EXECUTIVE CALENDAR; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 36
(Senate - February 27, 2019)

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[Pages S1510-S1519]
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                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the nomination.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Andrew 
Wheeler, of Virginia, to be Administrator of the Environmental 
Protection Agency.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I rise to speak this afternoon about the 
nomination of Andrew Wheeler to become Administrator of the 
Environmental Protection Agency.
  The day after Mr. Wheeler was named EPA Acting Administrator, I wrote 
him a letter. I reminded Mr. Wheeler of the opportunity he had to try a 
new course for that Agency after Scott Pruitt's scandal-plagued 
administration. Yet in the 7 months as Acting Administrator, 
unfortunately, Mr. Wheeler has so far chosen not to reverse course at 
EPA in too many important instances. In some cases, he has even 
accelerated the environmental damage and regulatory zeal that his 
predecessor began.
  I knew that Mr. Wheeler and I would not always agree on every issue, 
but like so many others, I did hope that he would moderate some of 
Scott Pruitt's most egregious and environmentally destructive policies, 
specifically on policies where industry and the environmental community 
are in broad agreement. Sadly, my hopes have not been realized.
  To be clear, Mr. Wheeler is not the ethically bereft embarrassment 
that Scott Pruitt was. Mr. Wheeler has also engaged more frequently and 
substantively than Scott Pruitt did with both Congress and EPA career 
staff, but time and again, Mr. Wheeler has proven that his 
environmental policies are almost as destructive and extreme as his 
predecessor's, despite the explicit promises Mr. Wheeler has made to 
Members of Congress, both in private and in public meetings.
  One of those promises was Mr. Wheeler's recent insistence that, when 
it comes to getting a deal on vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas 
standards with California and a coalition of 12 other States, including 
my State and the Presiding Officer's State, ``no one wants a 50-State 
deal more than I do.'' That was Mr. Wheeler's promise during his 
nomination hearing in front of the Environment and Public Works 
Committee in January.
  Just weeks later, the headlines told a different story. For months, 
Mr. Wheeler said repeatedly that he shared my goal of striking a deal--
not just my goal, but the goal of many of us here--with the State of 
California and a dozen of other States on fuel economy and greenhouse 
gas emissions standards. Not long after he became Acting Administrator, 
however, Mr. Wheeler signed off on the Trump administration's proposal 
that freezes the standards for the better part of a decade, eliminates 
most of the air conditioning, electric vehicle, and other compliance 
credits that are supported by chemical companies, automobile and parts 
manufacturers, and utilities and preempts California's authority to set 
its own stronger standards.
  What is more, the Trump administration reportedly plans to penalize 
rules that call for a 0.5-percent increase. That is a one-half of 1-
percent increase in the stringency of those standards--one-tenth the 
pace called for in the rules that are already on the books.
  Since that proposal was put forth, the entire automobile industry, 
many Members of Congress, and many other stakeholders have repeatedly 
asked the EPA to forge a compromise that avoids years of costly 
litigation and uncertainty for our automobile industry. So far, that is 
all for naught.
  Just last week, unfortunately and inexplicably, EPA announced, with 
the

[[Page S1511]]

White House and the Department of Transportation, that they decided to 
end their so-called negotiations with the State of California and, 
effectively, with 12 other States. These negotiations were superficial, 
at best, or duplicitous and designed to fail, at worst. Between you and 
me, I don't see how these discussions could have ended or failed 
because they never seriously began in the first place. It is 
outrageous.
  That brings me back to Mr. Wheeler's promise. After his emphatic 
insistence that he wanted to find a 50-State solution for these 
standards, the decision to end them without ever making a serious 
effort to ever reach a compromise sends a clear message that, sadly, 
Mr. Wheeler--at least, in this instance--is unable to keep his word. I 
say that with no joy, but I say it nonetheless.
  A second example of Mr. Wheeler's failure to lead in an appropriate 
way lies in his unreasonable opposition to submitting to the Senate for 
ratification something called a the ``Kigali Amendment'' to the 
Montreal Protocol.
  I mentioned this to one of our colleagues. He said: Talk to me in 
English.
  I reminded him that we used to use something called CFCs. It was a 
refrigerator coolant that was broadly used in this country until we 
found out it had very serious consequences for our ozone layer. 
Science, chemical companies, and chemists came up with a replacement to 
CFCs. We call them HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, which are better for 
the ozone. They are still destructive to the greenhouse gas and 
destructive to our planet. Well, guess what. Scientists and chemists 
have, again, come up with a follow-on product to HFCs. It is not 
scientists and chemists in companies in other countries. They are right 
here in America. They have invested in a lot of money to come up with 
this discovery, this invention. They want to sell it. That requires the 
phaseout over time of HFCs.
  We need the Kigali Amendment to be submitted to the Senate for 
ratification in order to open the door for our American companies to 
compete with a new technology that is good for jobs in America and good 
for our planet. Our country could gain 150,000 direct and indirect new 
jobs, and almost $40 billion in annual economic benefits by 2027 
because the safer substitutes to HFCs are made in Texas and Louisiana. 
These are good-paying jobs. These are green manufacturing jobs that 
could help our efforts to address climate change while bolstering our 
country's economy.
  Ratification of this treaty is supported by an extraordinary list of 
stakeholders, including more than a dozen of our Republican colleagues 
here in this Chamber. From the American Chemistry Council to the 
Chamber of Commerce, to FreedomWorks, to the Sierra Club, it seems that 
just about everyone supports ratification of this amendment, as best I 
can tell--everyone, that is, except EPA.
  Under Mr. Wheeler's leadership, EPA also decided it is no longer 
``appropriate and necessary'' to protect babies' brains from mercury 
and air toxic pollution emitted by electric utilities.
  In the eleventh hour before the government shutdown, Mr. Wheeler 
signed a proposal that guts the legal foundation of the mercury and air 
toxics standards, also known as the MATS rule. Using outdated data and 
deciding that some benefits--like reduction in cancer, birth defects, 
and asthma attacks--are no longer important for the Agency to count, 
EPA is now setting a dangerous precedent and putting the mercury and 
air toxics standards rule in legal jeopardy. In fact, EPA has gone so 
far as to request public comment on whether the standards should be 
eliminated altogether.
  Mr. Wheeler says that this action was necessary and that the proposal 
strikes a balance. That is just not true. In fact, the utility industry 
is in full compliance with these standards already, and they have done 
so at a third of the expected costs. That is why every stakeholder--
from coal-fired utilities that comply with the rules to religious 
leaders, to environmental organizations, to the Chamber of Commerce--
urged this administration not to take this step. In fact, utility 
groups and organized labor organizations wrote to EPA saying:

       The industry already has invested significant capital--
     estimated at more than $18 billion--in addition to these 
     operating costs, and states are relying on the operation of 
     these controls for their air quality plans. Therefore, we--

  This being the group that wrote to EPA, including utility groups and 
organized labor groups--

     urge EPA to . . . leave the underlying MATS rule in place and 
     effective.

  Yet Mr. Wheeler has chosen to ignore the chorus of stakeholders who 
all hoped he would chart a more responsible path--on this front, too--
even though utilities are not asking for this action that he is taking 
and the EPA is taking, and the courts are not requiring it.
  Yet, from the stakeholders, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the 
utility industry over here to all of the NGOs and environmental groups 
and health groups over here, everybody says to leave this rule alone. 
It was adopted 7 years ago, and it works. It has worked at half the 
cost or at one-third of the cost. Leave it alone. I just don't get 
this. This is just another example of when Mr. Wheeler has taken a 
recklessly and unnecessary extreme course of action at the EPA.
  Here is another one.
  In May of 2018, after meeting with a victim's mother, Scott Pruitt, 
the former EPA Administrator, announced plans to finalize the Obama 
administration's ban to prohibit consumer and commercial paint 
stripping uses for something called methylene chloride--a hazardous 
chemical that has killed dozens of unsuspecting users in this country 
alone.
  Despite explicit assurances provided to my office and others that the 
EPA would follow through with Mr. Pruitt's promise to protect both 
consumer and commercial users from methylene chloride, under Mr. 
Wheeler's leadership, the EPA sent a final rule restricting only the 
consumer uses of methylene chloride to the White House's Office of 
Management and Budget. There have been 56 accidental exposure deaths 
related to methylene chloride since 1980--56--including properly 
trained workers who have worn protective gear on the job. Yet the EPA, 
under Mr. Wheeler's leadership, has decided to exempt workers from the 
methylene chloride ban.
  A number of people have said to me they think it is unconscionable. I 
think they are right. With Mr. Wheeler at the helm, the EPA cannot even 
manage to ban a chemical that is so harmful to human health that 
stores--and this includes Walmart, Sherwin-Williams, Ace Hardware, Home 
Depot, and others--have already voluntarily taken it off their shelves.
  That is not all. Even the EPA's recently announced PFAS Action Plan, 
which was released with much fanfare 2 weeks ago, did not do much more 
than renounce the same measures announced by Scott Pruitt almost a year 
ago. PFAS is sometimes referred to as forever chemicals. The reason, my 
colleagues, is that they last forever in our environment. It took a 
public outcry to make Mr. Wheeler reverse the Agency's inexplicable 
decision not to set an enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS. At 
his hearing last month, I asked him if he would agree to set a clean 
drinking water standard in 2 years--not in 2 weeks, not in 2 months but 
in 2 years--and he could not do that.
  In short, over the past 7 months as the Acting Administrator, Mr. 
Wheeler has perpetuated and in at least one instance I have cited here 
today has worsened the preexisting inadequacies and failures Scott 
Pruitt left behind. When faced with opportunities to protect human 
health and the environment in ways that also have the support of the 
industries that would be regulated, time and again, Mr. Wheeler has 
failed to act in a way that I believe is responsible and has, instead, 
listened to some of the most extreme voices around him.
  As I have said before and will say again, I am not making some futile 
attempt at changing the hearts and minds about this nominee at the 
eleventh hour. I am not that kind of Senator and never have been, and I 
was not that kind of Governor. I am not grandstanding, trying to get 
any press attention, or the perfect sound bite. I am, however, trying 
to convince some of my colleagues to seize this window of opportunity 
we have now to ensure that Acting Administrator Wheeler reverses course 
and governs responsibly

[[Page S1512]]

at the EPA. That is what I am trying to do. That is what we are trying 
to do.
  As the President's nominee to lead this Agency, under the provisions 
of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Mr. Wheeler can continue to lead 
the EPA as Acting Administrator until August 7 of this year. He is 
there, and he is going to be there. Rushing to judgment on this 
nomination will close the window of opportunity we have to ensure the 
Acting Administrator reverses course at the EPA and embraces the 
commonsense, bipartisan policies I just laid out--policies which make 
our environment cleaner and safer while they also create jobs and 
strengthen America's economy. I think we all want that. I think that is 
why people sent us here to negotiate those kind of win-win agreements.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in voting no on this nomination so we 
can achieve those win-win situations that are there for the taking.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, the Senate is today considering the 
nomination of Andrew Wheeler to serve as the Administrator of the 
Environmental Protection Agency. It is the job of the EPA to protect 
both the environment and human health. This critically important Agency 
needs Senate-confirmed leadership in place.
  President Trump picked the right person to lead this Agency when he 
nominated Andrew Wheeler. Since April of last year, he has served as 
the Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and 
since July of last year, he has served as the Acting Administrator of 
the Agency. I believe Andrew Wheeler has done an outstanding job in 
leading the EPA over the past 7 months.
  During the last administration, the EPA issued punishing regulations 
that would hurt the economy and raise costs on families. Under Acting 
Administrator Wheeler's leadership, the EPA has taken a different 
approach. The Agency is now putting forward proposals that both protect 
our environment and allow the country's economy to flourish.
  Acting Administrator Wheeler has led efforts to issue commonsense 
regulatory proposals. These include the affordable clean energy rule 
and revising the definition of the waters of the United States. Both of 
these proposals show Mr. Wheeler is serious about clean air and clean 
water while they also show he understands there is an important role 
for States and local communities to play. It can't be a top-down, 
Washington-knows-best approach.
  Acting Administrator Wheeler has played a critical role in 
implementing updates to the Toxic Substances Control Act and has taken 
steps to limit people's exposure to dangerous and toxic chemicals. 
These updates are the result of major bipartisan legislation that came 
out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2016.
  Andrew Wheeler is working to limit lead exposure as well. Last 
December, he helped to unveil the Trump administration's multiagency 
effort to reduce the number of children exposed to lead in drinking 
water, in consumer products, and in paint. During his tenure, the EPA 
has also worked to provide greater regulatory certainty to States, to 
Tribes, to communities, and to the industries it regulates.
  Mr. Wheeler is well qualified for the position of EPA Administrator. 
He has spent decades--actually, over 25 years--working in environmental 
policy. He has served as a career employee at the EPA as an 
environmental protection specialist. This experience makes him uniquely 
qualified to serve as the head of the Agency.
  After that time, he spent over a decade here on Capitol Hill. When he 
left the EPA, he came here to work on the Environment and Public Works 
Committee. He served as the staff director of the Senate Environment 
and Public Works' Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee for 6 
years. Then he spent another 6 years working as the Republican staff 
director and chief counsel for the full committee under Chairman Jim 
Inhofe. After his time on the Hill, he also worked as a consultant for 
a variety of energy and environmental clients. He is very well 
qualified, and that is a big reason his nomination has received broad 
support.
  There are 63 agricultural and forestry groups that wrote a letter in 
support of Mr. Wheeler's nomination to be the Administrator: ``It is 
hard to imagine a more qualified individual for the role of EPA 
administrator, and we respectfully request that the committee move to 
confirm his nomination so that he may be considered by the full 
Senate,'' they say, ``at the earliest date possible.''
  Mr. Wheeler has received praise from the United Mine Workers of 
America.
  Cecil Roberts, the union's international president, said the 
following about Mr. Wheeler: ``[H]e will be a reasonable voice within 
the agency, and will recognize the impact on both the workers and 
mining communities that are directly affected as EPA develops future 
emissions regulations.''
  His experience and commitment to sound environmental policies has 
received recognition from the Democrats as well.
  Senator Carper, who is with me on the floor and was the ranking 
member of our committee at one point, said of Mr. Wheeler when he was 
nominated for the Deputy Administrator's role: ``I think having worked 
in the agency, he actually cares about the environment; the air we 
breathe; the water we drink; the planet on which we live.'' I agree.
  It is time to end the needless delays by the Senate Democrats. Andrew 
Wheeler's nomination to serve as the Deputy Administrator was delayed 
for months and had to be reported out of the EPW Committee twice before 
he was confirmed. Now the Senate Democrats are calling to delay the 
process again. These delays only slow down the Agency from meeting its 
objectives of helping communities and protecting the environment.
  The EPA needs a Senate-confirmed Administrator in office. The EPA 
Administrator plays a central role in developing and implementing 
programs that are focused on meeting the EPA's mission of protecting 
human health and the environment. Andrew Wheeler is well qualified to 
lead this Agency and to serve in the President's Cabinet. He is the 
right person to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection 
Agency, and I strongly encourage every Senator to support the 
nomination.


                      Nomination of John L. Ryder

  Mr. President, I also rise in support of the nomination of John L. 
Ryder to serve as a member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee 
Valley Authority, the TVA.
  The TVA serves 9 million people in parts of seven Southeastern 
States. It provides affordable electricity for business customers and 
local power companies, for flood control, navigation, and land 
management for the Tennessee River system, plus economic development 
for the region. The TVA is credited with transforming the region into a 
growing population and a growing economic base.
  With over 40 years of experience as a lawyer, Mr. Ryder will be a 
strong complement to the TVA's Board of Directors. The Environment and 
Public Works Committee attested to this fact when it reported his 
nomination favorably to the Senate by a voice vote twice--first, on May 
22, 2018, during the 115th Congress, and the next on February 5 of this 
year after he had to be renominated during this Congress because of the 
delays in the nomination approval process last year. Mr. Ryder is 
another example of how the confirmation process has deliberately run 
aground. Mr. Ryder, in normal times, would have been confirmed and in 
office last summer. Instead, we have to go through a cloture vote on a 
well-qualified nominee who has twice been reported unanimously through 
the Environment and Public Works Committee.
  Let's not delay this any longer. I urge my colleagues to vote with me 
in supporting the nomination of John L. Ryder to be a member of the 
Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.


                   Bipartisan Background Checks Bill

  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, later today, the House of Representatives 
will pass a proposal that will be supported by 95, 97 percent of 
Americans.

[[Page S1513]]

This is a proposal to make sure anybody in this country who wants to 
buy a gun in a legitimate transaction has to go through a background 
check--a background check that in 90 percent of the cases takes less 
than 5 minutes of time. That background check will assure that only 
people who should be buying guns and owning guns will be buying and 
owning guns--people who don't have violent criminal histories and 
people who don't have histories of serious mental illness. It is a 
popular proposal. It is an impactful proposal. It will save thousands 
of lives all across this country.
  I have come down to the floor to just remind my colleagues as to why 
this is so important, and I want to tell a quick story to try to put a 
little meat on the bone when it comes to this conversation we are 
having about the importance of making sure people go through background 
checks before they buy weapons.
  Mr. President, 2008 to 2012 was a period of time in this country's 
history where violence was declining. Homicides were declining. Gun 
murders were declining. They were declining across the country. 
Specifically during that period of time, they were declining in the 
Midwest. Yet there was one State that stood out as a curious outlier 
during that period of time, and that was the State of Missouri.
  In the State of Missouri, there was a dramatic jump during this 
period of time in gun homicides. In fact, it happened right away after 
2007. In 2008 and 2009, about 50 to 60 to 70 additional people every 
year were being murdered with guns inside Missouri. A researcher from 
Johns Hopkins went to try to figure out why this was, and I think it is 
important to tell that story on the floor today.
  Let me give a little historical context first. During the Civil War, 
Missouri was one of the most violent, most dangerous places in the 
country because there were these outlaws, these renegades of 
Confederates who were out in the bush--they call them the 
bushwhackers--who were doing regular battle with Union troops. It was 
one of the first instances of true, sustained guerilla warfare in this 
Nation. When the Civil War was over, they didn't go home. They had been 
brutally put down by the Union, but they stuck, and they formed their 
own smaller criminal enterprises.
  We know about this because Jesse James and his brother Frank were 
amongst those who made their name as bushwhackers fighting the Union 
and then turned into criminals who robbed stage coaches and banks and 
trains.
  To combat this post-Civil War continuation of violence, Missouri 
decided to change its firearms laws, and it started with a crackdown on 
the ability of individuals to conceal weapons. It extended to a change 
in the Constitution to make it perfectly clear that Missouri 
politicians had the ability to limit who could own guns and who 
couldn't.
  Eventually, a provision got passed that said that in order to own a 
handgun, you had to get a permit from your local authority. As time 
went on, that permit came to include a background check, so that if you 
wanted to own a gun in Missouri, you had to go and get a background 
check. You had to prove you did not have a serious criminal history or 
a serious history of mental illness.
  What happened in 2007 was that, very quietly, that provision got 
repealed. It was part of a much louder effort to repeal a whole host of 
gun laws in Missouri. Missouri kind of became the epicenter of the 
NRA's focus in the 2000s. It was this Southern--semi-Southern State 
that still had pretty tough gun laws, and the NRA went all in and had 
their annual convention in St. Louis and spent millions of dollars 
trying to elect folks who would sign laws they were pushing through the 
legislature. In 2007, they finally got their way. They got all these 
laws that had been passed since the Civil War repealed. One of them was 
the law that required you to get a background check before you could 
buy a gun.
  The researcher from Johns Hopkins sort of looked at all these laws, 
controlled for all sorts of other factors, and came to the conclusion--
you should read the paper; it is very well done--that it was this 
provision which removed the background check that led to this dramatic 
spike in violence. He has all sorts of interesting data to show why 
that is. All the other violent crime in Missouri stayed flat from 2008 
to 2012, but gun crimes spiked. All of a sudden, guns bought in 
Missouri were being used in crimes all over the region. Other States 
started to report an increase--a curious, sudden increase--in crime 
guns that were bought in Missouri. Well, guess why. It was because all 
of a sudden, you didn't have to get a background check if you wanted to 
buy a gun in Missouri. All of a sudden, criminals and people with 
serious mental illnesses could get guns through gun shows and internet 
sales--transactions on the private market--without that background 
check.
  I tell this story because I hear opponents of this bill in the House 
saying: This isn't meaningful. It won't work. These mass shootings 
weren't perpetuated with weapons that were bought without background 
checks.
  Well, that is true. This one public policy intervention won't stop 
every single bad thing that happens in this country. But the data is 
the data, and it shows us that States that have background checks have 
dramatically lower rates of gun crime than States that don't have them.
  A little bit earlier than the changes made in Missouri, my State of 
Connecticut made the opposite change. My State of Connecticut made a 
change to go from being a non-background check State to a background 
check State. We put in a local permit that came with a background check 
requirement. So even if you bought your gun outside of a bricks-and-
mortar gun store, you had to get a permit, and that permit required you 
to get a background check.
  Well, that same researcher went to Connecticut, ran all the numbers, 
and found out that in Connecticut, after that change was made, gun 
murders dropped by 40 percent. They increased in Missouri by about 25 
percent and decreased in Connecticut by about 40 percent--and again 
controlling for all sorts of other factors that could explain those 
changes.
  So on both sides of the ledger, there is what I would tell you is 
incontrovertible evidence that a State that has background checks is 
going to end up having many fewer gun crimes than a State that doesn't 
have them. The problem is, as we saw in and around Missouri, guns don't 
respect borders, so when Missouri dropped its gun background check 
requirement, those guns started moving into other States.
  That is what happened in my State. The guns that are used to commit 
crimes in our cities--the guns that are trafficked out of the back of 
vans--aren't bought from Connecticut gun stores; they are bought by 
criminals in other States because they know they can go to gun shows 
and they can turn to internet sales in those other States and buy those 
weapons.

  The same thing happens as weapons move across our border. I have 
heard an awful lot from this President about how dangerous Mexico and 
Central America are. Well, there is some truth to that, but the guns 
that are being used in those crimes are trafficked from the United 
States of America, and the way they get to the southern border is 
through States that don't have background check requirements.
  Just go online and check out what people say who have been arrested 
for gun trafficking. They tell you exactly how they did it. They go to 
gun shows in Texas. They buy guns at unregulated gun shows in Texas, 
and they take them back across the border and sell them in Central 
America.
  So we have all the evidence we need--empirical evidence, anecdotal 
evidence--to pass this piece of legislation, but maybe the most 
important reason that we should pass it, that we should take it up here 
in the Senate when it passes the House later today, is that it is just 
so darn popular. There really isn't anything else in America today that 
is as popular as universal background checks. The minimum score is 
about 90 percent. There is plenty of really good polling that says that 
97 percent of Americans support universal background checks. Grandma 
isn't that popular. Apple pie isn't that popular. There is nothing we 
debate here that gets 97 percent on agreement other than the issue of 
background checks.
  So I am here on the floor today to try to fill in some of the details 
on why this is so important and to implore my colleagues, once it 
passes the House of Representatives, to bring it here. Obviously, I 
would love to have a vote on

[[Page S1514]]

the House bill, but I understand how this place works. We are going to 
send a letter to Chairman Graham asking him to at the very least 
convene a hearing on background checks in the Judiciary Committee.
  We came to a conclusion here in the Senate as to a bipartisan 
background checks proposal that could get 50 votes--in 2013--and I 
would love to start that process again. But there is no reason not to 
do it because all the evidence tells us that when we make sure that 
only the right people buy guns, a lot less people die from gun crimes.
  This is not controversial anywhere except for Washington, DC. 
Everybody out there in the American public wants us to pass universal 
background checks. Maybe some other interventions in this space are a 
little bit more controversial, split folks a little bit more, but not 
background checks. This thing is decided outside of the Senate Chamber 
and the House Chamber. Popular in the public, deeply impactful, will 
save thousands of lives--that is a triple we don't get very often here, 
and we should take advantage of the opportunity.
  Let me leave you with this: I convened a panel a couple of nights ago 
to talk about the importance of background checks, and there were a 
number of parents of those who were lost to gun violence. One of the 
parents was from Sandy Hook. Another was a parent of a child who was 
killed in Chicago, and she really wanted to make sure we knew what the 
real impact of gun violence in America was. She wanted to make sure we 
knew that the victims aren't just those who show up on the police 
blotter; the victims are the parents and the brothers and the sisters 
and the friends and the coworkers.
  The average number of people who experience some diagnosable trauma 
when somebody in their life is shot and killed is 20. So when you hear 
the number that 100 people in the United States die every day from 
guns--which is a number 10 to 20 times higher than in any other high-
income nation on a per capita basis--you have to understand that number 
isn't really 100; that number is 20 times higher than that because the 
people who have to live with that loss have to ask these questions: Why 
did they shoot themselves? What do I do about that individual who shot 
my son? How do I get over that combination of pain and anger? That is 
hard to understand unless you have spent time with the mothers and the 
fathers who will be dealing with this catastrophic, life-changing 
trauma for the rest of the time they are on this Earth.
  So that is why this is so serious to me. It is because we have an 
answer for their pain--not an answer that will stop every gun crime in 
this country but an answer that will result in thousands fewer people 
dying. We know that because the evidence tells us that. And I can't 
explain to these families--to that mother in Chicago--why something 
that has been proven to work and is supported by 90 percent of 
Americans can't get a vote or a debate in the Senate.
  I will leave it at that for today. I hope that when this passes in 
the House with a big bipartisan majority, we will take advantage of the 
opportunity to get a big bipartisan majority here in the Senate. If the 
Republican majority commits to starting that process, I guarantee that 
will be the result.
  I want to thank all of the people who made this possible in the House 
today.
  For the record, I have introduced a version of H.R. 8 here in the 
U.S. Senate.
  To Chairman Nadler,   Mike Thompson, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader 
Hoyer, and to their Republican cosponsors who helped bring it to the 
floor--I thank them on behalf of all of the folks they will never know, 
those lives they will save by their action today if we do the right 
thing and take it up here in the Senate.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. President, 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. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Senators 
Leahy, Klobuchar, King, and Tester be recognized in the next 40 minutes 
or so for a colloquy with me.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                             Climate Change

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, it was 1986, a third of a century ago. 
Six U.S. Senators wrote a letter to the Office of Technology 
Assessment, the office then charged with providing technical and 
scientific advice to Congress.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that their letter be printed 
in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                             United States Senate,


                                    Committee on Environment  

                                             and Public Works,

                                 Washington DC, December 23, 1986.
     Dr. John Gibbons,
     Executive Director, U.S. Congress, Office of Technology 
         Assessment, Washington, DC.
       Dear Dr. Gibbons: The Senate Environment and Public Works 
     Committee has held three days of hearings this year on the 
     massive and, to some degree irrevocable, alterations in the 
     stratosphere commonly referred to as the ``greenhouse 
     affect'', as well as ozone depletion.
       The testimony convincingly portrayed a fundamentally 
     altered planet, with shifts in ocean circulation and climate 
     zones; altered precipitation and storm patterns; more 
     frequent and extreme weather events such as droughts, 
     monsoons, and lowland floods. Individually and collectively, 
     these changes bring about others, ranging from disruption of 
     forest, crop, and ocean productivity to shifts in 
     populations. Witnesses before the Committee testified that 
     the Earth is now committed to a substantial greenhouse 
     warming, projected to be about 2 degrees Centigrade, as well 
     as an ozone layer depletion.
       We are deeply troubled by the prospect of such a rapid and 
     unprecedented change in the composition of the atmosphere and 
     its implications for the human and natural worlds. It may be 
     necessary to act soon to at least slow these trends or, 
     perhaps, halt them altogether.
       We therefore request that the Office of Technology 
     Assessment undertake a study for the Committee on Environment 
     and Public Works of policy options that, if enacted, could 
     lead to the stabilization and minimization of greenhouse 
     gases in the atmosphere. These gases include carbon dioxide, 
     methane, nitrous oxide, tropospheric ozone and 
     chlorofluorocarbons. This is a large and difficult task but 
     fundamental and perhaps permanent alteration of the 
     stratosphere has profound implications for the future of the 
     world as we know it.
       The Office of Technology Assessment has proven itself 
     capable of policy analysis on difficult and complex issues. 
     Despite this, OTA may find it difficult to immediately 
     provide a set of options which both complete and detailed. 
     However, the Congress must soon begin to weigh the 
     alternatives facing the United States and other nations. For 
     this purpose, we hope that you can provide information on 
     omissions as well as other considerations relevant to those 
     decisions.
       Due to the likelihood that legislation will be seriously 
     considered by the Committee early in the next Congress, it 
     would be most helpful if this analysis could be undertaken 
     without delay. If we or our staffs can be of assistance to 
     you or your staff, please do not hesitate to call upon us.
           Sincerely,
     Robert T. Stafford,
       U.S. Senate,
     John H. Chafee,
       U.S. Senate,
     Dave Durenberger,
       U.S. Senate,
     Quentin N. Burdick,
       U.S. Senate,
     George J. Mitchell,
       U.S. Senate,
     Max Baucus,
       U.S. Senate.

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. These six U.S. Senators were troubled by testimony 
they had heard about climate change in three separate hearings of the 
Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee. They wrote:

       The testimony convincingly portrayed a fundamentally 
     altered planet, with shifts in ocean circulation and climate 
     zones; altered precipitation and storm patterns; more 
     frequent and extreme weather events such as droughts, 
     monsoons, and lowland floods. Individually and collectively, 
     these changes bring about others, ranging from disruption of 
     forest, crop, and ocean productivity to shifts in 
     populations. Witnesses before the Committee testified that 
     the Earth is now committed to a substantial greenhouse 
     warming, projected to be about 2 degrees Centigrade, as well 
     as an ozone layer depletion.

  Well, that was quite a prediction. Who were these six Senators? 
Quentin

[[Page S1515]]

Burdick, Democrat from North Dakota; Max Baucus, Democrat from Montana; 
George Mitchell, Democrat from Maine; Robert Stafford, Republican from 
Vermont, the chairman then of the committee; Dave Durenberger, 
Republican of Minnesota; and Rhode Island's Republican Senator, John 
Chafee.
  You cannot help but be struck that the prediction back then by these 
six Senators is now our reality. Everything they predicted is 
happening. The scientists they listened to had it right. Global 
temperatures have already risen by around 1 degree Celsius, and we are 
headed to over 2 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the 
century.
  Their grim predictions, which we now live with as fact, motivated 
these six Senators to ask the Office of Technology Assessment for 
policy options that ``could lead to the stabilization and minimization 
of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.''
  Why did they want these policy options? They wanted to learn about 
policy options because, as they continued in their letter:

       Congress must soon begin to weigh the alternatives facing 
     the United States and other nations. . . . Due to the 
     likelihood that legislation will be considered by the 
     Committee early in the next Congress, it would be most 
     helpful if this analysis could be undertaken without delay.

  ``Without delay.'' Since then, Republicans have demolished the Office 
of Technology Assessment; that office no longer exists. Republicans 
have relentlessly blockaded legislation to address carbon emissions and 
have trafficked in phony climate denial, all while accepting hundreds 
of millions of dollars of political contributions from the fossil fuel 
industry.
  Today, five of those six States are represented again, having a 
reunion on the Senate floor. I see Senator Tester from Montana here. I 
will yield to him now. We will also be joined by Patrick Leahy of 
Vermont, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Angus King of Maine.
  I yield to Jon Tester of Montana, taking the position of his 
predecessor, Max Baucus--whom, by one of the weird coincidences of the 
Senate, I just passed coming out of the trolley.
  Senator Tester, the floor is yours.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. TESTER. I thank Senator Whitehouse.
  I could not in my wildest dreams be able to replace Senator Baucus in 
what he did. But what he did back in 1986, along with a number of other 
Senators Senator Whitehouse just talked about, was visionary.
  He signed a letter asking Federal researchers to study solutions for 
limiting the causes of climate change. This was in 1986, some 33 years 
ago. That same year, as I am today, my wife and I were farming in North 
Central Montana, a farm that then had been in the family for about 70 
years.
  During the time before 1986, and since 1986, we have seen a lot of 
changes on the farm. That is why it is interesting--because those 
changes have increased more than ever, I believe, in the last 20 years.
  When this letter was sent off to study solutions in 1986, it was 
incredibly visionary because it was before climate change was even 
talked about much. Yet this group of Senators was able to see the 
negative impacts of this coming down the pike.
  By the way, when we talk about negative impacts of climate change--
you probably have this, Senator Whitehouse, but somebody ought to put 
together how many hundreds of billions of dollars we have spent on 
natural disasters in the last 10 or 12 years compared to how much we 
spent in years previous. I can tell you, it was a few years ago that 
every State in the Union except one or maybe two had a natural 
disaster. That is because our climate is changing. It is because our 
climate is getting more erratic. I have seen it on our farm. I have 
seen August turn from the driest month to one of the wettest months. 
Over the last 20 years, I have seen a reservoir--a reservoir is a 
manmade area to hold water for livestock. I have seen a reservoir that 
never went dry from the time my father built it in the early 1950s to 
going dry for consecutive years. I have seen dangerous floods. I have 
seen water where we have never had it before. I have seen drought like 
we have never had it before.
  I would just say, in regard to that, we just had a vote on a guy by 
the name of Wheeler, whom the President nominated to lead the EPA, who 
actually is one of these guys who doesn't believe in climate change at 
all. I don't know where the President finds these people, and I don't 
know how this body can support somebody who is this big of a denier, 
who wants to slow enforcement on polluters.
  There is one thing we need to keep in mind in this country when we 
try to put people like Wheeler up for head of EPA. If you take a look 
at the third-world nations in this world, those are the nations that 
have destroyed their resource base. If you want to pollute our water 
and if you want to pollute our air, that is destroying our resource 
base. I guarantee you, that is not a way to make America great. It is 
not even a way to keep America great.
  This nominee is rolling back the clean water rule. He has allowed 
more uses for asbestos in commerce when, in our State of Montana, Libby 
can tell you all about asbestos. People are still dying from its 
effects.
  That aside--the Wheeler nomination, which is a catastrophe in 
itself--I could tell you that the Senators who stood on this very floor 
33 years ago understood--understood--that we have a challenge in front 
of us greater than any other challenge we have faced before, and that 
is climate. As we talk about what they did in 1986--we are in 2019 
now--now is the time to come up with some workable solutions--workable 
for our climate and workable for our economy--to get our arms around 
this very serious problem.
  I am going to tell you what is at risk here. I love Nevada, but I 
don't want Montana turning into an ecosystem like Nevada has. We raise 
some of the best wheat and the best cattle and the best post-crops in 
the world, but it takes a predictable environment to do that. In some 
places in our State, we are on the edge of desertification, turning 
into desert.
  The issue that revolves around climate change impacts each and every 
one of us in this body. Whether we are in denial or not, that is a 
fact, and it is incumbent upon us, as Senators who represent great 
States all around this Nation, to come up with solutions that our kids 
and our grandkids will be proud of.
  I yield the floor back to Senator Whitehouse.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I thank Senator Tester.
  I will turn to the Rhode Islander who was in that early bipartisan 
effort to understand and address climate change. Senator John Chafee's 
history of service to his State and country was remarkable. He saw 
bloody combat in World War II on Guadalcanal and Okinawa with the 1st 
Marine Division. He went back as a Marine rifle company commander 
during the Korean war with Dog Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines. He 
served in Rhode Island's legislature and as our Governor. In 1969, he 
was appointed Secretary of the Navy. He was elected to the U.S. Senate 
in 1976 and chaired the Environment and Public Works Committee from 
1995 until his death in 1999. In the small Rhode Island world, he was 
also my father's college roommate and lifelong friend.
  The environment was an abiding passion for this man, and his devotion 
showed in his work in the Senate. His legacy includes the Superfund 
Program, the Oil Pollution Act, and the 1990 amendments to the Clean 
Air Act, and his legacy is his early recognition that climate change, 
driven by carbon pollution, caused by fossil fuels, poses an 
existential threat to humanity and the planet we call home.
  At the 1986 hearing that led to this bipartisan letter, Chafee 
declared:

       This is not a matter of Chicken Little telling us the sky 
     is falling. The scientific evidence . . . is telling us we 
     have a problem; a serious problem.

  This is 1986, and the Republican chairman of the Environment and 
Public Works Committee is saying that the scientific evidence is 
telling us we have a serious problem.
  He went on to say:

       Scientists have characterized our treatment of the 
     greenhouse effect as a global experiment. It strikes me as a 
     form of planetary Russian roulette. . . . By not making 
     policy choices today, by sticking to a ``wait and see'' 
     approach . . . [b]y allowing these

[[Page S1516]]

     gases to continue to build in the atmosphere, this generation 
     may be committing all of us to severe economic and 
     environmental disruption without ever having decided that the 
     value of ``business as usual'' is worth the risks.
       Those who believe that these are problems to be dealt with 
     by future generations are misleading themselves.

  Senator John Chafee, 1986.
  I yield now to the distinguished ranking member of the Appropriations 
Committee and honorary Senator pro tempore, Patrick Leahy, here on 
behalf of the State of Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I thank my distinguished colleague from 
Rhode Island.
  I could not help but think--as I saw the picture of John Chafee, with 
whom I had the honor of serving here in the Senate--of John Chafee's 
close friendship with Robert Stafford, who was my senior Senator when I 
came here, both having served in World War II, both with a naval 
background, both people who cared first and foremost about the country 
and the environment. I am going to speak a little bit further about Bob 
Stafford as we go.

  When we laid John Chafee to rest in Rhode Island, I remember sitting 
there and listening to the eulogies. Both Republicans and Democrats 
were speaking about this man.
  Also, referring to what the Senator from Rhode Island has said, more 
than 30 years ago we had cooperation and bipartisanship. It was a 
hallmark of the U.S. Senate. It was a bipartisan group of Senators who 
sounded the alarm about climate change. They made a very modest request 
to the Office of Technology Assessment. They said: Study the issue of 
climate change and make recommendations to avert global disaster.
  Those Senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, were concerned that 
human activity might directly cause permanent, destructive, and 
widespread changes to our planet's climate system--changes that would 
put our entire economy, ecosystem, and, our very own existence at risk.
  As I said, one of these Senators was my senior Senator, my mentor, 
when I came here and one of the finest Senators who ever served--
Republican Robert Stafford, from Vermont.
  Today, led by Senator Whitehouse, I think that what many of us are 
trying to do is what Senator Chafee and Senator Stafford did. We want 
to recall that moment in 1986 and renew the warning those Senators 
issued 33 years ago.
  Let me speak about Senator Stafford. When I came here at the ripe old 
age of 34, I was the only Democrat ever elected in my State. Robert 
Stafford was ``Mr. Republican.'' He took me under his wing. He had been 
a Congressman. He had been a Governor. He had been an attorney general. 
He served in World War II and in Korea. He was a mentor, but he was 
also an example. His legacy is one of sensible, pragmatic Vermont 
values that he brought to Washington for decades. They weren't 
Republican or Democratic.
  Senator Stafford was--like most Vermonters--a champion for the 
natural environment. With his work on landmark environmental 
legislation, like the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the 
Superfund program, Senator Stafford represented the best of Vermont's 
commitment to sustainability.
  His appeals to reason and for common ground, and his belief in sound 
science resonate even more today than when he left this body three 
decades ago. If he were here today, I believe he would be calling on 
both sides of the aisle to act now to ensure that we can pass on a 
secure and livable planet for generations to come and to act before it 
is too late.
  Today, so many people still refuse to accept what is now an 
overwhelming scientific consensus--that climate change is real and that 
humans are the dominant cause of it. What is worse, for the last 2 
years many in Congress have willfully accelerated the devastation 
caused by global warming by enabling the Trump administration's erosion 
of our Nation's bedrock environmental protections--protections that I 
have fought for throughout my nearly 45 years in the Senate.
  As climate scientists warn of the urgent need to reduce emissions and 
reverse the global rise in temperatures, many Senators have refused to 
preserve even the status quo. Instead, in the last 2 years, we have 
seen the rollback of commonsense regulations, often at the behest of 
private interests that have spent decades misinforming the public and 
suppressing their own science on the long-term hazards of the fossil 
fuel industry.
  Alarmingly, this week the Senate is poised to confirm someone to lead 
the Environmental Protection Agency--the Agency that is charged with 
safeguarding the air and water on which we depend--who, despite the 
scientific consensus, denies that climate change is the great threat we 
face today.
  To growing numbers of Americans it is saddening--actually, it is 
maddening--and most of all, deeply alarming that the Trump 
administration and many others in leadership positions have made 
Trumpism's anti-science, know-nothing agenda their default position. 
This poses existential threats not only to our children and 
grandchildren but to our generation.
  More than three decades ago, long before protecting our planet became 
a partisan issue, the Environment and Public Works Committee held 3 
days of hearings on climate change. Those 1986 hearings compelled a 
bipartisan group of Senators to acknowledge and warn the public about a 
``fundamentally altered planet'' as a result of the ``substantial 
greenhouse warming'' that was projected.
  They asked what could be done to prevent consequences ``ranging from 
disruption of forest, crop, and ocean productivity to shifts in 
population,'' and ``extreme weather events, such as droughts, monsoons, 
and lowland floods.'' These words of warning were neither radical nor 
partisan. They were sensible.
  So what has changed since then? The ice caps are melting--only 
faster. Certainly, the glaciers I saw when I visited Antarctica 25 or 
so years ago had been there for eons, and they are now fast 
disappearing. Our coastline is still disappearing but faster. Farmers 
and ranchers are still concerned about prolonged droughts and extreme 
weather, only, today, the fires and storms are more frequent and more 
devastating.
  Just last month, the intelligence community's ``Worldwide Threat 
Assessment'' offered a sobering conclusion. This is the intelligence 
community's assessment: ``Global environmental and ecological 
degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition 
for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 
and beyond.''
  We know that bipartisan action on big environmental threats is 
possible. In fact, soon after the climate change hearings in 1986, 
Marcelle and I climbed Vermont's Camel's Hump with President Reagan's 
EPA Administrator. We wanted to show him the terrible damage caused by 
acid rain. We could see that mountain from our home. We could see the 
changes up close. They were very obvious. With President Reagan's EPA 
Administrator's support, we moved ahead with the Clean Air Act 
Amendments of 1990, and they were signed into law by President George 
H. W. Bush. It was not a partisan issue. The result was a great 
reduction in the scourge of acid rain. We see these results every day.
  Today we are in danger of taking such results for granted. It is up 
to us to protect this planet. If we don't, who will? There is no more 
urgent responsibility.
  There are bold ideas for how to address this challenge. The Green New 
Deal offers a valuable roadmap for debate and a pathway for action. The 
time for dallying around the edges of the issue is over. We all share 
responsibility for where we are today. So, likewise, we have an 
obligation to attack this issue, but not with cynical show votes, not 
with feel-good votes intended to demonstrate a political divide rather 
than what should be universal acknowledgment of what we know to be 
true--that climate change is real, and human activity is the primary 
cause of these threats to our way of life, our communities, and our 
planet.
  We have to channel the American innovative spirit that has improved 
our lives for centuries. We have to find creative solutions for 
reducing carbon emissions, and then we have to invest in those 
solutions. We have to reorient our workforce toward the great 
opportunities that are opening for green-economy jobs. We should invest 
in

[[Page S1517]]

leading the whole world in developing clean energy solutions. We have 
to address this real emergency head-on. Not only can we curb climate 
change, but, in doing so, we can transform the American economy.
  Over 30 years ago, a handful of forward-looking Republicans and 
Democrats stood together in this Senate. I was proud to be here when 
they issued their challenge, but the time for delay is over. In fact, 
our time is running out.
  Let this renewed vigor in addressing climate change, brought about by 
the bold proposed Green New Deal, be the catalyst for real change. 
Let's stand together.
  Senator Whitehouse has enlightened us on so many of these issues, but 
we have also learned, as he did, from our mentors--like Senator Chafee, 
Senator Stafford, and the others who got together in 1986. It is not 
partisan and it is not political. It is survival.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I thank the distinguished Senator from Vermont, who 
is not only a towering physical presence on the floor of the Senate but 
a towering historic presence on this floor, as well, and brings a rare 
and valuable perspective. I appreciate his words so much.
  The sad thing that we face is that despite words like those uttered 
by Senator John Chafee--``allowing these gases to continue to build in 
the atmosphere . . . may be committing all of us to severe economic and 
environmental disruption''--or the words in the letter that John Chafee 
signed right here and that Senator Leahy's mentor, Bob Stafford, signed 
right here back on December 23, 1986, no Republican Senator can utter 
those words today. Today's Republican Party will not even acknowledge 
that climate change is a serious problem--let alone put forward a 
serious proposal to tackle it. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's 
latest trick is to call, for the first time, a climate-related measure 
on the Senate floor for his side to vote against it. The leader has not 
brought a single piece of climate legislation to the floor for a vote, 
ever, until this vote, which he is bringing up for his side to vote 
against.
  It actually gets worse. Since the infamous Citizens United Supreme 
Court decision almost 10 years ago, no Republican in the Senate has 
offered or sponsored comprehensive climate legislation to limit carbon 
pollution--none.
  So we look back with some real sorrow to 1986, when this bipartisan 
letter was written. Of course, Minnesota was represented in that letter 
by Dave Durenberger, and Minnesota is represented here on the floor 
today by Senator Klobuchar.
  I yield to her.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Rhode Island 
for his leadership day in and day out on this issue.
  I rise to join him and my other colleagues to talk about this letter 
and to look back at that moment in time but really to do it to look 
forward because we know it is long past time for bipartisan action on 
climate change.
  As the Senator from Rhode Island has explained with a copy of that 
letter, back in 1986, a bipartisan group of Senators came together to 
voice their concerns about the future of our world.
  This forward-thinking group of our predecessors, who were from the 
same States as my colleagues who are here today, held 3 days of 
hearings on climate change. That sounds like a pretty good idea for 
something we should be doing right now. It was chaired by, of course, 
the Republican Senator from Rhode Island, Mr. John Chafee.
  Minnesota Senator David Durenberger was among that group of Senators. 
He was born in St. Cloud. He earned his law degree from the University 
of Minnesota, was the top-rated cadet in his ROTC class, and served as 
a lieutenant in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps and as a captain in 
the U.S. Army Reserve.
  Senator Durenberger took over the seat left by Senator Humphrey, and 
during his 17 years of service in the Senate, Senator Durenberger 
proved time and again that he is a true believer in bipartisanship. He 
worked across the aisle to tackle big issues, and that included talking 
about climate change way back in 1986.
  I called Senator Durenberger this week to talk to him, and our staff 
did, to get some sense of where he was on climate change years later. 
He reported to us that, in his words, he wanted to remind Americans 
there was a time in our very recent history when the U.S. Senate made 
it its responsibility to define and address some of the critical 
national and international policy issues that threaten the security of 
our communities, our Nation, and the world.
  This is Senator Durenberger speaking in the year 2019. He said he 
could say ``without reservation that it was bipartisan Senate 
leadership that encouraged the four Presidents with whom [he] served--
Carter, Reagan, [George H.W.] Bush, and Clinton--to prioritize 
environmental problem definition and solution.''
  He also recalled working with his colleagues on the Environment and 
Public Works Committee to ``challenge''--and these are his words--
``challenge the scientific community and the business community to work 
harder at reducing the impact [of greenhouse gases] and suggesting what 
policies best incentivize alternative fuels.''
  It was in this bipartisan spirit that this group of Senators sent a 
letter to Dr. John Gibbons, who was then the executive director of the 
Office of Technology Assessment. In that letter, they talked about the 
need to meet ``the massive and, to some degree irrevocable, alterations 
in the stratosphere commonly referred to as the greenhouse effect.''
  The letter goes on to discuss concerns about ``altered precipitation 
and storm patterns,'' something certainly the Senator from Rhode Island 
knows we are seeing right now. These Senators were ahead of their 
time--altered precipitation and storm patterns.
  ``[M]ore frequent and extreme weather events,'' they talked about 
that. Look at what we are seeing with the hurricanes, with the rising 
sea levels, and with the wildfires in Colorado and in California.
  ``[D]isruption of forest, crop, and ocean productivity.'' That letter 
may have been sent in 1986, but certainly those Democratic and 
Republican Senators were ahead of their time. Americans are now 
increasingly feeling the effects of changing climate patterns and 
extreme weather events. Farmers are already living through these 
disruptions to crop productivity.
  So what else did the letter say? Well, it said this: ``We are deeply 
troubled by the prospect of such a rapid and unprecedented change in 
the composition of the atmosphere and its implications for the human 
and natural worlds.'' It also stated that ``it may be necessary to act 
soon to at least slow these trends or, perhaps, halt them altogether.''
  Think of those words way back in 1986 asking us to act soon. They 
were right back then, and they are still right today. The true tragedy 
is that the final paragraph of the letter notes that any analysis 
should be undertaken without delay ``due to the likelihood that 
legislation will be seriously considered by the Committee early in the 
next Congress.''
  Well, the truth is, we are still waiting for that legislation to be 
seriously considered. The bipartisan call in that 1986 letter came in 
the 99th Congress, and we are now beginning the 116th. Just as 
troubling, we have lost some of the bipartisan spirit that guided David 
Durenberger and those 1986 lawmakers. Our inaction has outlasted even 
the Office of Technology Assessment itself.
  I ask my colleagues, in the spirit of bipartisanship--from back in 
1986, my colleague Senator Durenberger, who I hope is listening today--
let us continue that spirit, and let's get some serious climate 
legislation to the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, let me thank Senator Klobuchar for her 
wonderful remarks, and of course Minnesota is a Northern State which 
sees this up close all the time.
  The Senator spoke of bipartisanship. Do you know who voted with 
Senator Chafee for the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990? The Republican 
Senate majority leader did, as did a majority of the Republican caucus 
in the Senate.
  In fact, those powerful 1990 Clean Air Act amendments passed 89 to 
10. Where do I go to get a majority leader like that back? Where do I 
go to get a Senate Republican Party like that back?

[[Page S1518]]

  As late as 2009, Donald Trump published an advertisement in the New 
York Times that said that the climate science was ``scientifically 
irrefutable''--scientifically irrefutable--and that if we didn't do 
anything about it, there would be ``catastrophic and irreversible 
consequences for humanity and our planet.'' That is Donald Trump in 
2009.
  Where do I go to get that Donald Trump back? What happened? In 2007, 
when I first joined this body, there were Republicans working on 
climate legislation all over the place. Senator Klobuchar and I came 
together that year. We had, by my count, five pieces of bipartisan 
climate legislation that were working through this body in various 
stages in 2007, 2008, and 2009, when Donald Trump put this 
advertisement in the New York Times saying that the science was 
scientifically irrefutable and the consequences would be catastrophic 
and irreversible.
  Then came January of 2010. Then came the Citizens United decision. 
Then came unlimited and often anonymous fossil fuel money sloshing 
around in America's politics and all the threats and promises that 
unlimited money allows special interest to engage in. Now, those days, 
the Donald Trump of 2009, Republican cooperation of 2007, 2008, and 
2009, and of course this letter from as long ago as 1986 seems 
impossible, but I hope we can get together. We have to do better than 
Republican political mischief on climate change.
  Calling up bills that you intend to vote against--give me a break. 
Where is the plan, the Republican, conservative, serious plan for 
addressing the climate crisis? I will tell you where it is. It is 
nowhere. Zero. Nada. Nothing. That has to stop.
  Here, on this letter, is one of the most distinguished, wonderful men 
ever to serve in the U.S. Senate, Mr. George Mitchell of the State of 
Maine, and here, representing him today, is Senator Angus King from the 
great State of Maine.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  Mr. KING. Mr. President, I rise in sadness and somewhat perplexed 
because what we are doing in this colloquy is recreating a statement, a 
letter, as the Senator from Minnesota outlined, that was sent by six of 
our predecessors in December of 1986, warning about the dangers of 
climate change, warning about what this can do to our country and to 
our world, about costs, and about how we had to take action.
  One of those Senators was George Mitchell of Maine, one of the great 
legislators of the 20th century. I am honored to be in the seat that 
once was occupied by George Mitchell and also by his predecessor, 
Edmund Muskie. I think the story of the major environmental legislation 
of the 20th century, sponsored principally at the beginning by Edmund 
Muskie, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, is worth mentioning, if 
only briefly.
  The most important point is that the Clean Air Act, one of the most 
important and comprehensive environmental pieces of legislation in our 
Nation's history, passed this body unanimously. It passed this body 
unanimously.
  It disturbs me that we couldn't agree on the time of day around here 
unanimously these days. I don't know when this issue became a partisan 
issue, but I deeply regret it because it is causing harm to our 
country.
  What I would like to do is step into George Mitchell's shoes for a 
moment and read a statement that he himself wrote and made back in 
1986, and you are not going to believe how prescient this statement is. 
It could have been written yesterday. Here are George Mitchell's words:

       The problem of global warming is one of immense 
     significance. It is the most serious and more pressing than 
     anticipated. Previously, most of the models forecasting the 
     rate of global warming focused on the air pollutants produced 
     by the combustion of fossil fuels. More recent data suggest 
     that trace gases may also increase the rate of warming by a 
     factor of two. This means that warming may be increasing 
     twice as fast as previously thought.
       The data produced to date suggests there may be an average 
     increase in temperature of 1 deg.C since the beginning of the 
     industrial revolution.

  This was in 1986. We are now at about 1.5 degrees centigrade.

       Considering how much warmer this June has been than 
     average, a 1 degree difference may appear to be 
     insignificant, but an average of 1 degree increase could be 
     devastating, so the experts tell us. A 1 degree increase in 
     the average global temperature would melt glaciers--

  That is happening--

     and such melting would increase the sea level.

  That is happening.

       There are uncertainties in predicting how much the sea 
     level would increase in a particular area. In some cases, it 
     could be an average increase of a few feet; in others, much 
     more. For a coastal State like Maine and to other States 
     along the coastline, such an increase would be devastating.

  To deviate from George's words for a moment, this is what we see 
happening. We are now seeing what are called rainy day floods, flooding 
in areas of our country along the coast that were rare. Six-month 
events are now every high tide.
  George Mitchell says:

       An average of 1 degree increase in temperature could have 
     major impacts on agriculture. This country's Midwestern bread 
     basket could again become a dust bowl. More heat would mean 
     less water for crops and variations in growing seasons. It is 
     important to keep in mind that this average increase is 
     global in nature. It is not a national or regional problem. 
     If American farmers suffer for lack of water, so will farmers 
     all over the planet. If shorelines along our coasts are 
     flooded, so will shorelines everywhere in the world.
       The enormity of this phenomenon is staggering, and we have 
     a responsibility to limit emissions of pollutants that trap 
     the heat in our atmosphere. As difficult, as immense, and as 
     seemingly remote as the problem is to our daily lives, we 
     cannot delay.

  This was George Mitchell in 1986--we cannot delay.

       There will be those who argue that more research is 
     necessary to completely understand the phenomenon and to 
     answer every scientific question.

  We are still hearing that argument today--we need more science; we 
need more studies; we are not sure.
  George goes on:

       As in the case of acid rain, such complete understanding 
     will come only after we flounder in the weight of our 
     shortsighted policies. This is one more indication that the 
     benefits of industrialization carry with them the burden of 
     controlling pollutants. These pollutants threaten our lakes, 
     fish, health, and forests today in the form of acid 
     deposition.
       We will hear today that these pollutants also threaten the 
     future of our planet, which cannot tolerate such a sudden and 
     dramatic increase in temperature and survive in a form 
     familiar to us.

  In 1986 George Mitchell said:

       Solutions are possible and available. The statement 
     released at the conclusion of the Villach Conference in 
     Austria last October--

  This was in 1985--

     addresses the common nature of some of our environmental 
     problems. That statement said in part that ``climate change 
     and sea level rises due to greenhouse gases are closely 
     linked with other major environmental issues, such as acid 
     deposition and threats to the Earth's ozone shield, mostly 
     due to changes in the composition of the atmosphere by human 
     activity.''
       Reduction in coal and oil use and energy conservation 
     undertaken to reduce acid deposition will also lower 
     concentration of greenhouse gases. Reductions in emissions of 
     chlorofluorocarbons--

  Which we achieved--

     will help protect the ozone layer and will also slow the rate 
     of climate change. The rate and degree of future warming 
     could be profoundly affected by governmental policies on 
     energy conservation, use of fossil fuels, and the emission of 
     greenhouse gases.

  Those words were written 32 years ago.

       The rate and degree of future warming could be profoundly 
     affected by governmental policies on energy conservation, use 
     of fossil fuels, and the emission of greenhouse gases.

  The testimony that they were intending to hear at the hearing that 
George is describing demonstrated ``that such governmental policies are 
needed . . . nationally and on a global basis.''
  I pause on ``a global basis''--the tragedy of leaving the Paris 
climate accord, because the only solution to this problem has to be 
local, national, and global.
  The testimony from Federal Agencies will be that the current 
government policy is to conduct more research, a familiar refrain on 
issues of this type. George Mitchell said:

       What is missing in the Federal effort is action. The 
     problem of global warming brings another round of scientists 
     before us decrying the folly of waiting until it is too late 
     to

[[Page S1519]]

     prevent irreversible damage. In the case of acid rain, 
     research has been offered as a substitute for much-needed 
     action. This policy has produced more bodies of water that 
     cannot sustain life, more trees that are dying, and more 
     people who find it hard to breathe.
       The policy has produced more studies, not any meaningful 
     change in policy. I hope these two days of hearings will help 
     persuade the administration--

  And the people of the country--

       that inaction has its own costs, almost invariably higher 
     than the cost of action.

  George Mitchell was right. The cost of inaction is invariably higher 
than the cost of action.
  George concluded by saying:

       I represent a State that already has been affected by acid 
     deposition. I want to do all I can to keep Maine, the rest of 
     our country, and our planet from facing potentially more 
     dramatic environmental damage from global warming. The best 
     way to avoid these undesirable outcomes is to begin taking 
     action now to prevent further damage rather than spending 
     twice as much time and later money repairing damage.

  George Mitchell was right in 1986. Tragically, he is even more right 
today because we did not heed his call. We did not take action. We have 
avoided action.
  I don't want to be the generation that our children and grandchildren 
look back on and say: Where were you and what did you do when the 
climate was deteriorating, when the glaciers were melting, when the ice 
sheets were melting, when the sea level was rising, when the storms 
were increasing in intensity, when the wildfires were burning our 
States? What did you do, Senator?
  I, for one, want the answer to be ``I took action.'' The answer 
should be ``we took action.''
  Today, this is a challenge even greater--significantly greater--than 
it was in 1986, but the very fact that people like Quentin Burdick, 
George Mitchell, John Chafee, Bob Stafford, and David Durenberger saw 
the future and predicted it so succinctly and profoundly should spur us 
to the type of action that is necessary to meet, confront, and overcome 
this most serious of challenges before us.
  Thank you.
  I yield to my colleague from Rhode Island.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I will close out this colloquy by pointing out that 
the Republicans of 2007, 2008, and 2009 who were working on climate 
legislation before the Citizens United decision have left or died or 
gone to ground. It is sad to see. These Republicans of 1986, a third of 
a century ago, would be shocked at what has become of their party. So, 
today, we, their successors in five of these six States, gathered on 
the floor to honor their memory, to mourn what has become in the 
intervening years of the Republican Party, and to grieve for what this 
body has lost.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.


                               S. Res. 70

  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, on February 13 the Rules Committee approved 
S. Res. 70, which authorizes funding for the Senate's committees from 
March 1, 2019, through February 28, 2021. For this 24-month period, the 
18 committees covered by this resolution are authorized to spend up to 
$214,055,860. This is a small increase over the funding authorized by 
the current committee funding resolution, S. Res. 62. For the 
information of my colleagues, committee funding authorized by S. Res. 
70 remains 13 percent below levels from a decade ago.
  Committees are the lifeblood of the legislative process. It is in our 
committees that policy is created and programs and agencies are 
overseen. Our committees are where the Senate first exercises its 
advice and consent function over the executive branch's nominees. Well-
functioning committees are crucial to the Senate's role as a separate 
but equal branch of the government.
  The resolution before the Senate is the result of a bipartisan 
process Senator Klobuchar, the Rules Committee's ranking member, and I 
undertook this year to solicit more input from committee chairmen and 
ranking members. The resolution reflects the needs identified by our 
colleagues and will help ensure our committees are able to carry out 
their responsibilities and duties.
  I would like to thank Fitz Elder and Rachelle Schroeder from my 
committee staff; Lizzy Peluso and Lindsey Kerr from Senator Klobuchar's 
committee staff; and Cindy Qualley, the Rules Committee's chief clerk. 
Additionally, I would like to thank Ileana Garcia and Ted Ruckner from 
the Disbursing Office and John Henderson from the Office of Legislative 
Counsel. I greatly appreciate their hard work in developing this 
resolution.

                          ____________________