EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 206
(Senate - December 19, 2019)

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[Pages S7186-S7189]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the nomination.
  The legislative clerk read the nomination of Anuraag Singhal, of 
Florida, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District 
of Florida.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.

                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 3104

  Mr. SCHATZ. As if in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent 
that the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs be 
discharged from the further consideration of S. 3104, the Federal 
Employee Parental Leave Technical Correction Act, and the Senate 
proceed to its immediate consideration. I further ask that the bill be 
considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no 
intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Reserving the right to object, let me explain what is 
going on here.
  My colleague from Hawaii has an amendment that he would like to make 
to the NDAA legislation that we passed recently. It has been described 
by our Democratic colleagues as a technical correction.
  Well, I have a technical correction that I would like to have 
considered as well. So I think we have a good solution where we can 
both get the technical corrections we would like. We have been waiting 
on mine for 2 years, but the good news is that we have broad bipartisan 
support for mine. Every Republican Senator supports it, and 13 
Democrats are cosponsors of my legislation to make this technical 
correction. If my math is right, that means 66 Senators support doing 
this. There is huge bipartisan support in the House. So I would say 
let's fix both problems. The fix that I have in mind is to fix a 
drafting error from our tax reform bill from 2 years ago, and 
specifically, it would be to restore the ability of people who make 
leasehold improvements to fully expense that at the time it occurs.

  That was always the intent. Nobody disputes that that was the intent, 
but because of a drafting error, when someone makes a leasehold 
improvement, not only are they unable to expense it in the year in 
which it incurs, but they have to depreciate it over 39 years, the 
exact opposite of our intention. This is a huge problem for restaurants 
and retailers generally, and every one of our States has how many 
retailers, how many restaurants that are adversely affected today by 
this technical error, and it is having an economic impact.
  This category of business investment is the only category that has 
declined over the last year. It was down almost

[[Page S7187]]

4 percent in the third quarter. That is because of the adverse tax 
treatment. That is not good for any of us. It is not good for the 
United States. It is not good for our States. In the omnibus bill that 
we just passed, we had all kinds of tax provisions--$427 billion, 
actually, worth of tax provisions announced at 2 in the morning on 
Tuesday, by the way.
  It has things, including a resurrection of a special tax rule that 
was supposed to die in 2017. We are going to send checks to people for 
what they did in 2018, which will have no impact whatsoever, obviously, 
on changing incentives since it is the past. We did that. We reversed a 
deal that was struck in 2015 to phase out expensive renewable energy 
credits. We made two changes to the tax reform of 2017, but we weren't 
able to include the technical fix that 66 Senators want that would cost 
  What we were told by our Democratic colleagues is that, if you want 
to do that, there is a price you have to pay. The price would be tens 
of billions of dollars of increases in refundable tax credits. That is 
checks being sent to people who don't pay taxes. Ranking Member of the 
Finance Committee, Senator Wyden, said just this week: ``Democrats have 
long said the Republicans need to negotiate on broader issues if they 
want to fix all the mistakes in their tax giveaway.'' In other words, 
there has to be a price.
  Well, if I were adopting the approach of my Democratic colleagues--
and when my colleague from Hawaii comes down and makes this request--I 
could say, Well, you need to come up with $50 billion worth of 
Republican priorities, maybe $50 billion worth of capital gain tax 
cuts, or $50 billion in reduction in some kind of mandatory spending or 
something. That is what I would do if I were taking the exact same 
approach that our Democratic colleagues took.
  I am not going to do that. I am going to suggest that we both get 
what we are after here, and the American people get the benefit. Here 
is what I am going to do. I am going to modify the unanimous consent 
request. The way I am going to do that is to take the bill advocated by 
the Senator from Hawaii, drop it into a legislative vehicle, add the 
technical fix that I and 66 Senators support--and, by the way, 297 
House Members have cosponsored the companion legislation, including 145 
Democrat House Members--I am going to put them together in an otherwise 
empty legislative vehicle so that we can do both. When we pass it here 
in the Senate by unanimous consent in just a moment, if we do, then the 
House would virtually be assured of passage, since 297 House Members 
have cosponsored this legislation.
  Mr. President, my suggestion is we modify this unanimous consent 
request so that the Senator from Hawaii gets the provision that he 
wants and I get the provision that 66 Senators want.

                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 748

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senator modify his 
request so that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of 
Calendar No. 157, H.R. 748. I further ask unanimous consent that the 
Toomey amendment at the desk be considered and agreed to, 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 table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Does the Senator so modify his request?
  Mr. SCHATZ. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.
  Let's get clear about what is happening here. The first thing is we 
did something momentous as a group. We, on a bipartisan basis, decided 
to provide paid parental leave of 12 weeks for the Federal workforce--
2.1 million Federal workers--so that individuals who are new parents 
don't have to make that impossible choice between receiving a paycheck 
and being a new dad or a new mom. Now, this is catching us up with the 
rest of the world. The rest of the industrialized world understands 
that this isn't just a humane thing to do for families. This is the 
right way to manage the workforce because you get higher productivity; 
you get better morale; and you get lower turnover. This is a smart 
thing to do.
  There were 2.1 million people covered by this momentous change of 
Federal policy agreed upon over the last 48 hours on a bipartisan 
basis. There was a technical problem, and so the following Federal 
employees are not going to be covered unless we make this technical 
fix: employees of the DC courts, public defenders, Presidential 
appointees, FAA, and CSA employees, and article I judges. Everybody 
else is going to get 12 weeks of paid parental leave, except for these 
people. We can solve that today.
  That is what my unanimous consent request is all about. What the 
Senator from Pennsylvania has decided to do is take a hostage and say, 
These are the only Federal employees who are not going to get this 
benefit because of a technical and drafting error because I didn't get 
something totally unrelated that has to do with a tax bill that was 
passed on purely partisan lines in a hurry, written primarily by 
lobbyists in the middle of the night.
  Now, I do not mind entertaining a change to the Tax Code to deal with 
this question of how you expense the renovation of restaurants and 
retail operations, but I think Senator Wyden is exactly right. I guess 
the Senator from Pennsylvania thought this was a talking point on the 
Republican side. Heaven forbid if there should be a negotiation. Heaven 
forbid something that is as important to the Republicans that is as a 
result of their screw-up and would cost tens of billions of dollars 
would not be given away for free.
  The argument being made is, hey, technical for technical. This is an 
actual technical fix. This is a bill we just enacted in the last 48 
hours. I am not even sure if the President has signed it yet, but it is 
about to be enacted into law, and nobody is arguing that we should not 
cover some small portion of the Federal workforce.

  Nobody is arguing that was the legislative intent. Nobody is arguing 
that is public policy. What the Senator from Pennsylvania is saying, If 
I don't get my thing, then these people don't get the help that they 
deserve. These people, by happenstance of a drafting error, don't get 
paid parental leave. Now, this has human consequences.
  I object to the Senator's modification of my unanimous consent 
request, and I am deeply disappointed that we can't fix this simple 
thing. I am happy to work with the Senator from Pennsylvania on a quick 
fix. I think we will get there at some point next year, but this has to 
be part of a broader bipartisan deal, and he knows that.
  This is going to cost tens of billions of dollars, and no one gives 
tens of billions of dollars for nothing. Everything of that magnitude 
has to be negotiated on a bipartisan, bicameral basis. That is not what 
he is trying to do. He is trying to say because we made a technical 
error that was monumentally wrong and, as a result of the flawed 
process, why don't we trade technical fixes. This is a relatively small 
technical fix, and he wants to trade it for a massive technical fix 
that is now 2 years old.
  The only thing I would say is this may be small in the context of how 
we operate in the U.S. Senate. It is not small if you work for the FAA 
and you are a new dad. It is not small if you are an article I judge 
and you are a new mom. It is not small for these people who deserve 
paid parental leave like every other Federal employee will get soon.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard to the modification.
  Is there an objection to the original request?
  The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I am kind of shocked by what I just heard, 
that I am characterized as taking a hostage. Let's just be very clear. 
I am the Senator on the floor who is proposing that both Senators get 
their way, that the outcome works for both sides. This is a Democratic 
priority. Some Republicans support it; some don't. It is a Democratic 
priority on a mistake that was made, and I am suggesting let's fix it.
  Let's take the opportunity to also fix something that 66 Senators 
have supported. They cosponsored it. There is even broader support--
much broader in the House where it is massive. I do not know what is 
more reasonable than a very broadly bipartisan technical fix that 
scores at zero and helps every single community in America and tying 
that with an opportunity to do something that is a very high priority 
for my colleague from Hawaii.

[[Page S7188]]

  Since my colleague from Hawaii refuses to allow us both to be able to 
accomplish this, I am going to have to hope that we can do it another 
time, and I will object to his request.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
  The Senator from Oklahoma.

                              December 19

  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, on another subject, even though I am very 
close to this subject in that I chaired the Armed Services Committee, 
and that is where all of this really began, I do want to mention one 
thing about what happened this morning. I think our leader over here, 
Mr. McConnell, did a superb job. He made it very clear on the 
impeachment that took place last night. It is something that has not 
happened before. It is the first time it has happened, in that there is 
no impeachable offense, and it is nonetheless, I think, all driven by 
hatred. When you stop to think, here it is right before Christmas, and 
the hatred that is driving that, it is wrong.
  I want to mention something that is significant, that you haven't 
thought of, I say to the Presiding Officer. That is, this 153rd day of 
the year is very significant. That is December 19. People have not 
stopped to realize the significant things that have happened on 
December 19 throughout our history and the history of the world, going 
all the way back to December 19, at 11:54, Henry II became King of 
England. We haven't really thought about the fact what does that mean 
to us today, but we will before long.
  In 1843, December 19, again, Charles Dickens wrote ``A Christmas 
Carol.'' It is the most watched, listened to, and sung event every 
  In 1932, December 19, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, 
began transmitting overseas. That was the beginning of a whole new 
world of knowledge and understanding.
  In 1950, December 19, NATO named General Dwight D. Eisenhower as 
supreme commander of the Western European defense forces.
  Then in 1972, December 19, Apollo 17, the last of the Apollo moon 
landings returned to earth.
  December 19 of 1984--I remember this well because I was in Hong Kong 
when this happened--that was when China signed an accord returning Hong 
Kong to the Chinese sovereignty. A lot of people thought it was good at 
the time to accept people from Hong Kong. I was there, and look what 
has happened now after all these years. I would have to say that 
hysteria has continued to this day.
  Then, in 1998, December 19, the U.S President Bill Clinton was 
impeached. I was there at that one, too. We have something to compare 
it with now, but that was December 19, 1998.
  The event that is more significant by a landslide is what happened on 
December 19, 1959. On December 19, 1959, my wife Kay and I got married. 
That makes this the 60th anniversary of our wedding. Just look at all 
the beauty that has followed us, 20 kids and grandkids. All of that in 
that 60-year period of time.
  What I want to say is the beautiful life that we are still having 
together--and I would like to say at this point that Kay, after 60 
years, is still loving, and I wish you a happy anniversary; and to 
everyone out there as you celebrate the birth of Jesus, Merry 
Christmas, and God bless you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.

                 Nomination of Stephanie Dawkins Davis

  Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, I rise today in support of Judge Stephanie 
Dawkins Davis for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of 
  I had the honor of introducing Judge Dawkins Davis at the Senate 
Judiciary Committee hearing more than 6 months ago. As I told the 
members of the committee, Judge Dawkins Davis is a highly respected 
member of the Michigan legal community, and she will serve our State 
well as a district court judge.
  Judge Dawkins Davis has been an exemplary public servant who has 
worked hard and honorably to serve the people of Michigan. She has 
earned the respect of colleagues across the State and has garnered 
numerous awards throughout her career.
  She began her career as a civil defense attorney at Dickinson Wright 
and later joined the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern 
District of Michigan, prosecuting cases at both the trial and appellate 
levels. She also spent time as a deputy unit chief of the Controlled 
Substances Unit and as a high intensity drug trafficking area liaison.
  Her successful work led to her appointment as executive assistant 
U.S. attorney, and after that, she became a magistrate judge for the 
Eastern District and was selected to serve at the Flint Federal 
  Judge Dawkins Davis is a qualified jurist. The American Bar 
Association unanimously rated her as ``well qualified.'' She was also 
the first African-American woman nominated by President Trump for a 
Federal judgeship.
  I am proud to recognize Judge Dawkins Davis for her many 
accomplishments and for the diverse voice and perspective she will 
bring to the bench.
  This seat has been vacant since October 26, 2016; that is more than 3 
years. It is past time that the Senate consider Judge Dawkins Davis's 
nomination, and I am glad it is finally happening today.
  Thank you.
  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. MORAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                       Vote on Singhal Nomination

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is, Will the Senate advise and 
consent to the Singhal nomination?
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. 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 Kansas (Mr. Roberts).
  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), and the 
Senator from Massachusetts (Ms. Warren) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 76, nays 17, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 416 Ex.]


     Cortez Masto
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)


     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--7

  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I just cut off a Member of our own side 
because they didn't get here in time. That is to underscore that by 
popular demand, everybody wants these times to be kept, and that is 
what we intend to do.
  I ask unanimous consent that the votes in this series be 10 minutes 
in length.

[[Page S7189]]

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