EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 28
(Senate - February 13, 2019)

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[Pages S1286-S1319]
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                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of William 
Pelham Barr, of Virginia, to be Attorney General.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.


                           Government Funding

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, we have a clear and obvious way to avoid 
another government shutdown in 48 hours. The conference committee has

[[Page S1287]]

done its job. It has forged a bipartisan agreement that would keep the 
government open through September as well as provide additional border 
security.
  As with all bipartisan agreements, it is the product of compromise. 
Each side gave a little; each side got a little. The conferees deserve 
our praise for their hard work, their commitment, and their success.
  This agreement is the last train leaving the station away from 
another dreaded government shutdown. The last time we were all in this 
situation, the President signaled his support for a government funding 
bill, only for him to retreat at the last possible moment--
precipitating the longest shutdown in our history. It was the Trump 
shutdown, and he now seems to admit that again.
  No one wants to see a rerun of that movie. The President must not 
repeat his mistakes of the recent past.
  President Trump, sign this bill.
  Neither side got everything it wanted in this bill, but both sides 
wanted to avoid another shutdown--Democrats and Republicans, House and 
Senate.
  President Trump, sign this bill.
  The parameters of the deal are good. It provides additional funding 
for smart, effective border security. Let me repeat that. It does not 
fund the President's wall, but it does fund smart border security that 
both parties support. It also provides humanitarian assistance and 
beefs up security at our ports of entry. Though it hasn't been 
discussed much during the negotiations, the passage of this agreement 
clears the way for the six bipartisan appropriations bills that have 
languished. These bills contain important priorities, including more 
support for infrastructure, housing, Tribal healthcare, the census, and 
money to combat the opioid crisis. I look forward to passing all of 
these appropriations bills, alongside the DHS agreement, this week.
  One of the last things that has to be dealt with is the negotiating 
of a good compromise to fix some of the problems that have been created 
by the Trump shutdown. We are trying to get the conferees to approve a 
proposal to deal with Federal contractors. Thousands of Federal 
contractors have not been reimbursed from the 35-day shutdown. This 
issue is still hanging in the balance. The Republicans should join the 
junior Senator from Minnesota and the Democrats in approving this 
legislation as soon as possible.
  The contractors, many of them just working people, are in the same 
boat as government employees, except they haven't gotten their backpay. 
They should. No one should stand in the way of that. It is just not 
fair to them. They were hostages, just like the government workers were 
hostages. So I hope we can include that in these final hours of 
negotiations. It is very important.
  Now, the only remaining obstacle to avoiding a government shutdown is 
the uncertainty of the President's signature. So I repeat my request: 
President Trump, say you will sign this bill. Remove the ax hanging 
over everyone's head. To make progress in our democracy, you have to 
accept the give-and-take. You have to accept some concessions. You have 
to be willing to compromise.
  Any American President who says my way or no way does a real 
disservice to the American people. President Trump, in politics, to 
quote the Rolling Stones, ``You can't always get what you want.'' It is 
time to put the months of shutdown politics behind us.


                       Nomination of Michael Park

  Mr. President, on another matter, today the Judiciary Committee is 
holding a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Mr. Michael Park 
for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers my home State of 
New York.
  I have always assessed judges on three criteria: excellence, 
moderation, diversity. While Michael Park satisfies the first and third 
prongs of my test, he fails miserably on the second--modification.
  Mr. Park has spent much of his career working in opposition to civil 
rights and seeking to advance the rightwing agenda that lies at the 
very core of the Federalist Society's mission. Mr. Park is currently 
working to defend the Trump administration's effort to insert a 
citizenship question into the 2020 census--a cynical effort to 
discourage people from responding to the census.
  He has been on the frontlines of the effort to dismantle affirmative 
action policies in education. In 2012, he submitted an amicus brief to 
the Supreme Court, writing on behalf of the petitioner who sought to 
have the university's use of race, as one consideration among many, in 
the admissions process struck down as unconstitutional.
  He is currently representing the plaintiffs in a suit challenging 
Harvard's affirmative action policy. He has worked to deny women's 
reproductive freedoms when he represented the State of Kansas against a 
challenge to its attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and ban it from 
participating in the State Medicaid Program.
  In 2012, he submitted a brief to the Supreme Court in NFIB v. 
Sebelius urging the Court to strike down the entire Affordable Care 
Act. This nominee rather wants to get rid of the whole ACA.
  If the American people knew the kind of nominees President Trump is 
nominating and the kind of nominees the Republican majority is 
supporting, so against everything they believe in--America believes in 
Roe v. Wade, America believes in keeping the ACA, America believes in 
voting rights--if they knew all these details, they would be appalled, 
and our Republican colleagues rarely bring these things to the floor 
legislatively. They know they would be roundly defeated, but it is sort 
of an end run--pick judges who in the courts will uphold these 
unpopular positions.
  Mr. Park has a long and detailed record of support for the most 
conservative legal causes. A judge is asked to interpret the law rather 
than make the law, to apply fairly the legal principles set forth by 
precedent, not reread the Constitution to fit the political cause of 
the moment.
  Mr. Park's career does not give me the confidence that he can be an 
impartial arbiter on the Second Circuit. I will oppose his nomination, 
and I will urge my colleagues to do the same.
  Now, in the not-so-distant past, my objection to this nomination 
would mean that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee would not move 
forward with the nomination out of respect for home State Senators in 
the blue-slip tradition--but not in this Congress, not with this 
Republican majority.
  Since the election of President Trump, Senate Republicans, led by 
Leader McConnell, Chairman Grassley, and now Chairman Graham, have 
unceremoniously discarded the blue-slip tradition. My colleagues on the 
other side will say it is because we haven't worked with them in a 
timely manner to fill these vacancies, but let's not kid ourselves. 
This is about one thing and one thing alone--the desire of the 
Republican majority to ram through more of the Federalist Society's 
handpicked, hard-right judges.
  Last Congress, the majority confirmed two judges over the blue-slip 
objections of Democratic Senators Baldwin and Casey. A third, Ryan 
Bounds, would have been confirmed over the objections of Senators Wyden 
and Merkley if not for Senator Scott's principled objection to Bounds' 
past racist writings.
  The practice continues, unfortunately, in this Congress. Last week, 
the Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance an 
additional four circuit court nominees over the blue-slip objections of 
five Democratic Senators--Brown, Murray, Cantwell, Booker, Menendez--
and in the coming weeks, the committee will move forward with two 
additional court nominees over the objections of Ranking Member 
Feinstein and Senator Hatch.
  Last Congress, we worked with the White House to move eight New York 
judges--one circuit, seven district--through the Judiciary Committee in 
a bipartisan way. That is how it should work. I would like to cooperate 
on New York judges this Congress, but the continued consideration of 
Michael Park, combined with the majority's clear intentions to ignore 
the blue-slip tradition, makes this very difficult, if not impossible. 
I know the leader is proud of what he is doing on judges. I don't think 
history will look very kindly on it; A, putting such hard-right judges, 
so against what the American people believe, in office. History will 
not look kindly on that as their decisions come down; but second, 
eliminating the last

[[Page S1288]]

vestiges of bipartisanship as we select judges.


                       Nomination of William Barr

  Mr. President, finally, the Senate will soon resume debate on the 
nomination of William Barr to be the Attorney General. I oppose this 
for many reasons, and later today I will join my Democratic colleagues 
during debate time to lay out my opposition to this nominee.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I thank the leader for his comments. I 
want to just say that the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee agree 
with him, and on their behalf, I would like to make the following 
comments.
  Last week, the Judiciary Committee voted on the nomination of William 
Barr to be Attorney General of the United States. All Democrats voted 
against the nomination. There are reasons.
  There is no question that Mr. Barr is qualified. He previously served 
as Attorney General from 1991 to 1993, and he has had a long legal 
career, but the question before us is whether Mr. Barr is the right 
choice to lead the Justice Department, at this time, with this 
President, when there are currently several active investigations that 
implicate this President, his campaign, his advisers, and/or his inner 
circle.
  The answer for me and the Judiciary Committee Democrats is no. Let me 
explain why. Five months before being named for the Attorney General 
position, Mr. Barr wrote an extensive 19-page, single-spaced memo in 
which he provided great detail and legal arguments for his view of the 
President's absolute authority. Mr. Barr then shared and discussed that 
memo with the White House Counsel and the President's defense lawyers.
  In this memo, Mr. Barr outlined his views on Special Counsel 
Mueller's investigation into possible obstruction of justice, the 
unitary executive, and whether a President can, in fact, be indicted.
  One example, Mr. Barr argued that Special Counsel Mueller should not 
be allowed to question the President about obstruction of justice--
point 1.
  He concluded that the law does not apply to the President if it 
conflicts with a broad view of Executive authority, and that view is 
often referred to as the unitary executive.
  Under this belief, conflict of interest laws cannot and do not apply 
to the President of the United States because, as Mr. Barr writes in 
his memo, ``to apply them would impermissibly `disempower' the 
President from supervising a class of cases that the Constitution 
grants him the authority to supervise. Under the Constitution, the 
President's authority over law enforcement matters is necessarily all-
encompassing.''
  Read the memo. This is on page 11.
  Further, Mr. Barr asserted that ``the Constitution, itself, places no 
limit on the President's authority to act on matters which concern him 
or his own conduct.''
  Mr. Barr went on to explain that, in his view, President Trump would 
have virtually unlimited authority over the Executive branch. As he 
said in his memo, the President ``alone is the Executive branch. As 
such, he is the sole repository of all Executive powers conferred by 
the Constitution. Thus, the full measure of law enforcement authority 
is placed in the President's hands, and no limit is placed on the kinds 
of cases subject to his control and supervision.''
  That is page 11 of the memo.
  Importantly, based on these conclusions, Mr. Barr asserts that 
certain Presidential actions--including firing FBI Director James Comey 
or telling the FBI to go easy on Michael Flynn--is never obstruction of 
justice.
  In fact, Mr. Barr even said that ``the President's discretion in 
these areas has long been considered `absolute,' and his decisions 
exercising this discretion are presumed to be regular and are generally 
deemed nonreviewable.''
  That is page 10 in the memo.
  This is a stunning legal argument. Taken to its natural conclusion, 
Mr. Barr's analysis squarely places this President above the law. To 
argue that the President has no check on his authority flies in the 
face of our constitutional principles of checks and balances and should 
be concerning to Democrats and Republicans.
  Mr. Barr's views about the power of the President are especially 
troubling in light of his refusal to commit to making the special 
counsel's findings and the report publicly available, and his refusal 
to agree to protect the other investigations into President Trump.
  When I asked Mr. Barr about this at the hearing, he said, in his own 
words, that he would ``make as much information available as I can 
consistent with the rules and regulations that are part of the special 
counsel regulations.''
  When others pressed him, he changed his answer to suggest that he may 
instead release a summary of the special counsel's findings. This is 
not acceptable. There is nothing in existing law or regulations that 
prevents the Attorney General from sharing the special counsel's report 
and underlying factual findings with the American public. Many of us 
believe this report is seminal to the Presidency, and the public must 
be able to read it.
  In addition, as part of our oversight responsibilities, Congress 
routinely requests and receives confidential information related to 
closed investigations. In fact, recently Congress asked for and 
received investigative information, including transcripts of FBI 
interviews of witnesses involved in the examination of Secretary 
Clinton's emails. This matter should be treated no differently.
  After Mr. Barr's hearing, I sent him two letters. First, I asked him 
to provide Congress and the American public with the full accounting of 
the Mueller investigation, including any report prepared by the special 
counsel himself.
  Secondly, I asked him in writing to commit to protecting all 
investigations into matters surrounding President Trump and the 2016 
election.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that these two letters be 
printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                  U.S. Senate,

                                 Washington, DC, January 17, 2019.
       Mr. Barr: I very much appreciated your responses to 
     questions before the Committee and hearing directly from you 
     on many important issues. As I noted during the hearing, 
     ensuring access to Mueller's findings and recommendations--
     unchanged--is of utmost importance. To this end, I and others 
     asked you about releasing the report as drafted from the 
     Special Counsel. When I first asked you, you clearly stated 
     you would provide the report. Specifically, I asked,
       ``Will you commit to making any report Mueller produces at 
     the conclusion of his investigation available to Congress and 
     to the public? And you responded, ``As I said in my 
     statement, I am going to make as much information available 
     as I can consistent with the rules and regulations that are 
     part of the special counsel regulations.''
       I then asked, ``Will you commit to making any report on the 
     obstruction of justice public?'' You responded, ``That is the 
     same answer. Yes.''
       Later as others pressed you on these answers you expanded 
     by saying:
       ``As the rules stand now, people should be aware that the 
     rules I think say that the Special Counsel will prepare a 
     summary report on any prosecutive or declination decisions, 
     and that that shall be confidential and shall be treated as 
     any other declination or prosecutive material within the 
     Department.''
       In fact the regulations state, ``At the conclusion of the 
     Special Counsel's work, he or she shall provide the Attorney 
     General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution 
     or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.''
       As you may be aware, there is nothing in the regulations 
     saying the report should be ``treated as any other'' 
     Department material, nor is there anything defining 
     confidential. Finally, there is no language in the 
     regulations indicating that Congress cannot have access--
     especially when the materials in question relate to a 
     completed investigation.
       It is also worth noting that in the most recent past 
     practice, the Department has provided Congress with 
     investigative reports and other materials, including notes 
     and summaries of witness interviews. Specifically, with 
     regard to the investigation into Secretary Clinton the 
     Department provided investigative reports, as well as notes 
     and summaries of witness interviews. As you testified ``the 
     country needs a credible resolution of these issues'' which 
     argues in favor of complete transparency and public 
     disclosure of as much information as possible, consistent 
     with national security and active law enforcement needs.
       I would appreciate your response on this as quickly as 
     possible, and prior to the Committee's consideration of your 
     nomination in our Executive Business meetings.
           Sincerely,
                                                 Dianne Feinstein,
                                                     U.S. Senator.

[[Page S1289]]

     
                                  ____
                                                  U.S. Senate,

                                 Washington, DC, February 7, 2019.
     William P. Barr,
     Kirkland & Ellis LLP,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Barr: I am writing to follow up on my January 17 
     letter about Special Counsel Mueller's investigation, and 
     regarding other investigations that implicate the President's 
     interests. As you know, you were asked numerous questions 
     about both the Mueller investigation as well as 
     investigations in the Southern District of New York, Eastern 
     District of Virginia, and District of Columbia.
       As raised at your hearing, it is imperative that all of 
     these investigations be free from any interference and 
     allowed to continue. In your June 2018 memo, you took the 
     position that ``no limit is placed on the kinds of cases 
     subject to [the President's] control and supervision,'' 
     including ``matters in which he has an interest.'' While you 
     testified that you would not stop these investigations, you 
     qualified your answer by saying ``if I thought it was a 
     lawful investigation.'' When asked if the President could 
     fire prosecutors on these cases, you responded that ``the 
     President is free to fire his, you know, officials that he 
     has appointed.''
       This gives you, and the President, considerable discretion 
     and power over these investigations. I therefore ask for your 
     commitment that these investigations will be allowed to 
     proceed without interference, and for an explanation of how 
     you will safeguard their independence and integrity, if 
     confirmed.
       Thank you for your attention to these important matters.
           Sincerely,
                                                 Dianne Feinstein,
                                                     U.S. Senator.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. I did not receive the courtesy of a response to 
either letter.
  Here is a man seeking approval of his appointment. The ranking member 
of the Judiciary Committee sends him a letter asking two very valid 
questions, and there is no response. That told me something very loud 
and clear.
  Over the past year, we have seen several other investigations arising 
out of the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of 
Virginia, and the District of Columbia, where prosecutors are looking 
into crimes involving foreign donations into the Trump inauguration 
committee, money laundering, campaign finance violations, as well as 
possible efforts by Russian agents to assist the Trump campaign during 
the election. When asked about these investigations at his hearing, Mr. 
Barr refused to pledge they would be protected from interference. He 
refused to pledge that these valid investigations would be protected 
from interference.
  For example, Senator Coons asked, ``If the President ordered you to 
stop the [Southern District of New York] investigation in which someone 
identified as individual one is implicated, would you do that?''
  Mr. Barr responded that ``every decision within the department has to 
be made based on the attorney general's independent conclusion and 
assessment that it's in accordance with the law, so I would not stop a 
bona fide lawful investigation.''
  However, this qualification of ``a bona fide, lawful investigation'' 
is all important. In his 19-page memo, Mr. Barr clearly wrote this: 
``The full measure of law enforcement authority is placed in the 
President's hands, and no limit is placed on the kinds of cases subject 
to his control and supervision,'' including ``matters in which he has 
an interest.'' I really see why he was nominated. This is the offering 
of complete protection from the law by the Attorney General--future 
Attorney General, if he should become one.
  Mr. Barr went on to argue that if the President determined ``an 
investigation was bogus, the President ultimately had legitimate 
grounds for exercising his supervisory powers to stop the matter.'' 
This would mean that the President could stop the Mueller 
investigation, which the President has repeatedly described as a 
``witch hunt'' and ``hoax.''
  It also means that if Donald Trump decided the Southern District of 
New York's investigation was, in Mr. Barr's words, ``bogus,'' the 
President would have the right to stop the investigation. Think about 
that. Think about the ramifications of that.
  When Senator Blumenthal asked Mr. Barr during his hearing, ``If the 
President fired a United States attorney, would you support continuing 
that investigation, even under the civil servants, the career 
prosecutors, who would remain?''
  Mr. Barr replied, ``Yeah . . . I believe, regardless of who or what 
outside the department is trying to influence what is going on, every 
decision within the department relating to enforcement, the attorney 
general has to determine independently that--that it is a lawful 
action.''
  Think about that. The Attorney General becomes the arbiter, 
independently, of what a lawful action comprises. But, again, according 
to this memo, firing a U.S. attorney, even if it implicates the 
President's own personal interests, is a lawful action by the 
President.
  During this hearing, Mr. Barr stated that ``the President can fire a 
U.S. attorney. They are a presidential appointment.''
  The meaning of this is clear: Prosecutors in these cases can be fired 
arbitrarily by the President of the United States under his plenary 
authority.
  As I said at the outset, the question is whether Mr. Barr is the 
right person for the job at this time. The memo that I am quoting from 
I spent a full day reading and thinking about, and it was the most 
extreme case for Presidential power that I have ever read. In and of 
itself, it gives me cause to believe this is why--I could be wrong, but 
this is why he received that nomination.
  Given the broad implications of Presidential power and unlimited 
control Mr. Barr believes this President has over law enforcement 
matters, I cannot support this nominee to serve as Attorney General. At 
this critical time in our Nation's history, we must have an Attorney 
General who is objective and who is clearly committed to protecting the 
interests of the people, the country, and the Constitution.--not the 
President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota.


                                 S. 47

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, we are doing a number of important things 
in the Senate this week.
  Last night, we passed the Natural Resources Management Act. This is a 
bipartisan package of more than 100 individual bills that will help 
protect our natural resources, spur economic development, increase 
access to public lands, and much more.
  I was very pleased that my Custer County Airport Conveyance Act, 
which I introduced with the other Members of the South Dakota 
delegation, was included in this bill. This legislation will give 
Custer County Airport full ownership of the land on which it operates 
and allow the airport to make improvements to its facilities.
  Custer County Airport supports business and recreational aviation and 
fire suppression efforts in the Black Hills region, and I am pleased 
that this bill will increase the airport's ability to serve this area 
of South Dakota.
  I am grateful to Chairman Murkowski for her leadership on this 
important lands package, as well as to Ranking Member Manchin and all 
of those who worked on these bills at the committee level.


                       Nomination of William Barr

  Mr. President, last night, the Senate moved forward on William Barr's 
nomination to be Attorney General. We will have the final vote on that 
nomination later this week.
  The President made an outstanding choice with Mr. Barr. Mr. Barr is 
eminently qualified to be Attorney General. In fact, he has already 
been Attorney General--under President George H.W. Bush. He also served 
as Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel at the 
Department of Justice and as Deputy Attorney General.
  He has won respect from both sides of the aisle. He has been 
confirmed by the Senate without opposition--not once, not twice, but 
three times. He was unanimously confirmed as Attorney General under 
George H.W. Bush in a Democrat-controlled Senate. Then-Judiciary 
Committee Chairman Joe Biden described him as ``a heck of an honorable 
guy.''
  Senator Leahy also spoke at that time, expressing his belief that Mr. 
Barr would be ``an independent voice for all Americans.''
  Today, Mr. Barr continues to earn respect from Democrats. The ranking 
member on the Judiciary Committee noted in January:

       He's obviously very smart. He was attorney general before. 
     No one can say he isn't qualified.


[[Page S1290]]


  Mr. Barr is extremely smart and eminently qualified. He would be a 
judicious, thoughtful, and independent Attorney General, whose 
allegiance would be to, as he said, ``the rule of law, the 
Constitution, and the American people.'' I hope the Senate will quickly 
confirm him in a bipartisan fashion.


                           Government Funding

  Mr. President, the final order of business this week is funding the 
government. I am very pleased and encouraged that Chairman Shelby and 
his counterparts have reached an agreement ``in principle'' to fully 
fund the government and fund important border security measures.
  No one wants another government shutdown. I am very glad Democrats 
abandoned their efforts to force a cap on the number of individuals 
that Immigration and Customs Enforcement could detain in the interior 
of the country. If Democrats' enforcement cap had been adopted, 
Immigration and Customs Enforcement would have been forced to release 
criminals already in detention onto our Nation's streets. I am pleased 
that Democrats decided to separate themselves from the radical anti-
border-security wing of their party. Instead, the deal will now give 
Immigration and Customs Enforcement the flexibility it needs to address 
surges of illegal immigration at our southern border.
  I am also very glad Democrats moved from their insistence on zero 
funding for physical barriers at the border. Barriers are an essential 
element of border security, and I am pleased this compromise will allow 
55 new miles of physical barriers in the Rio Grande Valley's sector, 
which is a high-priority area for the Border Patrol. That is double the 
number of new miles provided in fiscal year 2018 and nearly three times 
as many as would have been available under a continuing resolution.
  I thank Chairman Shelby and Members of both parties who have been 
working on a funding and border security deal, as well as the staffers 
who have worked nights and weekends, to help develop this agreement. I 
look forward to reviewing the final language and voting on a final 
funding and border security package later this week.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                           Government Funding

  Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I appreciate the bipartisan conversation 
that is going on with the chair, and I hope more of that will go on. 
That really is a little bit of why I rise today, because I hope and 
pray that if there--while we have many legitimate policy differences in 
this body, one thing we ought to have absolute, complete agreement on 
is that the United States of America cannot afford another government 
shutdown.
  The last shutdown, which President Trump was so proud to initiate, 
cost our economy--and this is the lowest estimate we could find so we 
don't look like we are overstating--an estimated $6 billion.
  The truth is, that number hardly reflects the human cost of this 
self-inflicted disaster our country was led into. A recent survey found 
that 62 percent of Federal workers depleted most or all of their 
emergency savings, 42 percent of Federal workers took on debt to pay 
bills or other expenses, and 25 percent tapped their retirement 
accounts. If you tap your IRA, you pay tax penalties, and you get none 
of that reimbursed.
  Listen to this: 25 percent of our Federal workers who were the 
victims of this shutdown--25 percent of our Federal workers, during 
this shutdown, had to visit a food bank. If you work for the United 
States of America, the greatest Nation in the world, and you are asked 
to show up to work without pay, you should not have to visit a food 
bank.
  I spent most of my career in the private sector, and I am proud of 
those activities, but I know very few folks who work for any of my 
companies who would have continued to show up day in and day out to do 
their jobs if they were going for 35 days without pay--and 35 days 
without pay where, frankly, you had some Members of the so-called 
board, the Congress, who showed no appreciation at all for their 
suffering and many who said they didn't mind if that shutdown continued 
indefinitely.
  Those fellow Americans are Federal workers, contractors, private 
businesses that support Federal installations or the campground outside 
the Shenandoah National Park or the restaurant outside Petersburg 
National Battlefield--not just Federal employees, folks in the private 
sector as well endured tremendous hardship because the President 
decided to use their livelihoods as a bargaining chip. That can't 
happen again.
  While I want to always try to be optimistic and appreciate the 
bipartisan agreement that has been reached by the budget negotiators, 
unfortunately, we find ourselves in the same spot right now--
potentially just days away from another Trump shutdown.
  The President said he is not happy, but he won't say whether he will 
sign the bipartisan deal that came from the conference committee. Let's 
be clear. The uncertainty itself is having a negative impact on the 
operation of the Federal Government and costing taxpayer dollars each 
and every day that this cloud hangs over the government. Agencies are 
already interrupting investigations and canceling trainings and 
meetings. They are being forced to act as if the government will once 
again be shut down at the end of this week. This is just plain 
mismanagement of government by the Trump administration. It is another 
example of the disrespect this White House has shown to our Federal 
workforce.
  In Virginia, over the past few weeks, Senator Kaine and I have spent 
a lot of time listening to Federal workers. We heard from Federal 
workers who had to pull their kids out of daycare and send them away to 
relatives because they couldn't meet those daycare expenses if they 
weren't getting paid and folks who missed student loan payments or 
literally had to choose between their medications and paying rent. Now, 
these workers have started to receive some of their backpay, and many 
of them have not received all of their backpay from the shutdown.
  The truth is, those Federal workers who drew down their savings or 
incurred a tax penalty from taking money from their IRA or who took an 
advance on their credit card are not made whole by receiving backpay 
because they have incurred penalties that will never be made up, beyond 
the psychic damage that is taking place with their families.
  But even if we accept that most of the Federal workers will 
ultimately get their backpay, that is not the case for thousands of 
Federal contractors in Virginia and around the country. Quite honestly, 
the nightmare is not over.
  The President's decision to finally reopen the government didn't 
magically undo 35 days of missed pay. Unfortunately, no one from the 
White House could be bothered to meet with any of these folks, whether 
it be Federal workers or contractors who were hurt by this government 
shutdown. If they had, they would know how much pain this President's 
shutdown continues to inflict on Federal contractors, particularly low- 
and middle-income workers. I spent the last couple of months, the last 
month and a half listening to these folks describe the anxiety of not 
knowing when their next paycheck will come or if it will come at all.

  Sometimes when we think about Federal contractors, we think about 
high-priced folks, many of whom do a good job working for our 
government, many in my State. Sometimes that is the image of a Federal 
contractor. I wonder if most of the Members of this body realize that 
the people who clean the toilets at the Smithsonian or serve the food 
at the cafeteria in the Smithsonian are Federal contractors, and for 
the 35 days of the government shutdown--they have no recourse at this 
moment in time. They are struggling as we speak, and they will continue 
to struggle if Congress doesn't take advantage of this opportunity--if 
we get this deal signed by Friday and keep the government open--to make 
good on our commitment to those contractors as well. If we end up with 
the alternative and the government shuts down again, these folks' 
lives--at least their economic lives--will be in jeopardy.

[[Page S1291]]

  A number of small businesses--women-owned businesses, minority 
businesses, veteran-owned businesses--that tried, through this last 35-
day shutdown, to keep their workers on payroll had to take that money 
out of their business pockets to try to make ends meet. But after a 
couple of weeks, a lot of them couldn't afford to do that. Those 
businesses have shut down. Years and in certain cases decades of work 
down the drain, not because they did something that was mismanagement, 
not because they did something that was irresponsible, not because they 
weren't providing the taxpayers with the full value of their work, but 
because we here in Congress and the White House couldn't come to a 
common agreement on the most basic responsibility of government, which 
is to keep the doors open and the lights on.
  I held a roundtable recently with a contractor in Springfield, VA. A 
contractor there named Barbara told me she is behind on her rent and 
had to take her granddaughter out of daycare because she can't pay the 
bills. Now, she is glad she is back at work, but that 35 days with no 
pay--unless we rectify that with this deal that may come to pass before 
the weekend, she is still left in the cold. Another at that same 
roundtable told me she had to choose between food and medicine.
  A couple of weeks ago, I met a contractor named John, an Afghanistan 
veteran, who was picking up groceries at the food bank in Arlington 
because the shutdown wiped out his savings. We had some press, but John 
didn't want to go on camera. He was a little bit embarrassed that he 
had to pick up food at the food bank. This is someone who is a veteran. 
This is someone who continued to serve in terms of protecting the 
country. Thirty-five days without pay. With the status quo--he will 
never get those lost earnings back if we don't rectify that this week.
  Another contractor named Joseph, who works as a custodian at the 
Department of the Interior, told me this:

       We work just as hard as anyone else. We need our backpay so 
     we can catch up on our bills and survive.

  The remarkable thing is, for some of these janitors and custodial 
workers, on buildings that were open, they had to continue to work and 
still don't get backpay.
  One of the most heartbreaking things was listening to these 
contractors talk about the shame--the shame of being treated as if 
their work does not have value. The truth is, these folks take pride in 
their work because they love their country. That same contractor, 
Joseph, says he thinks of the building he cleans as the President's 
house, and he works hard because he wants to make it shine every day. 
What a disgrace that this government can't even honor his service with 
back wages so that he can pay his bills and get his personal finances 
in order.
  Many other contractors take pride in their work because it represents 
their independence. Over 45,000 disabled Americans work as Federal 
contractors through the AbilityOne Program. I know this program is very 
successful in Delaware. The Senator from Delaware will speak on it 
shortly.
  I have met contractors who are double amputees, veterans with PTSD, 
and folks with physical and intellectual disabilities. They are able to 
live normal lives and contribute to society because of these Federal 
contractor jobs. For many of them, these jobs are more than about pay. 
It is about respect. It is about being valued and part of a community, 
part of a team at the offices they work in. They suffer more than just 
about anyone when their lifeline--that source of income, independence, 
and dignity--is cut off because of a government shutdown.
  I will close with something a Federal contractor named Constance told 
me last week. Even though she and her team of custodians still face 
tremendous financial hardship, she told me that she remains hopeful. 
She is hopeful because she and her coworkers are now back to work, and 
she is hopeful because people in this Chamber are finally starting to 
listen to folks like her.
  I share her hope that the Senate will have the decency and the basic 
humanity to make sure, one, that we don't close down this government 
come Friday, and two, that when we come to this deal, we take that 
moment--and I see colleagues from both sides of the aisle. We have 
gotten the CBO score. It is scored to make sure the backpay for the 
contractors, with an emphasis toward low-income contractors, under 
$50,000--the cost would be at $1 billion. That is the CBO score. We 
ought to make sure that these people's lives--that the work they do is 
valued.
  I hope, as we have this bipartisan deal to avoid the shutdown, that 
we can also make it right for the folks who oftentimes many of us don't 
see--who clean the buildings, serve the food, many folks from the 
disabled community--who rely upon us to do the right thing.
  Congress should pass this backpay for Federal contractors 
legislation. The President should sign it, and if the President 
doesn't, the Congress should override his veto.
  Let's make sure, as we did with Federal workers, that they will 
always be assured that they will get their backpay. Let's make sure 
that contractors get that same decency. It is time to do the right 
thing.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.


                       Nomination of William Barr

  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I rise today to offer briefly my remarks on 
the nomination of William Barr to serve as Attorney General of the 
United States.
  This past Thursday, when the Judiciary Committee of the Senate 
considered him, I was absent, being the cochair of the National Prayer 
Breakfast. I would like to offer my conclusions briefly here on the 
floor.
  I have weighed carefully over several weeks William Barr's nomination 
to serve as the next Attorney General. Initially, I have to say, I was 
greatly encouraged that the President nominated a nominee whose service 
had included leadership roles in the Justice Department, including 
Attorney General of the United States.
  However, I believe my responsibility to assess Mr. Barr's candidacy 
requires me to consider his entire record, including his recent 
writings, his statements, and his work, and to focus on his ability to 
actually meet the test of our current time. Having met with him in 
person, having questioned him during the Judiciary Committee's 
confirmation hearing, having reviewed his record, and having reviewed 
his written answers to questions submitted for the record, I ultimately 
believe Mr. Barr does not meet this test. I am not confident that he 
will uphold the Attorney General's critical role in defending the 
Department of Justice as an institution and in ensuring that the 
special counsel's investigation proceeds with independence and, by so 
doing, restores the trust of the American people in the rule of law.
  In weighing his nomination, the memo Mr. Barr chose to author in June 
2018--and to submit--criticizing the special counsel's investigation 
into obstruction of justice, I concluded was significant and could not 
be ignored. Mr. Barr tried to narrow or minimize the import of this 
memo by saying it was a specific application to a particular statute. 
The fact remains that his memo is rooted in and embraces an 
exceptionally broad theory of executive power that could threaten not 
only the special counsel's investigation but a lot of our current 
understanding of the scope and reach of Executive power.
  When I asked him if he had sent other lengthy, detailed legal memos 
he had researched and written himself to the Department of Justice as a 
private citizen, he could only cite that one memo from this year, 
dealing critically with the special counsel's investigation.
  At his nomination hearing in the committee, I sought simple and 
concrete assurances from Mr. Barr that he would give the special 
counsel's ongoing investigation the independence and separation from 
partisan politics it needs and deserves. In some instances I was 
genuinely encouraged by his answers. I was glad to hear a forceful 
answer from Mr. Barr that he would not fire the special counsel without 
cause and would resign rather than do so, if so ordered.
  On other issues, however, he failed to give the sort of simple and 
clear commitment that former Attorney General Elliot Richardson gave at 
his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee during 
the period of an

[[Page S1292]]

important investigation in the 1970s. Mr. Barr would not commit to 
following the guidance of career DOJ ethics officials on whether he 
should recuse himself. He would not commit to deferring to special 
counsel Mueller's investigative decisions. Finally, he would not commit 
to making special counsel Mueller's final report public. In essence, 
Mr. Barr is asking the American people and those of us who represent 
them to trust him to do the right thing. There are reasons to believe 
that he will, but there are, as I have laid out briefly, reasons to be 
gravely concerned that he will not.
  Something my predecessor here in the Senate, Senator Joe Biden, 
expressed in voting to confirm him back in 1991, was his grave concerns 
about his expansive view of Executive power, but that was a very 
different time in our history, with a different Court and a different 
context.
  I think we must be clear-eyed about the moment our country faces and 
the Attorney General's potentially pivotal role in ensuring the 
integrity of the rule of law and the institutions of our democracy. I 
believe it is my responsibility in the Senate to protect the special 
counsel investigation, to ensure that other ongoing Federal 
investigations are not interfered with because of a narrow or partisan 
purpose, and to safeguard the rule of law.
  If Mr. Barr is confirmed, I hope he will prove me wrong. I hope he 
will demonstrate to the American people of all parties and backgrounds 
that he will put the interests of our democracy above the moment and 
partisan priorities. I hope he will prove to be a terrific, solid, and 
reliable steward for the ongoing investigation Special Counsel Mueller 
is leading into Russian interference in the 2016 election. If so, I 
will gladly put aside our policy differences to work with him for the 
good of the American people during this critical time, but I regret I 
have reached the conclusion that I cannot support his nomination this 
week.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.


                            Border Security

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, on Monday, I was in El Paso, TX, to talk 
with some of my constituents about the challenges that exist along our 
southwest border and how we can work together to address them.
  It is almost surreal to have people here in Washington, DC, who have 
never been to the border and whose, perhaps, only supposed knowledge is 
from novels they have read or movies they have seen. Having spent quite 
a bit of time along the border of Texas and Mexico, myself, I can tell 
you it is a unique part of our country and certainly a unique part of 
my State.
  The people you learn the most from are not the elected officials who 
serve here in Washington but rather from the Border Patrol, the 
sheriffs, the mayors, and countless others who live and work along the 
border. They can provide, I think, the kind of expert knowledge that we 
need in order to address the challenges that exist.
  What they tell me and what I have learned is that there is no one-
size-fits-all, because you can look at urban environments, like El 
Paso, or you can go out to Big Bend, which has thousands-of-feet-high 
cliffs overlooking the Rio Grande. Obviously, a physical barrier in one 
place, like in highly trafficked urban areas, is one situation, but 
putting it atop a 3,000-foot cliff is another. So no one-size-fits-all 
solution works.
  That is why it is important to listen to the stakeholders who live 
and work in these communities, and this is key to actually doing 
something with the feedback they provide. What I have constantly been 
reminded of is that border security is a combination of three parts: 
physical barriers in some hard-to-control locations, personnel, and 
technology. What is best for a high-trafficked urban area, as I said, 
is probably much different than what is good for the vast expanses 
between the ports of entry. Figuring out what we need or where we need 
it is not a decision that ought to be micromanaged in Washington. It 
should come from the experts who know the threats and challenges along 
every mile of the border.
  While I was in El Paso, we also talked--as we must--about the 
important role the border plays with our economy. Border communities in 
Texas depend on people and goods moving legally through our ports.
  For example, in Laredo, TX, alone, about 14,000 trucks pass each day 
through the ports of entry. It is one of the largest if not the largest 
land-based port in the United States. These goods need to move legally 
through our ports, and any disruption in legitimate international 
commerce can have a swift impact on these communities.
  For the people of El Paso, for example, border security means much 
more than just safety. It means economic security as well. Just as it 
is important to keep the bad actors out, it is equally important to 
promote efficient transit through our ports for legitimate trade and 
commerce.
  On Monday, I also had a chance to reconnect with my friend Mayor Dee 
Margo, the Mayor of El Paso. Among other things, we talked about the 
importance of ensuring that in our efforts to create a strong border, 
we are not neglecting our ports of entry.
  In recent months, a number of El Paso Sector Customs officers have 
been sent to other high-need areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. The 
personnel shortage has resulted in increased wait times for both 
pedestrian traffic and commerce. Certainly, fewer CBP agents mean a 
reduced vigilance in terms of screening out contraband and other things 
that we don't want coming into the country. The goods moving through 
the ports in El Paso fuel not just the local economy, as I said, but 
also that of the entire State of Texas--and, I would argue, of the 
Nation. I share the mayor's concerns on the harmful impact these 
slowdowns at the ports of entry can have.
  As we debate the importance of securing our borders to stop the 
illegal movement of people and goods, we shouldn't neglect the 
importance of facilitating legal movement through our ports. We need to 
do both, whether that means providing additional funding for 
infrastructure improvements or scanning technology to make sure the 
ports of entry aren't exploited by drugs in vehicles or other places 
where they are hard to find. In the absence of scanning technology, if 
we are unable to find them, the cartels win, and the American people 
lose. We also know that in addition to that technology, we need 
additional personnel.
  I hope my colleagues listen to the feedback that we have all gotten 
from the experts and these local stakeholders and take seriously the 
economic impact on our ports of entry as well.
  As I said yesterday, I look forward to reviewing the details of the 
funding agreement struck by the conference committee, and I hope that, 
in addition to physical barriers where appropriate, it reflects these 
principles of smart border security, because when we listen to the 
experts--the law enforcement officials who work along the border and in 
the communities--that is when we move in the right direction, spending 
money in a responsible and smart way rather than just pursuing 
political agendas from Washington.


                       Nomination of William Barr

  Mr. President, we are also going to be voting--perhaps today, maybe 
tomorrow--on the nomination of William Barr to serve as the next 
Attorney General of the United States. The role of Attorney General is 
unique in the President's Cabinet because while you are a political 
appointee of the President, you are also the Nation's chief law 
enforcement officer and, obviously, are obligated to put your highest 
loyalty in upholding the rule of law.
  I asked Mr. Barr about this unique role during his confirmation 
hearing. He told me that over the years he has received a number of 
calls from people who were being considered for appointment to the 
position of Attorney General. He told them that if they wanted to 
pursue any political future, they would be crazy to accept the job of 
Attorney General. He said: ``If you take this job, you have to be ready 
to make decisions and spend all your political capital and have no 
future because you have to have that freedom of action.'' He assured me 
that he is in a position now in his life where he can do what he needs 
to do without fear of any consequences.
  I was glad to hear that because I believe that is the most 
fundamental quality of an Attorney General. The Department of Justice 
must be able to operate above the political fray and

[[Page S1293]]

prioritize the rule of law above all else, and to do that it needs a 
strong and principled leader like Bill Barr--particularly, on the heels 
of Loretta Lynch's and Eric Holder's administrations as Attorneys 
General of the United States during the Obama term of office, where we 
know that, unfortunately, politics pervaded the actions not only of the 
Department of Justice but also the FBI in things ranging from the 
Hillary Clinton email investigation to the counterintelligence 
investigation of some of the people associated with the Trump campaign.
  Of course, this isn't the only reason he is the right person for the 
job. We know that he can faithfully execute the duties of the office 
because he has done it before.
  More than two decades ago, President George Herbert Walker Bush 
recognized the talent in this promising young attorney and nominated 
him to three increasingly important positions in the Department of 
Justice. For all three positions, Assistant Attorney General for the 
Office of Legal Counsel, Deputy Attorney General, and, finally, 
Attorney General, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. I would 
hope that he would be unanimously confirmed as Attorney General once 
again, but I have my doubts.
  After hearing Mr. Barr speak about his views of the role of Attorney 
General, I have no question as to why not a single Senator opposed his 
nomination during those three previous confirmation votes. He spoke of 
the importance of acting with professionalism and integrity, of 
ensuring that the character of the Department of Justice is maintained 
and can withstand even the most trying political times, and of serving 
with independence, providing no promises or assurances to anyone on 
anything other than faithfully administering the rule of law.
  When Mr. Barr was nominated for Attorney General the first time, 
then-Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden noted that Mr. Barr, a nominee from 
the opposing political party, would be a ``fine Attorney General.'' I 
agree, and I thank Mr. Barr for agreeing to serve, once again, this 
country in this critical position. I look forward to voting yes on his 
nomination.
  I would just add that I am saddened by the way the politics of the 
moment--the desire to defeat any legislation or oppose any nominee by 
this President--has led some of our colleagues across the aisle to 
oppose this nomination. I don't know whether it is out of fear of the 
most radical fringe of their political party or by their antipathy for 
this President, but it is regrettable.
  I do believe, however, that Mr. Barr will be confirmed, as he should 
be, as the next Attorney General of the United States. I look forward 
to casting a ``yes'' vote on that nomination.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, once again, I would like to respond to the 
Senator from Texas as he continues to hold the position that the 
Democrats on this side of the aisle simply oppose all of the 
President's nominees because they happen to be this lying President's 
nominees. That is not the case at all.
  Donald Trump has consistently thought to nominate people to his 
Cabinet who he believes will do his bidding and protect his interests. 
Once confirmed, if these Cabinet Secretaries displease him, out they 
go--Jeff Sessions, Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson.
  The President believes William Barr will be an Attorney General who 
will protect him. Why does the President believe that? Because William 
Barr auditioned for this position. How? Mr. Barr wrote a highly unusual 
and factually unsupported, unsolicited 19-page memo to the Sessions 
Justice Department, arguing that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should 
not be permitted to interrogate the President about obstruction of 
justice. Nobody asked him to weigh in.
  He admits he didn't have any facts or inside information, and, in 
fact, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chose not to discuss the 
matter with him, but Mr. Barr felt compelled not only to put his views 
in writing and send them to the Department of Justice, but he also made 
sure the President's lawyers knew his views. His memo sent a clear 
message to this President that he would protect Donald Trump from the 
Mueller probe.
  Once Donald Trump did nominate him for Attorney General, after having 
earlier offered him a job as his personal attorney--virtually the same 
job in Donald Trump's mind--Mr. Barr came to the Judiciary Committee 
and continued to signal his willingness to shield Trump from scrutiny.
  First, he refused to commit to follow the advice of career ethics 
officials on the question of recusal from the Trump investigations. He 
didn't want to make the same mistake Jeff Sessions did and open himself 
up to Presidential humiliation, no matter what the ethics experts 
recommended.
  Second, he refused to commit to make public Special Counsel Mueller's 
report. In both instances, he said he wanted to keep his options open, 
leave himself room to make his own decisions, and trust his ultimate 
judgment.
  While these answers were reassuring to the President, they certainly 
were not to those of us who want an Attorney General independent of a 
President who does not believe the rule of law applies to him. When 
asked at his hearing, Mr. Barr should have affirmatively committed to 
allowing all active investigations to continue until the prosecutors 
say they are done. That includes the special counsel's investigation, 
as well as the probes being conducted by, again, at least three U.S. 
attorney's offices. Instead, he gave his usual equivocal response.
  Of course, these are all active investigations having to do with Mr. 
Trump and his activities. Barr's position on these investigations is 
consistent with his views on the unitary Executive. He has long 
endorsed a view that the President is an all-powerful Executive, 
restrained by very little, least of all by Congress. This is a very 
dangerous view for the Attorney General to have, especially at a time 
when we have a President who attacks and undermines the rule of law.
  Mr. Barr's views on the Trump investigations and the unitary 
Executive aren't the only reason he should not be confirmed as Attorney 
General. His agreement with this administration's immigration policy 
also, in my view, disqualifies him. There was no daylight between 
Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions on immigration. Mr. Barr has given every 
indication that he will follow the lead of Jeff Sessions and of Matthew 
Whitaker in aggressively implementing, basically, Stephen Miller's 
extreme immigration policies.
  As George H.W. Bush's Attorney General, Barr played a key role in the 
Justice Department's policy in the early 1990s of detaining HIV-
positive Haitian refugees at Guantanamo Bay. These refugees were held 
in prison-like living conditions and denied medical treatment until a 
Federal court ruled that their indefinite detention was illegal.
  More recently, in November 2018, Mr. Barr cowrote an op-ed with the 
title ``We Salute Jeff Sessions,'' full of praise for Sessions' tenure 
at DOJ, including on immigration. Mr. Barr praised Sessions for 
``attack[ing] the rampant illegality that riddled our immigration 
system, breaking the record for prosecution of illegal-entry cases,'' 
and increasing prosecution of ``immigrants who reentered the country 
illegally'' by 38 percent.
  These statements are deeply concerning because as Attorney General, 
Mr. Sessions implemented policies that are abhorrent and in direct 
opposition to American values.
  Sessions instituted the zero-tolerance policy--a stain on our Nation 
that resulted in thousands of children being separated from their 
families, many of whom may never be reunited. This country, under Jeff 
Sessions, made instant orphans out of thousands of children. That is 
hardly a value that I think any of us can support.
  At his hearing, Mr. Barr also embraced key aspects of the Trump-
Miller immigration agenda, including endorsing Donald Trump's vanity 
wall; attacking cities that refused to undermine their own anti-crime 
efforts by cooperating with the Federal Government's draconian 
policies; agreeing with the Trump administration's atrocious treatment 
of legal asylum seekers; joining President Trump in criticizing judges 
for blocking the President's Muslim travel ban; and astoundingly, 
refusing to say whether birthright citizenship is guaranteed by the 
Constitution, telling me, when I asked him this, that he hadn't 
``looked at that legally.'' What is there to look at?

[[Page S1294]]

The Fourteenth Amendment plainly states that all persons ``born or 
naturalized in the United States . . . are citizens of the United 
States and of the State wherein they reside.'' Nullifying birthright 
citizenship would violate the Constitution and impact millions, but it 
is certainly something the President wants done.
  Mr. Barr's record and position on some of DOJ's other important 
responsibilities, such as enforcing civil rights laws, defending laws 
enacted by Congress, and protecting established constitutional rights, 
are unacceptable to me in the Nation's top law enforcement officer.
  Some examples include: Mr. Barr's refusal to admit that voter fraud 
is incredibly rare and his focusing on so-called voter fraud problems 
rather than voter suppression problems. States are very busy continuing 
to pass laws that should be attacked as a silly veiled effort at voter 
suppression, but that is not where Mr. Barr is; his stand that LGBTQ 
people are not protected from employment discrimination under Federal 
civil rights laws, contrary to what the Equal Employment Opportunity 
Commission and two Federal courts have held; his personal involvement 
in two challenges to major premises of the Affordable Care Act; his 
record of belief that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, including his 
statement that this landmark Supreme Court case guaranteeing a woman's 
right to choose, as he put it, was a ``secularist'' effort to 
``eliminate laws that reflect traditional norms.'' At a time when the 
newest Trump-appointed Justices on the Supreme Court have demonstrated 
a hostility toward a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, such 
an anti-choice Attorney General is a danger to women.
  In some of his academic writings, William Barr expressed his dismay 
at the moral decay of American society, but when I asked him at his 
hearing, he testified that he didn't have any problems with a President 
who lies every single day and has undermined so many of America's most 
important institutions such as the FBI, the Justice Department, and the 
intelligence community.
  An Attorney General is a member of the President's Cabinet and is 
entitled to enforce the administration's policies, but in this 
instance, the policies this President pursues are often pushed beyond 
the constitutional breaking point and just as often are plain cruel; 
i.e., the separation of children from their parents at the border, 
making them instant orphans.
  The Attorney General's independence is critical in normal times, but 
it is absolutely essential in these times that are anything but normal 
that his independence cannot be questioned. Sadly, I cannot say that.
  I cannot support William Barr's nomination. I urge my colleagues to 
vote against his confirmation.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lankford). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. DURBIN. What is the pending business before the Senate?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Barr nomination is pending before the 
Senate.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I rise to speak about the nomination of 
William Barr to be the next Attorney General of the United States.
  Mr. Barr has an admirable record of public service in his career. He 
has dramatically more qualifications and experience than many of his 
predecessors and, certainly, the Acting Attorney General. We can see he 
brings more experience to the job.
  I respect Mr. Barr and his family. I have told him as much to his 
face. He has a wonderful family, and he brought them with him to the 
hearing, and many of them have chosen public service careers, as he 
has.
  I carefully reviewed his record, trying to consider him in not only 
the context of this awesome responsibility of being Attorney General, 
but at this awesome moment in history.
  When it comes to the ongoing investigation of President Trump's 
campaign by Robert Mueller, I fear that Mr. Barr has said and done 
things that raise questions about his objectivity. He has clearly 
indicated to President Donald Trump and to all of us how he would 
oversee this investigation if he is confirmed. Just look at the 
unsolicited--unsolicited--19-page memo that William Barr sent to 
Special Counsel Mueller's supervisors and to the Trump legal defense 
team just in June of 2018.
  It is notable that Mr. Barr did not send this memo to Special Counsel 
Mueller himself, and he did not make it public.
  This was the only time Mr. Barr had sent a memo like this to the 
Justice Department, and he did not disclose in his memo that he had 
personally interviewed with the President the previous year about 
serving on the President's defense team.
  This memo is critical for its substance. In it, Mr. Barr argued that 
Bob Mueller, the investigator, the special counsel, should not be 
permitted to ask the President any questions about obstruction of 
justice, even though Mr. Barr's analysis focused only on one narrow 
obstruction theory.
  The memo calls into serious question Mr. Barr's ability to 
impartially oversee the obstruction of justice issues in the Mueller 
investigation at a moment in history when that is an essential 
question. Mr. Barr has made no commitment to recuse himself from such 
questions. That is worrisome.
  That William Barr would volunteer a 19-page legal memo with dramatic 
efforts at research and verification, give this to the President's 
defense team and to Mr. Mueller's supervisors at the Department of 
Justice, and basically make arguments diminishing the authority of the 
special counsel to move forward in the investigation raises a serious 
question about his impartiality.
  Just as important, I am alarmed by Mr. Barr's continued hedging about 
what he will do when Mr. Mueller completes his investigation and has a 
presentation of his conclusions, his evidence, and his findings.
  Make no mistake. Special Counsel Mueller's findings and conclusions 
should be shared with the American people and with the U.S. Congress. 
Current Department of Justice regulations and policies allow for such a 
release. I am concerned that Mr. Barr will exercise his discretion 
under those regulations narrowly and issue a cursory report that does 
not take the findings of the Mueller investigation in their entirety 
and make them available to the American people. This investigation is 
too critical to seal its result in some vault at the Department of 
Justice.

  I believe we can trust Bob Mueller to be impartial and unbiased. I 
don't know if he will find the President or people around him guilty of 
wrongdoing beyond the indictments and convictions that have already 
come down or whether he will conclude that there is no further 
responsibility or culpability, but I trust his findings, whatever they 
are. He is a true professional.
  It is important, after we have gone through a year or two of 
investigation, that the American people hear the details, hear the 
information that may be part of the Mueller investigation.
  I am also concerned that Mr. Barr will continue his predecessor's 
harsh approach on immigration instead of charting a different course.
  It was just last year, I believe in April in 2018, when the Attorney 
General Jeff Sessions announced something called the zero-tolerance 
policy.
  Do you remember it?
  The zero-tolerance policy said that the U.S. Government would 
forcibly remove infants, toddlers, and children from their parents at 
our border.
  The inspector general's reports say that it had been going on for a 
year before it was publicly announced.
  Twenty-eight hundred children were removed from their parents. What 
happened to them next is shameful. There was no effort made to trace 
these children and the parents who were forced to give them up.
  It was only when a Federal judge in San Diego stepped forward and 
required the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health 
and Human Services to make an accounting of how many children were 
still not united with their parents that they took the effort to do so 
months--months--after those children had been separated from their 
parents.

[[Page S1295]]

  I saw those kids in an immigration court in Chicago in a large office 
building that you would never guess was a court building in the Loop in 
Chicago. There it was, the immigration court taking up most of one 
floor in this office building. People were stacked three and four deep 
in the corridors, waiting for their hearing. But the judge--and she was 
a good person, a real professional--couldn't get her hearing underway. 
She had a problem with those who were appearing before her court that 
day. The problem was this: She had said that before they could start 
the proceeding, those who were appearing had to sit down. One of the 
clients who was in there for a hearing that day had some difficulty. I 
was there to witness it. The difficulty was she was 2 years old. She 
wasn't tall enough to crawl up in that chair without somebody lifting 
her.
  The other client who had a hearing that day, who had been removed 
under this zero-tolerance policy, was a little more skillful. He 
spotted a Matchbox car on the top of the table, and this 4-year-old boy 
got up in the chair to play with it.
  Those were two of the clients before this immigration judge in this 
office building in the Loop in Chicago. They had been forcibly removed 
from their parents, and they were up for a hearing. It was in August.
  As a result of the hearing, as with most of the hearings, they said: 
We are going to postpone this until we get further evidence. The next 
hearing will be in December--December.
  I would ask any parent, any grandparent: What would you think about 
being separated from that little girl, that 2-year-old girl, whom you 
love so much, for 6 months, 8 months, 9 months?
  That was the policy of this Trump administration with zero 
tolerance--a policy created and announced by Attorney General Jeff 
Sessions.
  So when I asked Mr. Barr: You are going to take over this job. What 
is your view on this type of policy? Sadly, I didn't get a direct 
answer.
  I am concerned that in many respects Mr. Barr could continue the 
harsh approach to immigration that we have seen by the Trump 
administration instead of charting a different course, a course more 
consistent with America's values and history.
  We are in fact a nation of immigrants. Throughout American history, 
immigration has strengthened and renewed our country. I stand here 
today, the son of an immigrant girl who came to this country from 
Lithuania at the age of 2. Her son grew up and got a full-time 
government job right here in the Senate. It can happen. It is my story. 
It is my family's story. It is America's story.
  When I listened to the diatribes by this President in the State of 
the Union Address about immigrants coming to this country--of course 
there are bad people. We don't want any of them in this country, and if 
they are here, we want them to leave. But think of all of the good 
people who have come to this country and made America what it is today. 
The President dismisses those folks, doesn't take them as seriously as 
he should, as far as I am concerned.
  I want to know if this Attorney General, Mr. Barr, subscribes to the 
President's theories on immigration. For the past 2 years, President 
Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions did everything in their power 
to make America's immigration policy harsh and unwelcoming.
  Mr. Barr's comments and history make me fear that he will bring the 
full weight of the Justice Department to advance the President's anti-
immigration agenda. Mr. Barr has refused to disavow the cruel and un-
American zero-tolerance policy, which I just described, that led to 
thousands of children being forcibly removed from their parents, and he 
has fully and repeatedly echoed President Trump's call for a border 
wall after the debate we have been through over the last several 
months, falsely arguing that it will help to combat the opioid 
epidemic. That is a ludicrous argument. In fact, the Drug Enforcement 
Administration, which Mr. Barr would supervise, has found that the vast 
majority of deadly narcotics coming into America through the Mexican 
border are coming in through ports of entry. They are not being carried 
in backpacks by people scaling fences. That is where our security 
efforts should be made, not with some medieval wall.
  Mr. Barr also falsely and repeatedly was critical of our asylum laws 
for a host of problems. Our asylum laws, which have historically had 
broad bipartisan support until this President came along, simply ensure 
that we honor our legal and moral obligation to provide safe haven to 
families and children who are fleeing persecution.
  Who are these families seeking asylum and refugee status in the 
United States? You can find members of those families right here on the 
floor of the United States Senate. You can find three Cuban-American 
U.S. Senators--one Democrat and two Republicans--whose families came 
here as refugees from Castro's Cuba. Are we having second thoughts now 
about whether they are a valuable part of America? I am not. These 
people, these Cuban-Americans, have become an integral part of our 
Nation. They were once refugees and asylees. Now, they are party of 
America's future, and we are better off for it.
  I could tell that story so many different ways. Soviet Jews trying to 
escape persecution in the old Soviet Union and the Vietnamese who stood 
by us and fought by our men and women in uniform during the Vietnam 
war, who had to escape an oppressive regime, came to the United States 
as refugees and asylees. We are now seeing under President Trump the 
lowest level of refugees in modern memory. We are walking away from our 
obligation to the world.
  And Mr. Barr called for withholding of Federal funds to force cities 
to cooperate with the Trump administration's immigration agenda, even 
though courts have repeatedly struck down that approach.
  Perhaps most troubling is Mr. Barr's comment to me that he thinks it 
is absolutely appropriate for the Attorney General to change the 
immigration rules to help advance a President's campaign. He said he 
did it to help the campaign of President Bush in 1992. The idea of an 
Attorney General letting campaign politics drive immigration 
enforcement is unacceptable regardless of the President.
  I am also concerned with the views Mr. Barr expressed on something 
known as the unitary executive theory and his expansive view of 
Presidential power. He put it bluntly in that 19-page memo I mentioned 
before, when he said the President alone is the executive branch. We 
need an Attorney General who recognizes the need for checks and 
balances, but he did not believe that this President should be held 
accountable for many of the actions he has taken. I may be naive, but I 
don't believe any American is above the law, including the President of 
the United States.
  This is not an ordinary time in the history of the Justice 
Department. President Trump has criticized the Judiciary, individual 
Federal judges, our intelligence Agencies, and the Department of 
Justice when they continued an investigation into his campaign. He has 
undermined their independence and integrity with his storm of tweets 
every single day.
  William Barr said he sees the Attorney General as ``the President's 
lawyer''--in his words--but the chief law enforcement officer of the 
United States is supposed to be the lawyer for the people of the United 
States. We need an Attorney General who will lead the Justice 
Department without fear or favor and who will serve the Constitution of 
the American people even if it means standing up to a President.
  If he is confirmed, I hope Mr. Barr will prove me wrong and that he 
will be a good Attorney General who came at the right moment in 
history, but I have not received the reassurances I was looking for 
from him to give him a vote to reach that position. I will be voting no 
on the Barr nomination.
  I see my colleague and friend Senator Leahy on the floor. I will 
withhold two other statements for the Record to yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I applaud the Senator from Illinois, the 
senior Senator from Illinois, for his comments. He knows what it is to 
have immigrants in your family, as do I. I was fortunate to have a 
little more understanding as my paternal grandparents immigrated to 
Vermont from Italy,

[[Page S1296]]

and my wife's parents immigrated to Vermont from French-speaking 
Canada. I still struggle with the Italian I knew as a child. I have 
done a little better with French, in order to speak to Marcelle's 
family. But I see the diversity that came of it. I see it in our State 
of Vermont, and I hope our country is better for it. So I thank the 
Senator from Illinois.
  The last time William Barr was before the Senate was 28 years ago, 
during the George H.W. Bush administration, and I voted for him to be 
Attorney General. I did so despite having some reservations that I 
shared with him and the Senate at the time. Mr. Barr and I did not see 
eye to eye on many issues. We did not then, and we do not now. But he 
was clearly qualified for the position, and he had earned the 
confidence of the Senate. So I felt free to vote for him.
  I am concerned by some of the remarks that Senator Durbin has 
referred to which seem to indicate that Mr. Barr may feel that he is 
the lawyer for the President, not only the Attorney General of the 
United States. He is there to represent everybody--everybody--and to 
make sure the laws are upheld for everybody.
  Now we find ourselves considering his nomination under 
extraordinarily different circumstances than we did when my friend 
President Bush had nominated him. Multiple criminal investigations loom 
over the Trump Presidency. In fact, these investigations may ultimately 
define the Trump Presidency, and the President has reacted to it with 
apparently the only way he knows how. He just attacks relentlessly. He 
doesn't respond to them, but attacks. That includes attacking 
investigators, witnesses, even the justice system itself. That also 
includes firing both the FBI Director and his previous Attorney General 
for not handling one of the investigations as the President wanted, but 
instead as the law required.
  The President views the Justice Department as an extension of his 
power. He has repeatedly called on it to target his political 
opponents. He has even reportedly told his advisers that he expects the 
Attorney General to protect him personally. I have been here with eight 
Presidents. I have never known a President, either Republican or 
Democrat, to have such an outrageous and wrong--wrong--view of the 
Department of Justice.
  The integrity of the Justice Department has not been so tested since 
the dark days of Watergate. Yet when the Judiciary Committee considered 
the nomination of Elliot Richardson to be Attorney General in the midst 
of that national crisis, nominated by Richard Nixon, the nominee made 
numerous, detailed commitments to the committee. Mr. Richardson did so, 
in his words, to ``create the maximum possible degree of public 
confidence in the integrity of the process.'' That same principle 
applies equally today.
  Indeed, that may be the only way the Justice Department escapes the 
Trump administration with its integrity intact. In large part due to 
the relentless politicizing of the Department by the President, 
millions of Americans will see bias no matter which way the Department 
resolves the Russia investigation. Because of seeing such bias, our 
country is diminished. The justice system is greatly diminished. In my 
view, the Department has only one way out--transparency. The American 
people deserve to know the facts, whatever they may be. That requires 
the special counsel's report, and the evidence that supports it, be 
made public.
  Unfortunately, despite efforts from both Republicans and Democrats in 
the Senate, Mr. Barr has repeatedly refused to make that commitment. 
Worse, much of his testimony before the Judiciary Committee left us 
with more doubts. Will Mr. Barr allow President Trump to make a 
sweeping, unprecedented claim of Executive privilege that allows him to 
hide the report? Will Mr. Barr, relying on a Department policy to avoid 
disparaging uncharged parties, not disclose potential misconduct by the 
President simply due to another policy to not indict sitting 
Presidents? We don't know the answer, but we do know that Mr. Barr's 
testimony on these issues could lay the groundwork for potentially no 
transparency at all.
  Mr. Barr also repeatedly refused to follow the precedent of Attorney 
General Jeff Sessions and commit to follow the advice of career ethics 
officials on whether he needs to recuse himself from the Russia 
investigation. He even declined my request to commit to simply sharing 
their recommendation with the Judiciary Committee. That is critical 
because there is reason to question whether an appearance of a conflict 
exists.
  Prior to his nomination, Mr. Barr made his unorthodox views on the 
special counsel's obstruction of justice investigation very clear. He 
did that with a 19-page memo sent directly to the President's lawyers. 
Mr. Barr spoke dismissively about the broader Russia investigation. He 
even claimed that a conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton was far 
more deserving of a Federal investigation than possible collusion, and 
this was notwithstanding the fact that, by that time, that conspiracy 
had been debunked. He was asked, in effect, whether this memo was a job 
application, because it is difficult to imagine that these views 
escaped the attention of the President. That makes it all the more 
critical that Mr. Barr follow the precedent of prior Attorneys General 
and commit to following the advice of career ethics officials on 
recusal.
  I am also concerned that, if confirmed, Mr. Barr would defend 
policies that I believe are both ineffective and inhumane. We heard 
Senator Durbin speak eloquently about the horrible, horrible program of 
separating families at the border, and I think the Nation is still 
reeling from that systematic separation. But, in light of that, Mr. 
Barr praised Jeff Sessions for ``breaking the record for prosecution'' 
of the misdemeanor offenses that forced families to be separated. In 
other words, on a misdemeanor, you take the child away from the parents 
and separate them. Nobody seems to know where everybody goes after 
that.
  Ask a 4-year-old: What are your parents' name? They will say, in 
whatever language: Mommy and daddy.
  Where do you live?
  We live in the house next to so-and-so.
  They don't know the addresses. They rely on their parents, and now 
they have been separated from them.
  It makes me think Attorneys General should be able to stand up for 
the rule of law. I remember a time when former Acting Attorney General 
Sally Yates stood up for the rule of law. She refused to defend 
President Trump's first iteration of his Muslim ban as a deeply flawed 
order. It was stained with racial animus, that even applied to 
individuals who were lawful permanent residents and had valid visas, 
Mr. Barr described Ms. Yates's decision as ``obstruction'' and a 
``serious abuse of office.''

  My God, this country should not have religious tests. If we did, my 
grandparents would not have been able to come to this country.
  Relevant to each of my concerns is Mr. Barr's extremely broad views 
of executive power. He is an advocate of the unitary executive theory, 
believing that the Constitution vests nearly all executive power ``in 
one and one only person--the President.'' He has said that an Attorney 
General has ``no authority and no conceivable justification for 
directing the department's lawyers not to advocate the president's 
position in court.'' This expansive view of a President's power would 
concern me no matter whose administration it was. In fact, if you go 
way back in history, it conflicts with Supreme Court Justice James 
Iredell's observation in 1792 that the Attorney General ``is not called 
the Attorney General of the President, but Attorney General of the 
United States.''
  I find Mr. Barr's deferential view of Executive power especially 
concerning. We already know much of what President Trump intends to do. 
It includes taking billions of dollars that Congress has already 
appropriated and diverting it toward a wasteful and ineffective vanity 
wall. What would Mr. Barr do when confronted with such an order? He has 
essentially told us: Mr. Barr has argued that Congress's appropriations 
power provided under Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution is ``not 
an independent source of congressional power'' to ``control the 
allocation of government resources.'' That would come as great news to 
everybody--Republicans and Democrats--who has been an appropriator in 
any session of Congress.

[[Page S1297]]

He even believes, that if a President ``finds no appropriated funds 
within a given category'' but can find such money ``in another 
category,'' he can spend those funds as he wishes so long as the 
spending is within his broad ``constitutional purview.'' Such views 
should concern all of us here--Republicans and Democrats alike--who 
believe, as the Founders of this country believed, that Congress 
possesses the power of the purse.
  Unfortunately, I fear that Mr. Barr's long-held views on Executive 
power would essentially be weaponized by President Trump--a man who we 
know derides any limits on his authority. Over the past two years, we 
have seen the erosion of our institutional checks and balances in the 
face of creeping authoritarianism. That can't continue.
  In conclusion, let me be clear. I respect Mr. Barr. I voted for him 
when President George H. W. Bush nominated him. As Attorney General, I 
do not doubt that he would stand faithfully by his genuinely held 
convictions, but I fear this particular administration needs somebody 
who would give him a much tighter leash, as Attorneys General have in 
the past. So because of that, I will vote no on Mr. Barr's nomination.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, while Senator Leahy is still on the floor, 
I want to thank him for his extraordinary work on the conference 
committee to try to resolve our budget impasse. I know he has been 
working night and day. He has shared with many of us the work he has 
been doing on behalf of getting a budget that reflects the will of this 
body and of the House, and hopefully it will be completed before 
midnight on Friday.
  So I want to personally thank the distinguished Senator, the senior 
Senator from Vermont, Mr. Leahy, for the work he has done to keep the 
government open, to provide security for our borders, and to make sure 
we get all of our appropriations bills done.
  Mr. LEAHY. Thank you.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to proceed as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                          Black History Month

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, 54 years ago, 600 nonviolent protesters 
set off to march from Selma to Montgomery, AL, to protest the 
disenfranchisement of Black voters in the South.
  They got as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge when they saw police 
officers lined up on the other end, waiting with tear gas, clubs, and 
dogs. The iconic bridge stood between the police and protesters like a 
physical barrier between hope and violence, democracy and second-class 
citizenship.
  Although the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments--which cemented into law 
the freedom, citizenship, and voting rights of Black Americans--passed 
nearly 100 years earlier across the country, literacy tests, poll 
taxes, violence, and intimidation stood in the way of this 
constitutional promise. This was especially true in Alabama.
  According to the 1961 Civil Rights Commission report, at the time of 
the famous protests, fewer than 10 percent of the voting-age Black 
population was registered in Alabama's Montgomery County. This infamous 
march from Selma was intended to right the wrong and to shine light on 
the injustice of all the many laws that kept voting from being 
accessible to Black Americans.
  For months leading up to it, a community of activists--led by Martin 
Luther King, Jr., and of course our esteemed colleague Representative   
John Lewis--carried out voting registration drives and nonviolent 
demonstrations, all against the resistance of the local government and 
members of the Ku Klux Klan. These efforts laid the groundwork for the 
march from Selma, which ended with Alabama State troopers attacking the 
protesters.
  The images of the State-sponsored violence were shown across the 
country, galvanizing the American public in favor of voting rights in a 
day that has since become known as Bloody Sunday.
  Five months later, on August 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act was 
signed into law. The bill is one of the crowing victories of the civil 
rights movement and for our American democracy.
  This monumental legislation outlawed the malicious barriers to the 
polls and held States accountable for the discriminatory obstacles 
imposed on citizens who sought to fulfill their constitutional right. 
It opened doors for Black citizens across the South to register, to 
cast a vote, or to run for office in higher numbers than ever before.
  As we celebrate this February as Black History Month, we must 
remember that Black history is American history. We must remember that 
too often in our Nation's past, the work to create a more perfect Union 
has fallen upon the shoulders of Americans whose full rights of 
citizenship were discounted simply because of the color of their skin. 
The right to vote is a fundamental American tenet. Yet it has 
historically been denied to men and women of color.
  We must remember that when we tell stories of those who fought and 
struggled to secure voting rights in our Nation's past, it is because 
their stories serve as a precursor to our own.
  Today voting rights are still under attack. Many who survived the 
brutal attack on Bloody Sunday and lived to see the passage of the 
Voting Rights Act have also lived to see the same monumental bill 
weakened by the 2013 Shelby County Supreme Court decision.
  They have watched our President and Republican legislators tout myths 
of voter fraud to justify strict voter ID laws, partisan 
gerrymandering, and limited access to voting information. These efforts 
undoubtedly disadvantage Black Americans more than most and put a 
scourge on the system that defines our democracy. It is an insult to 
those who were robbed of their freedom and oftentimes their lives to 
create a more equal future.
  One such example of modern voter disenfranchisement can be found in 
the fact that the United States denies voting rights to citizens with 
felony convictions. We are one of the exceedingly few Western 
democracies that permanently strip citizens of their right to vote as a 
punishment for their crimes.
  Let's be clear. We are not talking about voting rights for felons 
currently incarcerated; we are talking about voting rights for those 
who have served their time and have since been released, attained jobs, 
raised a family, paid taxes, and moved on with their lives. Under the 
current law in 34 States, these individuals are still denied the right 
to vote, and that is simply unfair and undemocratic.
  Black History Month demands that we bring this injustice to light 
because felony disenfranchisement disproportionately affects men and 
women of color. One out of thirteen Black Americans is currently unable 
to vote because of a prior conviction for which they have already 
served time--a rate that is more than four times greater than the non-
Black Americans.
  Right now, in total, more than 2 million Americans are unable to vote 
because of prior convictions, despite having already served their time 
and paying their debt to society. That is why this year I will again be 
introducing the Democracy Restoration Act, a bill that would restore 
voting rights to individuals after they have been released and returned 
to their community.
  I am committed to seeing this legislation passed. My hope is that 
Black History Month inspires all of my colleagues on both sides of the 
aisle to join me.
  We must also combat efforts to intimidate and disenfranchise voters. 
That is why last year I introduced legislation that would prohibit and 
penalize knowingly spreading misinformation, such as incorrect polling 
locations, times, or the necessary forms of identification. This 
Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Act will prohibit and 
penalize intentionally and knowingly spreading misinformation to voters 
that is intended to suppress the vote, including the time and place of 
an election and restrictions on voter eligibility.
  Reliably, these tactics always seem to target minority neighborhoods 
and are blatant attempts to reduce turnout. Such tactics undermine and 
corrode our very democracy and threaten the integrity of our electoral 
system.
  In Stacey Abrams' response to the State of the Union last week, she 
said that ``the foundation of our moral leadership around the globe is 
free and fair

[[Page S1298]]

elections, where voters pick their leaders--not where politicians pick 
their voters.'' This is precisely why I have chosen to speak out about 
voting rights this month--because this issue defines our moral and 
democratic character as a nation and because it is an area where we 
still have so much work left to do.
  Casting a vote is one of the most basic and fundamental freedoms in 
any democracy, and Congress has the responsibility to ensure the right 
is protected.
  Congress has the responsibility to remove barriers to voting and make 
it easier for people to register to vote, cast their vote, and make 
sure their votes are counted. No one can appreciate the need for us to 
meet this responsibility better than Black Americans whose collective 
story is one of triumph over racist laws and undemocratic norms.
  On Black History Month, Congress must vow to follow their example and 
work together across party lines to make voting easier, fairer, and 
more accessible to all.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Romney). The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                       Nomination of William Barr

  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I want to join my colleagues today in 
making some brief remarks on William Barr's nomination to serve as 
Attorney General of the United States.
  I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Barr one-on-one in my office. 
We had a very good meeting, and we talked in some detail about securing 
our elections from foreign interference, something that is a major 
priority of mine, and we really are close in passing a bipartisan bill, 
which Senator Lankford and I have, called the Secure Elections Act. We 
just need a little help and support from the administration.
  We also talked about modernizing our antitrust enforcement to fit the 
challenges that we have today and to make our laws as sophisticated as 
the trillion-dollar companies we are now seeing and the mergers we are 
seeing all across the United States. So we had a good discussion about 
that.
  We also talked about his family and working in the Justice 
Department. During the hearing, I gave an opportunity for him to talk 
to those workers who were, through no fault of their own, furloughed or 
not getting paid, and he clearly showed respect for the people in the 
Justice Department. I appreciate all of that. I think that is important 
to have in an Attorney General.
  But I have some serious concerns about this nominee. I had already 
announced I was opposing him during our Judiciary Committee vote, but I 
have some serious concerns when you look at the context in which he has 
come before us.
  His nomination comes at a time when there are investigations by a 
special counsel and multiple U.S. attorney's offices in New York into 
campaign finance violations and an attempt, as we know, by a foreign 
adversary to interfere in our elections. This special counsel's 
investigation has led to indictments or guilty pleas from over 30 
people and three companies, including seven former advisers to the 
President.
  These investigations, as we know, go to the heart of the integrity of 
our elections, our government, and our institutions, and it is why it 
is essential, first of all, that Special Counsel Mueller and the U.S. 
attorney's offices be allowed to finish their work free of political 
interference.
  The President, as we know, has made past statements and sent out 
tweets about Attorney General Sessions: I am critical of him for 
allowing these investigations to go forward. This is the context we are 
in. He has made it very clear as to what he is looking for in an 
Attorney General. He wants someone who will be his lawyer. He wants 
someone to use the Justice Department, in a way, to protect him.
  I think this should worry us because, yes, the Attorney General works 
for the President, but, more importantly, who the Attorney General 
really works for are the people, the people of the United States.
  The Attorney General of the United States is the people's lawyer and 
pledges to uphold the rule of law and apply the law equally no matter 
who you are.
  Mr. Barr has made clear, one, that he respects Mr. Mueller, which I 
truly appreciate. He said that both in my private meeting and on the 
record at the hearing. But he has also said that he intends to take 
over supervision of the special counsel's investigation.
  He wouldn't commit, at his nomination hearing--despite having written 
that 19-page memo, he wouldn't commit to following the advice of career 
ethics lawyers at the Department about whether he should be recused.
  Why did that concern me? Well, because he had actually commended the 
Deputy Attorney General for following those rules, and he had commended 
Senator and then-Attorney General Sessions for following these rules. 
So that concerns me.
  We know that if he is confirmed, he will be in a position to oversee 
the special counsel's budget, the scope of the investigation, and he 
will, ultimately--and this is key--receive the results of investigation 
under law.

  He will get to decide whether the results are released to the public 
or, perhaps, as he suggested during the hearing, are not released at 
all, and that is in addition to those related investigations he will 
oversee. These U.S. Attorney's investigations don't have the special 
counsel regulations to protect them, so he is in direct line to oversee 
those.
  Even though many of my colleagues asked him to pledge to make Special 
Counsel Mueller's report public, he wouldn't commit to do so. He always 
had a way to kind of dodge a commitment to do so, instead of, in my 
mind, making a full-throated endorsement of releasing that report.
  If he is confirmed, he will also have room to make his own 
interpretation of what the law allows. In fact, as Attorney General, he 
can make the Department's rules and regulations and issue guidance that 
would make the difference between transparency and obscurity. That is 
why we have to look at his judgment on this particular issue.
  Maybe if we were in a different time, in a different moment, we would 
be talking about things like the opioid epidemic and what the Attorney 
General is doing, which is very important, and I know he does care 
about that; or we would be devoting our moment, which I wish we could 
be doing, to antitrust and upgrading the way those laws are enforced 
and what we should do; or we would be talking, which we should be 
doing, about the SECOND STEP Act and not just the FIRST STEP Act.
  All of those questions were asked in the hearing--immigration reform, 
very important issues--but we are where we are. We are where we are, 
and we have to look at his judgment to see what kind of Attorney 
General he would be at this time with respect to law and order, which, 
to me, right now, is not just about law and order in our communities--
very important--but it is also about law and order when it comes to our 
entire justice system.
  Like many of the nominees from the President, Mr. Barr has 
demonstrated, just as Justice Kavanaugh did, just as Justice Gorsuch 
did, an expansive view--an unprecedentedly expansive view of 
Presidential power. We don't have to look far to see how those views 
would impact the special counsel's investigation.
  Just a few months before he was nominated as a private citizen--I 
don't have many constituents who would do this, but, for some reason, 
Mr. Barr decided to send in this 19-page memo as a private citizen. It 
was no ordinary memo. This memo was 19 pages, single-spaced, and 
addressed to the leadership of the Justice Department, but it was sent 
to all of these people--conservative activists and all kinds of people 
all over the place, the lawyers at the White House Counsel's office, 
and the President's personal lawyers. I don't think my constituents 
would really have their addresses or emails, but it was sent to all of 
these people.
  It argued that a portion of the special counsel's obstruction of 
justice inquiry was ``fatally misconceived.'' He

[[Page S1299]]

said that it was based on a legally insupportable reading of the law.
  Now, that makes you pause. How can we be sure, how can we think he 
can impartially evaluate the special counsel's investigation if, before 
he has even seen its result, he writes extensively that part of it, not 
all of it, was legally insupportable and fatally misconceived?
  It is not just those statements that are troubling. He goes on to 
state, not for the first time, his alarming views about the President's 
powers. Here is one of them: ``[T]he President's law enforcement powers 
extend to all matters, including those in which he had a personal 
stake.''
  Mr. Barr doesn't cite laws or cases from the Supreme Court or the 
history of our Nation's founding or even the Federalist Papers when 
making his claims. He just says it as if it is obvious.
  Let me be clear about what he means by this. Mr. Barr believes that a 
President gets to supervise an investigation into his or her own 
conduct. As a former prosecutor, I know that it is a fundamental value 
in our country that no one--no one--is above the law, and it is a 
fundamental principle in our legal system that no one should be a judge 
in their own case, not even the President of the United States.
  I also have grave doubts about Mr. Barr's respect for Congress, a 
coequal branch of government, and our duty to provide oversight of the 
executive branch.
  Mr. Barr is a proponent of the unitary executive theory, which is the 
idea that the President has expansive powers, even in the face of 
Congress's constitutional duties. His writings on the topic raise 
serious questions about how Mr. Barr will approach congressional 
oversight of the administration.
  I am concerned that Mr. Barr will rely on the broad interpretation of 
Executive power to support the White House's reported efforts to exert 
Executive privilege to prevent the release of the special counsel 
report, its findings, or its conclusions.
  If that happens, Congress must be ready to assert our responsibility 
to make sure the public and, especially, State election officials who 
are working to secure our elections have the facts about what happened.
  How are we going to fix this in the next election if we don't know 
what happened? How are we going to have accountability for our 
government if the public is shut out in viewing what happened?
  This is not the time to install an Attorney General who has 
repeatedly espoused a view of unfettered Executive power. Congress 
cannot abdicate its responsibilities or shirk its duties--not when it 
comes to national security, foreign relations, the budget, or, as is 
key today, oversight into law and order.
  A few years ago, I went to Atlanta to make a speech, and, of course, 
I took a little trip over to the Carter Presidential Library. Of 
course, I wanted to see this library--I had never seen it--to learn 
more about President Carter, but as a Minnesotan, I really wanted to 
look for all the Mondale memorabilia. I may have been the only one 
there looking for Joan's dress and other things related to the Mondale 
half of the Carter-Mondale team.
  One of the things I noticed that to me was most prominent was a quote 
of Walter Mondale's etched on the wall. At the time, I liked it. I 
thought it was simple. I wrote it down, and I put it in my purse. But I 
never knew how relevant it would be today. The quote came from 
Mondale's reflections on his service with President Carter after they 
had lost their reelection but had served their country for 4 years. He 
said:

       We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace.

  I believe that is the minimum standard we should expect of any 
administration. We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the 
peace. Every President faces great challenges, many of which are 
unforeseen and require difficult decisions, but at the minimum, an 
administration should tell the truth, obey the law, and do all they can 
to keep the peace.
  That is where I will end. What concerns me about this nominee is not 
the vast experience he has or the work he would do on a few of the 
things that I mentioned; it is his views on Executive power, his views 
on Congress's power to be a check and balance to the Executive, his 
views on what the Executive can do right as we face this crucial time 
in history, when coming right at us is this major report from the 
special counsel. I want someone who will make sure that whoever is in 
the White House obeys the law and tells the truth.
  Sadly, I cannot support this nominee. I do hope that I am wrong in 
some of my conclusions based on what I have read and heard. I would 
like nothing more.
  I appreciate so much the work of Rod Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney 
General and many of the other people in the Justice Department who have 
worked with him to allow this investigation to continue. I hope that 
will be the case if this nominee does go through this Chamber, that he 
will do the same.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.


                                 S. 429

  Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, cyber attacks are one of the greatest 
threats to our national security today. As our world becomes 
increasingly connected, bad actors are trying to infiltrate our most 
critical networks, from our military systems and our electrical grid to 
our financial institutions and our small businesses.
  We face a rising number of cyber attacks that have the potential to 
expose our sensitive, personal information or disrupt nearly every 
aspect of our lives. These cyber security vulnerabilities cut across 
every industry. Whether you are a small business trying to protect your 
customers' credit card details, a doctor's office with private medical 
insurance information, or even a sophisticated tech startup that needs 
to safeguard your customers' passwords, cyber security protections are 
absolutely vital to your success.
  We have seen the dangerous consequences of attacks that exposed the 
private data of millions of Americans--from companies like Equifax and 
Target to Federal Agencies like the Office of Personnel Management and 
the IRS. Government Agencies of all sizes are at risk of a breach that 
could jeopardize the sensitive information they are trusted with, and 
these threats will only continue to grow.
  We need a skilled cyber workforce of professionals to shore up our 
cyber protections, fortify our legacy systems, and build new and 
innovative infrastructure with safety and security in mind. Despite the 
glaring need for more cyber security professionals, we face a serious 
shortage of highly trained cyber experts to fill these positions. 
Estimates indicate there is a global shortage of approximately 3 
million desperately needed cyber security professionals, including 
nearly half a million in North America, where government and the 
private sector are competing to hire the best talent.
  The Federal Government faces serious challenges in this competition. 
Agencies often cannot offer the same top salaries and benefits that 
Silicon Valley uses to entice and to retain employees. Our cyber 
workforce is on the frontlines of every aspect of our digital security, 
and we need policies that address that reality and sustain and grow our 
ranks.
  While thousands of dedicated public servants choose to work in 
government because they are motivated by the mission of serving our 
country, there is more we can do to grow the pool of cyber workers and 
recruit them to government service. Congress has made strides in recent 
years to improve incentives and attract skilled cyber professionals to 
join the ranks.
  Moving forward, we can make cyber positions in government more 
attractive by providing cyber professionals with unique opportunities 
to enhance their careers while they help protect our country's 
security. That is why I introduced the Federal Rotational Cyber 
Workforce Program Act with Senator Hoeven. Our bipartisan legislation 
helps the Federal Government develop an integrated cyber security 
workforce that retains high-skilled employees by establishing a 
civilian personnel rotation program specifically for cyber 
professionals. It is based on similar joint duty programs for the 
military services and the intelligence community.
  The Rotational Cyber Workforce Program will provide civilian 
employees in

[[Page S1300]]

cyber roles opportunities to enhance their careers, broaden their 
professional experience, and foster collaborative networks by 
experiencing and contributing to the cyber mission beyond their home 
Agencies. By offering these kinds of dynamic and rewarding 
opportunities, this legislation will help retain highly talented cyber 
professionals and strengthen our government's security by developing 
greater interagency awareness and collaboration.
  I am pleased that this morning the Homeland Security and Government 
Affairs Committee unanimously approved this legislation. It moves us 
closer to closing the cyber security workforce gap.
  In addition to taking commonsense steps like we did today in 
committee, Congress needs to look ahead and plan for long-term 
solutions to ensure that we always have a strong, competitive pool of 
cyber security talent to draw on. We need policies that encourage 
students of all ages and educational levels to seek out STEM fields, 
such as computer science, so they are prepared to fill these in-demand 
jobs and be our first line of defense against these emerging and 
rapidly evolving threats.
  I look forward to continuing to work with my Republican and 
Democratic colleagues to get this bill signed into law and to advance 
other commonsense legislation that strengthens our Nation's cyber 
capabilities and safeguards the weakest links in the cyber security 
chain from harm.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                           Tax Filing Season

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I come to the floor for two reasons: No. 
1, to speak about the tax bill of 1 year ago, and then, for a longer 
period of time, to address the issue before the Senate, which is the 
nomination of Mr. Barr.
  The tax filing season began just over 2 weeks ago. Despite the 
disruption of the temporary partial government shutdown, the IRS is 
reporting to the Nation that all systems are go. Tax returns are being 
processed as normal, and refunds are being sent out. While there are 
lingering effects from the shutdown, overall, the IRS and Treasury have 
done a pretty good job of minimizing the effects of the shutdown on tax 
filers.
  This season is receiving additional scrutiny as it is the very first 
time that tax filers are filing under the tax cuts and reforms enacted 
last year. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle and some in the 
media appear to be obsessed with finding anything they can manufacture 
to declare the filing season under the new law a failure. Of course, 
that is after only 2 weeks of tax filing--not a long enough period of 
time to draw too many conclusions.
  Case in point: Last week the IRS released preliminary filing data 
covering the first weeks of the filing season. Immediately, naysayers 
began focusing on data that suggests that tax refunds in the first week 
were down slightly over last year, as well as focusing on anecdotal 
social media posts. Never mind that the current refund numbers are 
based on only a few days of data, or that refund statistics can vary 
widely from one week to the next. Never mind that most of the social 
media posts are unverified. Many have the markings of a coordinated 
effort by liberal activists who have regularly used hashtag ``GOP tax 
scam'' to attack the law on Twitter, despite a vast majority of 
taxpayers paying less in taxes.

  Yet our journalists, who are well educated and ought to know better, 
fall for it--hook, line, and sinker--including such tweets in articles 
with no questions asked or verifying the veracity of these claims.
  To be fair, oftentimes buried deep in such articles, well below a 
sensational headline, is an attempt to demonstrate some semblance of 
unbiased reports, noting that under the tax law, most taxpayers will 
see tax cuts. That is right. Most taxpayers will see tax cuts. You most 
assuredly wouldn't know this from the headlines bemoaning a reduction 
in tax refunds, but the vast majority of taxpayers experienced a tax 
cut last year, and will this year, as well.
  Every analysis--from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation to 
the right-leaning Tax Foundation, to the liberal Tax Policy Center--
demonstrates that taxpayers are sending less of their hard-earned money 
to Washington this year.
  As an example, an Iowa family of four with the State's family median 
income of around $75,000 stands to see their tax bill cut by more than 
half, or about $2,100 in savings. This is real tax relief that began 
appearing in many taxpayers' paychecks at the start of 2018. That is a 
very important point. The government could have chosen to deprive this 
taxpayer of this extra $2,100 last year until they filed their taxes 
during this tax season.
  This may have been the best thing to do if you are someone who starts 
with the assumption that their money would be better off in the hands 
of the government interest-free. But I do not believe that is the best 
thing to do.
  I believe taxpayers know better how to spend their hard-earned money 
than Washington does. It should be up to the individual taxpayer 
whether it is in his or her interest to put that extra $2,100--or about 
$175 a month--in a savings account or spend it on buying school 
supplies for their children or maybe even making a car payment. That is 
a decision 157 million taxpayers can make and not 535 Members of 
Congress or the bureaucrats who are out spending the money.
  In early 2018, Treasury and the IRS implemented updated withholding 
tables to give taxpayers that option of deciding whether to save or 
spend and what to spend it on or how to save it.
  A chief priority for the new withholding tables was accuracy. The 
IRS' goal was to help taxpayers get the right amount withheld from 
their paycheck. However, common sense ought to tell us that no 
withholding table will ever be perfect--at least not perfect for 157 
million different taxpayers. If they were, there would be no need for 
tax refunds. Only what was necessary to satisfy a taxpayer's tax 
obligation would need to be taken from their paychecks.
  But that is unlikely. Every taxpayer is affected a little differently 
under the Tax Code based on their personal circumstances, and some 
taxpayers' incomes may fluctuate throughout the year. This makes exact 
withholding based on general tables nearly impossible. As a result, the 
amount of a taxpayers' refund is unlikely to be exactly the same as it 
was under the old law compared to our new law. Yes, some taxpayers may 
see a smaller refund, but others may see a larger refund. The size of 
one's refund tells you nothing about whether a specific taxpayer 
benefited from last year's tax law.
  Given this fact, the best way for any taxpayer to see how tax reform 
affected their bottom line is to compare this year's tax return with 
last year's tax return, rather than making that judgment based upon 
what the refund is.
  Tax preparers and tax return software often will provide an analysis 
comparing the current and previous year's tax return. I encourage 
taxpayers to compare the total amount of taxes paid this year with the 
total taxes paid last year, or, if your income materially changed from 
last year, compare your effective tax rate. That is the taxes paid as a 
percentage of your adjusted gross income. If your tax preparer does not 
already provide you with this information, simply ask them for that 
information.
  If taxpayers take this approach, the vast majority will see that 
their tax bill has gone down. This is what matters, not the size of 
their refund. The size of the refund tells you nothing beyond the 
degree to which a taxpayer has overpaid their taxes over the course of 
the year. I hope Americans will take the time to check so they know the 
real effects that last year's tax cuts had on their lives and their 
family.


                       Nomination of William Barr

  Mr. President, I will now turn my attention to the vote that will 
happen shortly today or tomorrow on William Barr to be Attorney General 
for the United States.
  Mr. Barr is a highly accomplished attorney and an experienced public 
servant with an outstanding record. The

[[Page S1301]]

Justice Department needs good, effective leadership, and we should act 
quickly to fill this top spot.
  I believe that Mr. Barr will be a good leader for the Justice 
Department as he has demonstrated in the past. In my opinion, at his 
Judiciary Committee nomination hearing, Mr. Barr was very candid with 
Senators. I believe he did his best at answering questions on his views 
on a wide variety of topics, as well as addressing concerns, including 
my own.
  For example, at the beginning of this confirmation process, I had 
concerns regarding Mr. Barr's prior negative statements on a subject 
that I have been working on for 4 years with Senator Durbin and Senator 
Lee--criminal justice reform.
  In particular, I was concerned about a 1992 Justice Department report 
released when he was Attorney General entitled ``The Case for More 
Incarceration.'' That title ought to tell you that he is tough on law 
enforcement. I was also concerned about a letter he signed in 2015 
opposing the bill that we then entitled the Sentencing Reform and 
Correction Act of 2015. Obviously, if I think we need criminal justice 
reform for the first time in a generation, and the Attorney General 
puts out a letter against the part of it that Senator Durbin and I were 
working so hard on--by the way, the President signed that just before 
Christmas--then, I think it is legitimate that I ask him these 
questions.
  As Attorney General, Mr. Barr will be responsible for implementing 
the recently passed FIRST STEP Act of 2018, which 89 Members of this 
body supported. These Members also worked tirelessly for its passage. 
The FIRST STEP Act is the title of the bill that I call criminal 
justice reform. This is why one of my first questions during his 
confirmation hearing was to directly and clearly ask Mr. Barr if he 
would commit to fully implementing the FIRST STEP Act, considering the 
fact that he had written a letter 3 years ago against the concept.
  His answer was very clear and convincing to me, and that was one 
word--``yes.'' He went on to say: ``I have no problem with the approach 
of reforming the prison structure and I will faithfully implement the 
law.'' Later in the hearing, other Senators pointed to Mr. Barr's past 
stances on criminal justice and sentencing reform. Those Members asked 
for Mr. Barr's current views on the subject. They also asked for 
assurances that Mr. Barr would dutifully implement the FIRST STEP Act, 
just like I asked that question.
  Mr. Barr expressed his current misgivings about high sentences for 
drug offenders established in the 1990s. Each time, he answered very 
clearly that he would dutifully implement the FIRST STEP Act and work 
to ensure that the intent of Congress was realized. Mr. Barr's answers 
regarding the FIRST STEP Act relieved my concerns of his past 
statements.
  While I will continue to use the oversight powers of Congress to 
ensure that the FIRST STEP Act is applied and implemented as required 
by law, I believe Mr. Barr's testimony, and I look forward to working 
with him on both the implementation of the current law and future steps 
in criminal justice reform.
  I want to go on to another issue of importance to me, which was Mr. 
Barr's position on the False Claims Act. If you remember my 
participation in the False Claims Act, going back to 1986, that act has 
brought in $59 billion of fraudulently taken money from the Federal 
taxpayers. Leaders and top prosecutors of both sides of the aisle have 
now praised the law as the most effective tool the government has to 
detect, to prosecute, and actually to recover public money lost to 
fraud. Most of the $59 billion has come as a result of patriotic 
whistleblowers who found the fraud and brought the cases at their own 
risk.
  To let you know why I am concerned about Mr. Barr's opinion, in the 
past he was extremely critical of the False Claims Act, even after it 
was signed by President Reagan. He called it unconstitutional. At one 
time, he said it was an ``abomination.'' So at his nomination hearing, 
I pointedly asked Mr. Barr whether he believed the False Claims Act is 
unconstitutional. He said: ``No, Senator. It's been upheld by the 
Supreme Court.''
  Mr. Barr also stated that he would fully and faithfully implement 
this very important law. He acknowledged the benefits of the False 
Claims Act and said: ``I will diligently enforce the False Claims 
Act.''
  I also asked Mr. Barr about his stance on something called the 
``Granston Memo.'' That memo provides a long list of reasons that the 
Justice Department can use to dismiss False Claims Act cases. Some of 
these reasons are pretty vague, such as ``preserving government 
resources.'' Just think as to how that can be used by some faceless 
bureaucrat to avoid some issue, like maybe he doesn't want to go after 
fraudulent money or doesn't like some whistleblower. Obviously, those 
words could mean anything the government wants it to mean.
  Of course, the government ought to be able to dismiss, obviously, 
meritless cases, but we don't want to give broad discretion to the 
administration without good justification. Even when the Justice 
Department declines to participate in a False Claims Act case, the 
whistleblower can and, in many cases, still does recover taxpayers' 
money.
  Although Mr. Barr had not yet read the memo, he pledged to sit down 
with me if problems arose. These are positive steps and positive 
statements. However, actions speak louder than words. So I want Mr. 
Barr to know that I am going to monitor aggressively how he enforces 
and protects the False Claims Act to ensure that he follows through on 
his promises.
  On another matter, during his confirmation hearing, I pressed Mr. 
Barr about transparency with regard to the special counsel's report. I 
made very clear that I want the report to be made public because 
taxpayers deserve to know what their money is being spent on--in this 
case, maybe $25 million to $35 million. I am not sure we have an exact 
figure, but it is a lot of money. The only way the American taxpayers 
and Congress can hold the government accountable is through 
transparency.
  You have heard me say many times that transparency brings 
accountability. Of course, there are some traditional reasons for 
withholding certain information even in a special counsel's report, 
such as national security or people's privacy, but there should be as 
much transparency as possible regarding the release of the report.
  During his hearing, Mr. Barr said that he would place a high priority 
on transparency, particularly with Mueller's report, and there is no 
reason to think that Mr. Mueller will not be allowed to finish his 
work. Mr. Barr told me and other members of this committee that he 
would ``provide as much transparency as [he] can consistent with the 
law and the Department's longstanding practices and policies.'' There 
is a lot of room there for him to work within, I suppose, and to still 
be honest in these answers. At this point, I can tell you I have no 
reason to doubt Mr. Barr's sincerity or his commitment to transparency 
and the law.
  If he is confirmed, I will be sure to hold Mr. Barr to his word on 
transparency. Yet I also realize that there are some differences of 
opinion around here on what is currently required under the Justice 
Department's special counsel regulations. That is why Senator 
Blumenthal and I recently introduced S. 236, the Special Counsel 
Transparency Act. This bill would require by statute that a special 
counsel provide a report to Congress and the American people at the 
conclusion of an investigation, not just Mueller's special counsel 
report but special counsels' reports into the future. This is 
commonsense transparency and accountability under any administration, 
not just under the Trump administration. I look forward to working with 
my colleagues and Mr. Barr, if he is confirmed, on this important 
legislation.
  I also pressed the nominee on a number of other issues that were 
related to transparency and accountability, including the Freedom of 
Information Act--or, as we call it around here, FOIA--and the Foreign 
Agents Registration Act. Around here, we refer to that as FARA. When I 
served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I helped to steer the 
FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 into law, which creates a very important 
point--a ``presumption of openness'' standard. The Justice Department 
oversees the Federal Government's compliance with FOIA. So that is why 
we discussed it with Barr. It is critical that the nominee, if 
confirmed to lead the Justice Department, takes FOIA and transparency 
seriously.

[[Page S1302]]

  When you talk about a presumption of openness, it ought to be this 
simple: Any of the public's business ought to be public, and you 
presume it to be public. Let the government give a justification as to 
why it ought to be kept secret or not be open to the public under the 
Freedom of Information Act.
  I asked Mr. Barr if he agreed that FOIA were an important tool for 
holding the government accountable. Naturally, he said yes. I also 
asked the nominee if he would commit to ensuring the faithful and 
timely implementation of the 2016 FOIA amendments. He said: ``Yes, we 
will work hard on that.'' I also think that the entire FOIA process 
would be improved if Americans didn't have to fight tooth and nail for 
disclosure in the first place. Let me repeat that--fight tooth and nail 
for disclosure. That is why we have a presumption of openness when it 
comes to the Freedom of Information Act.
  Getting the public's information out to the public automatically 
should be a top priority. So I asked Mr. Barr if he would help to 
advocate for the more proactive disclosure of government records. 
Again, he said he would. I appreciate Mr. Barr's assurances. Of course, 
as I have said so many times during these remarks on different issues, 
I expect to hold him true to his word.
  Then, I went to the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. I asked 
him about the importance of it. My oversight work has highlighted the 
Justice Department's historically lax enforcement of that act. I think 
we had a hearing on it and found out that since 1937 there have been 
fewer than a dozen prosecutions under it. Now, all of a sudden, with 
Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey and a lot of other places, it has come to 
my attention that there are a lot of people who even recently haven't 
registered under it. On the other hand, I will bet people are hastening 
to register very fast.
  Yet the law has some shortcomings. In an age in which we are 
witnessing more foreign government efforts to influence the American 
public and policymakers, we should see more transparency and more 
enforcement against bad actors, not less enforcement. So I asked Mr. 
Barr if he agreed that FARA was an important national security and 
accountability tool, and he said yes.
  I asked Mr. Barr if he would be sure to make FARA enforcement a top 
priority under his leadership. Again, he said he would.
  I also asked Mr. Barr if he would commit to working with me on my 
bill to improve FARA. This bill before Congress is called the 
Disclosing Foreign Influence Act, and it seeks to better ensure 
transparency and accountability. Again, he said yes. Again, Mr. Barr 
can expect that I will hold him to his word.
  I also asked Mr. Barr about his position on antitrust enforcement--
specifically, whether he would ensure that healthcare and prescription 
drug antitrust issues would be a top priority for the Justice 
Department.
  The nominee responded: ``Competition is an important factor in 
containing the costs of healthcare'' and that he would ``work with the 
Antitrust Division to ensure appropriate and effective criminal and 
civil enforcement to protect Americans' interests in low-cost, high-
quality healthcare.'' He stated that if confirmed, antitrust 
enforcement in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors ``will remain 
a priority'' for the Justice Department.
  I also expressed to the candidate my concerns about agriculture 
competition. He indicated that enforcing the antitrust laws in the 
agriculture sector will remain a priority.
  The topics I just discussed are just some of the areas that I asked 
Mr. Barr about at the confirmation hearing and in written questions for 
the record, and my Judiciary Committee colleagues questioned Mr. Barr 
at length on a variety of topics. I take Mr. Barr at his word. I don't 
believe he would bow to any kind of pressure, even from the President, 
if he thought there were a problem with the legality, 
constitutionality, or ethics of an issue. He is an excellent nominee--
extremely competent and experienced.
  Mr. Barr previously led the Justice Department and has proven his 
strong leadership abilities. Recall that back in 1991 the Senate 
Judiciary Committee unanimously reported Mr. Barr's nomination to be 
Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush. Can you believe it? 
The Senate confirmed him by a voice vote.
  What has changed after 25 years?
  I don't know, except that there is something some people think is 
wrong if a person by the name of Trump nominates somebody to some 
office. The only difference I can see is that even in the last 25 
years, he has proven himself to be in the private sector what he did so 
well as a public servant. He is a very capable attorney and a straight 
shooter. He is willing to engage in productive discussions with 
Congress. That is a key quality that we want in anybody who runs the 
Justice Department, and I have had enough trouble with the Justice 
Department.
  I hope he will respond to my requests for oversight information more 
than the Democrats and Republicans had who preceded him. He is 
committed to working with me on my oversight requests, and I think my 
colleagues know that that is a responsibility that I take seriously.
  He will uphold the law and the Constitution. Mr. Barr deserves our 
support, and one can tell from my remarks that I am, obviously, proud 
to vote for him.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, as the former chairman of the Judiciary 
Committee, the Senator from Iowa, has just pointed out, the Senate will 
soon vote on the nomination of William Barr to serve as Attorney 
General.
  As has also been pointed out, this is, undoubtedly, one of the most 
qualified nominees to come before the Senate in his having already held 
the same position under President George H.W. Bush. He has also served 
as an intelligence analyst at the CIA, as an Assistant Attorney General 
in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, and as Deputy 
Attorney General before he served as Attorney General.
  His confirmation hearing lasted more than 12 hours, during which time 
he and other witnesses answered hundreds of questions on a wide variety 
of issues he might confront as Attorney General. He was straightforward 
and forthcoming. He earned high praise even from the ranking Democrat 
on that committee--our colleague, Senator Feinstein from California--
who said:

       He's obviously very smart. He was Attorney General before. 
     . . . No one can say he isn't qualified. I was thinking last 
     night, obviously Mr. Barr is qualified. He is bright. He is 
     capable.

  She could have said more, but one of the things she said after that 
is, ``I won't be voting for him.''
  This is an important job for the American people. There are a lot of 
jobs out there to be filled. It is hard to argue that any of them are 
more important than this one, but it is also hard to argue that there 
is not something wrong with a process where that is the comment that 
could be made, followed not too long after that by: I won't be voting 
for him.
  Senator Grassley pointed out that the last time Bill Barr was 
confirmed to be Attorney General, it was by voice vote. It seems as if 
that must have been a long time ago. It hasn't been that long ago; it 
is just the way the Senate used to work. That is why the Rules 
Committee that I chair voted out a Senate resolution earlier today 
dealing with this issue. This should not be the problem that it is. It 
shouldn't be an issue, but, frankly, the nomination process is broken.
  In every election in this country, one thing has been certain: At 
least one party will not be happy with the result. I certainly 
understand why our Democratic colleagues weren't happy with the results 
of the 2016 election. There have been elections I have not been happy 
about and some that I have been happier about than others even when I 
was happy. This is a process that makes it easy not to be pleased with 
what voters decide to do, but that doesn't give you the right to stand 
in the way of what voters try to do, and that is exactly what our 
friends on the other side of the aisle have done.
  Over the past 2 years, we have had unprecedented obstruction when it 
comes to just trying to put a government in place, unprecedented 
obstruction to confirming a President's nominees.

[[Page S1303]]

  During the first Congress President Trump was in office, the previous 
2 years, he submitted 1,136 nominees for jobs across the Federal 
Government. During that same period of time, President Obama submitted 
1,132 nominees.
  By the way, President Trump is sometimes criticized for not getting 
the nominees up here quickly enough. He actually got four more nominees 
up during that period of time than President Obama did, but the Senate 
confirmed 920 of President Obama's nominees during that first 2 years, 
and the Senate only confirmed 714 of President Trump's nominees--barely 
half for President Trump and about 70 percent, 75 percent for President 
Obama. There is a nearly 200-person difference, but more important, 
maybe, than the difference is the obvious effort for us not to be able 
to get other work done.
  At the end of the last Congress, we returned the largest number of 
nominees from any President since Ronald Reagan. There are really only 
two reasons for that. One is to, frankly, stall the confirmation 
process and make it difficult for the President to do the job of being 
President. If you don't get the people to help you do the job you are 
elected to do, you can't do the job as effectively as you would 
otherwise.
  We just had a government shutdown, which I think all of us were 
disappointed by. That is bad policy. We don't want to repeat it again. 
We didn't want to repeat it that time. But we have a partial shutdown 
of many of these Agencies and parts of the government every single day 
because we don't have the people necessary to put the rules in place.
  There was a lot of discussion during the government shutdown about 
farmers who weren't able to get the loan guarantees they needed because 
the office was closed. Well, to some extent, it is the same way when 
the door is open but the people aren't there, when the door is open but 
the rules for the new farm bill haven't been issued, and when the door 
is open but the trade regulations that need to be made for the tax bill 
aren't out there.
  The other reason, by the way, the second reason, is just to use up 
floor time. There are only so many things we can do here on the Senate 
floor. The majority leader is fond of saying that the most precious 
commodity in the Senate is floor time. If we are required to drag out 
this process, as the minority has insisted we do for the last 2 years, 
things don't happen otherwise.
  During the first 2 years of the Trump administration, there were 128 
cloture votes right here--128 cloture votes. That is where a Democrat--
usually the minority leader--insists that we are going to have to get a 
majority of votes to even have the debate on a candidate. Once you file 
that, that takes a day before you can even begin to have the debate, 
and then the debate is 30 hours. So half a week is gone before the week 
starts just trying to confirm one person for one thing. That could be 
as important as a Supreme Court Justice, or it could be the lowest 
level of confirmation in any of the Agencies of government.
  By the way, those are the people who haven't been put in place 
because obviously lifetime judges matter, and both parties would 
prioritize that.
  There have been 128 cloture votes. In the first 2 years of the past 
three Presidents, there were cloture votes a total of 24 times--24 
times. That is an average of 8 compared to 128. There is a lot of 
difference between 8 and 128.
  Because the tradition of the Senate--as a matter of fact, I think if 
President Bush were on here, President George H. W. Bush--that number 
was zero. No time. And that was much more traditional, up until that 
time, than now.
  When President Reagan was President, once a nominee got out of 
committee, it was an average of 5 days before that nominee had a vote 
here on the Senate floor. It was normally the same kind of voice vote 
that Senator Grassley mentioned that Bill Barr had the last time. The 
average was 5 days. With President Trump, it was 55 days before a 
nominee could get a vote once they got out of committee.
  Remember, if you have agreed to serve in one of these jobs, you have 
given all of your financial information, you have given all of your 
personal information, and you have been investigated through and 
through. You have appeared before a committee, and they have asked you 
every question they could think of to ask you. They have voted you out 
of that committee. And then 24 people, at the end of last year, were 
sent back to the White House, at the end of that conference--I think it 
was over 24 people, over two dozen people--who had been waiting 1 year 
to become maybe the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior.
  This will not work. This is not how our system is supposed to work, 
and we need to move forward. And it is not like when this happens--when 
these 128 cloture votes happen--there is a huge debate. There are 30 
hours, plus the intervening day, but that doesn't mean there is any big 
debate. In fact, usually there is almost no debate at all on these 
nominees. When the nominees were voted on, 48 percent of the nominees 
got over 60 votes and 37 percent of the nominees got over 70 votes. So 
clearly this is not about holding back somebody who could be confirmed; 
it is about using up time that should be used for other things.
  There are two jobs in the Senate. One of them is the personnel 
business. One of them is confirming people the President nominates. But 
the other is the legislating business. The other is the funding the 
government business. The other is the talking about foreign policy 
business. The other is talking about the economy and trade and taxes. 
Every hour we spend on this is an hour we can't spend on that.
  The resolution we passed out today was one I introduced with my 
colleague from Oklahoma, Senator Lankford, who has been working on this 
issue for 2 years now, and others of us have as well. We introduced 
this bill to cut the amount of time back to what had been a temporary 
standing order when Republicans were in the minority, and we agreed to 
this temporary standing order. The Democrats were in the majority. 
There was a Democrat in the White House. We agreed to essentially this 
same framework: 2 hours for most nominees, 30 hours for circuit judges 
and Supreme Court Justices and Cabinet officers. Seventy-eight Senators 
voted for that temporary order.
  Usually when you do you a temporary order, it is to see if it works. 
Well, it worked, but we didn't do it again. So we are now saying, let's 
make that temporary order a permanent part of the way the Senate 
approaches this part of its job. We are moving in that direction. We 
had a debate this morning in committee. The time we are spending on the 
floor--if there is a nominee who needs 30 hours, they are almost 
certainly going to be in that category that gets 30 hours. If there is 
a nominee who would be in the 2-hour category, they are going to have 
been through committee, they are going to have been thoroughly vetted, 
and the committee will have decided they should be reported out. We 
need to get back to where 5 days after that, the Senate lets this 
person go on to fill a job that is, in all likelihood, not going to 
last beyond one administration and maybe not even that.
  It won't be long before nobody is willing to sign up if a year later, 
after you have put your life on hold, you find out that the Senate 
somehow can't get to the job you have agreed to serve on because we 
have to take time that the Senate never took before.
  I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle look at that standing 
order that could change our rules in a way that allows people who are 
willing to serve to be thoroughly vetted, thoroughly questioned, and 
then voted on. This can't happen unless they get voted on. Clearly, the 
current process of voting on people is a process that has been abused.
  While the Senate is a place that recognizes the rights of the 
minority, those rights have only been upheld when the minority viewed 
them for what they are--rights of the minority rather than tools of the 
minority to obstruct the elected Government of the United States of 
America and the work of the Senate.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

[[Page S1304]]

  



                                 S. 47

  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, we have finally completed our work on 
S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act. We had a good day 
yesterday. We had a good day here in the U.S. Senate. We passed this 
significant bill--really, a landmark piece of legislation--out of the 
Senate by a vote of 92 to 8. That is pretty strong. You don't see a lot 
of that in the Senate anymore--every now and again, and this was one of 
those every now and agains. I appreciate all the work.
  We have now sent this over to the House of Representatives, and it 
has some good momentum. We are looking forward to being able to work 
with the House. I encourage them to move quickly on this important 
measure and see it enacted into law.
  I want to take just a few moments this afternoon, while I can, to 
thank so many who have been key in getting us to this point. I want to 
start my comments with acknowledging the former ranking member of the 
Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Cantwell from 
Washington. We have spent a lot of time together. We have spent a lot 
of time over the years working on these lands bills. We did it in the 
public forum through the committee process. We had hearings on hundreds 
of bills. We worked to refine and reach agreement on them and to report 
them from committee. So there was all of that process, which went on 
throughout the committee, and then the two of us sitting down with our 
staffs on noncommittee time, just working through these particulars, in 
many meetings in my office and in her office. We really did this on a 
bipartisan basis. We stuck together. There were times when the 
prospects for this package did not look so good, and then there were 
moments when it looked even worse than not so good. But we kind of 
pulled one another along. I think that is a tribute to the commitment 
we made as colleagues and partners in this to advance not just to a 
message but to a product. I truly think that is a tribute to Senator 
Cantwell and her willingness to work together to find a path forward.
  Then we weren't able to finish things at the end of the year. Senator 
Cantwell moved over to another committee, and I had an opportunity to 
pick up with Senator Manchin. He picked up.
  Here he comes in, a new ranking member, and he has a bill to help 
manage on the floor with some 100-plus bills. But he helped us in a way 
that I am most, most grateful for. He kept us on track and helped us 
secure a very strong final tally here.
  I am also very grateful to my other corners, the chairman and ranking 
member of the Natural Resources Committee on the House side, Chairman 
Grijalva and Ranking Member Bishop. I thank them for their exceptional, 
exceptional work on this package and look forward to working with them 
as we finish this out.
  Next on my list are Leader McConnell and Senator Schumer. The 
minority leader is here. We had a conversation on the floor just about 
where he is sitting--this was back in December. But the two leaders 
gave their commitment to take this bill up early this year. They kept 
that commitment. They made it happen. I thank them for what they did in 
recognizing that this public lands, resources, and waters bill deserved 
early attention in this new Congress.
  I mentioned on the floor that there were many colleagues on both 
sides: Senator Heinrich, Senator Gardner, Senator Daines from Montana, 
Senator Wyden from Oregon, all of whom have been great partners here on 
the floor.
  It is important to briefly mention the staffs, who put in the long 
hours--the work and the family life they gave up.
  The first person on my list to recognize is my deputy chief counsel, 
Lucy Murfitt, who is truly an expert, a true expert on the lands issue. 
She has poured her heart and soul into these issues, and it is no 
exaggeration to say they would not have happened without her efforts.
  I also thank my staff director, Brian Hughes; my chief counsel, 
Kellie Donnelly; the members of my lands team, Annie Hoefler, Lane 
Dickson, and Michelle Lane; our communications team, Nicole Daigle, 
Michelle Toohey, and Tonya Parish; our support staff, including Melissa 
Enriquez and Sean Solie; then Brianne Miller and Isaac Edwards, who 
basically kept the committee running while everyone else was focusing 
on this bill.
  While I am proud of my team, we had great partners on the other side 
of the aisle. Sarah Venuto and Lance West joined the committee with 
Senator Manchin, and they have been great to work with. Sam Fowler, 
David Brooks, Rebecca Bonner, Bryan Petit, Camille Touton, Mary Louise 
Wagner, and Amit Ronen also played key roles.
  Then on the House side, we had David Watkins and Brandon Bragato of 
Chairman Grijalva's staff, along with Parish Braden and Cody Stewart, 
who has now left the Hill, of Ranking Member Bishop's staff.
  I have to give a shout-out for the floor staff. Laura Dove and her 
team were fabulous. We also appreciate our Parliamentarians, Elizabeth 
McDonough and Leigh Hildebrand; Terry Van Doren with Leader McConnell; 
and Aniela Butler at the Senate Budget Committee.
  Two of the individuals who probably put the most time into this 
package, Heather Burnham and Christina Kennelly, are in the Office of 
Senate Leg Counsel. I also thank Janani Shankaran, Kim Cawley, and 
Aurora Swanson at CBO.
  Great members, great team--we could not have done this great work 
without them.
  To Senator Schumer, I say thank you for allowing me to complete this 
in its entirety. I appreciate your indulgence.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, let me thank the chair of the Energy 
Committee, the senior Senator from Alaska, for the wonderful work she 
always does around here. She has the respect of Members on both sides 
of the aisle. She tries to do the right thing and ends up there so 
often. This lands bill wouldn't have happened without a lot of the 
people she mentioned, but at the top of the list would certainly, 
certainly, be the senior Senator from Alaska.
  Once again, I tip my hat to the junior Senator from Washington State, 
who worked so long and hard on this. The two of them were a great team, 
and Joe Manchin filled in when he became ranking member. We are all 
very glad that this wonderful lands bill, with so many good things in 
it, will, barring any unforeseen mishap, become law very soon.


                       Nomination of William Barr

  Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to address the nomination of Mr. 
William Barr to be the next Attorney General of the United States.
  We take all these nominations very seriously. Each member of the 
President's Cabinet holds immense influence within our government, with 
the power to affect the lives of millions. At this moment in time, the 
Attorney General might be the very most critical of all of the Cabinet 
officials in our government.
  Not only will the Attorney General assume the traditional 
responsibilities of the office, but the next Attorney General would 
also oversee one of the most sensitive investigations in our Nation's 
history--the special counsel's investigation into Russian influence in 
the 2016 elections. Just to say those words, ``Russian influence in the 
2016 elections,'' makes your hair stand on end a little bit.
  Under normal circumstances, the position of Attorney General demands 
an individual of unimpeachable integrity, impartiality, and 
independence. Under these circumstances, that bar is more important and 
probably higher than ever. Why? Because as we have all seen, President 
Trump has demonstrated utter contempt for the rule of law. He has 
expressed a view of the Department of Justice that is completely 
counter to the history of this grand Department as an independent 
Agency of the law. Rather, he views the Justice Department as an Agency 
that should protect him personally and one he can compel to protect his 
friends and prosecute his enemies. That sounds like a third-world 
country, not the United States of America.
  In the process of attempting to discredit the special counsel's 
investigation, the President has run roughshod over the norms of the 
executive branch's relationship with the Justice Department. President 
Trump has demeaned the public servants of the Justice Department. He 
has questioned its

[[Page S1305]]

motives, up to and including the upgrading and belittling of the former 
Attorney General on Twitter--an Attorney General that he himself 
appointed.
  As the special counsel continues to investigate the connections 
between the most senior members of the Trump administration and the 
Kremlin, it is an extraordinarily important and extraordinarily 
dangerous moment for the Justice Department. That is the maelstrom into 
which the next Attorney General will step.
  Certainly, Mr. Barr is intelligent. Certainly, Mr. Barr has 
experience. In fact, he already did the job. Let me say that I have 
always respected his public service and believed him to be a good man, 
but what so many of us find lacking in Mr. Barr's nomination this time 
around is his fundamental lack of awareness about the moment we are in.
  Only a few months ago, it was uncovered that he authored an 
unsolicited memo to the Justice Department criticizing--criticizing--
the special counsel's investigation. He wasn't involved with the 
Justice Department in any capacity at the time. He was a private 
attorney. He could not have had access to any of the facts in the case. 
Yet he decided to write this memo, which, in addition to making 
unevidenced claims about the investigation, outlined an extremely 
broad--in my judgment--overreaching vision of Executive power. Writing 
that memo showed poor judgment and, worse, it showed bias at a time 
when the country could not afford either in its Attorney General.
  I felt the memo alone was disqualifying at a time when we have a 
President who scorns the rule of law, but I believed Mr. Barr deserved 
the chance to change my mind so I met with him privately a few weeks 
ago. Our conversation focused on three questions.
  First, I asked him very directly if he would recuse himself if the 
ethics officials at the Justice Department said he should. He would not 
commit to doing this. Instead, he said he would make his own decision.
  Second, I asked him if he would release the special counsel's full 
report on Russian influence in the 2016 election, with, of course, 
appropriate redactions that the intelligence services would require. 
His response was to say: ``I'm for transparency.'' That is not good 
enough.
  He is a good lawyer. Everyone knows when you can make an ironclad 
commitment or when you have words that seem good but don't make such a 
commitment. To say you are for transparency doesn't say very much. I 
asked for an unequivocal and public commitment to release the report. 
He would not give that assurance.
  Finally, I asked Mr. Barr to commit that he would not interfere in 
any way with the special counsel's investigation, whether by denying 
subpoenas, limiting the scope of the investigation, or restricting 
funding. He referred to the special counsel regulations and said he 
wanted to see Mueller finish his investigation. Again, that is not good 
enough--not with any President and certainly not with this one.
  With this President, we need an Attorney General who can assure the 
Senate and the American public that he will stand up to a President who 
is dead set on protecting his political interests above all norms and 
rules of conduct. The President wants a Roy Cohn to be his Attorney 
General, but this moment calls for another Elliot Richardson.
  The next Attorney General must be a public servant in the truest 
sense, with the integrity, the force of will, and the independence to 
navigate the Justice Department--and maybe our democracy--through 
treacherous waters.
  Mr. Barr's attitude of ``leave it to me'' is not good enough--not for 
any nominee and certainly not for a nominee President Trump has chosen.
  The authorship of the memo, followed by the inability to commit to 
release the report or let the investigation continue unimpeded--those 
are three strikes. Mr. Barr should be out. He does not recognize or 
appreciate the moment we are in. Again, his ``leave it to me'' attitude 
does not measure where we are with a President like this.
  Now, I hope I am wrong. I hope Mr. Barr, who we know is likely to be 
confirmed--our Republican colleagues show none of the independence that 
is required--will rise to the occasion, but I remain unconvinced that 
Barr is prepared to meet this moment. So I will be voting, with strong 
conviction, no on this amendment. I hope Mr. Barr disproves my view, 
but his words make me very much worried that this will not happen.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cotton). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the nomination of 
William Barr to be the next Attorney General of the United States of 
America.
  Last Thursday, I voted against his nomination in the Senate Judiciary 
Committee, as did nine of my fellow Committee Members. I voted against 
his nomination because of some very serious concerns I have with his 
record on everything from criminal justice to environmental justice, to 
defending the economic rights of Americans, the rights of immigrants, 
LGBTQ rights, and women's rights.
  I want to go through those concerns here on the floor today, but I 
also want to be clear that Mr. Barr has been nominated at a time of 
extraordinary challenge when it comes to defending rights in this 
country. This is a crisis.
  We are in a moment in history when, after years of attacks on civil 
rights by this President and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, some of 
our most fundamental democratic principles--the rule of law, separation 
of powers, equal protection under the law--are hanging in the balance. 
We now face a full-blown crisis when it comes to rolling back the 
rights of Americans.
  From community to community across the country, we see what it looks 
like when the Department of Justice fails to pursue justice for all 
Americans.
  It looks like hate crimes in this country are on the rise for the 
third year in a row but a Department of Justice that rolls back 
protections for LGBTQ Americans instead of strengthening them.
  It looks like more than one-third of all the LGBTQ youth in the 
country missing school because they feel unsafe but a DOJ that refuses 
to fight for them and protect them against State laws that target 
transgender students.
  It looks like unchecked voter suppression of Black Americans in 
Georgia, Native Americans in North Dakota, and the voter ID and voter 
purge laws across the country that tried to target and suppress 
minority voters but a Justice Department that has stood by and failed 
to take on one single voting rights case during the last 2 years.
  It looks like communities that are being poisoned by corporate 
polluters pushing their costs of doing business onto neighborhoods 
least able to defend themselves, making their land and air and water 
toxic but a DOJ that has made it easier for polluters to get settlement 
agreements while cutting its own enforcement capacity to hold those 
corporate polluters accountable.
  It looks like corporate malfeasance continuing to target the most 
vulnerable while DOJ enforcement of corporate penalties drops by 90 
percent during the first 2 years of the Trump administration.
  It looks like doubling down on the failed war on drugs, which is 
known to be not a war on drugs but a war on the American people--
disproportionately low-income Americans, disproportionately mentally 
ill Americans, disproportionately addicted Americans, and 
disproportionately Black and Brown people--which is exactly what Jeff 
Sessions did when he directed all Federal prosecutors to ``charge and 
pursue the most serious, readily provable offense'' and seek the 
highest penalties in nonviolent drug crimes.
  It looks like unarmed Black men being killed by officers in their own 
homes and backyards, Americans of color being disproportionately 
stopped and arrested without adequate systems of accountability, but 
having a DOJ that limits the use of consent decrees that can prevent 
systemic abuses of power by law enforcement and can actually help to 
make law enforcement better, more accountable, more effective, 
rebuilding and repairing the trust

[[Page S1306]]

between law enforcement and communities necessary to create safe and 
strong communities.
  Of course, it looks like children fleeing violence, being ripped from 
the arms of their parents, of their mothers at the southern border, 6-
year-olds being thrown into cages, and an untold number of children who 
still have not been reunited with their families because of the DOJ's 
so-called zero-tolerance policy.
  Right now we see a Justice Department whose leadership over the past 
2 years has failed countless communities, from low-income Americans who 
are being victimized by large corporations with bad actors to 
individual Americans who are trying to have their basic, fundamental 
rights protected.
  The Justice Department has failed the American people, and, most of 
all, it has failed to seek that ideal we all hold dear, which is equal 
justice under the law. That is why, at this moment in history, during 
this crisis of conscience, during this crisis of moral leadership, we 
need an Attorney General who grasps the urgency of the moment, who is 
aware of the impact of the Department of Justice on communities across 
this country, and who is willing and prepared to protect our most 
fundamental rights in every community for every American. That is the 
ideal of justice; that is the ideal of patriotism.
  What is patriotism but love of country? You cannot love your country 
unless you love your fellow country men and women. What does love look 
like in public? Justice, justice, justice.
  I appreciate that Mr. Barr took the time to sit down and meet with 
me. It was after the hearings; yet at my request, he finally agreed to 
come and meet with me. There was no staff in the room. It was an 
honorable gesture--a gesture of courtesy. We had a chance to have 
dialogue about his record, his experiences, his perspectives as well as 
mine. I appreciate that. It is a constructive first step.
  I appreciate his willingness to listen to me and talk about his 
record of mass incarceration. I even appreciate his willingness to 
accept the book I gave him--I hope he reads it--titled ``The New Jim 
Crow'' by Michelle Alexander.
  I continue to have concerns about Mr. Barr's ability and willingness 
to be the kind of Attorney General this country needs at this pivotal 
moment in American history. I am concerned because throughout his 
career, time and again, and during his confirmation process, Mr. Barr 
has demonstrated not only that he holds troubling views but also that 
he has an alarming lack of knowledge about the crises that make our 
justice system so broken right now, at a time when the United States 
continues to lead the globe, to lead the planet Earth and all of 
humanity in the sheer number of people we incarcerate.
  One out of every four people incarcerated on the planet Earth is 
right here in the United States, the land of the free. One out of every 
three incarcerated women on the planet Earth is right here in America, 
the land of the free. I say, again, that they are not the wealthy; they 
are not the privileged. As my friend Bryan Stevenson says: We have a 
nation that treats you better if you're rich and guilty than if you're 
poor and innocent.
  Since 1980, our prison population in this country alone has grown on 
the Federal level by 800 percent. You can tell a lot about a nation by 
whom they incarcerate. In Russia they incarcerate political prisoners. 
In Turkey they incarcerate members of the media. In this country we 
incarcerate the poor. We incarcerate Americans with mental illnesses, 
Americans with disabilities, Americans who are survivors of sexual 
assault, Americans who are struggling with addiction, people who have 
faced harm and need help, who often in the system get hurt and 
experience retribution and not restorative justice. We have a nation 
where we are locking people up for doing things that two of the last 
three Presidents admitted to doing.
  Mr. Barr has a record of actively pushing the policies that have led 
to mass incarceration, that have driven up our Nation's prison 
populations at a time when we need an Attorney General who is willing 
to follow the lead of this body, which passed criminal justice reform.
  When Mr. Barr served as Attorney General during the first Bush 
administration, he literally wrote the book on mass incarceration. He 
commissioned a report titled ``The Case for More Incarceration'' and 
wrote the forward endorsing it. He is an architect of the criminal 
justice system that is so disproportionate--out of proportionality--
that is ruthless, doing things that other countries, until this body 
acted, called torture, like juvenile solitary confinement.
  At his hearing, Mr. Barr said he recognized that some things have 
changed over the last quarter century, but he failed to explain how his 
views on criminal justice have actually evolved. He was describing more 
of what he was seeing this body and others do, but he didn't talk about 
his own evolution. He didn't say: Hey, that was my perspective then, 
and it has changed now.
  On the issue of implicit racial bias, I asked him if he acknowledged 
its well-documented existence in our criminal justice system. Implicit 
racial bias has been pointed out by both sides of the aisle in this 
body, by big city police chiefs and a former FBI Director. Time and 
again, it has been documented by university studies. It is actually in 
our Justice Department's policies to train people in implicit racial 
bias. This isn't something that is new. This is something we 
understand.
  When asked about it, Mr. Barr said:

       I have not studied the issue of implicit racial bias in our 
     criminal justice system. . . . Therefore, I have not become 
     sufficiently familiar with the issue to say whether such bias 
     exists.

  I find this incredibly alarming. There are widely documented 
instances of racial disparities throughout our criminal justice system 
from police stops to sentencing, to charges. Racial bias exists even in 
our school pipeline; with Black kids and White kids having committed 
the same infractions in school, African-American kids are more likely 
to be suspended for them.
  There is no difference, for example, between Blacks and Whites in the 
United States of America for using drugs--no differences for Blacks, 
Whites, Latinos. We have a drug problem in America, and it is equally 
seen, regardless of race. Whites are more likely than Blacks, in many 
studies, to deal drugs. Yet, despite this, we live in a country where 
Blacks are about three times more likely to be arrested for using drugs 
and almost four times more likely to be arrested for selling drugs.
  What does it do when you apply a justice system to certain 
communities and not to others? It has a multiplier effect of impact. It 
affects voting rights because States still eliminate the right to vote 
for nonviolent drug charges. It is called felony disenfranchisement. It 
affects economic opportunity because if you have one criminal 
conviction for doing the same things that past Presidents have admitted 
to doing and Members of this body have admitted to doing, then you 
can't get a job, you can't get business licenses. Doors are shut to 
you; opportunity is closed. When you have a justice system that 
disproportionately impacts certain Americans, those communities then 
face serious, serious consequences.
  As a Villanova study shows, overall, we would have about 20 percent 
less poverty in America if our incarceration rates were the same as 
those of our industrial peers. Poverty is more inflicted on those 
communities of color when they are more likely to be arrested, charged, 
and convicted because of the existence of implicit racial bias.
  But the nominee for the top law enforcement position in our country 
says he is not sure ``whether such bias exists.''
  This should be deeply troubling to all Americans because we believe 
in an ideal of equal justice under the law. This should be troubling to 
all Americans because we believe, as King said, ``Injustice anywhere is 
a threat to justice everywhere.''
  This should be deeply troubling to all Americans because there is a 
deep lack of faith that people have in our criminal justice system. 
They are losing faith that they will receive equal treatment.
  When the justice system does not operate in good faith, it is 
hampered in doing its most sacred duty.
  Right now there is a lack of belief that people will be treated 
fairly, a lack of belief that the system works

[[Page S1307]]

the way it is supposed to. Mr. Barr's response and his record show me 
that he will do nothing to address these legitimate concerns in 
communities all across this country. At a time when he could be a 
leader, a champion, a light of justice and hope for those who have lost 
hope, for those who have lost faith, for those who feel left out and 
left behind, he almost doubles down with a dangerous lack of knowledge 
about what we all know exists.
  If confirmed, Mr. Barr would also be charged with implementing what 
this body collectively has done to start to reform, for the first time 
in American history, mass incarceration and increased sentencing.
  For the first time since 1994's crime bill, we in this body, with 
wisdom and in a bipartisan way, have started to go back to more 
proportionate sentencing. Through the FIRST STEP Act, this body put 
more justice back into our justice system. It is the first step, but it 
is the first step in the right direction in decades in our country's 
history.
  I am proud of what we did together. The bipartisan criminal justice 
reform that this body just passed into law, by an overwhelming vote, is 
incredible, but it is critical that the FIRST STEP Act be fully and 
fairly implemented by the Justice Department. Mr. Barr has not 
demonstrated his commitment to the law or to fixing any part of the 
broken criminal justice system I have outlined.
  Then, of course, we have industries, from the private prison industry 
to phone companies charging exorbitant fees in prisons and jails, 
making a profit off of these injustices, making a profit off policies 
that penalize and criminalize low-income communities and communities of 
color and that target refugees of color.
  What is happening in our country's criminal justice system today is a 
human rights crisis. Think about a justice system right now that has 
people sitting in prison for months before they even get a trial 
because they can't afford bail or a lawyer. We have a human rights 
crisis in this country.
  We need an Attorney General who recognizes the problem and has a 
willingness to do something about it, not one who says they are not 
sure we even have a crisis. This is an extraordinarily challenging time 
in our history. This Nation was formed under ideals of justice and 
fairness and equality. It was formed at a time when we mutually pledged 
to each other--as it says in our Declaration of Independence--``our 
lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.'' This is a country where we 
are all in this together. This is a country where our values and ideals 
have to be real for all and not just a select few.
  After 2 years, we have seen the Justice Department's relentless 
attacks on basic fundamental rights by our President and Attorney 
General. We now need an Attorney General who will work to uphold the 
values that are most in danger. We need an Attorney General who will 
fight for equal justice for all, not just the privileged few. We need 
an Attorney General who knows the difference between ensuring justice 
is done and does not automatically seek the harshest penalty in every 
case, with a blind eye to circumstances, or facts, or extenuating 
circumstances.
  We need an Attorney General who will stand up for all of our 
children, LGBTQ rights, for voting rights, environmental justice, and a 
fairer justice system. We need an Attorney General who will refocus on 
the mission of the Department of Justice in seeking justice for every 
young person who is afraid to go to school because of prejudice and 
policies that discriminate. We need one who is seeking justice for 
every elderly man who lived through Jim Crow only to be blocked from 
exercising his voting rights because of racially targeted voter ID 
laws.
  We need an Attorney General who is seeking justice for Americans who 
have become entrapped in our broken criminal justice system, whether it 
is a kid from a community like the one I live in who is being targeted 
by our ineffective drug laws or kids who have been picked up on the 
southern border and thrown into a privately run detention center.
  We need an Attorney General who is seeking justice for communities 
whose soil, air, and water are being polluted by massive corporations 
and that feel no one will fight for them. We need an Attorney General 
who will live up to the purpose of the Justice Department. This is the 
call of our country. This is the leadership we need. This is the 
Attorney General we must insist on, one who will seek justice for 
everyone in every community from the gulf coast to the Great Lakes, 
from sea to shining sea.
  Mr. Barr has not demonstrated that he understands the fierce urgency 
of this moment in our history and the imperative for the Attorney 
General to be deeply disturbed by injustice and to urgently seek 
justice. For this main reason, I will be voting against his nomination, 
but if confirmed, I will perform my constitutional duty and provide 
oversight and accountability. I will continue to work to ensure that 
our Justice Department lives up to its demands.
  I hope this Attorney General, should he be confirmed, learns, sees 
the vulnerable, understands the challenges of the meek, and understands 
communities in crisis; that he gets to know people; that he reaches out 
and sits down with folks to learn and to develop a more courageous 
empathy, but I will not wait on that.
  I will fight every day to make sure our Justice Department seeks 
justice. If Mr. Barr tries to double down on the failures of a broken 
criminal justice system, tries to roll back basic rights, or fails to 
protect voting rights and civil rights, I will fight against his 
efforts at every step. I will fight for justice that doesn't just take 
the side of the powerful few but seeks justice for all Americans. That 
is our obligation--all of us. Whether you sit in this body or you sit 
in communities across this country, we have gotten to where we are 
because we all sought justice. Even if it didn't affect our families 
directly, we knew the call of our country must be about all of us 
understanding that injustice for one is an injustice for all.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, in just a matter of hours, we are 
expected to vote on the nomination of William Barr to be Attorney 
General of the United States. This office is one of paramount 
importance to the people of this country, and as a former U.S. 
attorney, the chief Federal prosecutor in Connecticut, I have deep 
respect--indeed, reverence--for this office and the legal authority it 
commands and the moral powers it embodies.
  So the stakes of this nomination, especially at this point in our 
history, could not be higher.
  I believe William Barr should not be confirmed, and it has more to do 
with the role of the Attorney General of the United States than with 
his specific positions or policies on issues where we may disagree.
  I do disagree with William Barr on positions he has taken on civil 
rights, women's healthcare, reproductive rights, and the powers of the 
Presidency.
  At this moment in time, at this hour of our history, an imperial 
Presidency, such as envisioned by many of the doctrines that William 
Barr has espoused, in my view, would be an absolute catastrophe. Giving 
the President the power, in effect, to override statutes or refuse to 
enforce them or disregard Supreme Court precedent, especially with this 
President, would be a recipe for disaster.
  An imperial Presidency at any point in our history is unwise. At this 
moment in our history, it would be catastrophic. That view of a unitary 
Executive and all that comes with it is one of the reasons I would have 
reservations about this nominee, but for me, the transcendent issue--as 
it was with Jeff Sessions, our former colleague--is whether this 
nominee will be the people's lawyer or the President's lawyer. Will he 
put first the interests of the American people or of President Donald 
Trump? Will he have foremost in mind the public interests or the 
personal interests of the President who appointed him?
  Unfortunately, I am left with deep concerns, doubts, and questions 
that

[[Page S1308]]

are disqualifying. The best example is his position on the release and 
disclosure of the special counsel's report. There were doubts--and 
there continue to be--among some of my colleagues about whether he 
will, in fact, allow the special counsel to do his job. He said that he 
would resist firing the special counsel and that he would allow Robert 
Mueller to finish his investigation, but he was pretty careful to avoid 
specifically committing that he would permit subpoenas to be issued, 
indictments to be brought, resources to be provided, and other 
essential factors that go into the effectiveness of the special 
counsel.
  Even giving him the benefit of the doubt on those issues, there 
remains his refusal to commit that he will provide the evidence and 
findings of the special counsel directly to Congress and directly to 
the American people. For me, that refusal to commit is one of the 
factors that are disqualifying.
  The American people want transparency for the special counsel, as 
they do in their government generally. Just yesterday, the Washington 
Post released a poll indicating that 81 percent of Americans believe 
the Mueller report should be released. That number includes 79 percent 
of Republicans. The simple, stark fact is, the public has a right to 
know. The American people paid for the special counsel's report. They 
deserve to know everything that is in it, and they deserve not only the 
conclusion but also the findings of fact and his prosecutorial 
decisions and the underlying evidence that he considered in making 
those decisions. The clear specter arises that he will choose to bring 
no indictment against the President or other officials and that there 
will be no disclosure of the report, which would be tantamount to a 
coverup. What we may be watching is the Saturday Night Massacre in slow 
motion.
  The reason this issue is of such paramount importance to this 
nomination relates to the obligation that the Attorney General has to 
promote transparency. In his responses to me, he said he would follow 
all the rules and regulations without delving into all the words and 
technical issues relating to those rules and regulations. The simple 
fact is, they provide near complete discretion to the Attorney General.
  The American public has a right to see the Mueller report, not the 
Barr report. We have a right to see not what William Barr in his 
discretion permits us to know but, in fact, what the findings and 
evidence are--the Mueller report, not the Barr report. My fear is that 
despite his very vague references to wanting transparency, his refusal 
to commit to making that report public reveals his state of mind: that 
he will abridge, edit, conceal, redact parts of the report that may be 
embarrassing to the President. In effect, he will act as the 
President's lawyer, not as the people's lawyer.
  During a hearing, I asked William Barr point blank, if he were 
presented with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the President 
committed a crime, would he approve an indictment. He declined to 
answer the question directly or clearly. He pointed to two Office of 
Legal Counsel opinions saying that a sitting President cannot be 
indicted. I asked what he thought, not what the OLC thought. Would he 
permit an indictment against a President if presented with 
incontrovertible evidence of criminal wrongdoing? And he said he saw no 
reason to change the policy embodied in those OLC memos. The assumption 
is wildly held that Robert Mueller will follow those OLC memos, and 
William Barr confirmed those assumptions.
  There is also Department of Justice policy that prosecutors do not 
speak publicly about people they are investigating but are not prepared 
to indict. I followed those policies as U.S. attorney. I know them 
well. In the normal case, they are fully applicable, but these two 
policies taken in combination lead to a truly frightening outcome: If 
the President cannot be indicted but has committed crimes, the American 
people may never know. That is, in effect, tantamount to a coverup. The 
American people may never know about that proof beyond a reasonable 
doubt. They may never see those findings in evidence. They may never 
have the benefit of the full report. Even though it may leak in dribs 
and drabs, in parts, they will never have the full and complete 
picture.
  That is why I believe so strongly in the legislation that Senator 
Grassley and I have offered to require transparency. It is called the 
Special Counsel Transparency Act. It would require that there be a 
report. If the special counsel is transferred or fired or if he resigns 
or at any point completes his investigation, there would be a report, 
and it would be required that that report be provided to the American 
people. It would be mandatory, not discretionary.

  I believe this issue is a transcendent one in this era--the public's 
right to know the truth about the 2016 election and the President's 
responsibility for any obstruction of justice or any collusion with the 
Russians. Again, it is about the public's right to know and about the 
Attorney General's responsibility for enabling the public's right to 
know. His answers were evasive and deeply troubling, and instead of 
providing straightforward and forthcoming answers, he was, in effect, 
evading and avoiding the question.
  In addition to the special counsel's investigation, there are at 
least two U.S. Attorney's Offices--the Southern District of New York 
and the Eastern District of Virginia--that have concurrent 
investigations into Trump campaign activities during this same period 
of time and beyond. In the Southern District of New York, the President 
has been essentially named as an unindicted coconspirator. He is 
individual No. 1, an unindicted coconspirator. That is a distinction he 
shares with only one other President--Richard Nixon.
  The unencumbered continuation of these investigations is of vital 
public interest. That is why I asked Mr. Barr whether he would impose 
any restrictions on these prosecutors. Again his answer was evasive and 
deeply troubling. Instead of issuing a simple no, he stated that the 
Attorney General has the responsibility and discretion to supervise 
U.S. attorneys, and he declined to say that he would defer to them. He 
declined in the hearing, and he did again in our private meeting. That 
answer gives me no confidence that, if confirmed, William Barr will 
avoid interfering in the investigations now underway in those two 
additional jurisdictions, where, in fact, they may pose an even more 
dire danger that his culpability will be revealed and perhaps 
prosecuted. It should not give the public any greater degree of 
confidence either.
  On other issues--the emoluments clause, for example. When I asked 
him, he said: I haven't even looked up the word ``emolument.'' That is 
a direct quote. There are a number of very high-profile cases against 
the President involving the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution 
because the President has been violating it. The chief anti-corruption 
provision in Federal law is the emoluments clause. Litigation is 
underway. Decisions have been rendered in the district courts in favor 
of the standing of 200 of us Members of Congress who have challenged 
the President's lawbreaking. I am proud that that case--Blumenthal v. 
Trump; Blumenthal and Nadler v. Trump--is proceeding. William Barr has 
a responsibility to know about that case and to say whether he would 
recuse himself from it since he was appointed by the defendant in that 
case, and if not, what justification there can be for continuing to 
make decisions about it.
  Again, William Barr is a distinguished attorney. He has a strong 
background and qualifications. He served in this position before. He 
has very impressive credentials. He and I differ on issues of policy, 
but the main question relates to disclosure and transparency, to 
fidelity and priority, to the American people's interests--putting them 
unquestionably above the President's. Because I have such deep 
reservations and concerns about his determination to do so, I will 
oppose him as Attorney General, and I urge my colleagues to do the 
same.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Blackburn). The Senator from West 
Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to enter into a 
colloquy with the Senators from Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and 
Pennsylvania.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

[[Page S1309]]

  



                                 S. 27

  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, once again, I stand here on behalf of 
our hard-working and patriotic coal miners. We have been here before, 
and we are going to stay here until we get the job done.
  Right now, retired coal miners' healthcare, pensions, and black lung 
benefits are on the chopping block again, and, once again, there are 
1,200 new coal miners and dependents who will lose their healthcare 
coverage due to coal company bankruptcies. This could happen later this 
month if the court, as expected, allows Westmoreland to shed their Coal 
Act liabilities.
  This has happened time after time because of the bankruptcy laws--the 
inadequate bankruptcy laws--to protect the hard-working men and women 
who do all the work.
  At the end of last year, Westmoreland indicated they would provide 8 
months of healthcare funding to the UMWA, but there was a condition. It 
was dependent upon the sale of certain mines for which they have 
received no qualified bids, according to documents filed in court.
  Our broken bankruptcy laws are about to let another coal company 
shirk their responsibilities and get out of paying for healthcare and 
pensions the coal miners have earned and deserved. They have worked for 
this. They have negotiated. They are not asking for a handout. They are 
asking to get what they paid for, what they negotiated for, and what 
they didn't take home to their families.
  We have to keep our promise that was signed into law in the Krug-
Lewis agreement. This goes back to 1946--1946. It is the only one of 
its kind. The agreement makes sure we protect our patriotic coal 
miners' healthcare and pensions.
  We have the chance today to pass my bill that was cosponsored with my 
colleagues, the American Miners Act, that will ensure that none of 
these coal miners or their beneficiaries would lose their healthcare, 
pensions, or black lung benefits.
  The American Miners Act uses the same funding mechanism that the 
Miners Protection Act did to protect retired miners' healthcare. It is 
the same funding mechanism Congress has used time and again to protect 
our miners' hard-earned healthcare after our bankruptcy courts have 
ripped them away. This is not going to be a drain on the Treasury. It 
does not cost the taxpayers money. We have pay-fors, and this will be 
taken care of, as we have taken care of our healthcare benefits.
  I am asking you to keep the promise just the way we did when we 
passed the Miners Protection Act and saved the healthcare for 22,600 
miners. We need to finish this job. Save the healthcare of these miners 
suffering from new bankruptcies, protect the pensions of 87,000 miners 
nationwide, and do it by passing the American Miners Act, which would 
also ensure the future of the Black Lung Trust Fund, a lifeline for the 
growing number of miners with black lung.
  I don't know if you all understand the background or if you have 
heard about what happened, but with the passage of the bills we are 
working on, it cuts the black lung fund from $1.10 down to 50 cents. 
You would think that if you were reducing it, we had found a cure, and 
there is less need for the money to save our coal miners and to heal 
them. That is contrary to what is happening. If anything, it is 
exacerbating, and it is growing quicker, faster, and younger people are 
getting this horrible disease more than ever before.
  What we are asking for--my colleagues on both sides of the aisle--is 
to join us here today to demonstrate our commitment to our promise. 
That is all it is.
  I am asking the President of the United States, President Trump, 
please join in, Mr. President. I know you know the miners. I know you 
have spoken eloquently about the miners and your support for the 
miners. This is one way to truly support the miners, to make sure they 
get what they worked for and what they have earned--what they worked 
for and what they have earned. We have it paid for. It does not add one 
penny to the Nation's debt. Everything is ready to go. Please call 
Senator McConnell and tell him to put this on the agenda. You put it on 
the agenda, Mr. President, and you have Senator McConnell put in the 
amendment--a Senator from Kentucky who has an awful lot of coal miners 
in his State also. I will assure you we will get it passed, and we will 
do the job we should have done a long time ago for the people and 
families who have given everything they have, who have patriotically 
committed themselves to the energy this country has needed, and who 
have defended this country every step of the way.
  With that, I yield to my friend from Ohio, Senator Brown.
  Mr. BROWN. Madam President, I say thank you to Senator Manchin. We 
are joined by Senator Capito, Senator Warren, and I know, in spirit, a 
number of others. I think Senator Casey will be here in a few minutes. 
I join them to remind this body--it is a constant reminder--that more 
than 86,000 miners--86,000 miners--are on the verge of facing massive 
cuts to the pensions and healthcare they earned.
  This body doesn't always remember what collective bargaining is all 
about. Collective bargaining is when union members sit down and give up 
wages today to have something for the future, to have healthcare and to 
have retirement in the future.
  Of those 86,000 miners, 1,200 miners and their families could lose 
their healthcare this month because of the Westmoreland and Mission 
Coal bankruptcies. The bankruptcy courts could allow these corporations 
to ``shed their liabilities,'' which is a fancy way of saying walk away 
from paying miners the pensions and the healthcare benefits they 
absolutely earned.
  Senator Manchin is working to fix this. I thank him for his efforts, 
and I thank others in this body. We know the mine workers aren't alone. 
The retirement security of hundreds of thousands of teamsters, 
ironworkers, carpenters, bakery workers, and so many other retirees is 
at risk.
  We know this affects, in my State alone, 250 businesses, mostly small 
construction and transportation companies, 60,000 workers in my State 
alone, and the health of communities. Mine worker communities are 
especially hurt by this because so many of them live in the same 
community--local stores and local businesses.
  As we know, Congress pretty much tried to ignore these workers and 
these retirees. Senator Manchin and I saw that day after day and week 
after week, but they fought back. We saw workers rally. They rallied in 
very hot weather on the Capitol lawn, and they rallied in very cold 
weather on the Capitol lawn. They rallied. They called. They wrote 
letters. We have seen those camo UMWA T-shirts around the Capitol. Many 
of them are veterans. They fought for their country. We owe it to them 
to fight for them.
  We made progress on the bipartisan Pensions Committee that Senator 
Manchin and I sat on. Thanks to Senator Portman, also from my State, 
and members of both parties who put in months of good work in good 
faith on this.
  I am committed to these miners and workers. We will not give up. That 
is why I brought Rita Lewis as my guest to the State of the Union 
Address down the hall last week. Rita Lewis is the widow of Butch 
Lewis, the teamster who died from a heart attack a couple of years ago, 
in large part, we think--she thinks, his family thinks brought on by 
the pressure of fighting for his union, his Teamsters 100--1 million 
members around the country.
  It is about the dignity of work. When work has dignity, we honor the 
retirement security people have earned.
  As I said, people in this town don't always understand the collective 
bargaining process. People give up money today to earn those pensions. 
If you love your country, you fight for people who make it work, people 
like these mineworkers.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, I want to mention one more thing and 
then I will turn it over to my colleague, my friend from West Virginia, 
Senator Capito.
  The reason this is so urgent, our miners' pensions are in dire need. 
It goes first. They come to insolvency by 2022. What happens is we are 
one bankruptcy away--one bankruptcy from one coal company--of this 
thing tumbling down in 2019. When it starts tumbling, then you have the 
Central States that will come right behind it, the PBGC becomes 
insolvent, and then we have serious problems. That is why we are

[[Page S1310]]

working with urgency for this to be adopted and fixed now.
  With that, I want to go ahead and turn it over to my friend and 
colleague, the Senator from West Virginia, Mrs. Capito.
  Mrs. CAPITO. Madam President, I am really pleased to be here to join 
in the colloquy with my fellow Senators, Mr. Manchin, Senator Brown 
from Ohio, and Senator Warner from Virginia.
  This is important. This is really important. I could say I look 
around the room, and it is important to us, but it is important even 
more granularly to some other folks who are right here watching what we 
are doing.
  Many of us have worked together previously in order to save retiree 
health benefits for 22,000 retired miners in 2017, following the 
bankruptcies of Patriot, Alpha, and Walter Resources. Today we are back 
together to advocate for another over 1,000 retirees and beneficiaries 
whose healthcare is impacted by the Westmoreland Coal bankruptcy, as 
Senator Manchin described.
  It is also critical that we redouble our efforts to find a solution 
to the 1974 UMWA Pension Fund. If we do nothing--if we do nothing, 
which I don't believe is an option--this pension fund, which provides 
83,000 current beneficiaries with their pensions, will be insolvent by 
2022. That is getting close, and insolvency can come even sooner, 
depending on market conditions.
  So combined with the 20,000 people who have a vested right to future 
benefits, more than 100,000 people are covered by this pension plan. As 
Senator Manchin said, these are hard-working people who were promised 
and who, in the course of their working lives, gave up something so 
they could have a better peace of mind later on. They worked hard day 
in and day out. They powered our communities and industries and helped 
our country achieve greatness, even in the toughest times, and they did 
that with the promise of healthcare and a pension that would allow them 
to live with dignity in retirement.
  We are not talking about lavish pensions. I think this is an 
important point. The average benefit paid by this fund is $560 per 
month. These retirees are not getting rich on their pension plans, and 
they are not taking lavish expenditures, but without this monthly 
benefit, many of them would be living on the edge of poverty, if they 
are not already.
  One miner from Logan, WV, who worked in the mines for 36 years wrote:

       Please keep fighting for our pension. I receive $303.34 
     monthly. We need this badly to help pay for food, medicine, 
     and other bills.

  Another retired miner from Richwood, WV, who worked in the mines for 
17 years, wrote that his monthly check of $192 ``is not a lot of money, 
but it means a lot,'' and on top of that, he earned it. It helps him 
make his ends meet.
  Another miner from Kistler, WV, who mined for over 35 years, 
expressed concern that he might not be able to pay his expenses or help 
his daughter in college without that monthly pension check.
  Failing to fix the pension fund would have a terrible impact on 
communities where many of these miners live. More than 25,000 pension 
fund beneficiaries live in the State of West Virginia, and they 
received $200 million in benefits last year. If they didn't spend that 
money in their community supporting businesses and other jobs in our 
coalfield communities--if you subtract those funds out of the 
community, you would have a significant economic blow.
  We have a solution that will prevent the insolvency of the pension 
fund and protect our retired miners, their families, and their 
communities. We should pass legislation that expands the use of the 
same transfer of payments used to support retiree healthcare to make 
the pension fund solvent. I have supported various forms of that kind 
of legislation over the years, but as we come closer to the time--
2022--when the pension fund will become insolvent, we must redouble our 
efforts. That is why I appreciate Senator Manchin's advocacy. I 
appreciate his sense of urgency, and I share that.
  At the same time, our West Virginia representatives, along with 
representatives from the States--David McKinley, Alex Mooney, and Carol 
Miller--are leading a bipartisan effort in the House to fix this 
problem as well.
  I will keep fighting alongside all of you and all of them and others 
I see until we enact a solution that keeps the promise of our hard-
working coal miners.
  Thank you.
  I yield back.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, at this time, I would like for the 
former Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the senior Senator 
from Virginia to please have the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. WARNER. First of all, Madam President, I want to thank my 
colleague from West Virginia, Senator Capito, for her comments. I know 
shortly we are going to hear from the Senator from Pennsylvania. We 
heard from the Senator from Ohio.
  This is sometimes hard for me to say as a former Governor of Virginia 
to a former Governor of West Virginia, but I want particularly those 
who are following this issue to know that no one in this body has 
fought for miners harder, longer, more passionately, more consistently 
than Joe Manchin.
  It was only through his repeated efforts--and this man is like a dog 
with a bone in his mouth who will not let it go. At times he is stiff 
in the spine with folks on this side of the aisle when they wanted to 
say: Well, maybe no. We ought to move to something else. He has come 
back and back and back again.
  So I am honored to stand with him one more time. Let me again say 
that it is with some challenge that someone from the Commonwealth of 
Virginia has to say these many nice things about somebody from West 
Virginia, but the folks in the Gallery ought to know there has been no 
one who has been a better advocate for miners than the Senator from 
West Virginia.
  I don't think there is a Member of the Senate--I know at least on 
this side of the aisle--who has not heard at least a half dozen times 
about the promises Harry Truman made to the miners in 1946 and how it 
is our obligation to keep that word and to keep that promise.
  The Senator from West Virginia has indicated why this is timely. 
Again, it is because we have the challenges around the pension fund. We 
have other challenges, but we have a crisis right now.
  We talked about Westmoreland--the Westmoreland bankruptcy, 1,200 
miners, 500 of those live in Virginia. If we can't get a solution on 
this deal right now on the American Miners Act, then a lot of those 
miners and their families are going to go bankrupt because their day of 
reckoning is already upon us.
  I want to echo what the Senator from West Virginia said to urge the 
majority leader and, for that matter, the minority leader that there is 
a way--if we do the rational, sensible thing and not shut down the 
government on Friday, we ought to take advantage of making sure the 
American Miners Act is part of that provision. I can think of nothing 
better, as we go into the work period, than to try to give miners some 
certainty.
  Let me just mention one other item that the American Miners Act had, 
and that is the strengthening of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. 
This is also an issue that, if we don't get it resolved, the amount of 
contributions that go into that trust fund will drop in half.
  I don't think many folks realize--and I think this is particularly 
the case in West Virginia and Southwest Virginia--black lung is still a 
real, enormous medical challenge. As a matter of fact, we have now seen 
growth in large populations in my State, and I know in West Virginia, 
as well, of advanced black lung cases called complicated black lung, 
which has an even more devastating effect.
  If this trust fund is cut in half, based upon legislation that took 
place at the end of calendar year 2018, the ability of the trust fund 
to meet the needs of these miners and their families, who are still 
hard hit by a debilitating disease--we are not going to be able to give 
them, again, the high-quality care they deserve. It is way past time to 
fix this problem. Let's take that step.
  We have one of these large pieces of legislation, hopefully, that the 
President will not decide to veto, that we will get through. Wouldn't 
it be--I ask the Senator from West Virginia this

[[Page S1311]]

before I cede to the Senator from Pennsylvania, but sometimes, with 
these giant bills, strange things pop out at the end of the day, and 
you kind of wonder how they got in. Wouldn't it be great if, on this 
mini giant bill, one of the things that popped out might be the 
promised relief for our miners in terms of healthcare and their 
pensions? This is something I believe, we, as a country, owe to the 
miners--back, yes, to President Truman's promise in 1946.
  I stand with all of my colleagues on this issue. I particularly 
thank, again, my friend the Senator from West Virginia for his great 
leadership and his willingness to stand tall time and again. Let's see 
if we can get it done this time.
  With that, Madam President, I yield to the Senator from West 
Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, I thank, first of all, the Senator from 
Virginia for fighting for his coal miners in Southwest Virginia.
  They have been out there fighting in Westmoreland, and we have 1,200 
miners about ready to lose everything that we had to fight for to gain. 
They are going to lose their pensions. They are going to lose, also, 
the healthcare. We have to get them in the bill. We have to get our 
trust fund on the black lung restored.
  Mr. WARNER. Right, all we have to try to do with the trust fund is to 
get it back to the status quo.
  Mr. MANCHIN. I am going to make one more plea to the President. I 
will do that after my good friend and senior Senator from Pennsylvania 
speaks about his miners, whom he supports.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. CASEY. Madam President, I thank the senior Senator from West 
Virginia for his time today, but, more importantly, as the Senator from 
Virginia, Mr. Warner, said, Senator Manchin has fought harder than 
anyone in this Chamber on behalf of men and women, whether they are 
coal miners or their families or their spouses.
  This is a very simple debate. It is not a debate about some far-off, 
complex issue. This is about a promise--a promise that was made to coal 
miners and their families in the 1940s.
  The only question--a real simple question--is that we are either 
going to keep the promise or not. It is as simple as that. Both 
parties, both Houses, and the administration--this is not complicated. 
We made substantial progress, but it took far too long, and there are 
some people in this Chamber who have been blocking it for far too long 
on healthcare. We got that done. That is the good news.
  The bad news is, the pension issue is still unresolved. There is 
still a lot of suffering, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of trauma because 
two branches of government haven't done enough for these families.
  I come from a State where large portions of our State were dependent 
upon the sweat and the blood of working men and women, especially coal 
miners. Stephen Crane, the great novelist, wrote an essay in the early 
1900s--actually late 1800s--about all of the dangers in a coal mine and 
all of the ways a miner could die. He described the mine as a place of 
``inscrutable darkness'' and ``a soundless place of tangible 
loneliness.'' That is how he described the work of the coal miner.
  I know we made progress in the intervening generation since then, but 
that work has always been difficult. It has always been dark and 
dangerous, but the people who did it kept their promise. They kept 
their promise to their employer to work every day and kept their 
promise to their family. Many of them kept their promise to their 
country when they served in World War II or Korea or Vietnam or any 
conflict after that, even up to the present day--but especially those 
who were serving in those years.
  The only question is whether this government and all of us here--and 
both parties are on the hook here--whether we are going to keep our 
promise along with this administration and any future administration. 
It is as simple as that.
  We have some work to do here to make sure that promise is fulfilled. 
These families, these miners have already kept their promise. They are 
done. This isn't something extra we are giving them.
  All we are doing is our part. We are obligated here, and I am 
grateful that the senior Senator from West Virginia and others have 
worked together to make sure that this issue is front and center, even 
as we are dealing with a range of other issues.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, I will wrap up now, and I want to, 
first of all, thank the Senator from Pennsylvania and the Senators from 
West Virginia and Ohio for speaking so eloquently for the people who 
have worked so hard for our country.
  This has been a bipartisan movement. This has been bipartisan. I 
thank all of my Republican colleagues for supporting the hard-working 
people they all had in their States. We all benefited from the energy 
they produced for our great country, to defend ourselves in two wars. 
We had the greatest economy--the only superpower in the world--because 
of what they have done every day and the sacrifices they have made for 
us.
  Mr. President, if you are watching, if you get a copy of this tape, I 
am pleading with you. I am pleading with you, Mr. President, on behalf 
of 87,000 retirees: Please help us. One phone call from you to Majority 
Leader McConnell to support and adopt the American Miners Act of 2019, 
which is S. 27--ask him to take this up immediately. We can put it on 
the bill that we are about ready to open to keep the government open or 
he can take immediate action. But, Mr. President, you can make a 
difference. These are people who supported you, and I know you support 
them, and this is the way you can show it.
  They are only asking for what they worked for. It does not cost the 
government one penny of debt--not one penny of debt for the taxpayers. 
We have pay-fors. It has been bipartisan. It came out of the Finance 
Committee in a bipartisan movement under the leadership of Senator 
Hatch. I am very grateful for that.
  You will see the miners going around; they make an effort every week, 
faithfully, to come here. There are real faces, real people, real 
families who are involved and affected by our inaction. We are asking 
for your help, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor, respectfully.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.


                     Maintaining Air Force Strength

  Mrs. FISCHER. Madam President, I rise today to support the Air 
Force's plan to expand the 386 operational squadrons.
  Since the earliest days of flight, the United States has been an 
aviation leader. From the time of the U.S. Army Air Corps through 
today's modern U.S. Air Force, our Nation has always been at the 
forefront of air combat.
  From air-to-air combat to aerial refueling, to the intelligence, 
surveillance, and reconnaissance conducted by the planes of Nebraska's 
own 55th Wing, the U.S. Air Force is renowned as the dominant force in 
the sky.
  Recent developments have put that advantage at risk. Around the 
world, nations are rapidly modernizing their capabilities by investing 
millions in their air forces and air defenses, threatening our ability 
to claim and maintain air superiority.
  Rapid advances in anti-access/area-denial technology and a 
coordinated, calibrated effort by nations like China and Russia pose a 
significant threat to our ability to operate in contested airspace.
  For decades, we have been accustomed to flying unconstrained, 
fighting adversaries on the ground that lack modern technology and the 
ability to seriously threaten our freedom to conduct aerial missions.
  The face of 21st century warfare is changing. Competitors are rapidly 
closing the gap, and while our Air Force remains the most professional 
and effective air combat force in the world, these nations are pouring 
hundreds of millions of dollars into matching and exceeding our 
capability.
  We have a choice. If we fail to react, we risk falling behind and 
losing the air dominance that has been essential to U.S. national 
security for decades. We cannot sit back and accept that possibility.
  We must meet this challenge head-on. The United States must adapt, 
invest, and show the world that we will never cede control of the skies 
to our enemies.
  Recently, the Air Force conducted a rigorous analysis of future air 
combat

[[Page S1312]]

scenarios that we could face in the coming decades. Utilizing over 
2,000 simulations based on the latest intelligence to assess force 
performance against strategic competitors, the Air Force produced a 
model of the requirements necessary to fulfill the goals of the 
national defense strategy.
  This analysis found that we will need an array of advanced 
capabilities to counter ongoing and robust military modernization by 
our competitors. The assessment determined that we must focus our own 
modernization around several key areas to ensure our continued ability 
to defend the homeland and to defeat strategic threats.
  Perhaps most critically, this analysis, which the Air Force calls 
``the Air Force We Need,'' has determined that to be effective in 
achieving these goals, we must grow the Air Force to 386 operational 
squadrons.
  Given the growing threats we face, the Air Force will play a key role 
in any future conflict. That is why I believe it is imperative that we 
act on this analysis and align the necessary resources to bridge the 
gap between the Air Force we have and the Air Force we need and reach 
that goal of 386 squadrons.
  The need to grow the Air Force is not some arbitrary desire for more 
planes. The reality is that, even today, our Air Force is too small, 
and it is stretched too thin to properly execute all of its missions.
  Right now, the Air Force has 39 percent fewer aircraft and 58 percent 
fewer combat-coded fighter squadrons than it did during Operation 
Desert Storm, and it is struggling to maintain a rapidly aging fleet. 
All the while, Russia and China continue to invest hundreds of millions 
of dollars into new technology and equipment that is designed to seize 
control of the sky.
  That is why it is imperative that we act to provide the resources 
necessary to grow to 386 operational squadrons. We simply cannot face 
these challenges with one of the smallest Air Forces we have ever had. 
That is a recipe for disaster. It is a recipe for defeat.
  Instead, we must rebuild the fleet. We must increase flying hours, 
improve training, add pilots and maintainers, and retain the best 
airmen we have. We have to act now, without delay.
  While the ``Air Force We Need'' adds significantly to the physical 
capability of our Air Force, it is about more than simply adding 
equipment to the flight line. This plan will also modernize the way we 
fight. With an increased focus on ``jointness'' and integration with 
advanced technology like unmanned systems and artificial intelligence, 
we can continue adapting to stay ahead of our enemies, all of whom have 
spent years watching and learning from us in the field.
  As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I commend 
the Air Force for putting forward a bold vision for the future. I 
believe if we truly are to execute the goals of the national defense 
strategy, this is the kind of analysis and planning that has to happen, 
and it must be followed by action from Congress.
  That is why I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join me in 
supporting a robust defense budget and investing in the enhanced 
capability the Air Force needs to continue its mission of protecting 
the American people.
  At this critical juncture in the Nation's history and amid a 
fundamental shift in the type of threats we face, now is not the time 
to let partisanship get in the way of what must be done to continue 
supporting our airmen and maintainers. Let's work together so that we 
can build the Air Force that we need so that, above all else, the world 
knows that the U.S. Air Force will never allow any adversary to dictate 
how, when, and where we fly.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cramer). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                       Nomination of William Barr

  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to speak regarding 
the nomination of William Barr to serve as the next Attorney General of 
our country.
  First, I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the circumstances 
surrounding this vacancy. I believe that every Member of this Chamber 
should use this occasion to decide, ultimately, whether we believe Mr. 
Barr will be the Attorney General for all Americans or whether Mr. Barr 
will be the Attorney General, really, for one American.
  When President-elect Trump selected then-Senator Jeff Sessions, our 
colleague from Alabama, to serve as Attorney General for this country, 
it brought me no joy to vote against our long-time colleague and 
friend. The truth was, though, that our views too often diverged on too 
many important issues that included immigration, healthcare, civil 
rights, voting rights, LGBT rights, environmental protection, and more.
  After considerable prayer and reflection, I reached the conclusion 
that Senator Sessions would not be an Attorney General for all 
Americans.
  Unfortunately, during his tenure at the Department of Justice, he 
went on to preside over a number of divisive policies and decisions, 
including the Muslim ban, overturning protections for Dreamers and 
asylum seekers, enacting a cruel policy of family separation at our 
southern border, and failing to defend the constitutionality of the 
Affordable Care Act in court.
  I have not been shy about expressing my disagreement with these 
decisions, and others, made by the Department of Justice during the 
current administration. However, one area where I strongly agreed with 
Attorney General Sessions was his decision to recuse himself from the 
special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 
elections.
  One of my core values is to figure out what is the right thing to do 
and to try to do it--not what is politically expedient, not what is 
easy but what is the right thing to do. After it became clear that 
then-Senator Sessions provided testimony to the Senate Judiciary 
Committee that called into question his impartiality on matters 
relating to Russia and the 2016 election, Attorney General Sessions 
recused himself from all matters related to the 2016 Presidential 
election. That was the right thing to do. It certainly wasn't what our 
President wanted him to do. The President has said as much repeatedly. 
I should say that, maybe, he has tweeted as much repeatedly.
  The President repeatedly admonished Attorney General Sessions for 
doing what I think many of us believe was the right thing to do. Here 
is what the President tweeted on June 5, 2018:

       The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff 
     Sessions didn't tell me he was going to recuse himself . . . 
     I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and 
     money wasted, so many lives ruined . . . and Sessions knew 
     better than most that there was No Collusion!

  Let me be clear, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is 
not a witch hunt. It is, in fact, the unanimous opinion of the U.S. 
intelligence Agencies and law enforcement community that Russia 
attacked our democracy and interfered in our 2016 elections.
  As a result of the special counsel's ongoing investigation, 34 
individuals and 3 companies have been indicted or pled guilty to a 
range of crimes. This includes the Trump campaign manager, the Trump 
deputy campaign manager, Mr. Trump's National Security Advisor, and, 
most recently, President Trump's longtime political advisor.
  Special Counsel Mueller is a lifelong Republican who served with 
distinction in the Vietnam war. I think I am the last Member of this 
body who served in the Vietnam war, but he served there with real 
distinction. He served with distinction as our FBI Director following 
the September 11 attacks. He is not conducting a partisan witch hunt. 
He and the team he leads are striving to find out the truth and, in 
doing so, help us prevent future attacks on our democracy.
  I believe we should be doing everything in our power to allow Special 
Counsel Mueller and his team to conduct and complete this investigation 
free from political interference and partisan games.
  During the years I was privileged to serve as chairman of the 
Homeland Security Committee, Bob Mueller was the head of the FBI. I had 
a chance to work

[[Page S1313]]

with him and to get to know him. My wife and I know his wife. He is 
among the finest people I have ever known in the military, outside of 
the military, in government service, and outside of government service.
  Unfortunately, President Trump does not view political independence 
as a prerequisite for the job of Attorney General. Instead, he tends to 
view political independence as a disloyal act, an offense for which one 
should be fired. Just ask former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. 
Just ask former FBI Director Comey, whom I also came to know well 
during the time I served on the Homeland Security Committee, including 
as its chairman. Just ask former Attorney General Sessions.

  Recall with me, if you will, after the November election, President 
Trump fired Attorney General Sessions and named the Attorney General's 
Chief of Staff, Matt Whitaker, as Acting Attorney General. This was a 
curious decision, as well as a legally questionable decision. Why would 
the President go outside the line of succession at the Department of 
Justice? I fear it is because of Mr. Whitaker's public comments 
regarding the Mueller investigation.
  Mr. Whitaker previously likened the special counsel's investigation 
to a ``fishing expedition,'' and a ``witch hunt'' and implied that 
following the truth ``could be damaging to the President of the United 
States and his family--and by extension, to our country.''
  Really? Could he have been serious in saying that getting to the 
bottom of all this could be damaging to the President of the United 
States and his family and, by extension, to our country?
  Another President, a long time ago, Thomas Jefferson, used to say 
these words: If the people know the truth, they won't make a mistake.
  Those are hardly the views of our current President. It saddens me to 
say that.
  Despite publicly expressing these views that clearly call into 
question his impartiality, Mr. Whitaker did not recuse himself from the 
Mueller investigation when he assumed of the role of Acting Attorney 
General, even though he received a recommendation to recuse himself 
from ethics officials at the Department of Justice.
  Mr. Whitaker's staggering unfitness for the job is a big part of the 
reason why my initial reaction was positive when President Trump 
nominated William Barr to be our Attorney General. After all, Mr. Barr 
previously served as Deputy Attorney General and Attorney General 
during the administration of George Herbert Walker Bush, someone I 
revered. I think many of us revered him.
  By all accounts, Mr. Barr is a well-qualified nominee, someone who 
has been a fine public servant throughout many years of public service. 
I strongly believe that we need Senate-confirmed leadership at the 
Department of Justice. I want to make it clear that during normal 
times, I might be inclined to support Mr. Barr's nomination. In fact, I 
probably would.
  But these are not normal times. These are extraordinary times. In 
addition to firing the Attorney General and the FBI Director for their 
views on the Russia inquiry, President Trump has reportedly asked those 
around him why he didn't have an Attorney General who is looking out 
for his personal interests. According to reports, the President has 
said, ``Where's my Roy Cohn?'' during moments of crisis. For those who 
may not know Roy Cohn, he was President Trump's personal lawyer and 
fixer, who pushed legal tactics to the limits and also served with 
Senator Joe McCarthy during a very dark period in our Nation's history 
and a very dark period in this Senate's history.
  This is how President Trump views the role of Attorney General--not 
as a lawyer to defend the rights of all Americans but as a fixer who 
will look out for him. Moreover, in his State of the Union address last 
week, President Trump highlighted what he sees as ``ridiculous, 
partisan investigations.'' He went on to say: ``If there is going to be 
peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigations.''
  It is against this extraordinary backdrop that we must ask ourselves: 
What are Mr. Barr's views on Presidential power, and what are his views 
on the investigation led by Robert Mueller?
  As it turns out, we don't have to guess what the answer is to that 
question. In an unsolicited 19-page memo that Mr. Barr sent to Deputy 
Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and President Trump's personal lawyers, 
Mr. Barr shares his views, and they are clearly hostile to the special 
counsel's investigation.
  In a memo entitled ``Mueller's Obstruction Theory,'' Mr. Barr raises 
doubt about the special counsel's ability to follow the truth while 
going on to defend President Trump's actions and even suggesting that 
the President has the power to limit the scope of this inquiry.
  In that same memo, Mr. Barr states that the special counsel's 
investigation into obstruction of justice may do ``lasting damage to 
the presidency.''
  I believe that reasonable people can disagree, as I frequently did 
with my friend, former Senator, and then-Attorney General, Jeff 
Sessions.
  It is clear to me, however, that despite whatever your views may be 
toward the special counsel's investigation, the views expressed in his 
memo not only warrant Mr. Barr's recusal from the special counsel's 
investigation, but they cry out for it.
  Attorney General Sessions did the right thing when confronted with a 
similar decision. However, despite expressing these biased views from 
President Trump's own personal lawyers, Mr. Barr says he will not 
recuse himself from the special counsel's investigation if he is 
confirmed. To make matters worse, Mr. Barr refuses to commit to making 
the special counsel's final report public.

  Earlier, I asked for us to consider whether Mr. Barr will be the 
Attorney General for all Americans or whether Mr. Barr will be the 
Attorney General for one American. That one American happens to go by 
another name, Individual 1, which is the legal moniker given to 
President Trump in the Southern District of New York for directing his 
personal attorney to violate Federal campaign finance law.
  Like Mr. Whitaker's public comments prior to his elevation to Acting 
Attorney General, I fear that Mr. Barr's memo may have been an audition 
for the job and that his selection may not have been a coincidence. 
During his Senate hearing in 1989, Mr. Barr plainly stated that the 
Attorney General ``is the President's lawyer.''
  Colleagues, these are extraordinary times for our Nation. We must 
make it clear to the American people that the Attorney General is not 
the President's lawyer. We need independence at the Department of 
Justice now more than ever. While I hope I am wrong--very wrong--it is 
my belief that Trump used this appointment as an opportunity to protect 
himself rather than to protect the constitutional rights of all 
Americans.
  Ultimately, for all of these reasons I have laid out, I have 
concluded that despite his earlier service to our Nation--distinguished 
service in many instances--Mr. Barr does not, in this instance, meet 
the standard that is necessary to be the Attorney General for our 
country now.
  Sadly, on that note, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, in the next 24 hours, the Senate will do 
what it should do, which is to actually go through the process of 
advice and consent with a nominee--this time, for an Attorney General--
William Barr.
  William Barr is eminently qualified. It has been interesting to hear 
my colleagues on the other side of the aisle talk all day long today 
about how qualified William Barr is but then always pause with a 
``but'' and take off on the Mueller investigation.
  Let me explain what this means by ``eminently qualified.'' He has had 
an exceptionally impressive legal career. He serves in one of the top 
U.S. firms. He began his legal career decades ago as, actually, an 
analyst and as legislative counsel for the CIA. He worked on domestic 
policy for Ronald Reagan. He served as the Deputy Attorney General from 
1990 to 1991, and then he served as the Attorney General of the United 
States for George Herbert Walker Bush from 1991 to 1993.
  When he was appointed as the Attorney General in 1991, his nomination 
passed out of the Judiciary Committee with a unanimous vote of 14 to 0. 
The Judiciary chairman at the time--a gentleman named Joe Biden--called 
him a fine Attorney General. He was overwhelmingly confirmed by the 
Senate in

[[Page S1314]]

1991--a less partisan time. It was when Democrats and Republicans both 
looked at his qualifications, not at a political agenda.
  We have a unique moment in which to look at someone who was a good 
Attorney General for the United States, one who served faithfully but 
then had a season away from that, only to turn around and do it again. 
How many of us wouldn't want to redo something we did years ago and 
say: I did it, and it went well, but if I were to have a little more 
time and could do it over again, I would do things better. We have that 
chance with William Barr. It is a unique moment for us as a nation to 
be able to bring somebody like that back again.
  What happened under his watch?
  During that time period, he believed and still believes that the 
personal security of the citizens of the United States is the primary, 
first duty of the government's and of the U.S. Attorney General's. 
Despite what is being smeared about him on this floor over and over 
again--with people saying he is being hired to be the President's 
personal attorney--for those who have actually met with him and talked 
with him, he speaks openly about law enforcement in the United States. 
He talks about working with local law enforcement and with U.S. 
attorneys to actually prosecute crime and go after the issues that 
distract from American values and that keep the American people from 
living the American dream.
  During his tenure as Attorney General, he spearheaded the initiative 
called the Weed and Seed Program, which removed violent drug offenders 
from the streets. Under Attorney General Barr, in the 1990s, violent 
crime in the United States went down because they were aggressively 
prosecuting for crime.
  He is also the Attorney General who supervised the enforcement and 
implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was an 
incredibly difficult legal process to have gone through and to have 
implemented nationwide in order to have protected the rights of 
individuals who had been overlooked in our country for two centuries--
those with disabilities. It was a major feature of what he did during 
that time period.
  He brings this unique, important perspective from his dealings with 
law enforcement, his background, his experience. All of those things 
look like they would make a slam dunk with which to come to this floor 
and have wide, bipartisan support except for this--that he is being 
used as a message in the Mueller investigation. It is not that he said: 
I am going to stop the Mueller investigation. It is not that he said 
anything else about that. He did write a 19-page letter as an attorney 
in the law practice that is helping President Trump get through this 
process.
  He wrote: Hey, as former Attorney General, here are all of the things 
of which you should be advised. When you are working with the 
President, here are the key features.
  It seems like a kind thing to do for any President. He wrote the 
letter with all of that information in it, and he gave those details. 
Fine.
  He has also said over and over again that he is not going to undercut 
the Mueller investigation. Yet some of my Democratic colleagues have 
said: No, it has to be more than that. He has to recuse himself like 
Jeff Sessions did. He has to recuse himself. If he doesn't recuse 
himself, he can't be there.
  May I remind you that the reason Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself 
was that he was on the campaign team for the President, and when he got 
into the position of Attorney General, the ethics team from the 
Department of Justice advised him: Hey, since you were on the campaign 
team, you can't be the investigator for the campaign team. At that 
time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed and said that it would 
violate ethics for a person on the team to help investigate the team, 
so he recused himself. That was not William Barr. There is all of this 
talk that he has to recuse himself like Jeff Sessions did, but it is a 
completely different situation. Why should he recuse himself?
  Apparently, people don't want the Mueller investigation to have any 
supervision, which, again, I find fascinating politically because I 
distinctly remember, during the Clinton administration, that many of my 
Democratic colleagues who are still in this Chamber now were furious 
with Ken Starr. They can't believe Donald Trump would say he is 
frustrated with the Mueller team, but they had no problem with the 
Clinton White House's literally saying: We are going to go to war 
against Ken Starr. The term ``witch hunt'' is not new. The Clinton 
administration used that same term against Ken Starr. This is a 
fascinating side-by-side to me, to be able to look at this.
  Here is what I would advise: Let the Mueller investigation finish its 
job. It has a job. Let it do its job. Quite frankly, the Attorney 
General shouldn't be in the day-to-day operations of the Mueller 
investigation. That is why we have a special counsel. Yet, at some 
point, the special counsel has to turn information over to someone. 
William Barr is not going to be the one writing all of the information 
from the special counsel. He should neither have this incredibly high 
standard nor be held to some standard of doing something that he is not 
going to do--try to interfere in this process. He has made that very 
clear.
  He has also made it very clear verbally, in committee settings, and 
in written statements that he is going to release whatever comes out, 
as under the law, from the Mueller investigation. I think some people 
believe that the Mueller investigation is going to release a big, giant 
written report like the Senate Intel Committee will do. Yet the Mueller 
investigation's task is not to release some big, giant report; its task 
is for them, as prosecutors, to go through and recommend indictments. 
If they choose to write a report, that is up to them. Now, this 
Congress could try to mandate that, but that is not their requirement. 
They are a special counsel. This is a group of attorneys that is making 
recommendations. That is all it is.
  Don't judge an Attorney General nominee based on some accusation from 
some thought of what might happen and what he might do. Judge him on 
what he actually says and what he has done. Hold him to that standard.
  I have also had some folks back in my State say they have heard that 
William Barr supports the possibility of some States having red flag 
laws on the Second Amendment. Now, I spoke to William Barr. He came to 
my office. We spent about 45 minutes together. We went through a whole 
litany of questions and answers about his background and the issues he 
has dealt with, his passions, his dealings with local law enforcement, 
his cooperation with State prisons, consent decrees, religious liberty. 
We talked of drug trials and processing. We talked about the whole 
issue of gang violence--on and on and on--including the Second 
Amendment.
  He again reiterated he is supportive of the Second Amendment in every 
area. If someone loses his Second Amendment rights, it will only be 
based on due process, which is with a court's being involved. That has 
always been the standard for us as a country.
  I have seen some of the things that have been written about him, one 
being that he is not supportive of the Second Amendment. That is 
absolutely false, and I can say those things based on my personal 
conversation with him after having asked him those questions. See not 
the things that have been written about him but the things that he has 
actually written and said about the Second Amendment. He is a protector 
of our rights under the Constitution. It is one of the things to which 
he has sworn under oath to protect as the previous Attorney General and 
would have to swear to again under oath.
  This is a simple thing for us. We are looking at a qualified nominee 
who has an excellent background, the experience, and a passion to 
protect our country; who has shown a passion for law enforcement, 
protecting our Nation, and reducing violent crime in our country. I 
look forward to his stepping in and taking the lead in the Department 
of Justice.
  May I make a side note on this? Again, this nomination reminds me of 
why it is so important that this Senate fix its nomination process. We 
have a broken nomination process--period.
  If you take the last six Presidents combined, when they were putting 
their staffs together in their first 2 years of office, it was 25 times 
that someone in the Senate asked for additional time to debate that 
person. It

[[Page S1315]]

could be any one of 100. For the last six Presidents, it was a total of 
25 times that one person asked for additional time to debate. In this 
body, it was 25 times that somebody said for the last six Presidents 
combined that we need a little more time to debate this person. They 
asked for additional what is called postcloture debate time. That is a 
full intervening day--24 hours--plus an additional 30 hours after that 
just to debate. That is fine. For highly controversial nominees, it is 
entirely appropriate.
  Yet, in the first 2 years of President Trump's Presidency, that 
request has been made 128 times--25 times for the last 6 Presidents 
combined versus 128 times for this President. It is not because they 
have been all that controversial as nominees, although I am fully aware 
that President Trump has nominated some folks who have created heated 
debate on this floor, but it was certainly not 128 times. In fact, many 
of the times after we had had that postcloture intervening day, plus 
another 30 hours, those people passed either unanimously or with 90-
plus votes. They were not controversial. It was an attempt to shut down 
this Senate and shut down this President to keep him from hiring his 
staff. That has never happened before. There has never been a time that 
the Senate has tried to prevent an elected President from hiring his 
own team--until now.
  In May of 2017, I made a proposal to fix our postcloture vote debate 
time, seeing what would happen. I continued that conversation over and 
over again with many of my Democratic colleagues.
  The last session, we brought in front of the Rules Committee a 
proposal that was made by Harry Reid and then was passed under Harry 
Reid's time and his leadership in the Senate--that is, to limit 
postcloture debate time to streamline that process.
  I brought that exact same proposal back out and said: Republicans 
voted with Democrats to make sure this process would work in 2013 and 
2014. Now will Democrats vote with Republicans on the exact same 
language? And we will do this together to fix this process.
  The Democrats gave me the Heisman at that point and said: No. It was 
good of you to vote with us, but we are not going to vote with you.
  That was all last session.
  I brought up another proposal that went through the Rules Committee 
today. It is a simple proposal. Historically in this body, there hasn't 
been a lot of postcloture debate time on nominees, especially not on 
nominees like district court judges or Deputy Assistant Secretaries of 
some entity.
  I met today with the person who will be the IRS counsel, the counsel 
of the IRS, which I dare guess no one in this room could name right 
now, and certainly most people in America couldn't, but they have been 
blocked for a year, so the IRS does not have a Chief Counsel. Not a 
controversial nominee--will probably pass unanimously or near 
unanimously. Just to prevent the IRS from having a counsel, they have 
been slowed down.
  My proposal is simple. We can still have postcloture debate. If 
anyone in this body wanted to slow down any nominee, they could still 
do that. They could request a full additional day, 24 hours, and then 
in the next day, instead of adding an additional 30 hours, it would be 
just an additional 2 hours. So instead of getting a full day plus 30 
hours, they would get a full day plus 2 hours. That is still a lot of 
time.
  Quite frankly, only 25 times in the last six Presidents have there 
been any requests for any additional time. So that would still allow a 
long period of time, but it would expedite the process so at least we 
could go through this.
  If we don't fix this now, this will become the habit of the Senate 
from here on out. When the next Democratic President is elected, I can 
assure you that we will have the same issue with nominees that 
President Trump is having because it only takes one Senator to say: No. 
I want a whole intervening day plus 30 hours for every one of your 
nominees.
  By the way, the President puts 1,200 people through the process of 
nomination--1,200. So count the times that will happen in the days 
ahead.
  I know this is part of the ``resist Trump'' movement and to shut down 
the operation of his Presidency, but it actually is going to shut down 
the operation of every President from here on out if we don't fix this 
rule.
  I am asking my Democratic colleagues to look long, to not look right 
in front of us, to look at the future of where this is really headed 
and what is really happening to this Senate. The precedent that is 
being set right now on debate will be the standard in the days ahead. 
Let's fix it now so we can get this resolved long term for the sake of 
our country and do this right.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I come to the floor this afternoon to 
express my deep opposition to the nomination of Mr. William Barr to be 
our Nation's next Attorney General.
  His nomination comes at a very trying time for our country. As our 
own President frequently twists the truth and constantly pushes the 
limits of the law, the American people deserve to know that the 
Attorney General--the top law enforcement officer in the country--is 
committed, above all else, to seeking truth, defending their civil and 
constitutional rights, administering justice on their behalf, and 
safeguarding our country against threats to our democracy.
  I wish Mr. Barr were the person who could right the ship and stand up 
for the American people no matter what. I wish he were the person who 
could help guide our country through this critical juncture when 
questions about illegal payments involving both the Trump campaign and 
the Trump inaugural committee and Russia's interference in our 
elections and its attempts to influence millions of our friends and 
families must be fully explained to the public.
  We know this is an administration that finds it so difficult to 
follow the law that it is being investigated in multiple jurisdictions 
at the Federal level--all of which would be overseen by Mr. Barr.
  Sadly, it has become abundantly clear that Mr. Barr is incapable of 
being the impartial Attorney General people in communities across our 
country need and deserve and someone who stands up to the President 
when he is wrong.
  Based on what I have seen over the past 2 years and despite the 
critical time we are in, I don't expect many of my Republican 
colleagues to join me on the floor today in order to defeat this 
nomination. Although people across the country have been raising red 
flags on this nomination, my Republican colleagues have been busy 
building the glidepath for Mr. Barr's nomination. In fact, just last 
week, the majority leader, standing here on the Senate floor, left 
little doubt about whether the majority would try to get this 
nomination sewn up. The leader referred to Mr. Barr as a ``tried and 
true public servant'' and a ``proven professional'' who was applying 
for the same job he got in 1991 under President George H. W. Bush. The 
job description, the majority leader said, ``remains exactly the same 
as it was years ago.'' But that is the problem. Senate Republicans are 
still operating as though it is the early 1990s, as if the world around 
them has not changed, as if what we have experienced for the past 2 
years is normal.
  Well, on behalf of the American people, I urge us all to wake up. For 
the past 2 years, we have had a President whose only consistent agenda 
items are self-preservation and self-dealing, whether that means 
flouting the law or disregarding ethics, acting with impunity, 
violating norms and destroying relationships with our allies, firing 
those who challenge him and bullying those he can't, threatening jail 
time for political opponents, or changing Federal policy by tweet and 
based on his current mood.
  On top of all that, President Trump faces a number of investigations, 
including serious questions about whether he has obstructed justice in 
order to make the special counsel's investigation into Russia's 
meddling in our elections go away. That is the same special counsel 
investigation that has already resulted in 34 indictments or guilty 
pleas to date. Despite what the President would like us to believe, 
that is far from a witch hunt.
  When President Trump's first choice to be the next Attorney General 
is someone with highly questionable

[[Page S1316]]

views on Executive power, we have to be on alert.
  When that nominee, Mr. Barr, can't adequately explain why, out of the 
blue--out of the blue--he sent a memo to the White House in order to 
criticize the special counsel investigation, absolve the President of 
questions about obstruction of justice, and make a case for less 
accountability with this President, we ought to be on alert.
  When Mr. Barr writes that President Trump has ``complete authority to 
start or stop a law enforcement proceeding,'' we ought to be on alert.
  Mr. Barr's memo makes no sense unless it was an audition for this 
job, and that is absolutely not how any President should select an 
Attorney General.
  When we know that, if confirmed, Mr. Barr would be in charge of the 
special counsel investigation and would decide what, if anything, the 
public gets to know about the findings on Russia's 2016 election 
meddling, we ought to be on alert.
  Someone who has written such an obviously flawed analysis of the 
investigation should not be put in charge of overseeing the 
investigation. That is just common sense.
  People across this country sent us here to Congress not to shield the 
President from the law but to help restore integrity and independence 
to the Federal Government and to provide a check on the Executive 
branch, as outlined in the Constitution. And the idea that any Member 
of this Senate would support an Attorney General nominee who has openly 
and unequivocally advocated for less accountability when it comes to 
President Trump--that is just wrong, and the American people will not 
stand for it.
  So to any of my colleagues who plan to support this nomination, I 
have a message: Seize this opportunity while you can to make it very 
clear to Mr. Barr and the Trump administration that you believe the 
American people deserve to know for sure that the findings on Russia's 
2016 election meddling will be made public in order to get them the 
answers they deserve and that any attempt to cover up or hinder or 
otherwise muddy the waters around the Mueller investigation would be a 
serious disservice to the people we represent and will only lead to the 
further erosion of trust in our institution and our ability to work on 
their behalf.
  The President is not above the law--not in the White House, not in 
New York, not anywhere. So Mr. Barr may be the Attorney General this 
President wants--someone to shield him from serious questions about 
abuse of power, someone who believes the President should be able to do 
more or less whatever he or she wants--but Mr. Barr is certainly not, 
in my opinion, the Attorney General this country needs, which is 
someone who will stand up for the rights of everyone else.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.


                           The Green New Deal

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I came here this afternoon to give my 
customary weekly climate speech urging that it is time to wake up here, 
and I was planning to speak about a legal brief that a number of 
scientists, led by Robert Brulle and Naomi Oreskes, filed in the Ninth 
Circuit detailing the long history of the oil industry knowing about 
climate change, doing its own research to confirm what it knows about 
climate change, telling the public something they knew was false, and 
yet taking what they knew to be true and using it in their own internal 
planning. But something even better than that came up, so I come here 
to react to the--well, for starters, the Wall Street Journal editorial 
calling for a vote on the Green New Deal.
  Let's go back a bit as to what the Wall Street Journal editorial page 
has been up to for the last, say, 20 years on climate change.
  The Wall Street Journal editorial page has been a mouthpiece for the 
fossil fuel industry's climate denial. The messages of the fossil fuel 
industry are echoed and amplified through the Wall Street Journal 
editorial page. All the way up until 2011, if I recall correctly, they 
were simply denying that this was a problem. They constantly behave 
like what I would call the one-eyed accountant--looking only at the 
costs of responding to climate change, never the costs of climate 
change.
  On this subject, for those who may be interested, I would actually 
like to incorporate by reference two previous climate speeches I gave 
on this completely bogus effort that has been maintained by the Wall 
Street Journal editorial page. The first was my speech of April 19, 
2016, and then I went back at them again on July 24, 2018. They have 
been making it up for a very long time, and sure enough, up comes this 
latest in which just yesterday, February 12, they said: Let's have a 
vote in Congress on the Green New Deal as soon as possible. Then they 
went on with a lot of their usual one-eyed accountant stuff, never 
looking at the costs of climate change, only looking at the costs of 
preventing those harms, and they concluded: ``Let's not hesitate. Take 
the Green New Deal resolution and put it to a vote forthwith.''
  Along the way, they went into some of their usual canards about 
renewables, saying that ``solar costs remain about 20 percent higher 
than natural gas while offshore wind is two-thirds more expensive'' 
without subsidies--well, unless you look at the subsidy for fossil 
fuel, which of course they don't, and the subsidy for fossil fuel has 
been quantified by the International Monetary Fund at $700 billion per 
year--$700 billion per year in the United States--propping up the 
fossil fuel industry. By contrast, the little tiny tax adjustments that 
we get for solar and wind, which the fossil fuel industry is always 
pushing back against, are nothing. There is a monster of a subsidy in 
the energy space, and it is the fossil fuel subsidy, but will the dear 
old Wall Street Journal editorial page ever admit that? Not a chance.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the article be printed in 
the Record at the end of my remarks.
  That came out in the Wall Street Journal that morning. Then Leader 
McConnell went out here to the Ohio Clock for his midday press 
conference, and guess what he said:

       I've noted with great interest the Green New Deal, and 
     we're going to be voting on that in the Senate. That'll give 
     everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they 
     feel about the Green New Deal.

  I am in the habit of pointing out here how the string-pulling takes 
place and how the fossil fuel industry directs certain things and the 
mouthpieces say certain things and then we behave certain ways, but 
this may be the land speed record for a response. The Wall Street 
Journal says it wants a congressional vote, and that very day the vote 
gets announced. It is almost funny, if the topic weren't so serious.
  The whole idea that this is the Republican response to climate change 
is really classic. It is really classic. Since the Citizens United 
decision, which powered up the fossil fuel industry to have real 
bullying dominance in Congress--at least over the Republican Party--no 
Senator here today has been on any bill to meaningfully reduce carbon 
dioxide emissions. It is never a topic. Nobody wants to talk about it. 
It is like the unwelcome, embarrassing guest at the dinner party: Oh, 
my gosh. Climate change. No, we can't possibly talk about that.
  Never mind that NASA--which, by the way, RIP, Opportunity. The 
Opportunity has been driving around on the surface of Mars for 15 
years, sending back information to us about that planet. NASA 
scientists built that thing, sent it to Mars, landed it safely on Mars, 
and has been driving it around for 15 years. My God, what a project 
that was. What a brilliant thing. So when NASA scientists say, ``Oh, 
and by the way, climate change is serious. You ought to listen,'' and 
we don't, that behavior is hard to explain. When we are listening to 
the flacks of the fossil fuel industry and not the scientists of NASA--
and, by the way, 13 or 14 Federal Agencies in the latest report that 
came out under the Trump administration--we are way past there being 
any serious factual or scientific dispute here. There are just 
political demands by the industry with the biggest conflict of interest 
ever that we can't bring this up.
  For pretty much 10 years, since Citizens United, nobody has brought 
up a serious piece of legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions on 
the Republican side. Not one. Zero. Now, the majority leader is going 
to break this streak and bring up the first carbon-related bill. It is 
actually not a real bill. It is a resolution, but he is going to bring 
it up with the intention of voting

[[Page S1317]]

against it. I kid you not. The majority leader has announced the 
intention of bringing up a resolution with the intention of voting 
against it. Who does that and why? Who had that brainstorm and where?
  We will never understand this until we understand better how the 
anonymous dark money stuff flows around Washington. We need to clean 
that up. We need to pass the DISCLOSE Act. We need to make sure people 
know who is behind spending, who is behind advertising. We have to do 
all of that, but in the meantime, you do get these amazing moments in 
which the Wall Street Journal says--the editorial page, by the way. I 
think their correspondents, their reporters, are totally legitimate, 
and they do terrific work. It is the editorial page that is the problem 
child here.
  So the Wall Street Journal editorial page says we need to have a vote 
on the Green New Deal. It takes less than a day for the majority leader 
to say we are going to have a vote on the Green New Deal, and he is 
calling up the first piece of climate legislation they have ever called 
up in the majority here, and they are calling it up to vote against it.
  Isn't it finally time to have a real conversation about this? Isn't 
it finally time for there to be a Republican proposal? It has been 
nearly 10 years since Citizens United. I get it. The fossil fuel 
industry has enormous sway, but there comes a time when you even have 
to tell the biggest influencers in Congress that your day is over. It 
is time for us to treat with the facts and to work in a bipartisan 
fashion and to do what the people sent us here to do, which is to 
legislate.
  So where is the Republican proposal? Where is the Republican plan? 
There isn't one. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Nihil. Nitchevo. They are going to 
call this up. They are going to call this up for a vote. I can hardly 
wait for this discussion. Bring it on, please.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

             [From the Wall Street Journal, Feb. 11, 2019]

                       Vote on the Green New Deal

                        (By The Editorial Board)

       Every Member of Congress should step up and be counted.
       Democrats rolled out their Green New Deal last week, and by 
     all means let's have a national debate and then a vote in 
     Congress--as soon as possible. Here in one package is what 
     the political left really means when it says Americans need 
     to do something urgently about climate change, so let's see 
     who has the courage of those convictions.
       Thanks to the resolution introduced last week by New York 
     Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed 
     Markey, there's already official language. While it's 
     nonbinding, the 14 pages give a clear sense of direction and 
     magnitude in calling for a ``10-year national mobilization'' 
     to exorcise carbon from the U.S. economy.
       President Obama's Clean Power Plan looks modest by 
     comparison. The 10-year Green New Deal calls for generating 
     100% of power from renewables and removing greenhouse gas 
     emissions from manufacturing and transportation to the extent 
     these goals are ``technologically feasible.'' Hint: They're 
     not.
       The plan also calls for ``upgrading all existing buildings 
     in the United States and building new buildings to achieve 
     maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, 
     affordability, comfort and durability, including through 
     electrification.'' That's all existing buildings, comrade.
       Millions of jobs would have to be destroyed en route to 
     this brave new green world, but not to worry. The resolution 
     says the government would also guarantee ``a job with a 
     family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, 
     paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the 
     United States.'' Good that they're starting small.
       Sorry to mention unhappy reality, but renewable sources 
     currently make up only 17% of U.S. electric-power generation 
     despite enormous federal and state subsidies. Wind and solar 
     energy have become more competitive over the last decade as 
     costs have plunged. But without subsidies, solar costs remain 
     about 20% higher than natural gas while offshore wind is two-
     thirds more expensive. The bigger problem is solar and wind 
     don't provide reliable power, so backup plants that burn 
     fossil fuels are required to run on stand-by.
       Germany has been gracious enough to show what can go wrong. 
     Despite aggressive emissions goals, Germany's carbon 
     emissions have been flat for most of the last decade as the 
     country had to fall back on coal to balance off-shore wind 
     generation. Last year Germany derived 29% of its power from 
     wind and solar, but 38% from coal.
       Meantime, taxes and rising power-generation costs have made 
     Germany's electric rates the highest in Europe, slamming 
     small manufacturers and consumers.
       ``The drag on competitiveness is particularly severe for 
     small and middle-sized firms,'' Eric Schweitzer, President of 
     Germany's Chambers of Commerce, told Bloomberg News last 
     year. German manufacturing has become less competitive due to 
     soaring energy costs. Electric and natural gas prices in 
     Germany are two to three times higher than in the U.S.
       By contrast, the U.S. is having a modest manufacturing 
     renaissance as shale drilling has created a cheap source of 
     lower-carbon energy. Natural-gas prices have plunged by half 
     over the last decade as production has increased 50%, mostly 
     in the Marcellus and Utica formations in Pennsylvania, Ohio 
     and West Virginia. Carbon emissions from power generation 
     have fallen by 30% since 2005, mostly due to the substitution 
     of coal with natural gas.
       Meantime, oil production in Texas's Permian and North 
     Dakota's Bakken shale deposits has soared 80%. Demand for 
     drills, pipelines and other mining equipment has also boosted 
     U.S. growth.
       The Green New Deal means that all of this carbon energy and 
     all of these jobs would have to be purged--at least in the 
     U.S. China would suffer no such limits on its fossil-fuel 
     production. Conservatives have long suspected that 
     progressives want to use climate change to justify a 
     government takeover of the free-market economy, but we never 
     thought they'd be this candid about it.
       Yet, remarkably, the Green New Deal has been met with 
     hosannas from liberal interest groups and in Congress. It 
     already has 67 co-sponsors in the House and the support of 11 
     Democrats in the Senate including presidential candidates 
     Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Amy 
     Klobuchar.
       So let's not hesitate. Take the Green New Deal resolution 
     and put it to a vote forthwith on the House and Senate floor.

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill 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.
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I also ask unanimous consent that I be able 
to address the Senate as if in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                President Ronald Reagan and Alzheimer's

  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I wish to speak this afternoon in 
recognition of our late President, Ronald Reagan. I want to speak also 
about his wife Nancy, and I want to highlight their honest and 
passionate work to educate Americans about the real effects of 
Alzheimer's.
  Last Wednesday, February 6, would have been President Reagan's 108th 
birthday, and we paused then to reflect not only on the life and legacy 
of President Ronald Reagan, but we also remember the way he carried 
himself, the vision he set for our country, and the direction he 
steered our Nation.
  Years after he left the White House, the President and Nancy Reagan 
continued their public service to our Nation with grace and class, and 
that was true even as President Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 
disease.
  In November of 1994, President Reagan wrote a handwritten letter to 
Americans announcing this diagnosis that ultimately took his life.
  I read lots of biographies, I read lots of history, and this past 
week I finished a book, ``Reagan: An American Journey,'' written by Bob 
Spitz. The story of his circumstance with Alzheimer's captured my 
attention.
  The book quotes President Reagan telling his daughter, Patti: ``I 
have this condition . . . I keep forgetting things.''

       The doctors finally put a name to it. On November 4, 1994, 
     a doctor from the Mayo Clinic informed Nancy Reagan that, 
     having had an adequate chance to observe the president, the 
     diagnosis was conclusive: he had Alzheimer's.

  According to Fred Ryan, a staff member for the President and Mrs. 
Reagan, ``She was quite upset, emotional.'' She spoke at length later 
that evening: ``So we're going to tell him tomorrow,'' she said, ``and 
I'd like you to be there.''

       The next morning, a Saturday, they gathered in the library, 
     a small, comfortable room at the front of the house where the 
     Reagans typically received guests. The president seemed 
     puzzled when the doctor and Ryan arrived. ``Honey, come over 
     here and sit down,'' Nancy said, directing him to a couch 
     opposite the two men. ``The doctor has something he wants to 
     talk about.''
       The doctor didn't beat around the bush. ``We think you have 
     Alzheimer's,'' he told Reagan.

[[Page S1318]]

       ``Okay,'' he responded faintly. ``What should I expect?''
       ``We don't know much about it,'' the doctor admitted. 
     ``It's a degenerative disorder.'' He ran down a few of the 
     effects that Alzheimer's patients experienced while Nancy 
     Reagan struggled to control her emotions. She tried her 
     utmost to be supportive, but was overcome hearing about the 
     devastations of the disease. . . . He acknowledged, quite 
     bluntly, ``There is no cure.''
       ``Can I ask a few questions?'' Ryan interjected.
       While he and Nancy discussed how to handle the president's 
     activities--his schedule, office hours, appointments, and 
     appearances--Reagan wandered over to a small round table in a 
     corner and sat down, staring hypnotically into the yard. 
     After a few minutes, he picked up a pen and began to write. 
     When he finished, he handed two sheets of paper filled with 
     his cramped handwriting to [his staffer]. ``Why don't we get 
     this typed up and put it out,'' Reagan suggested.

  It was a letter dated that November 5, 1994.

       My Fellow Americans--

  It began--

       I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of 
     Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. . . 
     . At the moment I feel just fine. I intend to live the 
     remainder of the years God gives me on the earth doing things 
     I have always done. . . . Unfortunately, as Alzheimer's 
     Disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I 
     only wish I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. 
     When the time comes I am confident that with your help she 
     will face it with faith and courage.

And with faith and courage, indeed, President and Nancy Reagan faced 
the disease together.
  Together, they founded the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute 
at the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, IL, focused on researching, 
understanding, and treating Alzheimer's disease.
  Over the past several decades, this research institute has awarded 
millions of dollars in Alzheimer's research grants and has continued to 
see breakthroughs in our understanding of this aggressive and 
disastrous disease.
  Congress has also rightfully come together in a nonpartisan manner to 
fight this disease head-on. For example, last December, just a few 
months ago, with legislation that was sponsored by our colleague from 
Maine, Senator Susan Collins, Congress passed and the President signed 
our BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act, which aims to combat 
Alzheimer's through a collaborative public health framework. The BOLD 
Act will create an Alzheimer's public health infrastructure at the 
direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will 
establish Alzheimer's centers for excellence across the country, award 
funding to public health departments to increase early detection and 
diagnosis, and increase data collection, analysis, and reporting 
through cooperative agreements with public and nonprofit entities.
  I am a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and 
Human Services, led by my colleague from Missouri, Senator Blunt. I 
have advocated and successfully worked with my colleague Senator Blunt 
and the members of the committee to provide $2.3 billion for 
Alzheimer's disease research in FY 2019, finally reaching the $2 
billion funding goal for research laid out by the National Plan to 
Address Alzheimer's.
  I am the cochair of the Senate NIH Caucus, and I am optimistic that 
these funding increases, combined with NIH initiatives to map the human 
brain and further develop personalized medicine, will, I hope, lead us 
closer to an Alzheimer's treatment and a cure.
  Eleven years after President Reagan's death, Nancy Reagan continued 
her Alzheimer's advocacy work, helping to dramatically increase the 
attention and resources paid to the research of this disease. She 
recognized that degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's not only pose a 
financial burden to our Nation and health system but, more importantly 
and more significantly, these diseases threaten families with 
significant financial difficulty and tremendous emotional hardship.
  As President Reagan's primary caregiver during his battle with 
Alzheimer's, Nancy reminded us of the importance of caretakers and 
families and the struggles they themselves go through while watching 
loved ones suffer.
  As we continue our work to treat, cure, and prevent Alzheimer's and 
other degenerative diseases, we will also continue looking for ways to 
ease the financial and mental turmoil on caretakers, for they suffer so 
much as well.
  When President Reagan announced his Alzheimer's disease, he did so 
much more than just admitting to having the disease. He fought it, and 
he destigmatized it not only for himself but for those who came after 
him and for those still to come who may be faced with this same 
circumstance.
  In the closing letter that President Reagan wrote--and, incidentally, 
when he handed it to the staffer and said, ``Type it up and send it 
out,'' they read it and said, ``Let's just send it in your handwriting, 
Mr. President.'' So that is what happened, and in that closing letter, 
President said this:

       Let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the 
     great honor of allowing me to serve as your President. When 
     the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave 
     with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal 
     optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will 
     lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America 
     there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

  I, too, believe that America's best days are ahead of us, and I 
implore Washington to reflect upon President Reagan's enduring 
optimism.
  Civil in disagreement and often willing to cross party lines to work 
toward solutions, I hope we can all remember, like President Reagan, to 
focus on the real issues facing our Nation, and I hope that all Members 
of the Congress, from all walks of life, will be bold in leveraging 
their life experiences to achieve greatness for our Nation, just as 
President Reagan and Nancy Reagan did, deepening America's resolve to 
fight this terrible disease.
  I honor President Reagan and his wife Nancy. I thank them for their 
service to our country, and I thank them for their attention to this 
disease, Alzheimer's. May we also have the courage and will to continue 
the battle to rid our country, its citizens, and the world of this 
affliction.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.


                           Recognizing Alaska

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, as many of my colleagues here on the 
Senate floor know, tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and yesterday, my 
colleague and my good friend, for whom I have so much respect, Senator 
Ernst from Iowa, was asking Members of this body to come down to the 
floor and talk about love. Some of you may have seen that.
  Now, I have to admit that I am very close to Senator Ernst. I think 
she is one of the best Senators in the whole body. But I was a little 
bit leery. To be honest, talking about love on the Senate floor is 
really not my thing. I am not sure I have done that in 4 years here. As 
a matter of fact, I know I haven't done that in 4 years.
  Then, I thought, well, you know, it is Valentine's Day. I thought, of 
course, immediately about my family and my beautiful wife Julie, the 
love of my life. I thought I could talk about that. I thought I could 
talk about my three daughters, all young Alaskan women, strong. They 
make me proud each and every day.
  That was easy, thinking about Valentine's Day and love that way--
Julie, Meghan, Isabella, and Laurel, who, by the way, celebrated her 
18th birthday yesterday. They are the loves of my life.
  But then my staff told me: Wait a minute. This isn't that kind of 
speech. What Senator Ernst wanted us to do was to speak about the love 
of your State and how we all love our State.
  Now, that is easy for everybody here because we all do love our 
State. Then, I realized, well, you know what, Senator Ernst wanted 
that. It is Valentine's Day, and, of course, it is toward the end of 
the week, and I typically do my ``Alaskan of the Week'' speech every 
Thursday or Wednesday.
  This is a little bit of a jazzed up Valentine's Day version of 
Alaskan of the Week, with the Ernst hashtag ``homestatelove,'' which is 
what she put out, and I think some other Senators did.
  I thought this would be a combination this evening of a little bit of 
a love story to Alaska, my constituents, combined with the Alaskan of 
the Week, and, of course, to support what Senator Ernst wanted a bunch 
of us to do.
  I certainly love coming down to the floor every week to talk about 
the

[[Page S1319]]

Alaskans of the Week. It is one of my favorite things to do. So, today, 
I just want to say a little bit about some of those Alaskans of the 
Week, not really one or two but just kind of a combo--literally, dozens 
and dozens of Alaskans, since I started here in the Senate 4 years ago, 
where I have had the opportunity to come down and talk about them.
  They are as old as 100 and as young as 8. Last week we had an 8-year-
old. Boy, was he really a fine young man from Juneau. They come from 
the Far North, the Arctic, and the misty temperate southeast of Alaska. 
They live surrounded by tundra, by the churning seas, by mountains, by 
rainforests. These are all those who have earned the title Alaskan of 
the Week. They come from what we call urban Alaska and from some of the 
200 small communities and villages that dot my State, which are not 
connected by roads. It is a big challenge we have in Alaska.
  They are librarians, artists, former Governors, reporters, healthcare 
workers, whalers, counselors, pastors, lawyers, athletes, students, 
teachers, and nearly every profession imaginable. Some of them have 
retired. Some of them are just starting school and aren't even of 
working age.
  They are a diverse group of people, as you can imagine, but they all 
have one thing in common. They love Alaska. They love their country. 
They have the fire, the drive, and the heart to use whatever skills 
they have, whatever experiences they have to help others.
  Isn't that what Valentine's Day is all about, what the hashtag 
``homestatelove'' is all about, and, certainly, what the Alaskan of the 
Week is all about?
  Now, when I talk about the Alaskan of the Week, sometimes these 
people have seen and gotten and deserve a lot of attention in Alaska 
and even nationally. Other times, they are less well known but no less 
impactful. Let me give you a couple of examples: someone who has been 
picking up trash on the side of the road for years, just doing it every 
day; helping people to find a pet to love; making meals for the sick; 
starting and contributing to nonprofits; writing beautiful prose; 
helping people overcome addictions; establishing iconic businesses; 
working their whole lives to do what they think is right for their 
community, for their State, and the communities they love.
  Of course, they are all inspiring to us, and what I try to do once a 
week is to come down and not just inspire the pages, who, I know, look 
forward to this speech, but anyone in America who is listening. By the 
way, you have to come up to Alaska and you, too, will love, and I mean 
``love'' Alaska when you come up to visit.
  Now, they are inspiring to all of us in Alaska, but, as I mentioned, 
all around the country last year. For example, I got to talk about the 
Alaska Pacific University's ski team--world renowned, gold medalists, 
Olympic medalists--inspiring young people all across the globe to race 
faster and race better.
  Last year, I had the opportunity to talk about a young teenager from 
Gambell, Chris Apassingok. He made national headlines for his 
insistence, despite tremendous backlash from some extreme groups 
outside of Alaska, to continue his cultural heritage of hunting whales 
to feed his community through subsistence.
  Here is another example that will go straight to the heart of my 
colleague, Senator Ernst from Iowa. In December, Carol Seppilu from 
Nome, who has overcome tremendous difficulties and disabilities and 
pain in her life, ran 85 miles of a 100-mile race in Council Bluffs, 
IA, and she is training for another race.
  That kind of training isn't easy in Nome, where she has to walk 
through blizzards just to get on a treadmill. Carol has the racing 
community--the long racing community, 100-mile races--in Alaska and 
Iowa and, literally, around the country in awe of her, if you know her 
story, and rooting for her.
  Sometimes we have a lot of negative news here in DC. I always say 
there is a lot more going on bipartisan that our friends in the media, 
who sit above the Presiding Officer's desk there, don't often report, 
but it can be negative. I think sometimes it can be easy to forget that 
we live in the greatest country in the world--no doubt about it--the 
greatest country in the history of the world, in my view, filled with 
good people who wake up every morning determined to do what is right, 
to give back to their communities, whether in Alaska or North Dakota, 
like the Presiding Officer.
  I want to thank Senator Ernst for bringing us down to the floor 
yesterday and even today to talk a little bit about love--good 
initiative there for Valentine's Day. I thank all of the people of my 
State. This is a love story, not just of my wife and daughters but of 
all these great Alaskans of the Week who have been doing such a great 
job for Alaska and their country. So, to all of them, Happy Valentine's 
Day.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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