EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 197
(Senate - December 10, 2019)

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[Pages S6910-S6920]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the 
following nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read the nomination of Patrick J. Bumatay, of 
California, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The 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for the quorum call be rescinded.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 ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Democratic leader is 
recognized.


                        Inspector General Report

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, for years, President Trump has 
speculated wildly about a ``deep state'' conspiracy against his 
Presidency based on the claim that the FBI opened an investigation into 
the President's campaign with political bias, with the explicit purpose 
that they were out to get him.
  Yesterday, the Department of Justice inspector general released a 
report that puts this conspiracy theory to bed. The report conclusively 
debunks the baseless conspiracy that the investigation into Mr. Trump's 
campaign and its ties to Russia originated with political bias. In 
fact, the report quotes the FBI Deputy General Counsel as saying that 
``the FBI would have been derelict in our responsibility had we not 
opened the case.''
  Let me repeat that from the No. 2 counsel at the FBI. ``The FBI would 
have been derelict in our responsibility had we not opened the case.''
  Donald Trump commits so many wrongs, and when people call him on it, 
he blames somebody and comes up with a conspiracy. And the most amazing 
thing is that not just his appointees but these Senators in this 
Chamber--almost too many of them--just echo those crazy theories 
designed to divert us from the truth.
  The inspector general of the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, 
has been praised for years by Members on both sides of the aisle for 
his integrity and for his fairness. There is no reason to doubt the 
report's conclusion. He has never been accused of bias before.
  Attorney General Barr and Lindsey Graham praised Mr. Horowitz, but 
all of a sudden, they are casting aspersions on him and his report. 
Only political actors doubt this report--political actors like Attorney 
General Barr and now, it seems, as well, his handpicked Federal 
prosecutor, John Durham.
  Attorney General Barr has all too often acted on behalf of the 
President's interests rather than as a neutral law enforcement officer. 
He almost seems a hatchet man on a political campaign rather than an 
Attorney General--an august position--following the rule of law and 
trying to shield that office from politics whenever possible. Instead, 
Barr loves to jump into the political pool of muck.
  I was skeptical when Mr. Barr appointed John Durham simply because 
Attorney General Barr had picked him. He does almost nothing in these 
sensitive areas that are not political. But you had some hope. Durham, 
some said, had a good reputation. Well, yesterday, Durham's statement 
confirmed our suspicions that he is not a nonpolitical actor. No 
prosecutor worth his salt would release a political statement like he 
did while conducting an investigation. Because of issuing that 
statement, Durham has lost a great deal of credibility even before he 
issues his report. No one who is thinking of these things down the 
middle is going to think Durham is a dispassionate, nonpolitical 
observer because he has already shown himself to be, in a certain 
sense, a henchman of Mr. Barr and his political activities.
  To emphasize the broad acceptance of the IG report, FBI Director 
Wray, appointed by President Trump, embraced the report.
  When Director Wray asked whether he thought the FBI targeted the 
Trump campaign, he said I do not. And for that, not surprising, but 
still rather, again, low, shallow, and disgusting, President Trump 
lashed out this morning at the FBI Director, saying, ``I do not know 
what the current Director of the FBI was reading, but it wasn't the one 
given to me.''
  President Trump, if you actually read the report, you would 
understand exactly what FBI Director Wray was talking about, and you 
would understand exactly why it was his duty to defend his department 
when they behave on a nonpolitical rule of law basis.
  My friends, it is a sad state of affairs when truth tellers have no 
place in Trump's Washington. Anyone inside the Trump administration 
willing to speak truth to power--Secretary Mattis, DNI Director Coats, 
even Chief of Staff Kelly towards the end, and so many others--cannot 
survive the President's insistence on blind loyalty, cannot survive the 
fact that the President makes them tell lies and mistruths to continue 
to serve him.
  If you do not act in febrile obeisance to President Trump, he will 
turn on you, so this quality of people in this administration is 
getting lower and lower and lower. Top-notch people and the ability to 
govern and make smart decisions and the ability to care about the truth 
often go hand in hand, but if you care about the truth, you are out, 
and so Trump loses quality people in his administration. And the only 
people who survive are willing to bow down to Donald, who will do just 
what he wants and says, even when they know it is false.
  And that is why this administration is so erratic, so disjointed, so 
ineffective, and, at this time, so unpopular with the majority of the 
American people. The American people know that Mattis is a fine man. 
They know that Wray is a fine man. They know that they are the kind of 
people that, if Trump says tell a lie, they won't. But,

[[Page S6911]]

unfortunately, the people in this administration who remain are willing 
to do just that. And that said, as I said, it is a very sad state of 
affairs and one of the reasons this administration has such a difficult 
relationship with the truth.
  The President conjures fictions, buys into baseless conspiracy 
theories told by known buyers on FOX News or somewhere else, and then 
anyone who contradicts him earns his scorn. Contradict him enough, if 
you are in the administration, you lose your job.
  Now, more worry. Amazingly, this afternoon, the President and 
Secretary of State Pompeo will meet in secret with Russian Foreign 
Minister Sergei Lavrov. It shows a blinding disregard with what is 
going on in Congress and the world right now. Russian intelligence has 
been pushing the baseless theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 
elections, not just Putin, as a way to divide the West and defend 
Putin.
  Certain Republican Senators have stunningly repeated that falsehood 
around these corridors, and now, President Trump and Secretary of State 
Pompeo are meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister in secret. What 
new conspiracies are they cooking up with Lavrov today? I worry. The 
President has been so unable to articulate a defense of the facts 
uncovered in the House impeachment inquiry that he has resorted to one 
conspiracy after the next to explain his conduct. His allies, including 
Members of the Senate Republican Caucus, have elevated several of these 
theories.
  Here in the Senate, certain members of the Grand Old Party are 
forming their own conspiracy caucus. Any crazy conspiracy, whether 
launched by Putin or some wild-eyed crazy conspiracy theorist, who 
manages, of course, all the time to get on FOX News and have his story 
or her story repeated, it is something that my colleagues just repeat 
even though it is clear they are false, and they know they are false.
  Angus King had a great op-ed last week in USA Today, which I commend 
to every one of my colleagues. It basically said, if what the 
impeachment proceeding has found is false, then where are the Trump 
people to refute it? Not to come up with some irrelevant conspiracy 
theory and bring this one and that one into it that has nothing to do 
with it, but actually refute the facts, where is that?
  President Trump has not refuted a single fact that the impeachment 
inquiry has found. None of his people have been willing to come forward 
who would have knowledge to refute those facts if those facts were 
false. And so they try to create a shiny object, a diversion, and, 
unfortunately, too many of the news media on the right will spend time 
on that diversion and repeat Trump's claim that the actual facts are 
false.
  This is the beginning of the end of the democracy, when we can't have 
truth--we can disagree on the outcome of those facts, but we can't have 
truth of the fact--and everything is fake news, particularly those from 
the right who don't like the truth. When conspiracy theories that have 
no basis in fact govern, our democracy is at risk. It is one of the 
main reasons I think so many Americans believe, whatever their 
ideology, that President Trump should not be President.
  The conspiracy theories are not harmless. They are sinister. They are 
insidious. They erode the democratic fabric of this country. They erode 
our fidelity of truth which is at the basis of democracy, and they help 
Putin sow discord in our country. Conspiracies need to stop. If the 
White House would like to submit evidence or offer witnesses to make 
the President's case, please do so. They haven't done it once. Instead, 
the White House is blocking documents and withholding witnesses who 
could potentially defend the President's action, a surefire sign, as 
Angus King said in his op-ed, that the President has something to hide.
  Given that the House announced it would write two Articles of 
Impeachment this morning, the White House's refusal to rebut the 
evidence under oath is something not lost on the Members of the U.S. 
Senate who could soon be judges and jurors in a Senate trial.


                   National Defense Authorization Act

  Madam President, on another happier subject, over the weekend, 
negotiations on the annual defense bill concluded. There are lots of 
things missing in that bill, things that should have been included but 
were blocked by the Republican majority in the Senate. But there is one 
very good thing, among a few others. I am proud that the bill will now 
provide all Federal employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave, 
something Democrats have pursued for a long time.
  Once the NDAA is passed--hopefully in the coming week--1 million 
Federal employees will no longer have to choose between caring for a 
newborn and putting food on the table. This is huge, huge news. It will 
make the lives of millions of families better if you have a newborn 
baby that needs care, he or she. I just had a grandson who turned 1. I 
know just exactly what it is like. If both mom and dad work or it is a 
single-parent family, what is that family going to do?
  It is one of the nerve-racking decisions that impedes on the joy of 
the new birth. Well, in many other countries, there is something called 
paid family leave where you can take off 3 months and raise the child 
in those early days when he or she is helpless. In the United States, 
some private companies are progressively doing it, but not enough. 
Well, now all Federal employees will get that opportunity with parental 
leave. It recognizes the changes in the world.
  When I was growing up, my mom stayed at home while my dad went to 
work, who was an exterminator. That is not the norm anymore. Most 
families have two working parents, and we have lots of single parents 
who bear the load of raising a family. All it takes is one serious 
illness, complication, or accident to wreak financial havoc on that 
family.
  It is no surprise that paid family leave ranks near the top of 
voters' concerns. The United States is the only developed nation in the 
world that does not guarantee paid leave for parents of newborns or 
newly adopted. I hope that, after we pass parental leave for Federal 
employees, employees in the private sector will take notice and they 
will act as well. If this spreads throughout America, as often Federal 
policies do, it will be a great thing for our parents and our children.
  Today, only 16 percent of workers in the private sector have access 
to paid leave. Studies overwhelmingly show that, when working parents 
can take care of their families without the fear of losing jobs, 
families are better off, and the economy is better off as well. So I am 
glad that the long push we have made on this side of the aisle for 
parental leave has been secured for all family workers. I hope it will 
become a reality soon for all workers, and I want to thank my 
colleagues who helped make this a reality.


                             Net Neutrality

  Madam President, on net neutrality, this Saturday marks the second 
anniversary of the FCC's party-line decision to repeal the net 
neutrality rules. To restore the safeguards of a free and open net that 
those rules protected, today my colleagues Senators Markey, Cantwell, 
and Wyden will ask the Senate's consent to pass the Save the Internet 
Act, which codifies net neutrality in a similar manner to last year's 
Congressional Review Act, which passed the Senate with strong 
bipartisan support.
  I thank those Senators and so many others for their leadership on 
this important and sometimes overlooked issue. Net neutrality is based 
on a very simple idea, that the internet, just like our phones, our 
highways, our power sources, is a public good that all Americans should 
have access to without discrimination, whether you are a big company or 
a startup, a rural school or an individual consumer just like water 
companies can't discriminate if they come to their customers and say, 
oh, I am going to charge you $10 for a day's use of water, but I am 
going to charge your neighbor down the street $100. That would be 
unfair. We would not allow it. The same thing should be true with the 
internet.
  Under the Obama administration, net neutrality rules prevented 
moneyed groups from getting preferential treatment. We should return to 
it. The administration has, unfortunately, sided with big special 
interests and repealed it. Senator Markey's legislation would restore 
the rules of the world that protect a free and open internet.
  I thank my colleagues for bringing this to the Senate's attention 
today.

[[Page S6912]]

  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The majority whip.
  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, it should come as no surprise that I 
might have a different point of view than the Democrat leader when it 
comes to the issue of net neutrality. If you look at what has happened 
since the FCC ruled on this, there were all these terrible apocalyptic 
predictions that were made about how speeds were going to slow down, 
the internet was going to slow to a crawl, and you wouldn't be able to 
do basic applications anymore, none of which have happened.
  Obviously, we all believe--I certainly do, and I think most of my 
colleagues on this side believe--that if you want to have an open and 
free internet, that is a good thing, and if there are concerns about 
blocking or throttling or slowing speeds in some way, the Congress 
should be heard from on that because what we have had now for several 
years is this ping-pong effect. When one party is in power, they change 
the rules to suit their desires, and then the other party comes to 
power and changes it. Then you have all this litigation that goes on in 
the courts, which doesn't help anybody. All that does is bog things 
down and generates a tremendous amount of cost, and nobody's interests 
are served by that.
  So if there is a concern, and I have articulated this on many 
occasions to my colleagues on the other side, to work with us on a 
legislative solution where Congress can step in and put clear rules of 
the road in place when it comes to the internet--making sure we have an 
open and free internet--we are prepared to do that, but that is not 
something the Democrats have been interested in doing.
  They would rather have this heavy hand of government that slows this 
innovation down, all these wonderful things that are happening in our 
economy right now--the race to 5G, which obviously is critically 
important to so many sectors of our economy--could be dramatically 
impeded if you had the heavy hand of government, the heavy hand of 
regulation, which has been advocated by our colleagues on the 
Democratic side for some time, if that became the norm.
  When President Trump was elected, and Chairman Pai was made Chairman 
of the FCC, and we had a Republican FCC which did away with the 
heavyhanded regulations of the previous administration, we heard all 
these apocalyptic predictions coming from the Democrats about all of 
the horrible things that were going to happen to the internet. I can 
tell you that my experience, I think, is like most Americans. I can 
continue to download applications. I can continue to scroll and to see 
the things I want to see and to toggle back and forth between different 
websites in a way that I did before. It just flat hasn't happened. So 
they are trying to come up with a solution for a problem that does not 
exist.
  That said, we would be happy to work with them. We want to put clear 
rules of the road in place, but that is not what they want. They want 
the heavy hand of government and the heavy hand of regulation 
strangling what has been one of the most remarkable economic miracles 
of the last half century, if you look at what the internet has done in 
terms of productivity in this country.


                             Appropriations

  Madam President, I am very pleased to hear that a deal has been 
reached to finally advance the 2020 fiscal year National Defense 
Authorization Act.
  Every year, Congress takes up the National Defense Authorization Act 
to authorize funding for our military and our national defense. Like 
last year's NDAA, this year's bill focuses on rebuilding our military 
and ensuring that we are prepared to meet 21st century threats.
  While many take it for granted that we have the strongest military in 
the world, in recent years, our military advantage over near-peer 
adversaries has eroded. Budgetary impasses, combined with increased 
operational demands, left our military undermanned, underequipped, and 
ill-prepared for the conflicts of the 21st century.
  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, and the Commission noted that we would be 
especially vulnerable if we were ever called on to fight a war on two 
fronts. That is not a good position to be in. Restoring our readiness 
has been and must continue to be our top priority.
  This year's National Defense Authorization Act continues our efforts 
to rebuild our military. It invests in the planes, the combat vehicles, 
and the ships of the future, including the Joint Strike Fighter and the 
future B-21 bomber, which will be based at Ellsworth Air Force Base in 
my home State of South Dakota. It authorizes funding for research and 
development and advanced technology. It also focuses on ensuring that 
we are equipped to meet new threats on new fronts, including in the 
space and cyber domains. Of course, this bill invests in our most 
valuable resource--our men and women in uniform.
  The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes a 3.1-percent pay 
increase for our troops, which is the largest increase in a decade. 
This is not only something our troops have earned, it is also an 
important way to increase retention in an All-Volunteer Force.
  This year's National Defense Authorization Act also focuses on 
addressing the recent significant health and safety issues with private 
on-base housing. It contains measures to support military spouses 
seeking employment and increased access to childcare on military 
installations.
  I am glad we are finally on track to get this important legislation 
done. The final bill, of course, like most legislation, is not perfect, 
but it will help ensure that our military receives the resources it 
needs to meet current threats and to prepare for the threats of the 
future.
  I am also encouraged by the fact that it looks like Democrats have 
decided to work with us to get fiscal year 2020 Defense appropriations 
passed before Christmas.
  Needless to say, the 2020 Defense appropriations bill, like the 
authorization bill which I just referenced, is critical legislation 
that authorizes the funding for current and future military priorities. 
It provides funding to support that pay increase for the men and women 
who keep us safe. It provides the funding for the weapons and equipment 
our troops need right now to carry out their missions, and it provides 
funding for the equipment and technology our military would need to 
defeat the threats of the future.
  It provides funding for missile defense, for research and 
development, for ships, for planes, and for combat vehicles to update 
our aging fleets. It also provides funding for our allies, including 
$250 million in military assistance for Ukraine. This is a critical 
national security bill, and it needs to be enacted as soon as possible.
  It is unfortunate that we couldn't get this legislation done sooner, 
before the start of the new fiscal year in October. Delaying defense 
funding has left our military short of the resources it needs and 
unable to start important new projects. So I am glad that, at long 
last, the Democrats are finally willing to work with us on this 
important legislation. It is time to get this bill done so we can get 
our men and women in uniform the resources they need without further 
delay, as well as uphold our national security commitments to our 
friends and to our allies.
  I hope negotiations will continue to move forward and that we can get 
this legislation to the President's desk within the next 2 weeks, 
before the Christmas holiday.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Scott of Florida). Without objection, it 
is so ordered.


                      Wyoming Women's Suffrage Day

  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I come to the floor as we celebrate 
today, in Wyoming, the 150th anniversary of Wyoming's women's right to 
vote--150 years. Before we even became a State, women were voting in 
Wyoming. Today, at our State capital building in Cheyenne, there is a 
huge celebration of people from around the

[[Page S6913]]

State and around the country celebrating this historic day.
  Many people watching today may not know the history of what happened 
150 years ago. Yesterday afternoon, Senator Enzi spoke on the Senate 
floor and outlined some of that history. I am so proud of my home 
State's amazing record in advancing this entire issue and concern and 
allowance of women's voting.
  Women in Wyoming were the first in the Nation to use the right to 
vote. That is a fact. Wyoming women have been voting for 150 years. On 
December 10, 1869, Wyoming took a giant leap forward for women's 
equality. We are called the Equality State. This is a lot of the reason 
why.
  Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, in a ceremony this morning at our State 
capital in Cheyenne, is proclaiming today Wyoming Women's Suffrage Day. 
Wyoming is the first place in the country to pass a law securing 
women's right to vote, as well as the right not just to vote but to 
hold public office.
  The people of Wyoming spoke loud and clear 150 years ago today. We 
stood with women 50 years ahead of the rest of the Nation. Wyoming was 
a territory back then. Our State had not yet joined the Union. That 
didn't happen until 1890. Still, that is when we earned the proud name 
of the Equality State.
  Wyoming earned far more than the name. By leading the fight for 
women's rights, Wyoming has forever earned a hallowed place in the 
books of history. Nobody embodies that legacy more than Wyoming's 
Louisa Ann Swain. On September 6, 1870, Louisa Swain of Laramie, WY, 
became the first woman in the United States to vote in the general 
election. By casting her historic ballot, she claimed a great victory 
for women everywhere.
  It is a tremendous heritage that we celebrate today. Wyoming truly is 
the Nation's trailblazer for women's equality. In fact, ``Equal 
Rights'' is our State motto.
  On November 19, the Senate unanimously passed the Wyoming Women's 
Suffrage Day resolution. Senator Enzi and I cosponsored the resolution 
to commemorate today's 150th anniversary. Now the entire Nation can 
join in celebrating Wyoming's groundbreaking law.
  Then, 20 years after the law's passage, Wyoming refused to enter the 
Union as a State unless we had equal voting rights, men and women. 
There was a big fight about it in Wyoming and in the Nation's Capital. 
When standing on principle became a major sticking point, Wyoming stuck 
to its guns on women's equality and actually ended up delaying becoming 
a State over this very issue.
  On March 26 of 1890, Wyoming statehood legislation narrowly passed 
the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure passed the Senate a few 
months later, but part of the debate on the floor of the House of 
Representatives had to do with Wyoming women actually voting in our 
then territory and now State.
  President Benjamin Harrison signed Wyoming's statehood into law on 
July 10, 1890, upholding women's rights. Wyoming was technically the 
44th State to enter the Union, but Wyoming really is the first State 
when it comes to women's equality. Wyoming put women first even before 
statehood.
  Back home, 2019 is the ``Year of Wyoming Women.'' Our State is paying 
tribute to our strong women leaders. We had the great honor of electing 
the first woman Governor, Wyoming's 14th Governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross. 
Wyoming boasts many more female firsts. These include the first woman 
to serve on a jury and the first female justice of the peace, Esther 
Hobart Morris. Wyoming also claims the first all-female city 
government. These pioneering women leaders were elected in 1920 in 
Jackson, WY. The Jackson press dubbed them ``the petticoat 
government.'' So we celebrate 150 years of equal rights in Wyoming and 
100 years for women nationwide.
  In 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, 
granting women's suffrage. This hard-fought legislative victory would 
ensure women's full participation in our democracy.
  To mark this 100th anniversary, President Trump recently signed into 
law the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. I had the 
privilege of cosponsoring this legislation that was introduced by 
Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee. The bill passed unanimously in 
the Senate. I made sure that Wyoming's Esther Hobart Morris was among 
the suffragettes honored in this legislation.
  All Americans owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Nation's 
extraordinary women leaders of the past, the present, and today as we 
pause to remember where it all started 150 years ago in the 
trailblazing State of Wyoming, the Equality State.


                               Healthcare

  Mr. President, now I would like to turn to a different topic. I come 
to the floor today as the Democrats in the House and in the Senate are 
obsessed with obstruction because they are obsessed over impeachment 
and are obstructing everything else.
  We have only a week left to fund the government, to pass ``America 
First'' trade deals, and to support our military. Still, there is 
another priority issue that we need to address. We must provide relief, 
in my opinion, from costly ObamaCare taxes. There are several of those 
that are impacting our citizens around the country.
  Last week, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare released a report on 
healthcare spending. The report finds that health insurance costs grew 
in 2018 by a larger number than they had the year before.
  Why does CMS believe that the rates of insurance actually have gone 
up additionally? Well, it is because of a couple of taxes.
  One is the health insurance tax, or the HIT tax. It is in the Obama 
healthcare law. It is an unfair tax that has increased insurance 
premiums for small business owners and for seniors. That is why I have 
been a longtime opponent of this health insurance tax. Democrats need 
to help us get rid of the tax. They need to end it.
  The second ObamaCare tax we must repeal is the so-called Cadillac 
health plan tax. The Cadillac tax affects millions of Americans who are 
covered through work, especially union workers. On December 5, a broad 
group of unions and employers wrote the Senate leaders urging a repeal.
  This is what they said. The union leaders and supporters urged the 
repeal, and this is what they wrote to the Senate leaders:

       The consequences of inaction are serious. Many millions of 
     working Americans will pay more out of pocket . . . or face 
     reduced health coverage.

  We need to end this Cadillac tax now.
  The third tax we need to repeal is the medical device tax. Really, it 
is a tax on innovation. The medical device tax is going to restrict 
patients' access to new lifesaving technologies.
  Without congressional action, the health insurance tax and the 
medical device tax are going to take effect again in 2020 and the 
Cadillac tax in 2022. It is time to repeal these punishing taxes. We 
need to do this to protect patients and working families all across the 
country.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                              Agriculture

  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I come before the Senate today to 
recognize a historic milestone in the Colorado agricultural community. 
The Colorado farm bureau is celebrating 100 years of representing 
farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and every aspect of agriculture 
in Colorado.
  I grew up in the Eastern Plains, the very heart of agriculture. In 
fact, the county I grew up in is one of the largest corn-producing 
counties in the country and, certainly, economically speaking, one of 
the top agricultural communities in the State.
  Our livelihood, our neighbors--everything--depend on agriculture. In 
fact, when there is a downturn in agriculture, it is not just the next 
day that our community feels that. It is that next hour that the 
community feels the impact. It is the same with a good agriculture 
economy. It is not just tomorrow that we will feel the impact, but 
immediately we will feel the impact.
  I grew up working in a family farm equipment dealership where you got 
to

[[Page S6914]]

know everybody in the community, not because of the kind of operation 
they had but because of the kind of person they were, the kind of 
relationships you built, and then, of course, the opportunities to do 
business in those communities.
  There are ebbs and flows, good times and bad times, times of 
prosperity and times of difficult predicaments in rural America, in 
agriculture. In the 1980s, I grew up watching one of the hardest times 
agriculture faced--watching a number of banks face foreclosures, a 
number of farmers face foreclosures. I watched as people I knew my 
whole life sold their farms, gave up farming, and closed their 
businesses.
  It wasn't that long ago--in fact, just a few years ago--that we saw 
some of the highest priced commodities this country had ever seen for a 
very long time. The golden years of agriculture occurred just a couple 
of years ago because of all-time high prices. That is not the situation 
we are facing today.
  Once you have worked in the agriculture industry, I think you develop 
a very deep understanding and appreciation for the men and women who 
have our farmers' backs through the good times and the bad times, like 
the Colorado Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau plays a vital role in the 
wellbeing of all aspects of agriculture. It gives rural communities a 
prominent voice when the government is debating policies that impact 
their farms, their finances, and their families.
  The Colorado Farm Bureau began in 1919, when a group of farmers, 
ranchers, veterinarians, rural doctors, shopkeepers, and tradesmen in 
10 local counties met to form what was termed a ``Farm Bureau.'' Their 
goal was to make the business of farming more profitable and the 
community a better place to live. The organization struggled through 
the years and almost died out in the 1930s.
  In the late 1930s and early 1940s, a group of people across Colorado 
organized to breathe new life into that Farm Bureau in Colorado. Ezra 
Alishouse, C.J. Phillips, Arthur Andersen, and others sold memberships 
to rebuild the organization.
  As a group of farmers naturally would, the Farm Bureau persisted and 
grew. They grew the Farm Bureau to become the largest farm organization 
in the State of Colorado and expanded the support they provided to ag 
communities throughout the State.
  In the 1940s, farmers and ranchers were having a difficult time 
insuring their operations. So the Colorado Farm Bureau created a farm 
insurance casualty company. They began offering farm insurance in 1948. 
Later in the 1950s, they began offering life insurance for those in the 
agriculture community.
  Today, the Colorado Farm Bureau represents 23,000 member families, 45 
local county Farm Bureaus, and is one of the largest farmer-led 
organizations in the State of Colorado. The Colorado Farm Bureau has a 
simple mission: to promote and protect the future of agriculture and 
rural values.
  They show people the agriculture industry up close, why it is 
important to all of us, and the success of our rural communities.
  The Farm Bureau offers leadership training for young professionals, 
scholarships, college programs, health and safety trainings, helpful 
resources to farmers, and support when it is needed the most. Through 
the Colorado Farm Bureau Foundation, the Farm Bureau has raised 
hundreds of thousands of dollars to support victims of natural 
disasters in Colorado, whether that is a drought or whether that is 
severe blizzards.
  They represent, improve, and promote all aspects of agriculture in 
Colorado and have helped to develop the industry into the economic 
powerhouse it is and one of the strongest drivers of Colorado's 
economy.
  Every year I have been honored to join the Colorado Farm Bureau and 
have the Colorado Farm Bureau join me on our annual farm tour. That is 
a tradition I first started when I came to the House of 
Representatives. Every fall we would go to the Eastern Plains of 
Colorado and the Western Slope of Colorado and talk to everyone from 
peach growers in Palisade to corn growers in Kiowa and beyond, and we 
had opportunities to learn how we can help every nook and cranny of the 
State when it comes to agriculture.
  This year, we have traveled to 15 different counties across Colorado, 
visiting family farms, ranches, and agricultural businesses. We held 
roundtables with locally elected officials. We went to a wind farm and 
talked about the impact that renewable energy is having in positive 
aspects for our farmers and ranchers.
  This farm tour wouldn't be possible without the Farm Bureau and the 
others who helped put it together and make sure we see these important 
issues that we are facing. In the past, we have turned to them for 
their expertise in policy, their insights, experience, and their 
partnerships as we champion efforts that will help and benefit rural 
Colorado. They have been a great partner in providing agricultural 
producers with the resources and certainty they need to protect private 
property rights, to protect our waterways, to ensure that farmers are 
treated fairly in the Tax Code, and, recently, in helping to relocate 
the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Grand Junction.
  The Farm Bureau is a regular presence in Washington. I think all of 
us know that. Colorado Farm Bureau members have played an important 
role in developing policy. They are not afraid to get their hands dirty 
and of the hard work it takes to get good legislation passed.
  The Colorado Farm Bureau takes on difficult issues and has a real 
impact on people's lives. Their dedicated work and their willingness to 
take on difficult issues has also earned them national recognition. In 
2005, the Colorado Farm Bureau was recognized by the Department of the 
Interior in Washington for their work at the Colorado Department of 
Natural Resources to protect the mountain plover.
  This created a win-win partnership that the government and the 
private sector could work in together to preemptively protect the 
species without listing it on the Endangered Species Act.
  The Colorado Farm Bureau was instrumental in opening up 300,000 acres 
of land for data collection and research on the mountain plover's 
nesting and population status. Through that effort, they were able to 
avoid listing, develop better management practices, and help to grow 
the mountain plover population.
  I look forward to continuing to hear from Colorado Farm Bureau 
members and farmers and ranchers across our State, as this Chamber--
this body--debates new trade opportunities, new agricultural policies, 
and anything that could impact farmers back home.
  Their contributions will be especially valuable as we continue to 
open up new markets for Colorado producers, invest in rural 
communities, and manage our public lands.
  Last month, the Senate passed a resolution I introduced with my 
colleague, Senator Bennet, celebrating this historic 100th anniversary, 
recognizing all of the Colorado Farm Bureau's past, present, and future 
efforts to promote and advocate farm and ranch interests.
  I ask my colleagues in the Senate to join me today in celebrating the 
Colorado Farm Bureaus's rich history and contributions to the ag 
industry, not just in Colorado but across the United States. 
Congratulations to the Colorado Farm Bureau for your 100 years of being 
a strong voice for farmers, ranchers, and our rural communities in the 
``Centennial State'' and for all your work to protect the Colorado way 
of life. I look forward to continuing our work together with the Farm 
Bureau in seeing what we can accomplish for the next 100 years of 
agriculture in Colorado.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.


                     Nomination of Lawrence VanDyke

  Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, it is no secret that the Senate doesn't do 
much around here, except for confirming judges. But looking at the 
records of the folks we are confirming to the Federal bench, it is 
clear we have forgotten even how to do that.
  The Founding Fathers were incredibly visionary. When they set up the 
Federal judiciary, they hoped to insulate it from political influence. 
How? By giving them lifetime appointments, with the advice and consent 
of the Senate. In doing so, they gave the Senators the most solemn of 
responsibilities we have in this body: evaluating

[[Page S6915]]

judicial nominees on their independence, their fairness, their 
temperament, and their judgment.
  Unfortunately, these days, the Republican majority seems to have 
thrown qualifications out the window. Instead, they give out lifetime 
appointments to the court like candy. This doesn't prevent partisanship 
from influencing our judicial system; it ensures partisanship. The 
latest example is Lawrence VanDyke's nomination to the Ninth Circuit 
Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Montana.
  Mr. VanDyke is a familiar face to Montanans because he grew up and 
attended school in the great State of Montana. He also served as 
Montana's solicitor general before resigning to run an unsuccessful 
race for the State supreme court.
  Montanans can separate the wheat from the chaff pretty well, and 
after examining his record and judgment, they found Mr. VanDyke 
unqualified to serve on the State's highest court. Montanans rejected 
him overwhelmingly at the ballot box, but now the majority leader wants 
to give him a lifetime seat on the bench.
  Once you start to dig into Mr. VanDyke's extreme record, it is not 
hard to see why folks in my State were concerned about his ability to 
be fair and independent. This is a man who believes a government should 
insert itself between a woman and her doctor when she is trying to make 
private healthcare decisions. This is a man who, as Montana's solicitor 
general, worked to oppose same-sex marriage and questioned the ability 
of same-sex partners to properly raise children. This is a man who 
supports opening our public lands to mining and drilling.
  By the way, our public lands contribute more than $7 billion to our 
economy. Nonetheless, open it up, drill it, and mine it. And this is a 
man who ridiculed Montana's deep belief that corporations are not 
people. He argued in favor of unchecked money flowing into our 
elections. He believed that corporations were people and, in fact, his 
race for supreme court in Montana received over $600,000 in outside 
spending--$170,000 from the Koch brothers alone.
  My guess is that some of my friends on the other side of the aisle 
view Mr. VanDyke's extreme positions as an asset, not an issue. They 
may point to the fact that he claimed he would be objective during his 
confirmation hearing.
  The fact is, we cannot trust Mr. VanDyke to put aside his past 
positions and give everyone who comes before his court a fair shake, to 
be fair and impartial.
  Mr. VanDyke has never been a judge, and he was rated as ``not 
qualified'' by the nonpartisan, nonpolitical American Bar Association.
  By the way, this isn't the first nominee who has come up who has been 
rated as ``not qualified.'' I asked a lawyer friend of mine what that 
means, and he said, basically, if you can't achieve a ``qualified'' 
rating by the American Bar Association, you are a train wreck. That is 
what Mr. VanDyke is.
  His nomination is opposed by over 200 conservation, education, civil 
rights, and other organizations. He is also opposed by six former 
Montana Supreme Court justices, folks that Montanans did elect to sit 
on the highest court in our State. They wrote of Mr. VanDyke:

       It is doubtful that he understands that judicial decisions 
     must be based solely on the facts of the case and on the law. 
     . . . We strongly believe that Mr. VanDyke has demonstrated 
     that he has neither the qualifications nor the temperament to 
     serve as a federal court of appeals judge.

  His coworkers from his time as Montana's solicitor general seem to 
agree. A former assistant attorney general who worked with VanDyke 
wrote privately to his colleagues:

       Ever since he has arrived, Mr. VanDyke has been arrogant 
     and disrespectful to others, both in and outside of this 
     office. He avoids work. He does not have the skills to 
     perform, nor desire to learn how to perform, the work of a 
     lawyer. Now that he has resigned--

  That was when he resigned to run for the supreme court--

       and refuses to work on cases assigned to him, while 
     remaining on the payroll for the next several months.

  In fact, even Mr. VanDyke doesn't consider himself qualified to 
perform the basic duties of a lawyer. He once explained in an email 
that he has no experience in discovery, experts, stipulations, or in 
meeting and conferring with opposing counsel.
  I am no lawyer, but those sound like the tasks that someone up for a 
lifetime judicial appointment should know how to do.
  Let me put it this way. If I were looking for a contractor to do work 
on my farm and the contractor had these kinds of qualifications, I 
would not hire him for 1 minute, much less give him a job for a 
lifetime.
  I spend more time in Washington, DC, than I would like, which is how 
I know there is no shortage of lawyers around here and around the 
country. There is absolutely no reason that we can't find someone 
better suited to this position than Lawrence VanDyke.
  I know it is too much to hope that the Senate will act with as much 
common sense as the folks in Montana do, but I do expect us to have the 
decency to respect the will of Montana voters and reject Mr. VanDyke 
for a seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  I urge my colleagues to take a look at the record, to take a look at 
what he has done, to know it will not be a fair and impartial court if 
he is put on it, and I urge my colleagues to oppose his nomination.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


     Over-the-Counter Monograph Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act

  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, last week, when I joined my colleagues to 
recognize Senator Isakson, I mentioned that when Johnny says he is 
going to get something done, you know it will get done. The bill we are 
getting ready to pass today in a few hours, the Over-the-Counter 
Monograph Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act, which he has worked on 
with Senator Casey, proves it once again.
  Every day, people head to their local pharmacy or retail store for 
over-the-counter medications to deal with a cough or a sore throat or a 
stomach ache. Every day, parents across the country turn to the 
medicine cabinet after someone comes home with a scrape or a bug bite 
or poison ivy. Every day, there are countless other health concerns 
people look to treat quickly, safely, and effectively with over-the-
counter drugs. That is why this legislation is so important.
  The pace of scientific discovery seems to speed up every day, but the 
over-the-counter monograph system--the system for how these drugs are 
regulated and brought to market--has not kept pace. The current system 
has not changed, actually, since 1972, and it sorely needs to. Right 
now, even after the science has made clear that small changes to the 
monograph, or recipe, for an over-the-counter drug might make it safer 
or more effective, it can take years for those changes to be approved 
under the current outdated process. Even small changes to a drug label, 
including changes regarding important new safety information, can be 
held up for years.
  The Over-the-Counter Monograph Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act 
takes long-needed steps to address this problem and streamline the way 
over-the-counter drugs are regulated and brought to market. These 
changes will allow the Food and Drug Administration to do more to 
protect public health and make sure over-the-counter drugs, 
ingredients, and labels reflect the latest science. It will also 
encourage the development of new products to better meet the needs of 
patients. The legislation allows the FDA to collect user fees for 
reviewing over-the-counter drugs to make sure it has the resources it 
needs to do this important job.
  Many families rely on over-the-counter drugs each day for a lot of 
different reasons. It is very important that these medications and the 
labels we turn to for information about them are safe, that they are 
effective, and

[[Page S6916]]

that they are as up-to-date with the latest science as possible. Thanks 
to the efforts of Senator Isakson and Senator Casey, this bill we will 
vote on this afternoon will help accomplish that by updating the over-
the-counter monograph system for the first time in decades. I know how 
important this bill has been to Senator Isakson and how he has worked 
so hard on it for many years. I want to tell him how grateful I am. I 
want him to know that I am particularly grateful for his commitment to 
getting this done for families back in Georgia and across the country.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 682

  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, today I rise in defense of net neutrality. 
This week marks the 2-year anniversary of the Trump FCC's wrongheaded 
decision to repeal net neutrality.
  First, let's be clear about what we are discussing today. Net 
neutrality is just another way of saying nondiscrimination. That is 
what it is all about. It is just another way of saying that big 
companies online can't discriminate against individual consumers; that 
large companies can't discriminate against smaller companies and 
startups; that corporations can't stifle speech online; that once you 
pay your monthly internet service bill, you can go anywhere you want on 
the internet without Charter or Comcast or AT&T or Verizon slowing down 
or blocking your path to a website of your choosing.
  Despite all this, 2 years ago this week, the Trump Federal 
Communications Commission voted to throw out net neutrality at the 
behest of the broadband barons. Since then, we have watched as 
countless citizens, companies, and activists have continued to stand up 
and demand that net neutrality be restored.
  This spring, the House of Representatives took an important step in 
passing the Save the Internet Act. My legislation in the Senate would 
overturn the Trump administration FCC's decision and restore net 
neutrality protections. In the Senate, we have already successfully 
passed the same proposal on a bipartisan basis.
  In April of 2018, my Congressional Review Act resolution passed in 
the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 52 to 47. We debated net neutrality, 
and the Senate decided to join the majority of Americans and support a 
free and open internet. In that vote, we sent a message to President 
Trump about what it means to have an internet free of corporate control 
and open to all who want to communicate, engage, and innovate. We made 
clear that this Congress won't fall for President Trump's special 
interest agenda that just wants to block, slow down, or discriminate 
against content online just to charge Americans more on their cable and 
internet bills.
  Unfortunately, the rules for a Congressional Review Act that allow 
just 30 Senators to force the majority to schedule a vote is not an 
option in this Congress because the right to bring a Congressional 
Review Act resolution to the floor has a time limit on it, which has 
now expired. So, instead, today we once again call for an immediate 
vote on the Save the Internet Act.
  Already, in June, our Republican colleagues failed to listen to the 
voices of their constituents and blocked a vote from happening. Sadly, 
the Republicans plan to stonewall us again and to block this vote. This 
is yet another example of the Republican Party refusing to side with 
the ordinary people in our country--families, small businesses, 
startups, entrepreneurs, anyone with an idea who needs the internet to 
get it off the ground.
  Under Senator McConnell's leadership, the Republicans have buried 
this bill in their legislative graveyard. Instead of passing 
legislation, instead of acting on legislation which already passed in 
the Senate in 2018 and which passed the House of Representatives this 
April, Leader McConnell has done little but confirm unqualified, 
extreme-right nominees for the Trump administration.
  Just listen to some of the bills that Senate Republicans refuse to 
act on that have already moved through the House of Representatives 
this year: the Violence Against Women's Act, voting and democracy 
reform, gun background checks, paycheck fairness, and the Paris climate 
agreement. The answer from the Republican leadership is no, no, no, no. 
That is what continues to happen. Net neutrality is part of that chorus 
of ``noes'' that the Republicans aim at legislation the American people 
want and need to have passed here in the Senate.
  But the Senate majority leader and his Republican colleagues can keep 
populating the legislative graveyard at their political peril because 
this is the agenda the American people want to see the Senate debating. 
They want to see these laws put on the books to protect families in 
this country. The issues they are blocking are enormously popular, and 
most have bipartisan support. Net neutrality is one of those issues.
  The Save the Internet Act--the bill we are debating today--does 
exactly what the American people want. It restores the rules that 
ensure families aren't subjected to higher prices, slower internet 
speeds, and even blocked websites because the big internet providers 
want to pump up their profits. That is what today's fight is all about. 
It is a fight for innovation; for entrepreneurialism; for the American 
economy; a fight for free speech, which is the cornerstone of our 
democracy; and a fight for the most powerful platform for commerce and 
communications in the history of the planet.
  Some will argue that since the Trump FCC ripped away the net 
neutrality rules, everything has been just fine, but we are not falling 
for that. As the legal challenges over this issue have taken place over 
the last 2 years, internet providers have had every incentive to keep a 
low profile, to keep things as they were. But ultimately, the question 
before the Senate today is whether consumers trust their internet 
companies to do the right thing without being told they have to. We 
know that consumers rightfully don't trust the broadband barons.
  It is time we do the right thing for the American people. We can 
start with passing the Save the Internet Act and protecting the 
internet as we know it. The American people want action now. The 
Democrats are committed to fighting on their behalf. Net neutrality 
just stands for nondiscrimination online. You can't be biased against a 
smaller voice, a smaller company, a startup; it is not allowed. That is 
what net neutrality says to all the big broadband giants--you cannot 
discriminate. Net neutrality is something that is at the heart of what 
the 21st century should stand for in this internet age.
  I urge my colleagues to support this motion.
  I yield to the great leader of the State of Washington, Senator 
Cantwell.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I rise today to join my colleague from 
Massachusetts, who has been a leader on this important issue of net 
neutrality. I want to speak and back up what he said today about why it 
is so important and that we need to fight to protect a free and open 
internet, before I do, I would just like to mention that yesterday we 
filed a bill dealing with trade enforcement.
  The reason I bring that up is because today there is going to be a 
lot of discussion about trade writ large. It is very important that in 
the trade discussion, we also have trade enforcement. Much of what we 
filed yesterday is what we hope to see in an agreement that is now 
being unveiled, and this builds on capacity building, which is very 
important. We want to make sure we have the enforcement capabilities at 
USTR and now the capacity and enforcement in Mexico to make these 
agreements work in the future. I look forward to discussing that with 
my colleagues.
  I am really here to talk about how 2 years ago, the Trump 
administration, basically, with the FCC at the helm, repealed net 
neutrality and put Big Cable in charge of our internet future. Despite 
83 percent of all Americans and a majority of Independents, Democrats, 
and Republicans supporting a free and open internet--that means making 
sure they weren't charged excessive rates--the FCC chose to side with 
cable companies.
  Not long after, Verizon throttled the broadband service of Santa 
Clara firefighters in California when they were in the midst of 
fighting the massive Mendocino Complex Fire in 2018. Despite 
firefighters' urgent pleas to stop

[[Page S6917]]

the throttling, Verizon refused to do so.
  For those who don't understand what throttling is, we are always 
concerned that without rules of the road, companies would slow down 
some access to internet sites. This is so important because we don't 
want an internet that is based on how much you pay for faster broadband 
access.
  We think that to slow down important sites like public service sites 
or any sites or to base an internet on how much you pay is the wrong 
direction. More importantly, we need to make sure we are policing this. 
Even today, as we have no Federal agency with clear authority to adopt 
hard and fast rules to keep that situation from happening again, we 
need to keep fighting.
  Another example is that wireless carriers have been accused of 
potentially throttling subscribers to Netflix, YouTube, and Sprint and 
allegedly interfering with Skype services. Again, that is another 
example of why we have to keep our message about a free and open 
internet no matter where we look, where we live, or where we are 
accessing the internet.
  It is long past time for the Senate to vote on the Save the Internet 
Act--something on which our colleague from Massachusetts has been a 
leader.
  Our bill would restore the protections for a free and open internet 
that were had by the Obama FCC in 2015, which would mean no blocking, 
throttling, or paid prioritization would be allowed. The FCC would have 
the flexible legal standards by which to address concerns that would 
arise from these big cable companies' threats to a free and open 
internet.
  Again, I thank the Senator from Massachusetts for his leadership--
persistent both in the House and the Senate--in stressing how important 
this is.
  As my colleagues know, these issues are going to be very important in 
the future, not just with regard to privacy, which the Senator has also 
been a leader on--and I very much appreciate that the hometown 
newspaper wrote a glowing endorsement of the legislation he and I have 
just recently introduced on privacy--but in understanding that in the 
information age, you have to give consumers rights, that you have to 
give them the right to privacy, and that you have to give them the 
right to a free and open internet that is not controlled in speed and 
that is not controlled by one's saying, If you pay us more, we will 
give you access. This is going to be a key communication tool for the 
21st century, and it needs to be open.
  I thank my colleague for raising this important issue, and I will 
continue to work with him and our other colleagues to make it the law 
of the land.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, our ranking member on the Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation has always framed the issue of 
net neutrality and consumer rights appropriately.
  I am going to speak for just a few minutes. Then, on behalf of our 
side--on behalf of the Democratic caucus--Senator Markey, our friend 
from Massachusetts, will propound a unanimous consent request. I note 
that the chairman of the committee is here, and we will have a bit of 
discussion.
  Let me give a bit of history on this.
  Senator Markey introduced the first net neutrality bill as a Member 
of the other Chamber, and I introduced the first net neutrality bill in 
the U.S. Senate. Right out of the gate, I think it is important for 
people to understand what this issue is all about. Real net neutrality 
empowers consumers. After they pay their internet access fees, they get 
to go where they want, when they want, and how they want. What Ajit Pai 
and Donald Trump want is something very different. They want an 
internet policy that lets Big Cable get what it wants, when Big Cable 
wants it, and how Big Cable wants it. That is the difference here.
  Who is in the driver's seat?
  Senator Markey, Senator Cantwell, and I say that this is what the 
beauty of the internet has always been about, which is really simple. 
The consumer is in the driver's seat. We don't have an information 
aristocracy with lanes and all kinds of favoritism for the powerful and 
the influential. It is where the student, the small business, and the 
person without power and clout gets the same fair shake as everybody 
else.
  What we have said is we want to keep the consumer in the driver's 
seat, and Mr. Pai and Donald Trump want a different notion of internet 
freedom. What they really want to say is that internet freedom is Big 
Cable freedom. That is their idea about how we ought to approach the 
internet. At the end of the day, if the policy here is about letting 
Big Cable rig the internet in favor of those who can afford to pay more 
and shake down everybody else, people will have a choice to do that, 
but that is not the choice Senator Markey and I are going to make.
  Cable companies are already tricking people into buying so-called 
unlimited service plans that limit their service. People have uncovered 
the way they have throttled service for particular users, including for 
first responders in times of emergency. Megamergers that involve 
telecom and entertainment companies also limit competition and threaten 
to balkanize the internet.
  We are talking about fracturing the internet into small bundles that 
cost big money. That is the vision the cable companies have--not net 
neutrality--by which you head in a direction whereby consumers pay a 
lot more for entertainment and information and small businesses scratch 
their heads and ask: How in the world am I going to compete with the 
big guys online? Fortunately, the courts recently said the Trump 
administration can't overrule States on net neutrality.
  I look forward to being in my home State of Oregon in a couple of 
days and having town meetings. What I like the most is when people 
speak up on issues like fairness and net neutrality, and I am going to 
hear about it this weekend. Other States have policies like Oregon's as 
well.
  Here in Congress, on this side of the aisle--and you will see it when 
Senator Markey offers his proposal in a moment--we are going to keep up 
the fight to protect consumers from Ajit Pai and the Trump FCC. We 
still have that vision of the original internet that Senator Markey and 
I talked about when he offered the first proposal in the House and I 
offered the first proposal in the Senate. What could be more simple 
than putting the consumer in the driver's seat? You can say where you 
want to go, when you want, and how you want. Now we are talking today--
years later--about the cable companies being able to say they are going 
to decide those very issues.
  I am very pleased--and I think it is very appropriate--that after 
years of leadership on this issue in both the other body and in the 
U.S. Senate that Senator Markey is going to speak for our caucus on 
this issue and call for the Senate to pass his legislation so as to 
have a truly free and open internet for the entire country.
  If you don't get the Markey proposal, what you are going to see are 
big cable companies that will, bit by bit, little by little, keep 
ratcheting up the cost of internet access. By the way, their strategy 
is to do that little by little because they are hoping nobody will ever 
complain and that nobody will notice. Senator Markey and I and our 
caucus have figured out that the cable companies are trying to disguise 
price hikes and data limits in the end by flashing discounts on bundles 
of content. What the cable people are talking about is a bad deal for 
consumers, and it is a bad deal because Ajit Pai and Donald Trump want 
to put Big Cable profits over the interests of the typical American.
  With my full support, I appreciate Senator Markey's offering this 
legislation today. In going forward, we are going to be working with 
him to keep up this fight, and I look forward to the discussion.
  I notice that my colleague from the end of the alphabet and my 
friend, the chairman of the committee, is here, and we will have a 
little back-and-forth.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I agree with every word Senator Wyden has 
just spoken on the Senate floor, and I thank him for his leadership in 
going back to 2006, which was when we first introduced into the U.S. 
Congress legislation on net neutrality. We did it then because it was 
important, and we are doing it today because it is critically 
important.

[[Page S6918]]

  The question is really whether the internet is going to be free and 
open or whether it is going to have the principles of 
nondiscrimination. Smaller voices, smaller companies, startup 
companies, and individuals in our society must be protected on the 
internet in the future. That is what net neutrality is all about.
  We are on the right side of history on this issue. Every day that 
goes by further instructs us as to how central the internet is in our 
country and on the planet. Ultimately, it has to be open, and it has to 
be free. It cannot have nondiscrimination built into it because a small 
handful of huge companies decide they have a right to discriminate.
  I thank the Senator from Oregon, and I thank our leader on the 
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator Cantwell of 
Washington State, for their great leadership on this issue.
  Mr. President, as in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent 
that the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation be 
discharged from further consideration of S. 682; further, that the 
Senate proceed to its immediate consideration, 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 Mississippi.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, in reserving the right to object, let me 
disagree fundamentally with my friends on the other side of the aisle 
about who is on the right side of history.
  I would simply offer to my distinguished colleagues and to other 
Members of the body that we need only to look at what has happened 
during the past 2 years under the Ajit Pai-Donald Trump FCC and compare 
it to what happened to the internet under the approach being advocated 
by my colleagues today.
  In 2015, President Obama's FCC ordered the imposition of title II 
regulations to the internet. They called this net neutrality. 
Basically, what it amounted to was a Big Government, Depression-era set 
of regulations that gave bureaucrats control over virtually every 
aspect of the internet. They implemented this in 2015, and investment 
decreased dramatically during the next 2 years. This was the first time 
in the history of the internet that broadband investment decreased 
outside of the time of a recession. It was bad for the internet, bad 
for the public, and bad for small businesses and startups. I wonder if 
it is from this that the Save the Internet Act would save us. If they 
want to save us from innovation and growth, then perhaps the Save the 
Internet Act would get the job done, for we had no growth during that 
time and less innovation.
  Two years ago, the new FCC came in and did away with some of these 
Big Government, Depression-era regulations that scared off investment, 
particularly the Depression-era title II regulation, as if the internet 
were going to be governed like a utility company from the 1930s and 
1940s. It did away with them.
  Since that time--in the 2 years of America's operating under what my 
friends would end with this legislation--more Americans have been 
connected to the internet than ever before. We have faster internet 
speeds than ever before. Now, in States like my home State of 
Mississippi and all across the great heartland of America, more rural 
Americans get more internet at faster speeds.
  We have two choices today--the one from 4 years ago that led to less 
growth and a recession in the growth of the internet or the one from 
the past 2 years, whereby we have been better off than ever before.
  I will agree with my colleagues in one respect. We should have no 
discrimination online, and we don't have discrimination online today. 
There are no lanes, as my friends on the other side of the aisle have 
said. There is no favoritism in what we are doing. We just have 
prosperity and huge growth in the internet.
  If my friends on the other side of the aisle want to join us in 
enacting a permanent statute so we don't go back and forth between a 
regime of Democratic-controlled FCCs and Republican-controlled FCCs, if 
they would like to help us in that regard, statutorily place 
nondiscrimination online in the law, free and open internet in the law 
outside of the regulation of something that we have imposed on another 
part of our economy half a century ago, then I hope they will join in 
the bipartisan effort that Senator Sinema and I are participating in--
the Senate Net Neutrality Bipartisan Working Group. I would hope they 
would want to join us in that regard.
  We can make the statute better, but I would certainly offer to my 
colleagues the facts, and the facts are that the past 2 years have been 
a time of great growth of the internet. The previous 2 years, under 
depression-era rules, were a time of dramatically decreased investment.
  For that reason, I do object to the unanimous consent request offered 
by the distinguished Senator from Massachusetts.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cruz). Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, what we just heard from the majority is, 
in fact, a false narrative that contends that we have to choose between 
broadband deployment and net neutrality, and if we don't put net 
neutrality back on the books, there will be internet fast and slow 
lanes. That is what is about to happen if we don't act out here on the 
Senate floor. Innovation will be stifled, consumers will have to pay 
higher prices, the internet will not be as we have known it in the 
past.
  So I absolutely feel that what just happened is a disservice to 
consumers and innovators in our country; that they should be allowed to 
have net neutrality as their protection, and I think, again, that we 
are on the right side of history in propounding this legislation to be 
brought out here, and, ultimately, today history was not served well.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, I would simply say in response to my good 
friend from Massachusetts: Where are the fast and slow lanes? They may 
happen sometimes. We have been warned for 2 years this is going to 
happen. It hasn't happened.
  What has happened is the greatest growth in the internet that we have 
seen, as opposed to the stifled growth we had during the 2 years of 
title II regulation under the Obama administration.
  I want to work with them on nondiscrimination online. Everyone wants 
a fair and open internet, but I think everyone also wants the great 
growth we have had over the past 2 years, and we can have it with a 
bipartisan bill like the one Senator Sinema and I are working on and 
unlike the idea of putting us under depression-era rules.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.


     Over-the-Counter Monograph Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, every year, Americans make nearly 3 
billion trips to the drugstore, pharmacies, convenience stores to pick 
up over-the-counter products such as allergy medicines, children's 
cough syrup, or simple pain medicines such as aspirin.
  As the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee was 
working on the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016, I asked Janet Woodcock, 
the Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food 
and Drug Administration: Are there any changes that really need to be 
made in the FDA's law? This is a train--referring to the 21st century 
cures legislation--that is likely to get to the station. If you have 
something that really needs to be done for the benefit of American 
consumers that you haven't been able to get done, tell us what it is, 
and we will put it on the train.
  Well, Ms. Woodcock, who has been at the FDA for a while, came back to 
me and said the over-the-counter monograph.
  Now, what that means is these are the rules that govern how all drugs 
sold in pharmacies, other than prescription drugs, are approved--the 
allergy medicines, the cough syrups, the simple pain medicines. Those 
haven't been changed since the 1970s, nearly 50 years ago.
  Today the Senate, after all that time, nearly a half century, will 
modernize these rules by passing legislation proposed by Senator 
Isakson and

[[Page S6919]]

Senator Casey. It is called the Over-the-Counter Monograph Safety, 
Innovation and Reform Act.
  I am sure it will get a big vote of approval, and like a lot of other 
very important things that are done in the Senate that are very, very 
difficult to do, it will look easy.
  It hasn't been easy. It has taken a long time--nearly a half century. 
It was the one thing that the FDA said we just can't get done. That was 
in 2016, 3 years ago, and now Senator Isakson and Senator Casey are 
getting it done.
  It is the most important law affecting the safety, innovation, and 
cost of over-the-counter drugs since the 1970s.
  It is a great testament to Senator Isakson's leadership and 
legislative skill. He, of course, is leaving the Senate at the end of 
this year, and this is a fitting tribute to his work.
  In the same way, I thank Senator Casey of Pennsylvania for his 
excellent work, in bipartisan fashion, with Senator Isakson on this 
bill. They both deserve great credit and thanks for getting this update 
across the finish line. It may look easy, but what they have done is 
something that hasn't been changed for nearly a half century and that 
the Food and Drug Administration said was the one thing that needed to 
be done to help consumers to affect the availability, the safety, the 
cost, and the innovation of drugs that are sold across the counter that 
are not prescription drugs.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.


                               Healthcare

  Ms. HASSAN. Mr. President, I rise to join my Democratic colleagues 
who have come to the floor in recent weeks to share stories from our 
constituents about the need to protect and improve healthcare.
  Throughout the last 3 years, the Trump administration and Republicans 
in Congress have been relentless in their attempts to undermine our 
healthcare system, and their efforts have increased costs and made it 
harder for patients to access the care they and their families need.
  Instead of working to improve our healthcare system and ensure that 
it is actually working for patients, this administration and some of my 
Republican colleagues have actively sought to do the opposite, and that 
has very real implications for the people we serve.
  Take, for example, Cassandra Van Kuren of Manchester, NH. Cassandra 
is a 26-year-old who is passionate about fitness and staying healthy. 
That is why it was so devastating that a week before she turned 25, she 
got the news that she had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
  Cassandra's life had been turned upside down, and after her 
diagnosis, she was immediately hit with another shocking blow: the 
costs associated with her condition.
  Within the first week of her diagnosis, she was forced to max out her 
credit card, and to this day she is still paying back all of the bills 
she accumulated within her first month of being diagnosed.
  Soon after, she lost her job because she missed so much work. She 
then went to work with her husband at the gym they own in Manchester 
and was able to get health insurance through the business.
  Still, the costs remain enormous. On average, Cassandra has to spend 
$150 a month on insulin costs alone after insurance. Her premium is 
over $400 per month, and every 3 months she accumulates bills of over 
$500 due to the cost of appointments and equipment. And, sadly, 
Cassandra and her husband are nervous about starting a family because 
their costs for care would grow even higher. The amount of insulin a 
woman with type 1 diabetes needs increases three times when she is 
pregnant.

  Cassandra's story is an example of why we need to improve our 
healthcare system and also why we can't afford to allow Washington 
Republicans to pull us backward.
  The administration is backing a partisan lawsuit--the result of which 
we will know soon--which would take healthcare away from millions of 
Americans, gut protections for preexisting conditions, end Medicaid 
expansion, and eliminate the requirement that insurers must cover 
prescription drugs, maternity care, mental healthcare, substance abuse 
treatment, and so much more.
  With the support of Senate Republicans, the administration has 
promoted what are appropriately referred to as junk health insurance 
plans. These junk plans allow insurance companies to discriminate 
against Americans who experience preexisting conditions, and they also 
leave patients with higher healthcare costs and worse insurance 
coverage.
  The administration has opposed certain efforts to lower the costs of 
prescription drugs, in particular, allowing Medicare to negotiate 
prices on lifesaving drugs, including insulin. These actions are 
unacceptable.
  Families in New Hampshire and all across the country cannot afford 
these reckless attacks on their healthcare, and they want us to work 
together on constructive bipartisan solutions that improve their lives 
and lower their costs, not this constant uncertainty and sabotage.
  The efforts of people like Cassandra, who have shared their stories 
in an attempt to shine a light on the challenges that patients are 
experiencing, are incredibly important. No one should have to share 
their most deeply personal healthcare stories and plead for lawmakers 
not to undermine their health coverage, but that is where we are. I am 
incredibly grateful for those who have had the courage to speak out. I 
will continue to share their stories, and I will continue working with 
anyone who is serious about actually improving our healthcare system, 
not undermining them.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.


                     Nomination of Lawrence VanDyke

  Ms. ROSEN. Mr. President, I stand here today in opposition to the 
nomination of Lawrence VanDyke to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 
Nevada, and I stand here today because I think we can all agree--no 
matter where you are from--that Federal judges in our States should 
come from our communities, and they should reflect our communities.
  It is unfortunate to see this Chamber disregard Nevada's voice and 
move forward with Mr. VanDyke's nomination. The State of Nevada has 
numerous qualified lawyers and judges who have done good work and have 
good reputations in our communities, who are nonpartisan, and who would 
make excellent additions to the Ninth Circuit. But the White House 
didn't nominate any of these qualified individuals for the Ninth 
Circuit. Instead, the President nominated Lawrence VanDyke, a man who 
wasn't born in Nevada, didn't grow up in Nevada, didn't go to school in 
Nevada, and doesn't live in Nevada now. He hasn't even set foot in 
Nevada for over a year.
  This administration has nominated someone to serve on the Nevada seat 
of the Ninth Circuit who--and let me be clear--is not a Nevadan. Mr. 
VanDyke is, however, a Washington, DC, lawyer and failed political 
candidate from Montana who was nominated to further his and this 
administration's extreme political views.
  His nomination is being imposed on the people of Nevada, despite the 
many qualified individuals in our own State--individuals who are 
respected on both sides of the aisle.
  As if Mr. VanDyke's lack of any meaningful connection to the State of 
Nevada wasn't enough, Mr. VanDyke is not even qualified to hold this 
post, according to the American Bar Association. In reviewing this 
nominee and speaking with dozens upon dozens of his former colleagues, 
the ABA found Mr. VanDyke specifically ``not qualified'' to serve in 
this role. The ABA has made that finding for only 3 percent of 
President Trump's judicial nominees, and Mr. VanDyke is the first in a 
small group whose nomination will move forward without--let me repeat: 
without--the support of either Senator representing the State where he 
will sit on the bench if confirmed. That we would allow someone who is 
not qualified to hold a lifetime position in such a critically 
important role is, frankly, absurd, and it is something no Senator 
should support, no matter the party of the President who nominated 
them.

  The ABA's report found Mr. VanDyke to be lacking in knowledge of day-
to-day practice, including procedural rules. The report found Mr. 
VanDyke to be lacking humility and an open

[[Page S6920]]

mind, and the ABA's report found Mr. VanDyke to be lacking a commitment 
to the truth.
  In order to see how the ABA came to this conclusion, one only needs 
to look at Mr. VanDyke's record of pursuing an ideological agenda 
instead of working for the people and defending the law. In his past 
role as attorney general of Montana, he filed many politically driven 
briefs, including one asking the Supreme Court to strike down Roe v. 
Wade altogether, a view that is out of step with the views of Nevadans. 
He even signed the State onto one brief without reading it, by his own 
admission.
  Mr. VanDyke has also made controversial and appalling statements 
about LGBTQ Americans, writing this: ``[There is] ample reason for 
concern that same-sex marriage will hurt families, and consequentially 
children and society.''
  Mr. VanDyke was given every opportunity to disavow this statement and 
repeatedly declined to do so. Allowing Mr. VanDyke to serve on the 
Ninth Circuit would put at risk the rights of thousands of LGBTQ 
Americans to employment, healthcare, housing, and basic equal treatment 
in what is often the court of last resort.
  Surely you must agree, no matter who is President or who controls the 
Senate, you would want qualified judges with connections to the State 
who will be fair to your constituents and not use cases to advance 
their personal ideological agenda.
  I oppose the nomination of Mr. VanDyke, and if it is withdrawn or 
voted down, I will be ready at a moment's notice to work with this 
White House in finding a fair, qualified, and nonpartisan nominee from 
Nevada. The people of my home State and yours deserve nothing less.
  I yield the floor.

                          ____________________