time they are trying to impeach the President for 
allegedly delaying Ukraine funding. Think about that.
  It is hard to know what to say to my Democrat colleagues. It should 
not be this hard to convince them that funding our military is more 
important than scoring points against the President.
  I hope the leader will continue to bring up the defense funding bill 
and that enough of my Democratic colleagues will decide to join us in 
getting this funding to our military. It is the very least we can do 
for the men and women who spend every day working to keep us safe.

                              Veterans Day

  Mr. President, Veterans Day is coming up on Monday, and our Nation 
will pause to remember all those who have served in our military. I 
will be calling my dad, who will be 100 in December--a World War II vet 
who flew Hellcats in the Pacific--to thank him again for his service.
  As a U.S. Senator, I have had the privilege of meeting many 
veterans--men and women who decided they were willing to lay down their 
lives if necessary to ensure that their families, communities, and 
fellow countrymen could enjoy the blessings of freedom. Members of the 
military give up a lot for us. They forgo physical comforts and embrace 
  They accept long deployments and days of duty that start before dawn 
or stretch long into the night. They accept the fact that they will 
miss Thanksgivings and birthdays and Christmases, first steps and first 
days of kindergarten, date nights and little league games, and family 
reunions. They shoulder the burden of facing evil head-on so that the 
rest of us will never have to. And many of them bear the scars--the 
physical wounds and the invisible wounds--that war can also leave.
  We enjoy tremendous blessings, and we are used to them. We are used 
to waking up in safety. We are used to going about our days in safety. 
We are used to voting in safety, attending church in safety, reading 
the newspaper in safety, expressing political

[[Page S6457]]

opinions in safety. It can be too easy to forget that we enjoy these 
tremendous blessings because men and women have been willing to go out 
and put their lives on the line for them.
  Veterans Day is a chance to remind ourselves--to remember that we 
live in peace and freedom every day because men and women were willing 
to answer the call to serve our country. We owe our veterans a debt we 
can never repay. Yet we can make sure that we never forget what they 
have done for us, and we can resolve to lead the kinds of lives that 
make us worthy of their sacrifice.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.

                          Judicial Nominations

  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I am here to once again shine a spotlight 
on Senate Republicans' unwavering support for President Trump's efforts 
to remake the Federal judiciary and to make clear how this is going to 
hurt families, women, and communities in Washington State and across 
our Nation.
  I have come here before to call out Senate Republicans for 
rubberstamping this President's judicial nominees--many of whom have no 
business sitting on the Federal bench--and for gutting precedent and 
norms to allow this President to jam-pack our courts with his hard-
right, ideological picks from Neil Gorsuch to Brett Kavanaugh and down 
the line.
  In fact, earlier this week, the majority leader pointed out how 
Senate Republicans have cleared the way on the floor for the Senate to 
take up even more Trump judges by poisoning the appropriations process 
and generally turning the Senate into a legislative graveyard. Led by 
the majority leader, Senate Republicans have ignored the standards we 
have held for decades when considering judicial nominees and opened the 
door to people who lack even the most basic qualifications to sit on 
the Federal bench.
  For starters, today the Senate is slated to take up the nomination of 
Lee Rudofsky for Arkansas' Eastern District. Mr. Rudofsky has a long 
history in Arkansas of working to deny women access to reproductive 
healthcare. He defended Arkansas' law that would ban abortion at 12 
weeks as an ``ideal vehicle'' for the Supreme Court to ``reevaluate'' 
and ``overturn'' Roe v. Wade. On top of that, Mr. Rudofsky has also 
previously argued in favor of efforts to cut off Medicaid funding to 
Planned Parenthood. He defended a State law that could have resulted in 
the closure of every reproductive healthcare clinic that provides 
abortions in the State, and he has worked against hard-fought progress 
for equality for LGBTQIA people.
  Does that sound like a judge who is going to protect the rights of 
women and others and who will put aside his own partisan notions to 
ensure equal protection under our laws for everyone? It does not.
  Take Sarah Pitlyk, whom President Trump has nominated to a district 
court in Missouri. Missouri is reeling from this administration's 
repeated attacks on women's healthcare and reproductive health where 
there is currently only one clinic in the entire State that can perform 
abortions. Ms. Pitlyk has worked throughout her career to limit access 
to a wide array of reproductive healthcare services, not just 
abortions. She has expressed opposition to surrogacy, in vitro 
fertilization, and even the use of contraception. To be more explicit, 
she called birth control ``evil'' and a ``grave moral wrong''--birth 
control. It is the 21st century, and no matter what the extreme anti-
abortion men in the White House want us to believe, birth control is 
healthcare, full stop. We cannot have judges on the bench who are so 
ideologically driven as to think women are morally wrong for using it.
  Even beyond her rigid ideology, Ms. Pitlyk is also woefully unfit on 
the merits to become a Federal judge. In fact, the American Bar 
Association unanimously determined that Ms. Pitlyk is ``not 
qualified,'' writing that Ms. Pitlyk ``has never tried a case as a lead 
or co-counsel'' and ``has never examined a witness.''
  Does that sound like someone who will uphold the rule of law justly 
and apply the laws of our land fairly--someone rated as ``objectively 
unqualified'' and who has demonstrated no commitment to protecting 
individuals' fundamental rights? Again, unfortunately, the answer is 
  Then there is Steven Menashi, whom President Trump has nominated to 
the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. We know Mr. Menashi has a deeply 
disturbing history of disparaging comments against women, against 
communities of color, against immigrants, and the LGBTQIA community. As 
if his extreme views aren't bad enough, we know that in his role in the 
Office of the General Counsel at the Department of Education, Mr. 
Menashi also worked on Secretary DeVos's cruel rollback of title IX 
protections for survivors of sexual assault and protections for 
students regardless of sex. Under his tenure, Secretary DeVos has moved 
us toward a dangerous system of unaccountability and secrecy where 
LGBTQIA students could be subject to cruel discrimination at school.
  Additionally, I am incredibly concerned about Mr. Menashi's confirmed 
role in being one of the architects of Secretary DeVos's efforts to 
violate the law by undermining protections for student borrowers who 
were cheated by predatory for-profit colleges--students whose rights 
are, at this moment, being undercut by people in our Federal 
Government, such as Mr. Menashi, who should be doing just the opposite.
  People deserve to trust that the women and men who serve as our 
Federal judges will ensure equal protection for all and apply the law 
fairly and without bias.
  I ask again: Considering Mr. Menashi's troubling record of 
undermining critical rights and questions surrounding his involvement 
in Secretary DeVos's shameful efforts to ignore the law, does he sound 
like someone who deserves a lifetime appointment to our Federal bench, 
someone who will uphold our rule of law?
  Confirming judges to our Federal courts is one of our most important 
duties as Senators. It is one that I take very seriously. I am deeply 
disturbed by the harm these individuals, if confirmed, may inflict upon 
women, on families, and some of the most vulnerable members of our 
  Let me be clear about these nominations. Nothing less is at stake 
than the integrity of our judicial system and the future of our 
democracy. We have to maintain the high bar we set for Federal judges, 
and these judges I have mentioned are just three examples of how far we 
have fallen.
  It is not too late. I know my Republican colleagues know what a farce 
this process has become and how supremely unqualified these nominees 
are. I know they are aware of the irreparable harm people like these 
will have on the credibility of our judicial system. That is why we 
have to stop this parade of unqualified, ideologically rigid nominees 
to our Federal judiciary. When it comes to our courts, nothing is more 
important than ensuring we are sustaining a system that people can 
trust--one that upholds our laws, one that seeks justice without bias 
or favor or agenda.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in rejecting Mr. Rudofsky's 
nomination, as well as the nominations of Ms. Pitlyk and Mr. Menashi 
and any nominee offered by President Trump who does not meet our high 
standards, and in returning to a thoughtful, rigorous, bipartisan 
process of selecting only the most qualified judges to a lifetime 
appointment on our Federal courts.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.

                              Veterans Day

  Mr. KAINE. Mr. President, I rise today to say just a word about 
Veterans Day, but then to talk about our Nation's historically Black 
colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions.
  We will celebrate Veterans Day as a nation on Monday, so this will be 
an opportunity to stand as a Member of the Armed Services Committee and 
as a Senator from a very militarily connected State to echo the words 
of Senator Thune from a few minutes ago that we owe a huge debt to our 
  Also, November 10 is the 244th anniversary of the Marine Corps. As a 
father of a U.S. marine, I also want to specifically offer my 
congratulations to the Corps.
  One of the joys of serving in the Senate and being on the Armed 
Services Committee from a State that has the

[[Page S6458]]

military tradition of Virginia is the ability to meet wonderful leaders 
all around my commonwealth, all around the country, and all around the 
globe. For those serving our country, we are in their debt.
  I do want to point out that we are having a debate on the floor over 
the Defense appropriations. The Senator from South Dakota spoke a 
little bit about that. I just want to lay out from the Democratic 
perspective what is at stake. It is not support of the military that is 
at stake. As an Armed Services Committee member, I am devoted to making 
sure we get to the right appropriations level for the Department of 
  What is holding this up is not one party or the other not supporting 
the military. What is holding this up is that Democrats do not approve 
of the practice that has been engaged in by President Trump of 
rummaging through the Defense Department's budget to come up with money 
for a border wall, which our military leadership says is a nonmilitary 
  We do not believe that once Congress appropriates money for a defense 
budget, the President should be able to use an emergency declaration to 
go into the coffers of the Pentagon and cannibalize projects that 
affect our military families to use for the border wall. To the extent 
there is a dispute right now, that is what the dispute is about. It is 
not support for the Defense Department or not; it is whether we should 
allow a rummage sale in the Pentagon budget to fund a border wall.
  If you are going to have a discussion about border wall funding, 
let's do that separately, but let's not cannibalize the Defense 
Department's budget to do it.

                               FUTURE Act

  Mr. President, I said that I want to talk a little bit about our 
historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving 
  Many of my colleagues have been on the floor this week talking about 
a bill called the FUTURE Act, which is bipartisan. It passed from the 
House over to the Senate, fostering undergraduate talent by unlocking 
resources for education. It also has bipartisan support in the Senate. 
I am hoping that because it has bipartisan support, we might be able to 
move forward with it promptly.
  Congress put in place a mandatory funding stream in title III of the 
Higher Education Act to invest in these institutions. Historically 
Black colleges and universities--commonly called HBCUs--Tribal colleges 
and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-
serving institutions help boost educational opportunity for all 
students but especially for students of color. These schools serve a 
disproportionate number of students from low-income families, and 75 
percent of the students at HBCUs and 90 percent of the students at 
Tribal colleges and universities are Pell grant-eligible and receive 
Pell grants. Combined, our minority-serving institutions serve nearly 6 
million students, which is about one-quarter of all undergraduate 
students in the country. The $255 million in annual mandatory funding 
of these institutions accounts for nearly half of all Federal funding 
for these institutions.
  Unfortunately, the mandatory funding expired more than a month ago on 
September 30 because of inaction by the Senate--inaction by the Senate; 
the House has acted--and that jeopardizes the future of these colleges, 
particularly the students they serve.
  The FUTURE Act, which I cosponsored with Senator Doug Jones and 
Senator Tim Scott, extends this mandatory funding for all minority-
serving institutions for 2 years. The bill is bipartisan. The bill has 
the support of the White House. It is fully paid for, and it is budget 
neutral. There are no budget gimmicks involved. Yet we are not able to 
take up the bill for a reason I don't understand.
  Let me talk about HBCUs in Virginia because we have five: Virginia 
Union University, which is in my neighborhood where I live in Richmond; 
Virginia State University in Ettrick, south of Richmond; Hampton 
University in Hampton, VA; Norfolk State in Norfolk; and Virginia 
University of Lynchburg. These five institutions received almost $50 
million in this annual mandated funding over the last 10 years.

  Norfolk State University's president, Dr. Adams-Gaston, said that if 
the FUTURE Act is not passed, ``Norfolk State's educational programs in 
both teacher preparation and the STEM fields will be put at risk at a 
time when we are working to increase diversity in the front of our 
classrooms, and grow the pipeline of diverse STEM graduates to fill the 
jobs of the new economy.''
  Virginia State University uses its funding to keep student-faculty 
ratios low, to provide distance education programs, to support 
curricular updates, faculty training, and technology enhancement, 
especially for social work, computer science, nursing, and education 
degree programs. It also uses the funds to prepare and support students 
to attend graduate or professional schools and to award scholarships to 
deserving students.
  Virginia Union University is in my neighborhood. Yesterday, Jaylynn 
Hodges, who is a junior biology major at Union, was in the Senate. She 
spoke about the impact of title III funds and its impact on her own 
education. Jaylynn wants to pursue a career in medicine, and 
fortunately Virginia Union uses the funds on neuroscience and chemistry 
laboratories, where Jaylynn has been able to develop her technical and 
analytical skills.
  Virginia Union also uses funding for technology resources, workforce 
development programs in STEM and future careers, academic support 
services, such as academic counseling, updates to historic buildings, 
and hiring faculty. Without passing the FUTURE Act, all of these 
programs are in serious jeopardy.
  The HBCUs serve as strong economic drivers and generate significant 
economic returns year after year in Virginia's communities. I have also 
had the good fortune to be on HBCU campuses in Florida, and I know they 
have the same impact within their communities and with students and in 
the entire State as those in Virginia. The UNCF--the United Negro 
College Fund--found that, in Virginia alone, the direct economic impact 
of our five HBCUs is more than $913 million.
  It is not just the impact on the Commonwealth that matters but the 
impact these institutions have on individual students. In one more 
quote, the current student body president at Norfolk State University, 
Linei Woodson, expressed:

       Norfolk State University's supportive and culturally aware 
     learning environment helped me to grow as a leader and put me 
     on a path to success. I would likely not have had these 
     opportunities at other schools. All students regardless of 
     their socio-economic background deserve access to quality 
     higher education and the opportunity to realize their full 

  In closing, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which was named after 
the titanic civil rights leader and Supreme Court Justice--on a 
personal note, I was proud to have Thurgood Marshall's son John 
Marshall serve as my secretary of public safety when I was Governor--
wrote a letter to Senate leadership. It read that even in the week 
since this program expired, which was at the end of September, campuses 
have already notified employees that their positions and programs might 
be terminated as of September 30, 2020, if not sooner. In the letter, 
it is noted: ``These are real jobs, held by people who interact with 
students every day, in programs that play a critical role in graduating 
and retaining students in the STEM fields, among other disciplines.''
  As a former Governor--and the Presiding Officer and I share that 
experience--I know that the budget-creating process begins well in 
advance of the budget's becoming effective. These minority-serving 
institutions, most of which do not have significant endowments, face 
unique fiscal challenges, and they count on this mandatory funding. Any 
uncertainty in the funding creates a significant planning challenge for 
them, and they run the risk of creating a financial nightmare for the 
  Today marks 51 days since the House passed the FUTURE Act 
unanimously--these days, it is hard to act unanimously on things in 
Congress, but this bill passed the House unanimously--and 38 days since 
funding lapsed for the schools in my State and for minority-serving 
institutions across the country. It is time for the Senate to pass the 
bipartisan FUTURE Act and pass it now. I urge my colleagues to join me 
in that endeavor.

[[Page S6459]]

  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Scott of Florida). The clerk will call the 
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection it is so ordered.

                        Prescription Drug Costs

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, the Senator from Connecticut, Mr. 
Blumenthal, and I have come to a floor to offer a unanimous consent on 
a bill called the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act. We are in 
consultation with our colleagues on the other side that have another 
bill that they would also like to offer a unanimous consent request 
for, and we are going to talk and continue the conversation during 
these two upcoming votes to see if we can work out holds on their bill, 
and we certainly would consider to do that.
  But Senator Blumenthal and I do expect to offer a unanimous consent 
on our bill which would lower out-of-pocket costs for prescription 
drugs, which is something I thought we were all for. But working in 
good faith with our colleagues to try to work through these two issues, 
we are going to give it a little bit of time, as long as we can get 
that done before we leave today.
  I will just say there is no agreement to pair these. If they could 
pass sequentially, I have no objection to that, but just to say that it 
would be nice, at a time when we are so polarized here and have put the 
``dys'' back in ``dysfunction'' here in Washington, DC, that we could 
actually show that we could work together in a bipartisan basis and 
pass a bill that passed unanimously in the Judiciary Committee, of 
which my friend from Illinois is a cosponsor.
  I understand they want to use this opportunity to get their bill 
passed. Again, I have no objection to that and do not intend to object, 
but there are others who apparently have some concerns that we need to 
check with.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I would say that my friend and colleague, 
the gentleman from Texas, has accurately stated the situation, but let 
me add a few sentences about the bill that we are trying to couple with 
his effort. I totally support what he and Senator Blumenthal are trying 
to do. The end goal we all have in mind is to bring under control or at 
least restrain the increases in prescription drug prices.
  The Senators from Texas and Connecticut have their approach. What 
Senator Grassley--a Republican from Iowa--and I have suggested with 
this approach is direct-to-consumer advertising. The pharmaceutical 
industry spends about $6 billion a year on ads on television. If you 
have not seen a drug ad on television, you clearly do not own a TV.
  We want to make sure that each one of these ads contain, amid all the 
other information they give you, one other critical piece of 
information: the cost of the drug.
  We think that will be at least an indication to the pharmaceutical 
industry that we are watching how much they are charging us. I think 
some people will be shocked when they see the actual cost of Humira and 
some other drugs. But that is it, a complementary approach. I hope we 
can do both. I think the American people want to see prescription drugs 
become more affordable.
  I yield the floor.

                      Vote on Rudofsky Nomination

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is, Will the Senate advise and 
consent to the Rudofsky nomination?
  Mr. DURBIN. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Georgia (Mr. Isakson) and the Senator from Georgia (Mr. Perdue).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Booker), 
the Senator from California (Ms. Harris), the Senator from Minnesota 
(Ms. Klobuchar), the Senator from Vermont (Mr. Sanders), the Senator 
from Massachusetts (Ms. Warren), and the Senator from Oregon (Mr. 
Wyden) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 51, nays 41, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 350 Ex.]


     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--8

  The nomination was confirmed.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Democratic leader.

                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 2755

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, it is now several weeks since the 
President asked our troops to leave a critical sector in northern 
Syria, and, subsequently, lots of things happened, including at least 
100 and probably more ISIS prisoners escaping, an uncertainty as to who 
is guarding the prisons where ISIS prisoners are kept, and a whole 
strategy as to how to continue the fight against ISIS.
  ISIS is not vanquished. ISIS is weakened but not vanquished, and we 
all know ISIS can come back. We all know a small group thousands of 
miles away can do untold damage in our homeland. Yet we still have no 
plan, that we have heard, from the administration on how are we dealing 
with ISIS; how are we dealing with the prisoners who escaped; how are 
we dealing with the prisoners who are still incarcerated; and how are 
we dealing with ISIS overall.
  This is one of the greatest security threats America faces, and I 
would hope we could pass this proposal, which simply demands that the 
administration report to Congress on what their plan is to deal with 
ISIS. It is that simple. That is the immediate danger.
  I know my friend, the Senator from Florida, wants to talk about what 
happened in the past. We can argue that all day long, but the immediate 
danger is ISIS, the ISIS prisoners who have escaped, the ISIS prisoners 
who are incarcerated, and the ISIS members who still are around. We 
don't have a strategy, and it is one of the greatest failings of 
foreign policy not only of this administration but of any 
  A resolution passed the House a while ago. It has laid fallow here. 
All we are asking in this legislation is very simple: to require a 
report on the strategy to secure the enduring defeat of the Islamic 
  I hope we will not hear objection. I don't see how anyone could 
object when the security of America is at risk and when ISIS is still a 
danger. Every one of us could come up with an amendment to make it 
better. We know we will not get it done if that happens.
  I hope we can move this forward, and then we can debate other issues 
that are not directly dispositive here because we have an immediate 
crisis, and we need a report.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent, as in legislative session, 
that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 
281, S.

[[Page S6460]]

2755, a bill to require a report on the plan to secure the enduring 
defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; that the bill be 
considered read a third time and passed; and the motion to reconsider 
be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action 
or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. SCOTT of Florida. Madam President, reserving the right to object.
  I thank the Democratic leader for his concerns about the defeat of 
ISIS. If there is one thing I hope we can all agree on, it is that 
Turkey is not our ally or friend right now. Turkey's invasion of Syria 
is benefiting ISIS, Iran, and Russia, and hurting our great ally, 
  The United States must stand up for our partners, the Kurds, who 
helped us fight ISIS. I am hopeful the ceasefire will last, keeping 
American soldiers and our partners, the Kurds, safe. Nobody wants our 
men and women in uniform involved in unnecessary, extended military 
  Bringing our troops home is a goal we all share. In order to achieve 
that goal, we need to have a fuller understanding of the crisis in 
Syria and what got us there--with the hope our troops can finally come 
  I also agree that the President should always be clear with Congress 
on where all U.S. troops are located and the purpose of their 
deployment. Unfortunately, my colleague's proposal would produce a 
report that only tells a small part of the story.
  In the name of transparency and a fuller understanding of how we got 
here, I am proposing a modification to my colleague's bill to require a 
report that includes information on President Obama's plan for Syria.
  We didn't get here overnight. The Democratic leader knows that. He 
said himself it took us 5 years to get here. So I think we all would 
like to see what the strategy--or lack of strategy--was from the last 
administration that put us in this position today. Let's get all the 
facts on the table so lawmakers in Congress and Americans all across 
the country can have all the information we need to keep Americans and 
our allies safe.
  Reserving the right to object, therefore, I ask that the Democratic 
leader modify his request to include my amendment, which is at the 
desk. I further ask that the amendment be considered and agreed to; 
that the bill, as amended, be considered read a third time and passed; 
and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Will the Democratic leader so modify his 
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, this is a diversion. We can all debate 
history. Maybe Bush was to blame. Maybe Obama was to blame. Who knows. 
Maybe Harry Truman was to blame when they set up CENTO. That is 
something we can debate at a later time.
  We have an immediate crisis. We need a report, and our Republican 
colleagues keep finding ways so they can object so the President 
doesn't have to answer. That is wrong. It risks the security of 
America, and it is not what we should be doing.
  So I object, and I urge us to pass the amendment without the 
modification, which is still as valid as it was a few minutes ago.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard on the modification.
  Is there objection to the original request?
  The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. SCOTT of Florida. Madam President, reserving the right to object. 
I am disappointed in yet another political stunt from the Democratic 
leader. It is clear this is nothing but a political attack on the 
  President Trump's goal is to bring American troops home and keep our 
partners, the Kurds, safe and our ally, Israel, secure. The Democratic 
leader is requesting information from President Trump but refuses to 
join me in asking for information about the sequence of events and the 
strategy under President Obama that led us to this point.
  This is sad, but it is not surprising. It is just another charade in 
a long list of political games. Americans deserve a safe Israel and a 
safe Syria, so I stand today to object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Democratic leader.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, if they are worried about an attack, it 
is not on this President or a previous President. That is the political 
stunt here, I would say to my friend in Florida. He knows what he is 
doing. He is trying to stop this from happening. The attack we are 
worried about is an attack by ISIS on the United States.
  Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, liberal, or conservative, the 
country needs a plan. All of the diversion, all of the games will not 
prevent the American people from seeing that we need that, and it is 
our job as Senators to push the administration to do it.
  So I would have hoped we could have passed this amendment without the 
diversionary, partisan proposal made by the Senator from Florida. I am 
sorry we haven't been able to move the amendment. It is so wrong for 
the safety of this country.
  I yield the floor.