EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 86
(Senate - May 22, 2019)

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[Pages S3019-S3038]
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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 Howard 
C. Nielson, of Utah, to be United States District Judge for the 
District of Utah.


                              Memorial Day

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, Monday is Memorial Day. It is the day our 
Nation pauses to remember all those who laid down their lives in 
defense of our country, from Saratoga to Yorktown, to Iraq and 
Afghanistan.
  We enjoy tremendous freedoms as Americans, tremendous privileges, but 
we do not enjoy these privileges by chance. They are hard-fought gains 
secured for us again and again by each new generation of American 
soldiers who lay down their lives in the cause of the free. It is 
important that we do not take what they have secured for us lightly, 
that we remember our freedoms have been paid for in blood.
  Near the end of the film ``Saving Private Ryan,'' the dying Captain 
Miller tells Private Ryan of the sacrifice that has been made on his 
behalf. He says: ``Earn this . . . earn it.''
  I am not sure we can ever fully earn the gift that has been given to 
us by those who have laid down their lives in our defense, but we can 
attempt to live lives worthy of their sacrifice and to defend the cause 
for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.
  When we remember the fallen on Memorial Day, there is one other group 
we should remember, and that is their families. Our Nation's Gold Star 
families may not have laid down their own lives for our country, but 
they gave their loved ones, their fathers and brothers, daughters and 
sisters. For the sake of our freedoms, they live with empty spaces at 
Thanksgivings and birthdays, at weddings and graduations, at their 
dinner tables and Little League practices. We owe them a debt also that 
we can never repay.
  I have been privileged to visit more than one veterans cemetery, such 
as our own Black Hills National Cemetery in South Dakota--which we 
recently expanded to ensure that our soldiers will have a resting place 
for generations to come--Arlington National Cemetery, and the American 
Cemetery at Normandy. There is a special hallowedness to the ground at 
these places. Valor and sacrifice still linger in the air, and a deep 
peace abounds--the peace of the warrior who has fought the good fight 
and found rest from his labors.
  General George S. Patton once said:

       It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, 
     we should thank God that such men lived.

  I might disagree with General Patton on the first part, as it is 
right and proper that we should mourn our dead, but with General 
Patton, I say: Let us thank God that such men and women lived.
  May the memory of our honored dead be eternal.
  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. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sasse). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                               Healthcare

  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I come to the floor again today to 
discuss Washington Democrats' one-size-fits-all healthcare scheme. 
Every American needs to know about this very radical plan.
  Democrats essentially want Washington, DC, to take over all of 
healthcare in this country and to abolish private health insurance that 
180 million Americans get through their jobs. Incredibly, this proposal 
offered by Senator Bernie Sanders has the backing of many leading 
Democrats running for President and 109 Democratic Members of the House 
of Representatives.
  So I want to continue the debate today by focusing on the terrible 
impact this radical scheme will have on all of the fine men and women 
who provide healthcare to people across the country. Of course, the 
impact on them will impact the patients for whom they provide care and 
services.
  I am talking about the Nation's dedicated medical professionals, 
especially

[[Page S3020]]

those who serve in our community hospitals. I actually know many of 
these healthcare providers because I am one of them. For many years I 
practiced orthopedic surgery in Casper, WY. I was a medical doctor, a 
physician, and chief of staff at the Wyoming Medical Center.
  When practicing medicine in Casper, WY--or anywhere in the Presiding 
Officer's home State of Nebraska--you really treat patients from all 
over the State. That is because many people in Wyoming live in small 
towns. I am talking about patients in towns like my wife's hometown of 
Thermopolis, WY. My wife's parents are there. When they need specialty 
care, they go to Casper. For those who haven't traveled in Wyoming, it 
is about a 2-hour drive one way when the weather is good.
  My point is, when you work in the Casper hospital, you are actually 
covering a large area in our State, and that is often the case in many 
States. So when I hear that Washington Democrats want to have a one-
size-fits-all healthcare plan, I wonder if they have given any thought 
to people in the Nation's heartland, to people out west. Are they 
considering people in rural communities at all?
  I will state that I think about the people of Wyoming every day. I am 
there every week. The staff at small hospitals who serve rural 
communities like Thermopolis, Rawlins, Lusk, Kemmerer, and at the 
Lovell hospital, where I attended a health fair this past Saturday, 
talking to all of the folks there--their needs are things I am not 
convinced Washington Democrats have any knowledge of or care for at 
all. The people at these hospitals work hard just to keep the doors 
open so that they can continue to care for patients right there.
  So alarm bells go off when I see headlines like the one from the 
Washington Post that said:

       ``Who's going to take care of these people?'' As 
     emergencies rise across rural America, a hospital fights for 
     its life.

  That is the headline in the Washington Post, referring to a community 
hospital in Osage County, OK. The hospital has a sign out front that 
reads: ``A small community is only as healthy as its hospital.'' That 
is the truth.
  Hospitals across rural America are struggling. Many are, in fact, 
fighting for their lives. Still, Democrats are offering a plan that 
will destroy private health insurance in America, which is the 
lifeblood of our Nation's healthcare system; 180 million Americans get 
their insurance this way.
  Democrats want to drastically reduce provider payments which, of 
course, would drive many doctors from practice and shutter many small 
hospitals. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator 
has said a one-size-fits-all system ``would decimate physician 
networks, creating a permanent physician shortage.''
  So how can rural hospitals survive with no financial cushion if 
Democrats' one-size-fits-all healthcare plan passes? Just ask the New 
York Times, of all people. Last month, the Times ran with this 
headline: ``Hospitals Stand to Lose Billions Under `Medicare for All.' 
'' Hospitals stand to lose billions.
  The Times cites a study from George Mason University that found 
Medicare provider reimbursement rates are more than 40 percent lower 
than private insurance rates--40 percent lower. At these payment rates, 
the Times says, ``[s]ome hospitals, especially struggling rural 
centers,'' like those in the Presiding Officer's home State and mine 
``would close virtually overnight.''
  There would be an overnight closure of hospitals under Bernie 
Sanders' and the Democrats' one-size-fits-all scheme for medicine in 
America.
  I am sure a lot of people listening out there are thinking, maybe it 
is all a mistake; maybe Democrats don't really mean to threaten 
hospitals. Well, the fact is, Democrats have long argued that hospitals 
need to close. That is what they have said.
  Look at what Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who is an architect of ObamaCare 
and a professor in Philadelphia, said on the subject. He actually wrote 
a book outlining all of this. It is titled, ``Reinventing American 
Health Care.''
  He predicted that 1,000 U.S. hospitals would close by 2020. Well, we 
are approaching that year. We haven't closed 1,000 in this country, but 
over 80 have closed, and those are rural hospitals.
  Last year he published an op-ed in the New York Times--the same Dr. 
Emanuel--ominously titled, ``Are Hospitals Becoming Obsolete?'' He 
writes:

       Hospitals are disappearing. While they will never 
     completely go away, they will continue to shrink in number 
     and importance. This is inevitable and good.

  Well, not in rural America--``good,'' he says, that thousands of 
hospitals and patients who rely on them are forced to close their doors 
for good. I disagree fundamentally with this principle and what he is 
saying.
  Of course, all people who practice medicine in small towns want to 
keep the doors open because they know the impact on the lives of the 
people who live in those communities. Just last week I had a chance to 
visit with Dr. Mike Tracy, a family physician in Powell, WY. He is past 
president of the Wyoming Medical Society. He is passionate about caring 
for his patients, and guess what. He doesn't participate in Medicare at 
all. Instead, he provides his services privately by charging his 
patients a set, transparent monthly fee. He does what he does to keep 
his practice open. His focus is on his patients, not on Washington 
paperwork, and his patients are very happy. His practice is successful. 
The patients are happy with the time he is able to sit and be with them 
and look at them and focus on them, instead of the mandates of a 
Washington computer screen.
  So you see, there are doctors like Mike all across the country who 
don't want a one-size-fits-all healthcare system. Many doctors and many 
small community hospitals cannot afford it, and they will not survive 
it. Certainly, many rural communities can't survive it.
  As the Presiding Officer knows better than most, as he has traveled 
his State and as I have traveled mine, if a small community loses a 
hospital, it is harder to attract doctors, nurses, teachers, 
businesses--all of the things that are vital for a community to have. 
So the threat is very real in terms of what the Democrats and what 
Bernie Sanders and the one-size-fits-all healthcare plan would bring to 
our country.
  Let me just tell people who are watching the debate right now: 
Democrats' one-size-fits-all healthcare--what this will mean for you is 
that you will pay more to wait longer for worse care. That is what it 
means. That is what it means to you. You will pay more to wait longer 
for worse care. That is what is at stake.
  We all need to make our voices heard loud and clear: no to Democrats' 
one-size-fits-all healthcare scheme, yes to real reforms that improve 
healthcare and bring down the costs for all Americans.
  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. CORNYN. 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.


                           Energy Innovation

  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, it seems a bit surreal but necessary, 
nonetheless, to come here to the Senate floor to talk about the perils 
of socialism and its sudden resurgence within the Democratic Party.
  We have seen our Democratic friends push for policies like Medicare 
for All, which would completely wreck the system that provides 
healthcare for our seniors and force all Americans onto the same plan, 
regardless of the fact that they never paid anything into it, like our 
seniors have, and regardless of the fact that they may indeed like 
their private health insurance that they get from their employers.
  Do you remember when the Obama administration promised in 2013, ``If 
you like your plan, you can keep it''? Well, I don't really think they 
meant it, but that is at least what they said. Democrats have gotten so 
much more radical today that their motto should be, ``If you like your 
plan, you can't keep it under Medicare for All.''
  They have also promised things like free college--and, believe me, 
``free'' is popular, especially if you don't think you are ever going 
to have to end up paying for it--promising anyone and everyone that 
they can go to college for free.

[[Page S3021]]

  Now, there are some smart things we can do to help prepare high 
school students and college students to hold down their debt and to 
make sure that they get the sort of advice and counseling they need to 
make sure they are studying something that is going to be able to 
provide them an income with which they can repay the loans that they 
take out, and there is some work we need to do in that area.
  Across Texas, I have had a chance recently to go to a number of 
middle schools and high schools, and in Texas--and I am sure we are not 
alone--there are many high schools where students can get dual credit, 
college and high school credit, and some of them graduate from high 
school with essentially 2 years of college behind them, and it costs 
them nothing. It is free. I guess that is free. Actually, it is not 
free, either, but they don't have to pay anything more for it, and 
their parents don't have to pay anything more for their property or 
sales tax for it.
  So that is a smarter way to approach this, rather than this radical 
idea that things like college can somehow be free, knowing that, 
actually, there will be somebody that pays for it, whether it is our 
children, when they grow up and they have to pay back the money that we 
have recklessly borrowed in our deficits and debt, or by raising taxes, 
and you can't raise taxes enough on the rich people in order to pay for 
this. So, inevitably, that burden will fall on the middle class.
  To put the icing on the cake on these radical policies, you have to 
look at this Green New Deal proposal that the Democrats have rolled out 
and really call this the icing on the cake in their socialist 
proposals.
  They want to take over the entire energy sector of the economy, and 
they want to regulate it, and they want to tax it in such a way as to 
promise somehow something that is never going to be realized.
  For example, they say they want to achieve net zero emissions in 10 
years. Well, Texas, Oklahoma, and other States generate a lot of 
electricity from renewable sources, particularly wind-generated energy, 
but there is no way in the world you are going to be able to eliminate 
things like natural gas and other sources of energy because the wind 
doesn't always blow and the Sun doesn't always shine. So you are going 
to need something to provide the baseload when the wind is not blowing 
and the Sun is not shining. This pie-in-the-sky idea of net zero 
emissions in 10 years by going entirely to renewables is simply 
fantasy.
  They also want to overhaul our transportation system. They want to 
rebuild and retrofit every single building in the country, but they 
offer no real details, and, in fact, I think there is a reason for 
that, because they don't even talk about the details of what needs to 
be accomplished or the cost there would be associated with trying to 
accomplish it.
  The only estimate I have seen is a $93 trillion price tag, but that 
is an important piece of information that you would think the public 
would have a right to know, and that is not something the advocates of 
the Green New Deal have been particularly proud of.
  Even if this is something a majority of Americans want, we don't 
currently have the technology or the resources to make it happen. Our 
Democratic friends know that. So they are, in essence, making a promise 
for something that they can't deliver because of the price and because 
the technology has not yet been invented.
  So what was really bizarre here on the Senate floor was that when the 
majority leader provided our Democratic colleagues a chance to vote on 
this resolution on the Senate floor, not a single Democratic colleague 
voted for it. They voted ``present.''
  Well, that is a new one on me. I thought when we came here to the 
Senate, our job was to represent our constituents and vote yes or no on 
legislation. To show up and vote ``present'' seems to me like an 
abdication of that responsibility, but it also is some evidence of how 
really cynical and insincere this proposal really is.
  That is not to say that it isn't popular when you start offering free 
things and you start promising things that are unaffordable or 
unattainable.
  Instead of talking about these policies that are unwanted, 
unachievable, and unaffordable, let's talk about some real solutions. I 
think that is the responsibility of people like me who say the Green 
New Deal will not cut it, to which people might ask: Well, what are 
your suggestions? And I think that is an important and fair question.
  No matter what your perspective on energy issues and the environment, 
I think every single one of us can agree on at least one point: We need 
smart energy policies that will strengthen our economy without 
bankrupting American families.
  I would just note, parenthetically, that we have actually made some 
pretty good progress when it comes to emissions control. Between 1970 
and 2017, combined U.S. emissions of six criteria air pollutants have 
gone down 73 percent. During that same period of time, the American 
economy grew by 262 percent, the number of vehicle miles traveled grew 
189 percent, and our population grew 59 percent. We were able to reduce 
pollutants by 73 percent at a time when the population was growing, 
people were driving more, and our economy was growing.
  More recently, between 1990 and 2017, the United States reduced 
sulfur dioxide concentrations by 88 percent, lead by 80 percent, 
nitrogen dioxide by 50 percent, particulate matter by 40 percent, 
ground-level ozone by 22 percent, and carbon monoxide by 77 percent.
  From 2005 to 2017, carbon dioxide emissions declined nearly 15 
percent in the United States. During that same period of time--and this 
is a fair comparison--China's annual carbon dioxide emissions have 
increased roughly by double--twice what they were during the same time 
period.
  So I would say that we can blame America first for all sorts of 
problems. I don't think that is fair, nor is it accurate, and, 
particularly, when you start talking about the environment and 
controlling ozone-depleting CO2 emissions. I think there is 
a better way to approach it, and we need to start with the facts.
  I think the facts are that we need to form partnerships to leverage 
the capabilities of the private sector and achieve cost-effective 
solutions. None of the people advocating the Green New Deal can really 
tell you how much you would be paying for electricity if we were able 
to implement the Green New Deal, how much you would have to pay for 
your transportation costs, or how much you would have to pay to heat or 
cool your house. We need policies that make sense, that are affordable 
and achievable, and that will actually bring down the cost of each of 
those items for the American people.
  The solution isn't a $100 trillion Green New Deal; it is good old-
fashioned, all-American innovation. By incentivizing research into the 
development of new technologies, we can keep costs low for taxpayers, 
while securing our place as a global leader in energy innovation. One 
great example of the type of solution I am suggesting you could learn 
about by taking a trip to the NET Power plant in La Porte, TX, right 
outside of Houston, which I did recently. NET Power has developed a 
first-of-its-kind power system that generates affordable, zero-
emissions electricity using their unique carbon capture technology. 
They have taken natural gas--one of the most prevalent and affordable 
energy sources that there is--and they have made it emission-free. This 
is a shining example of the environmentally and fiscally responsible 
policies we should be advocating and supporting.
  Last year, renewables accounted for only 17 percent of our total 
energy sources. That includes hydropower, wind, solar, biomass, and 
various other sources. Seventeen percent. Natural gas already accounts 
for more than double that. So if we could take this incredibly common 
and affordable energy source and make it more environmentally friendly, 
why wouldn't we do that? Why wouldn't that be a more sensible, fiscally 
responsible way of addressing this?
  These policies are important for conservation but also for securing 
our competitiveness on the world stage. If American companies don't 
produce these technologies first, well, you bet somebody else will.
  The heavyhanded government approaches we are seeing from our 
Democratic colleagues are not the answer. Instead, we have to harness 
the power of the private sector and build partnerships to drive real 
solutions.

[[Page S3022]]

  Yes, we need to invest in innovative solutions and encourage the 
private sector to continue prioritizing reliable, affordable, and 
environmentally sound energy sources.
  When you implement government policies that get government out of the 
way and let the experts do their jobs, you can be pro-energy, pro-
innovation, pro-growth, and pro-environment. I will soon be introducing 
some legislation that I think will help us move down that road. We know 
the United States leads the world in emissions reduction, and this bill 
will build on that success without a one-size-fits-all mandate that 
would bankrupt our country.


                            Debbie Smith Act

  Mr. President, on another topic, as I highlighted earlier this week, 
the Senate has unanimously passed the Debbie Smith Act of 2019, which 
would provide critical resources for law enforcement to test rape kits, 
prosecute criminals, and deliver justice for victims. This was a major 
bipartisan achievement, and I look forward to working with our House 
colleagues to get this legislation to the President's desk as soon as 
possible.
  But there is more we need to do to assist victims of violence and 
sexual assault. For example, today I am filing the Help End Abusive 
Living Situations--or HEALS--Act, which will provide domestic violence 
survivors with expanded access to transitional housing. This will help 
these victims permanently leave their abusers, rebuild their lives, and 
begin a long-term healing process.
  Even more pressing, folks on both sides of the aisle agree that we 
need to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act, also 
known as VAWA. It is something I strongly support and an issue our 
friend and colleague Senator Ernst continues to champion here in the 
Senate.
  Republicans and Democrats say we must do more to provide services for 
victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and while we certainly 
had some disagreements on the way to do that, there is no question that 
VAWA has traditionally been a bipartisan commitment. That is why I was 
so shocked earlier this year when House Democrats blocked the 
Republican effort to reauthorize this critical law before it lapsed 
last February.
  The current violence against women law lapsed in February because 
House Democrats refused to allow us to extend it. Why would they do 
that? If they claim to be supportive of efforts to protect women and 
others from violence and assault, why would they let the very law that 
authorizes the various programs Congress has paid for in the past--why 
would they let that lapse? Well, sadly, this is where politics rears 
its ugly head.
  We were seeking a short-term reauthorization of the existing Violence 
Against Women Act so bipartisan negotiations could continue on a long-
term update and extension of the law, but House Democrats recklessly 
blocked this reauthorization of VAWA because they were seeking to add 
controversial provisions that should never be a part of a consensus 
bill--certainly not one that enjoys broad bipartisan support.
  In the face of this political jockeying by House Democrats, I am 
proud to say that the Appropriations Committee did the right thing: It 
continued to fully fund all Violence Against Women Act programs through 
the remainder of this fiscal year. So this means that House Democrats, 
when they tried to kill VAWA by refusing to reauthorize it, actually 
failed to accomplish their goal if their goal was to deny women and 
other victims of violence the critical funding needed for these 
programs.
  Despite the efforts they undertook to let VAWA expire, critical 
domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs will continue 
to receive full Federal funding until we can reach a bipartisan 
consensus agreement and update the law. So good for the Appropriations 
Committee for making that happen, but my point is that VAWA should 
never be used as a political plaything or pawn.
  I am somewhat encouraged by ongoing, bipartisan negotiations here in 
the Senate, and I commend Senator Ernst for her commitment to this 
effort and look forward to supporting a long-term extension of VAWA 
that is done in the right way--through negotiation and agreement, not 
political gamesmanship. That is the wrong way to do things. We know 
better--if people will simply stop the political posturing and 
political games and do the work the American people sent us here to do.
  Mr. President, 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. 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.


                        Prescription Drug Costs

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I am here to discuss with my colleagues 
issues dealing with the work of the Senate Finance Committee and 
possible legislation that hopefully will come up this summer to keep 
healthcare costs down, particularly prescription drugs.
  In the process of doing that, I want to set the record straight on an 
issue that affects every American who is eligible for Medicare. More 
specifically, I am here to talk about efforts to reduce the rising cost 
of prescription medicine.
  Prescription drugs save lives. Millions of Americans like myself wake 
up every morning and take their daily medication, but there is 
something that has become a very tough pill to swallow for an 
increasing number of Americans, and that is paying for the rising cost 
of prescription drugs.
  I applaud President Trump for turning up the volume on this issue 
last summer. That is when the President announced his administration's 
blueprint to lower drug costs for all Americans. He found out--and we 
all found out--that is a goal that has widespread support that includes 
Republicans and Democrats, as well as urban and rural Americans.
  Of course, the President can only do so much--whatever law passed by 
Congress allows the President to do and that doesn't solve all the 
issues. So even though I applaud the President, that doesn't mean I 
exclude in any way the responsibility of Congress to take action.
  There are many good ideas to build upon that share broad, bipartisan, 
bicameral support. There is one policy, however, that some Members are 
talking about that I don't agree with, and that is repealing what is 
the noninterference clause in Medicare Part D. I would like to explain 
why Congress kept the government out of the business of negotiating 
drug prices in the Medicare program. Some 16 years ago, when I was 
formerly chairman of the Finance Committee, I was a principal architect 
of the Medicare Part D program.
  For the first time ever, Congress, in 2003, added an outpatient 
prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program. Maybe I ought to 
explain for my colleagues why it took between 1965 and 2003 to include 
drug benefits in the Medicare program. Remember, in 1965, prescription 
drugs or drugs generally didn't play a very big role in the delivery of 
medicine like they do today, but over time, they have become more 
important.
  That is why great support at the grassroots, both bipartisan and 
bicameral, evolved into what we call the Medicare Part D program, 
adopted in that year, 2003. So we came to the conclusion that adding 
the prescription drug benefits for seniors was the right thing to do, 
but it needed to be done in the right way--right for seniors and right 
for the American taxpayers. By that, I mean allowing the forces of free 
enterprise and competition to drive costs down and drive value up.
  For the first time ever, Medicare recipients in every State had the 
voluntary decision to choose a prescription drug plan that fit their 
pocketbooks and their healthcare needs.
  The Part D program has worked. Beneficiary enrollment and 
satisfaction are robust. The Part D marketplace offers consumers better 
choice, better coverage, and better value; yet here we are again. It 
has been 13 years since Part D was implemented, and once again, I am 
hearing the same calls to put the government back into the driver's 
seat of making decisions on what you can take in the way of pills or 
what your doctor might be able to prescribe to you based upon what a 
formulary might be. We want the private sector to decide the formulary, 
not the

[[Page S3023]]

government. So these people happen to be the same backseat drivers who 
think that centralized government knows everything and knows best.
  As the Senator who, once again, chairs the committee with 
jurisdiction over Medicare policy, I am not going to let Congress 
unravel what is right about Medicare Part D. Remember, I was a 
Republican leading the charge to add a new benefit to a government 
program. A lot of people think that is very uncharacteristic of a 
Republican, but I told you why I did that: because medicine was 
becoming an increasing part of the delivery of quality healthcare. So 
you heard me correctly, I was a Republican chairman working with my 
Democratic ranking member, Max Baucus, to accomplish Part D. We 
negotiated an agreement to add prescription drug coverage for seniors.

  For me and other Republicans--namely President George W. Bush--there 
were a few key caveats. First, it must be voluntary. Second, 
beneficiaries would share the cost with the taxpayer because having 
skin in the game keeps check on spending and on utilization. Third, we 
must allow competition--not government mandates--to drive innovation, 
curb costs, expand coverage, and improve outcomes. It wouldn't work if 
the Federal Government interfered with delivery of medicine and dictate 
which drugs would and would not be covered. That is why we wrote a 
noninterference clause in the law.
  My friend, Senator Wyden, the current Democratic ranking member of 
the Finance Committee, voted for final passage in 2003. By the way, we 
are having very good bipartisan cooperation in our Finance Committee 
on, hopefully, legislation to be debated in our committee in June in 
regard to lowering drug costs.
  The noninterference provision expressly prohibits Medicare from, one, 
negotiating drug prices; two, setting drug prices; and, three, 
establishing a one-size-fits-all list of covered drugs. That list is 
called a formulary. I remember that many of my friends on the other 
side of the aisle voted for this policy; yet some are now pushing for 
repeal of that provision.
  Here is a list of Democrat leaders who supported and voted to ban 
Medicare from negotiating drug prices: when he was in the Senate, 
Senator Biden; Senator Kennedy; Senator Baucus; Senator Reid, the 
former majority leader; Senator Schumer now in the Senate; Leahy; 
Durbin; Stabenow; Cantwell. On the other side of the Capitol, the list 
included Speaker Pelosi and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, 
Chairman Neal.
  There is something else that I have learned in all my years talking 
healthcare policy with Iowans at my annual 99 county meetings where I 
enjoy a Q and A with whatever agenda my constituents call upon me to 
discuss with them.
  At the end of the day, Iowans don't want the government prescribing 
lifesaving medications. Iowans want to make those decisions with a 
physician who is treating them. Last year, 43 million out of 60 million 
Medicare recipients were enrolled in the Medicare Part D program. That 
is the vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries nationwide that don't 
have coverage through a past employer or similar coverage from another 
source.
  Plan sponsors design different plan choices and compete for 
beneficiaries based on what those plans cover and what they cost. 
Beneficiaries can pick from many options, with over 3,000 plans offered 
across 34 geographic areas. In other words, you don't have one plan 
dictated by the government. Most beneficiaries were covered by a 
prescription drug plan, and a growing number were covered by a Medicare 
advantage prescription drug plan.
  The Part D base premium amount is low and has remained stable over 
many years. Looking back to our negotiations in 2003 to get this bill 
to the President of the United States, we wondered how high these 
premiums would go, and we were fearful they would just go out of the 
atmosphere and that they would not be stable like they have been over a 
long period of time. So the noninterference clause ensures that plan 
sponsors create plan options that respond to what the beneficiaries--
not the government--says it should be.
  The nonpartisan congressional scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget 
Office, has repeatedly stated that repealing this noninterference 
clause would not save money, unless there was a restricted formulary. 
As I stated, we wrote this bill in 2003 so the government wouldn't get 
between you and your doctor on what you ought to have in the way of 
prescription drugs. So in regard to the cost, I asked CBO to update, 
and they did. CBO sent me a letter stating the same thing.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
the May 10, 2019, letter from the CBO.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                      U.S. Senate,


                                         Committee on Finance,

                                     Washington, DC, May 10, 2019.
     Keith Hall, Ph.D.,
     Director, Congressional Budget Office,
     U.S. Congress, Washington, DC.
       Dear Dr. Hall: As an author of the Medicare Part D program 
     enacted in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, I support 
     the statutory provision that prohibits the Secretary of the 
     Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 
     interfering with negotiations between drug manufacturers, 
     pharmacies, and plan sponsors. The Part D program structure 
     that uses private entities to negotiate and compete to enroll 
     beneficiaries has worked. Program spending has been lower 
     than estimated at the time the program was enacted. 
     Beneficiary enrollment has been robust, and enrollee premiums 
     have remained low and stable. Enrollees are largely satisfied 
     with their plan. The statutory ``non-interference'' clause is 
     a key reason for the program's success.
       While the Part D program has provided beneficiaries with a 
     crucial lifeline through access to prescription medications, 
     improvements are needed to lower high out-of-pocket costs and 
     to realize better value for the taxpayer-supported Medicare 
     program. Some have suggested that allowing the Secretary to 
     negotiate for the price of drugs will achieve those aims. I 
     believe that talk of eliminating the non-interference clause 
     is misguided and counterproductive. I ask that you answer the 
     questions below as to inform the policy debate on this 
     matter.
       If the Secretary was given authority to negotiate by 
     Congress and used that authority, would it be possible to 
     obtain savings in Medicare?
       Could negotiating by the Secretary over drug prices obtain 
     savings for the Medicare program if those negotiations were 
     limited to selective instances?
       Thank you for your attention to the Part D program that has 
     benefited millions of Medicare beneficiaries. Please contact 
     my staff if you have questions.
           Sincerely,
                                              Charles E. Grassley,
     Chairman.
                                  ____

                                      Congressional Budget Office,


                                                U.S. Congress,

                                     Washington, DC, May 17, 2019.
     Re: Negotiation Over Drug Prices in Medicare.

     Hon. Chuck Grassley,
     Chairman, Committee on Finance,
     U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman: You asked for updated answers to two 
     questions that CBO addressed in a letter to Senator Wyden in 
     2007. Those questions relate to the Medicare Part D 
     prescription drug benefit and options for allowing the 
     Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate over the 
     prices paid for drugs under that benefit. Under current law, 
     the Secretary is prohibited both from interfering in the 
     negotiations between drug manufacturers and the prescription 
     drug plans (PDPs) that deliver the Medicare benefit and from 
     requiring a particular formulary or instituting a price 
     structure for the reimbursement of covered drugs.
       The questions and the key conclusions from CBO's response 
     in 2007 are below. CBO continues to stand by those 
     conclusions.
       If the Secretary was given authority to negotiate by 
     Congress and used that authority, would it be possible to 
     obtain savings in Medicare?
       The key factor in determining whether negotiations would 
     lead to price reductions is the leverage that the Secretary 
     would have to secure larger price concessions from drug 
     manufacturers than competing PDPs currently obtain. 
     Negotiation is likely to be effective only if it is 
     accompanied by some source of pressure on drug manufacturers 
     to secure price concessions. For example, authority to 
     establish a formulary could be a source of pressure. In the 
     absence of such pressure, the Secretary's ability to issue 
     credible threats or take other actions in an effort to obtain 
     significant discounts would be limited. Thus, CBO concluded 
     that providing broad negotiating authority by itself would 
     likely have a negligible effect on federal spending.
       Could negotiating by the Secretary over drug prices obtain 
     savings for the Medicare program if those negotiations were 
     limited to selective instances?
       The authority to engage in negotiations limited to a few 
     selected drugs or types of drugs under exceptional 
     circumstances could potentially generate cost savings. For 
     example, negotiations could be focused on drugs with no close 
     substitutes or those with relatively high prices under 
     Medicare that are needed to address a public health 
     emergency.

[[Page S3024]]

       In such cases, CBO expects that the effect of the 
     Secretary's actions--if he or she took advantage of the new 
     authority--would primarily reflect the use of the ``bully 
     pulpit'' to pressure drug manufacturers into reducing prices. 
     Thus, CBO concluded that the overall impact on federal 
     spending from negotiations targeted at selected drugs would 
     be modest. Beyond that general conclusion, the precise effect 
     of any specific proposal would depend importantly on its 
     details.
       If you would like further information on this subject, we 
     would be happy to provide it. The CBO staff contact is Tom 
     Bradley.
           Sincerely,
                                                       Keith Hall,
                                                         Director.

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, repealing the noninterference clause 
means a restricted formulary, which places limits on the drugs that are 
available to seniors, maybe excluding some drugs that your doctor wants 
to prescribe for you. I don't believe that Medicare beneficiaries want 
the government interfering in that process.

  Then, as policymakers, we must keep in mind that we are making 
decisions that affect healthcare choices for the people whom we are 
elected to represent.
  Let's all remember to first do no harm. Repealing the noninterference 
clause may sound good, but not even a spoonful of sugar will help that 
bad dose of policy medicine go down.
  I come to the floor today to hope that I can put this issue to rest 
and, as we try to work in a bicameral and bipartisan way to reduce drug 
costs, that we don't get held up by people who want to do something 
different by having the government more involved, when it isn't going 
to save any money and will restrict formularies. It will get the 
government between you and your doctor.
  In other words, I am trying to save Part D. It has been a great 
success. It is accepted by the people. Let's keep drug costs down 
without having this issue interfere with our process.
  We need to preserve the foundation of private enterprise on which 
Part D is based--in other words, the marketplace working. We need to 
get to the real work of reducing prescription drug costs.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Romney). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                          Flooding in Oklahoma

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, just to give the Senate body a quick 
update of what is happening in my State right now, we have had some 
pretty dramatic flooding and over 15 tornadoes in the last 48 hours 
across the State. Thankfully, most of those tornadoes hit in open 
areas. They did not hit structures. There have been some structures 
that have been damaged, but the flooding has been far worse than the 
tornadoes and the high winds.
  Just 2 nights ago, in one of our counties, Osage County, we had 
severe flash flooding, where from 10 p.m. to 2:30 in the morning, over 
100 different homes had to be evacuated in the middle of the night. 
Many of those folks had law enforcement, firefighters, and first 
responders arriving at their home with a boat or with a truck to get 
them out, literally, in their pajamas so they could escape. Many of 
those homes have 4 to 6 feet of water in them now.
  It has been intense for those folks who are in the area. In fact, it 
is interesting. The director of emergency management for that area 
spent the entire night saving homes and helping people get out. When 
dawn broke and they knew they had gotten everyone out, he headed back 
to his own house only to find out he could no longer get to his home 
anymore because of the floodwaters.
  We have had folks all over the State, whether that be in Perry, where 
we had two homes that were destroyed in a tornado that night that, 
thankfully, did not hit the center of town. We had other spots, like 
around Eufaula, where we had some serious flooding; Stillwater, where 
there has been flooding. In Dale we had a very dangerous overnight 
tornado that came in, literally, while everyone was sleeping. There are 
pockets of folks who are there who have been affected by this, 
literally, all over the State.
  For the department of transportation folks, for the folks in our 
police and fire departments, for the emergency management individuals--
both for the State and the counties--for mayors and city managers, for 
hospitals, for county workers, for city staff, for the Corps of 
Engineers, and, quite frankly, for just neighbors down the street, it 
has been a long week. There have been a lot of folks serving each other 
to take care of those needs, and there will be for a while.
  I thought this body would need a quick update because sometimes 
people feel a long way from the center of the country when you are in 
Washington, DC, but we need to understand what is happening in the 
center of the country right now--literally, the center of America. It 
is affecting all Americans.


                      Tulsa Race Riot Anniversary

  Mr. President, I did want to tell a story, though. It is a little bit 
of a different story. It is about 9,000 people in Tulsa who were 
suddenly left homeless. It wasn't this week, and it wasn't a natural 
disaster. It was actually on June 1, 1921, when the worst race riot/
massacre happened in American history. That story is still one that 
this body needs to remember.
  I brought this up a few years ago, and I thought it may be time to 
bring it up again. The reason is that we are quickly approaching the 
100-year anniversary of a whole series of riots that happened around 
America in the summer of 1919.
  As the soldiers were coming back home from World War I, many of whom 
were African-American soldiers who had served with great dignity and 
honor there, they returned back home with skills that they had picked 
up overseas and with a tenacious patriotism and work ethic. They 
returned back to America to go back to work, but they were greeted by a 
lot of White business owners and a lot of White workers in the country 
who said: You may have served overseas and fought the war, but you are 
not welcome to work here. And White neighbors started setting homes and 
cities on fire.
  There were riots. There were protests. There was a national pushback 
that happened in the summer of 1919. Chicago and Washington, DC, were 
some of the worst. Oklahoma really survived it well.
  Interestingly enough, in Oklahoma, we have 30 towns that were 
considered Black towns, scattered all across the State. The first folks 
who actually came to Oklahoma who were African American actually came 
with the five Tribes when they were relocated. They were brought by the 
five Tribes who had held them as slaves. When they moved from the 
southeastern part of the country, and they moved to Eastern Oklahoma 
and were relocated there in that tragic walk, they brought their slaves 
with them.
  In the land rush after 1889 and then years later as we became a 
State, land started opening up and individuals and families who were 
African Americans moved from all over the country coming for new hope 
and opportunity. There were 30 different towns that sprung up all over 
Oklahoma that were predominantly African-American towns. One of those 
was Greenwood.
  At that time, it was affectionately known as ``Black Wall Street.'' 
It was one of the most prosperous African-American communities in the 
entire country. It was right on the north end of Tulsa.
  Although, when they left from Greenwood and came into Tulsa to work, 
to shop, or whatever it may be, they were limited. In Greenwood, there 
were shops, stores, movie theaters, lawyers, doctors, and all kinds of 
activities. Everything was there. But if they walked a few blocks from 
Greenwood into Tulsa, they found themselves not being welcomed.
  In fact, in downtown Tulsa, there was only one place where a Black 
man could actually go to the bathroom--one. It was in that building 
that a gentleman named Dick Rowland took the elevator up to go to the 
bathroom. On the elevator, there was a White girl there named Sarah 
Page.
  We have no idea what happened in that elevator, but when the elevator 
door opened, she screamed, and a crowd quickly grabbed Dick Rowland and 
pulled him off, accusing him of all kinds of things, and hauled him off 
to jail in downtown Tulsa, where, within a few hours, a lynch mob 
gathered around that jail.

[[Page S3025]]

  To their credit, law enforcement in Tulsa went out to the streets and 
said: You all go home. But they did not. The mob stayed there.
  Soldiers who had served faithfully in World War I, who were African 
Americans, who lived in Greenwood, picked up their rifles and gathered 
together to go in and support law enforcement who was at the jail in 
downtown Tulsa to protect Dick Rowland.
  As they marched down to go help, the law enforcement there apparently 
said: You all leave as well. We have got this handled.
  But as they left, there was a scuffle in the street, and a shot was 
fired. We have no idea how it happened or which happened first. The 
news never reported that. But we know that those groups of African-
American men left and ran back to Greenwood, and the mob followed them. 
They marched their way to Greenwood, and they burned it down, 
destroying Greenwood and wiping out that city.
  That night, all night long--May 31 into June 1--America experienced 
one of its darkest moments. There were 1,200 homes destroyed that night 
in Greenwood. There were 9,000 people who were left homeless. There 
were 6,000 African Americans who were rounded up by the police in Tulsa 
and jailed ``for their protection.'' They were the ones who were held, 
not the rioters who actually caused the massacre.
  The numbers are all over the place of how many people actually died 
that night. There are numbers as small as 35 and as large as 300. We 
will never know. But let's just say there were many--very likely, 
hundreds of people--who died that night. One-third of the people were 
gone, and we have no idea what direction they went. One-third of the 
people packed up and moved and left, and one-third of the folks stayed. 
But interestingly enough, that Sunday, after the fire, after the riots, 
after the destruction and after Greenwood was left leveled, folks from 
Greenwood gathered that Sunday for worship.
  Dr. Olivia Hooker passed away just this last November. She was one of 
the last survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre. In an interview shortly 
before she passed away, she told the story of hearing the men with axes 
destroy her sister's piano during the riot. With her three siblings, 
she hid under a table as her home was literally destroyed around her.
  You would think that devastation would be the end of her story. It 
was not. In World War II, she became the first African American to join 
the Coast Guard. She earned degrees from two universities and ended up 
being a professor at Fordham University. That is tenacious resilience.
  She reminds me of my modern-day friend Donna Jackson. In 2013, Donna 
Jackson determined that North Tulsa in Greenwood was known for its 
entrepreneurship. That is why it got the name ``Black Wall Street.'' In 
2013, she determined that she was going to challenge 100 new businesses 
to start in Greenwood, to bring life back to that area again with 
business and entrepreneurship. For its 100th anniversary, there would 
be 100 new businesses.
  Donna lives and breathes Greenwood. She was born in Morton Memorial. 
She goes to church in North Tulsa, she works in North Tulsa, and she 
believes in North Tulsa's future, as do I. She is going to make her 
goal of 100 new businesses there. She is doing the work to help 
introduce people to North Tulsa and to be engaged. There are companies 
that are from outside the area that are coming in, such as the new QT 
that just opened there. There are lots of individual businesses that 
continue to start and thrive again in North Tulsa.
  North Tulsa is a place where we should practice basic reconciliation, 
where America should stop and look again and say ``What can be done, 
and what have we done?'' and fix it.
  Josh Jacobs was born in North Tulsa in 1998 and graduated from high 
school in North Tulsa. He ended up making a very bad decision. He left 
North Tulsa to go play football for the University of Alabama--clearly 
a terrible decision. Josh ended up being drafted 24th overall by the 
Oakland Raiders last year. He is a tremendous, shining example of 
somebody who grew up in North Tulsa and is representing us well.
  His dad made an interesting statement. He said that as Josh was 
growing up, he was a great athlete. He could have traveled anywhere in 
the area to play football in high school. He chose to stay there on the 
north side. He said: ``This is the north side. Why not build up our 
side of town? Why take off and leave?''
  You would be pleased to know that Josh has on his own Twitter account 
``2 Peter 3:9.'' That is what is pinned at the top.

       The Lord is not slow in doing what he promised, the way 
     some people understand slowness. But God is being patient 
     with you. He does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants 
     all people to change their hearts and their lives.

  That is a pretty good message, Josh.
  I believe we are still a nation of reconciliation. The first step in 
reconciliation is not forgetting who we were and who we have been as a 
nation and to make sure we take the steps necessary to resolve broken 
relationships.
  There is not a law we can pass in this body that will solve the race 
issue. There are ways we can protect and make sure every person has 
every opportunity, whether it be in housing, employment, or whatever it 
may be. Race is not a political issue; race is a heart issue. The 
primary issue with race begins in your own heart and in your own 
family.
  Several years ago, I started asking a very simple question of folks 
in Oklahoma. I asked that same question of people here. ``Has your 
family ever invited a family of another race to your home for dinner?'' 
Interestingly enough, the response I get back from most people when I 
ask that is, they will smile at me and say ``I have friends of another 
race,'' to which I will smile at them and say ``That is not what I 
asked. I asked, has your family ever invited a family of another race 
to your home for dinner?''
  Being able to have real dialogue so that your kids can sit with kids 
of another race and can watch you interact as a parent with people from 
another race and see that it is normal conversation--our kids believe 
only what they see, and if they never see someone from another race in 
our home, they just assume we don't have friends of another race.
  I like to say we will never get all the issues about race on the 
table until we get our feet under the same table and start talking this 
out as friends. Reconciliation is not something we can legislate; 
reconciliation is something we do, it is who we are, and it comes about 
by action.
  Next week, folks will gather in Tulsa, OK, again to recognize that 98 
years ago, the city was on fire, and most of the White community looked 
away while Greenwood burned to the ground. Two years from now, the 
entire country will probably pause for 24 hours and will look at Tulsa 
and will ask a simple question: What has changed in 100 years? It is a 
fair question. I think Tulsa will stand up and say: We will not just 
show you the structures that it changed, but we will show you the 
hearts that it changed.
  Tulsa is a very different community now. We still have a ways to go, 
as does the rest of the State, but we are making tremendous progress. 
While much of the world ignores race and chooses never to deal with 
race, we as Americans embrace each other and say: What do we have to do 
to restore what is broken and to make sure we see each other as friends 
and neighbors again? We are doing it differently, and that is a great 
benefit to us.
  Mount Zion Baptist Church was founded in 1909 by Rev. Sandy Lyons. It 
was originally just a one-room schoolhouse. In 1916, the church began a 
$92,000 endeavor, which I can assure you was a lot of money in 1916. 
They took out a $50,000 loan to build a new church. Construction was 
completed in early 1921. On April 4, 1921, they held their first 
service, and on June 1 of that same year, a riot burned it to the 
ground. Worse yet, the White insurance company refused to pay their 
insurance, saying it was their fault that the riot happened.
  That congregation could have been bitter; instead, they stayed put, 
and they rebuilt that church. They first paid off the mortgage for what 
had been burned to the ground, and then they rebuilt the church in that 
same location.
  Vernon AME Church still stands in the same spot. The only thing left 
of that building was the basement, but

[[Page S3026]]

they rebuilt, by 1928, right on that same spot.
  Dr. Turner there is a friend and is a pastor there. He made this 
statement:

       I'm humbled every day to walk through a place that has seen 
     so much terror but has also been a vessel of hope for so many 
     people. After the massacre, people who lost their homes and 
     their belongings still went to church on Sunday morning.

  Believing in a God of reconciliation, whom I still believe in today, 
let's continue to get better, but let's not forget where we came from 
so it never ever happens again.
  As we think about the summer of 1919, when the Nation was on fire 
from so many riots around the country, let's continue to finish what 
has begun in our hearts until that is complete.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.


                                Abortion

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I rise to express my deep concern over the 
constant attacks on women's health we are seeing all across America. 
From this administration's policies, to Donald Trump's judicial 
nominees, to Governors and legislators in States like Alabama, Georgia, 
and Missouri under Republican leadership--they are denying women their 
constitutional right to make their own personal and healthcare 
decisions.
  Women and their healthcare should not be under constant threat. We as 
a nation have made great efforts to promote equal rights for women and 
men. In this Congress, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of 
women's suffrage. It took a long time for women to get the right to 
vote, and we continue to make progress on equality. Yet, in the 21st 
century, the Trump administration continues to push and adopt policies 
that are setting this country and women in a wrong direction.
  The Supreme Court made it clear in Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. 
Wade that there is a constitutional right to privacy that includes 
making healthcare decisions such as the use of contraception and the 
right to access abortion.
  Through advancements in women's health and access to contraception 
and education, the number of unintended pregnancies has significantly 
been reduced, with a corresponding reduction in abortion. Yet we see 
Republican leaders trying to reverse the advancements our Nation has 
made in women's health, access to contraception, and education.
  For nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court has upheld the legal precedent 
of Roe v. Wade, including its affirmation in Planned Parenthood v. 
Casey in 1992. In that case, the Supreme Court held that ``our law 
affords constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to 
marriage . . . contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and 
education. . . . These matters, involving the most intimate and 
personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to 
personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by 
the Fourteenth Amendment.''
  The Court prohibited States from passing statutes that placed undue 
burdens on a woman's right to make her own healthcare decisions. Yet 
Republican leaders continue to introduce and pass laws that interfere 
with a women's autonomy over her health and well-being.
  Last week, for instance, the Republican Governor of Alabama signed a 
bill into law banning almost all abortions in that State, with no 
exceptions for the cases of rape or incest. The law not only prosecutes 
women, but it also includes unprecedented criminal penalties against 
doctors, threatening them with life in prison for treating women. The 
Alabama law exposes doctors to felony charges punishable by up to 99 
years in prison for providing or attempting to provide an abortion, 
making this the most extreme ban of its kind to pass in nearly 30 
years.
  Since the beginning of 2019, bills attempting to restrict abortion 
have been filed in 45 States, including Alabama, Missouri, and Georgia.
  Earlier this year, Georgia's Republican Governor signed a 6-week ban 
into law that would make it illegal for women to terminate a pregnancy 
and a doctor to perform the termination after a fetal heartbeat is 
detected. I must tell you, many women don't even realize they are 
pregnant at 6 weeks.
  The Alabama and Georgia bills impose burdensome and medically 
unnecessary limitations on women and their doctors, particularly those 
in low-income, medically underserved areas. The bills harm women who 
are victims of sexual assault and minors who are victims of incest. 
These provisions appear to be designed to perpetrate a culture of not 
believing women and trying to discredit the victims of assault.
  It is hard to understand how many Republicans are talking about 
getting Big Government out of people's lives but not when it comes to 
one of the hardest and most intimate decisions a woman can make--a 
decision that she wishes to make between herself and her doctor. In 
those circumstances, these same colleagues believe that Big Government, 
and not the woman herself, knows better. They believe that government, 
and not the woman, should dictate whether she can or cannot have 
control of her own body. They believe that government should have the 
power to force a woman to forgo a medically necessary procedure. They 
believe that women should be stripped of that power and stripped of the 
choice to decide what is best for herself. Many believe that even in 
cases of incest and rape, where the woman is a victim of a crime, that 
the woman should be compelled to bear the child against her will and 
bring the pregnancy to term. Talk about being intrusive.
  Basically, the rights of women are being trampled to death. I thought 
we had gotten beyond that, and now we see that we are moving in the 
wrong direction.
  Empowering women is one of the most important things we can do for 
the future of our country. Core to women's constitutional liberties is 
autonomy over their own health and well-being. If we truly want to 
support women, we need to safeguard and improve, not limit, access to 
comprehensive healthcare.
  I hope we can all agree that on this 100th anniversary of women's 
suffrage, we should be looking at ways to remove discrimination based 
upon sex and not moving in the wrong direction by taking away from 
women their right to make their own healthcare decisions.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                       Senate Legislative Agenda

  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, we are now 5 months into the new 116th 
Congress. During that 5-month period, the new Democratic majority in 
the House of Representatives has passed a series of bills on issues 
important to the overwhelming majority of the American public. They 
include legislation to reduce the death toll from gun violence by 
requiring universal criminal background checks and legislation to end 
the millions and millions of dollars of secret money flowing into 
elections and polluting our politics. The House legislation includes a 
bill to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the 
House has also passed legislation to strengthen the protections under 
the Violence Against Women Act. Those are just some of the initiatives 
the House has passed in the last 5 months.
  Here in the Senate, what has the Senate done on those important 
issues? What has the Senate done with the legislation that the House 
has passed and is now sitting in this body? We have done nothing--zip. 
We haven't taken up any of those bills. In fact, the Senate Republican 
leader has refused to allow this body to consider those important 
measures.
  What are we doing instead? Instead, the Senate is consuming all of 
its time not on the matters most important to the public but on 
debating and confirming judicial and executive branch nominees. Here is 
the thing: If you look at these judicial nominees--let's just take the 
ones we are looking at this week--you will find a very dangerous 
pattern.
  This week, in looking at the five nominees, the pattern is selecting 
judges who will strip away women's reproductive choices and who will 
strip

[[Page S3027]]

away and potentially eliminate the rights under Roe v. Wade. That is 
the clear pattern.
  If you look at the records of these nominees, they indicate hostility 
toward a woman's right to choose and hostility to Roe v. Wade. Take, 
for example, Stephen Clark. He is the nominee for the Eastern District 
of Missouri. He drew the outrageous comparison between Dred Scott and 
Roe v. Wade, including Roe as bad law. He also opposed provisions in 
the Affordable Care Act that would expand access to contraception to 
help people avoid unintended pregnancies.
  Then there is the nomination of Kenneth Bell to be a judge in the 
Western District of North Carolina. He has argued that abortion rights, 
the pro-choice position, is ``indefensible'' and went on to say that 
``there is no middle ground'' on this issue. In other words, he is 
another judge who would deny women the right of reproductive choice, 
and the list goes on if you look at the list of judges who are before 
the Senate this week.
  This would be alarming at any point in time, but the timing of these 
nominations is no coincidence. Just in the last couple of months, we 
have seen States around the country passing laws to take away a woman's 
right to choose.
  Let's take a look at Alabama. In the case of Alabama, they passed a 
law that denies a woman's right to choose to have an abortion even in 
the case of rape or incest. Under the Alabama law, doctors who perform 
abortions could be locked up in prison for up to 99 years--a prison 
term longer than that of a rapist.
  We also have Candidate Trump arguing that not only should doctors be 
punished but women who exercise their rights to reproductive choice 
should be punished too.
  Meanwhile, in addition to Alabama, five other States have passed laws 
that would outlaw abortion at a very early stage--in fact, at a stage 
of pregnancy when many women do not realize they are yet pregnant, 
especially if the pregnancy is unplanned and unexpected.
  I think people recognize how outrageous it is to see State 
legislators and other elected officials who normally take the position 
that the government has no place in regulating or being involved in any 
aspect of our lives, who then take the position that they want the 
government right between a woman and her most sensitive decisions with 
respect to reproductive choice.
  We have legislators who say they don't want the government protecting 
people from air pollution. They don't want to pass any regulations to 
protect people from air pollution or water pollution. We have some 
legislators who say they don't want any legislation to protect 
consumers from predatory lending or other scams in the economy. They 
don't think the government has a role there, but, by God, when it comes 
to interfering with a woman's right to choose, they want the government 
smack in the middle of that decision. That is what Alabama has done. 
That is what the other five States have done.
  Now we have judicial nominees coming before the Senate who are going 
to sign off potentially on those State laws.
  It gets even more alarming because we also see a pattern from the 
judicial decisions that have been made and from the records of a lot of 
the nominees who are before us now of judges or people being appointed, 
who not only want to strip away a woman's right to reproductive choice 
but who actually want to go after programs that help provide family 
planning, programs that help prevent unwanted and unplanned 
pregnancies. So, on the one hand, States are passing these laws 
restricting a woman's right to choose, but at the same time they are 
saying that they want to get rid of or severely limit programs that 
prevent unintended pregnancies.
  Looking at the figures from the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention--and they keep statistics on all sorts of health 
indicators--you will find that from 2006 to the year 2015, there was a 
24-percent drop in the number of abortions in the United States. There 
was a 24-percent drop in the years between 2006 and 2015. Researchers 
who have looked into this have determined that the biggest driver 
behind this decline in abortion has been increased access to 
contraception and family planning. Yet the Trump administration is 
going after and targeting for elimination the very programs that help 
reduce unintended pregnancy and, therefore, also help reduce abortions. 
So this administration is trying to take a hatchet to title X. They 
want to essentially take Planned Parenthood out of the equation, even 
though Planned Parenthood provides family planning services to 4 in 10 
women.
  As we all know, Planned Parenthood is barred by law from spending any 
Federal dollars on abortion. They spend most of their time counseling 
their patients on family planning and helping people make decisions 
about contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies.
  This administration tried to target the Teen Pregnancy Prevention 
Program. I know that because it went after a program in Baltimore City 
that has been very successful in reducing teenage pregnancy.
  In fact, if you look at Baltimore from a period during the year of 
2000 to 2016, we saw a 61-percent decline in teen pregnancy. That was 
as a result of a number of programs, easier access to contraception, 
the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program that was targeted for elimination 
by the Trump administration, and, after the Affordable Care Act went 
into effect, the ability to access contraception as a result of the 
Affordable Care Act.
  All of these measures to help prevent unplanned pregnancies have also 
helped to significantly reduce the number of abortions. Yet we have an 
administration that wants to go after those family planning programs, 
and we have a number of judges who would side with the administration. 
I will mention a couple of important family planning programs.
  One is title X. This administration wanted to severely undermine 
title X. It has not been successful. Why not? Because it was taken to 
court. So far, the courts have stayed the administration's decision.
  Let's look at the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which I 
mentioned, that is so important in Baltimore. The administration wanted 
to eliminate it, and so we had to go to court. The judge said that it 
was an illegal action--an unauthorized action--by the Trump 
administration.
  Let's look at the contraception provisions--the provisions on access 
to contraception--in the Affordable Care Act. This administration wants 
to wipe them out. The only reason they are still there is due to the 
courts. The courts have been very important not only in protecting a 
woman's right to choose but in protecting these important family 
planning programs that have prevented unintended pregnancies and, 
therefore, have also reduced the number of abortions.
  Now we have a whole bunch of judges who are coming before the Senate 
who would rule differently in all of these cases. That is why I believe 
the American people need to really be alarmed about what is happening 
here. We are not acting on important measures that are coming out of 
the House that I mentioned earlier. What we are doing is spending the 
full time passing through judges--in a factory-like procedure here--who 
will undermine a woman's right to choose and go after important family 
planning programs. We have a lot to think about, and I hope all of our 
colleagues will recognize what is happening here.
  I will go back to where I started.
  Instead of churning out judges who are going to strip away the rights 
of women--and other nominees who side with big corporations against 
consumers--let's take up the legislation that is in front of us right 
now that has come over from the House.
  We have before us H.R. 8. It is the Bipartisan Background Checks 
legislation. It was bipartisan because it came out of the House on a 
bipartisan vote.
  It was bipartisan because, if you ask the public, 85 percent of the 
public is in favor of the simple idea that we should have criminal 
background checks and that the people who have committed crimes 
shouldn't be able to go to gun shows and purchase guns. If you have a 
record of posing a danger to the community, my goodness, why would we 
want to put a gun in your hand and endanger the community?

[[Page S3028]]

  It is a pretty straightforward piece of legislation, and it has been 
in this Senate for 83 days now. For 83 days, it has been sitting right 
here in the Senate, but the Republican leader will not let us take it 
up to debate it or to vote on it.
  I mentioned another bill that came over from the House that would get 
rid of secret money in politics. What do I mean by that?
  After the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, we had two 
things happen. One was that just a flood of corporate money flew into 
elections because, before that decision, corporations could not spend 
money directly to try to elect public officials. The Congress had 
previously passed a law to prevent that, and previous Supreme Courts 
had upheld that ban on corporate spending to try to elect public 
officials. In Citizens United, they decided, well, corporations are 
people, too, for the purpose of spending money in elections. So they 
got rid of that law.
  If you read that opinion, even those who voted to overturn those laws 
said that what is going to protect the system will be the public's 
knowing who will be spending all of that money. They said: All right, 
we are going to let corporations spend all of that money. We are going 
to let 501(c)(4)s spend all of that money. Do you know what? The public 
will know, and that will serve as a check on the system. That will 
provide transparency, and the transparency will provide accountability.
  Guess what. It didn't happen. In fact, the Senate's Republican leader 
has been one of the arch opponents of any kind of transparency and 
disclosure. I have had a long-running back-and-forth with him on this 
issue because, even if you look at the proponents of the terrible 
Citizens United decision, as I said, those Justices said: Well, 
transparency will take care of it. The reality is that people spend 
millions and millions of dollars in secret money in elections.
  Let me just tell people that it may be secret to the public, but it 
is not a big secret to the candidates who are running. It is not a big 
secret to them who is spending millions of dollars to try to get them 
elected or to defeat them. That is a farce. Years ago, when I was in 
the House, I authored something called the DISCLOSE Act. It passed the 
House. It died here by one vote. We got 59 votes on an almost identical 
bill. It didn't get 60. So we still have secret money in politics 
today.
  My view is that voters have a right to know who is spending millions 
of dollars to try to influence their decisions, and that is a big part 
of the bill that came over from the House 74 days ago. It is called the 
For the People Act. It has a lot of other important provisions in it to 
protect our elections and important provisions to make sure that we 
uphold the right to vote.
  Among the important provisions is the DISCLOSE Act--to get rid of 
secret money in politics. That is sitting over here and has been for 74 
days.
  What else has the House sent over? It sent over the Equal Pay Act, 
which has a pretty straightforward idea, and I think most Americans 
agree with it. In fact, public surveys show that people agree that if 
you put in an equal day's work--if you put in the sweat equity, if you 
do the job--and if a woman does the job just like the man does the job, 
by God, obviously, she should get paid the same amount. It is a pretty 
simple concept. That came over from the House. In fact, it came over 
from the House just 55 days ago. For 55 days, it has been sitting here.
  Another bill that has come over from the House also relates to making 
sure that we address issues that are important to all of us, but it has 
specifically dealt with the Violence Against Women Act. What we say 
within the Violence Against Women Act, in the House bill, is that if 
you have someone who is abusing you in a relationship--it doesn't have 
to be your spouse; it could be someone else who is abusing you in a 
relationship--they shouldn't be able to go out and buy a gun. What we 
have seen from the sad statistics is that those kinds of situations 
often escalate into somebody's getting killed when someone is in a 
relationship in which one of the people in that relationship is abusing 
the other.
  Just as we prevent the sale of guns to spouses who have records of 
domestic violence and domestic abuse, we should extend that prohibition 
on running out and getting guns to other abusive relationships. That 
was the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and it 
passed out of the House 47 days ago. So, 47 days ago, the House passed 
the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
  It passed the Paycheck Fairness Act--equal pay for equal work--55 
days ago.
  It passed the For the People Act 74 days ago, which includes the 
provision to get rid of secret money in politics.
  It also passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act--to reduce the 
death toll from gun violence in our country--83 days ago.
  All of those bills are sitting right here in the Senate. We could be 
debating them today if the Republican leader would allow them to come 
up. Instead of taking up that important work, we are here, acting like 
those in a factory who churn out more judges who have records of 
stripping women of their right to reproductive choice. It is a very, 
very dark time in the Senate, and I hope that we will get about the 
business of the American people and stop stripping women of their 
constitutional rights.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). The Senator from Missouri.


                     Nomination of Stephen R. Clark

  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, I think, by any standard, it is a stretch 
to suggest that we are churning out judges. We are doing our 
constitutional job of confirming judges that the President is 
constitutionally required to nominate. We are going to vote on a 
Missouri judge today, Judge Stephen Clark, to be a judge on the U.S. 
District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
  In the process of churning out judges, Judge Clark--or soon-to-be 
Judge Clark, I hope--was told by the White House in July of 2017 that 
he was going to be its nominee for this place on the court. If it were 
July of 2017 and it is now May of 2019, the churning is, obviously, not 
going very well. In fact, to get people to even serve in these jobs is 
going to get increasingly difficult.
  In the case of Steve Clark and his family, he had a pretty unique 
practice that was focused on him and a couple of associates. I am not 
even sure of the kind of law they practiced, but I am sure it was not 
the kind of law that was referred to a minute ago. His wife was the 
assistant in the office, and I think they had an associate or two.
  Yet, if all of your clients have been told for 20 months or so that 
you are going to be a district judge, the first question they ask is, 
Can you handle this case?
  The answer you give is, Well, I don't know, but probably not. 
Eventually, Congress will get to this, and, eventually, I will be 
confirmed.
  From the time of July 2017 to November 2018, there was nobody coming 
in the door anymore, and the law practice closed, as it should. It was 
not forced to close. Clearly, the best thing to do was to go ahead and 
admit that the supporting effort of that practice had gone away but 
that the overhead was still there. Since November, Stephen Clark has 
been waiting for this day to happen. This is not churning out judges, 
and I may get back to this topic in just a minute.
  Certainly, for nominees like him who are willing to have their names 
submitted--who are willing to say yes when asked if they would be 
willing to be nominees--we have to do a better job, not the job of 
suggesting that somehow this happens easily to people who aren't 
qualified.
  Steve Clark has been a respected, practicing attorney in the Eastern 
District of Missouri for 28 years. He knows the law; he knows the 
community. The American Bar Association rated him ``well qualified'' to 
hold this job.
  He has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee twice now, 
once in 2016--see if I have that right; there is so much history here, 
it is hard to even know what the book would look like--and once before 
the 2018 election. Then all of these nominees had to be sent back to 
the White House, so after the 2018 election, after the Congress started 
work again in January of 2019, his name had to be resubmitted. The 
committee had to vote on him again. They had to look once again to see 
that he was ``well qualified'' to hold this job. They had to once again 
verify that he had 28 years in private practice.

[[Page S3029]]

  We even had a past president of the Missouri Bar Association, who is 
a Democrat, say: ``Steve Clark will make an excellent addition to the 
federal court bench.''
  The very idea that we characterize judges we are putting on the 
courts as enemies of any group of people is pretty offensive when you 
think about it. The law of the land is the law of the land. Judges are 
bound by precedent. Certainly, lawyers are bound by precedent. There is 
nothing to suggest anything other than the ``well qualified'' status of 
the bar association.
  We need to fill this vacancy. We even have a temporary judgeship in 
the Eastern District. The workload is so great that the temporary 
judgeship should become permanent, but that is not the judgeship we are 
talking about here.
  We are talking about somebody who is ready for this job, willing to 
give up his law practice with what should have been an absolute 
certainty he would be confirmed, but no absolute certainty he would be 
confirmed. I certainly wish the process hadn't taken so long, but I am 
glad we were able to adjust the rules of the Senate last month to start 
getting more people through that process. Without that, people in this 
case in my State--the people in the Eastern District of Missouri--would 
have to wait even longer. We may have never gotten this judgeship 
filled if we hadn't changed the rules.
  Unfortunately, there are still a whole lot of people waiting to be 
confirmed to important jobs in the government. There is still too much 
obstruction for no real reason.
  In fact, in past Congresses, judgeships like this would have been 
filled by unanimous consent. We would have filled five or six a day if 
we had vacancies of well-qualified candidates at the end of the day 
with no debate, but our friends on the other side have decided: No, we 
are going to take the maximum amount of debatable time available for, 
say, a Supreme Court Justice or the Attorney General of the United 
States, and we are going to apply that to every job--district judges, 
the assistant secretary of whatever, who is the lowest person appointed 
in whatever Cabinet office there is. We are going to apply the 30 hours 
to them. Of course, what you did to do that is use up all of this time 
because nothing else can happen on the floor during that 30 hours.
  Was debate happening on the floor during that 30 hours? Of course 
not. The average debate time used during that 30 hours was 24 minutes. 
So for the other 29 hours and 36 minutes, nothing happened that related 
to that judgeship.
  This morning, when I was driving to the Capitol, I actually heard 
somebody on one of the news programs say: Now they are forcing judges 
to be confirmed with only 2 hours of debate instead of the 30 hours 
that should have been used.
  That would have been a valid criticism if the 30 hours were ever 
used, but when the 30 hours is only 24 minutes, it is no criticism at 
all. It is a ridiculous position to take. You don't have to be a genius 
to see that it is designed to not allow the President to have the jobs 
confirmed in the government that the Congress has determined that the 
Senate would have to confirm. There are, I think, about 970 of them. By 
the way, if you took 30 hours for each of the 970, I think it would 
have been impossible--and we were proving it was impossible--for the 
President to ever get a government in place.
  Then the judicial vacancies that occur--this is a vacancy we are 
filling today that was vacant months before President Trump was 
elected, maybe 3 months, maybe 4 months, but we haven't had anybody in 
this judgeship now for well over 2 years. In fact, as I said earlier, 
we have had, for 22 months, somebody who was told they were going to be 
the nominee and to prepare to serve.
  In the 3 weeks we were in session before the rule change, we were 
able to confirm seven nominees in 3 weeks, and that was the principal 
work we were doing in that 3 weeks. These nominees fill jobs that are 
running the government or court positions that they are appointed to 
serve in for a long time. We filled seven of them in 3 weeks.
  In the 3 weeks after we had the rule change, we cleared 24 nominees 
in that period of time.
  By the way, the debate spent an average of 3 minutes--of the 2 hours 
that were available to those 24 nominees, the average time spent 
debating was 3 minutes. The minority is still suggesting that we are 
going to use the maximum time no matter how little time is used, no 
matter how little time is called for, because even if it is not 30 
hours--it is now 2 hours--we can force 2 hours of no legislative 
opportunity and no legislative planning as the Senate tries to do part 
of the job that only the Senate can do. The House doesn't do this; only 
the Senate can do this. This is a job that is done by the President, 
who nominates, and the Senate, which confirms.
  If you can keep the Senate confirming part to a maximum use of time, 
if you are in the minority, you can keep the legislating opportunities 
to a minimum.
  Now, somebody might say: Well, gee, what would they bring to the 
floor? There are a lot of things we would bring to the floor if we had 
the time to get on them and stay on them.
  Of course, we would really like to bring the appropriating bills to 
the floor soon and do those.
  We cleared 24 nominees with an average of 3 minutes of talking about 
each one--maybe a few minutes. I think that even includes the time just 
making aspersions about these nominees in general, which don't relate 
to anybody. That would be included in that 3 minutes as well.
  We continue to have a lack of cooperation to do the job of the Senate 
in the way that for 200 years it was done.
  I hope my friends on the other side will begin to work with us and 
begin to understand that everybody has caught on. The people in this 
building and outside this building know what has been happening for 
almost 2.5 years now, and more responsibility is going to have to be 
taken than has been taken up until now.
  I will say, again--almost 2 years after Steve Clark was nominated--I 
believe we will finish that job today, and if we do, it will be a good 
day for him, a good day for his family, and a good day for people 
waiting to get an opportunity on the Federal court docket in the 
Eastern District of Missouri to have a person not decided by me to be 
well qualified for the job but decided by the American Bar Association 
and twice approved by the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate. While 
this work has taken a long time to get done, it will be good to see it 
done.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.


                             Infrastructure

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, this morning we had a meeting in Speaker 
Pelosi's office of the Democratic congressional leaders. It was in 
preparation for a meeting with President Trump.
  Three weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic 
leaders of the House and Senate, asked for a sit-down with the 
President in the Cabinet Room to discuss the infrastructure of the 
United States of America--the backbone of our economy, a part of 
America that, sadly, has been neglected for too many years.
  President Trump promised in his campaign there would be an 
infrastructure program--put America to work to build the roads, the 
bridges, and the airports, and I might say broadband and so many other 
things that need to be done--so that the strength of this economy would 
be there to entertain new business opportunities, to attract new jobs.
  We had this meeting 3 weeks ago, and it was amazing how well it went. 
I was sitting just a couple of seats removed from the President and 
heard an agreement in the room from the Democratic leaders and the 
President--$2 trillion, the President said. He rejected our offer of 
$1.5 trillion and said: No, make it $2 trillion that we will spend on 
our infrastructure.
  Everybody sat up straight in their chairs and said: Well, this 
President is serious.
  We said: Mr. President, will it be 80 percent Federal spending and 20 
percent local, the way it has always been?
  Yes.
  Can we include rural broadband in here so those of us who represent 
small towns--rural areas that don't have the benefit of broadband 
services--can get into the 21st century in terms of education and 
telemedicine and all of the things that brings?
  Yes.

[[Page S3030]]

  He signed up for all these things--$2 trillion, 80 percent Federal--
and the list was long of things that we were going to do together.
  We went into detail in that meeting 3 weeks ago with the President 
about some of the aspects of it. For example, the President said--and I 
think he has been quoted before--that he does not approve of public-
private partnership programs. He argues there is too much litigation. 
That is all right with me and for most of the people in the room. We 
didn't have to have that if the President didn't want to include it. So 
there was back and forth in this conversation.
  There was one element missing, and I remember Richard Neal--who is 
the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the critically 
important committee, the counterpart of Senate Finance--said to the 
President: Now, Mr. President, we have to pay for it. Two trillion 
dollars--how are we going to do that?
  And the President said: Wait. I am not going to say that at this 
meeting. I know you want me to blink first as to how we are going to 
pay for it. I am not going to get into that.
  There had been some proposals from Democrats of tax increases for 
wealthy people and corporations and such, but the President said: I 
won't to get into that today. Let's meet 3 weeks from now and talk 
about how we are going to do this, how we are going to pay for the $2 
trillion.
  So many of us sat down, Democrats--I hope Republicans, as well--and 
started thinking in positive terms about what this would mean for the 
economy. We can create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs across the 
United States, rebuild our infrastructure, and be ready to compete with 
countries like China and others that believe they are building faster 
and better than we are.
  The meeting was scheduled for today. We started this morning with a 
briefing. The Democrats sat together in Speaker Pelosi's office, about 
20 of us, and went through it and talked about what our presentation 
would be to the President and some ideas that we had to move forward.
  We accepted the President's invitation. We went to the White House, 
gathered in the waiting room there, and then we were invited into the 
Cabinet Room. We walked into the Cabinet Room, took our assigned seats, 
looked across the table, and there was the Secretary of the Treasury, 
people from the Office of Management and Budget. The President's 
daughter was there. There was quite a gathering of people getting ready 
for this high-powered meeting.
  We waited, and we waited, and then the door opened, and the President 
walked in. Without greeting anyone or sitting down he said: We are not 
going to have this meeting. We are not going to have this meeting 
because Congress continues to investigate me. I think we have had 
enough investigations, and until the investigations end, there will be 
no infrastructure bill.
  His statement went quite a bit beyond that, but I think that was a 
fair summary of his conclusion. He turned around and walked out.
  So the meeting that he had called, the meeting we responded to so 
that we could come up with an infrastructure program, ended right on 
the spot.
  The President then went out into what is known as the Rose Garden 
next to the White House and held a press conference with posters and 
signs saying: As long as Congress is investigating me, we won't be 
discussing issues like infrastructure.
  That is an unfortunate development--unfortunate for America, first, 
because this President and this Congress, regardless of party, have a 
responsibility to the American people to do the basics to make sure 
that we provide what Americans need, what cities need, what businesses 
need, what families need to grow the economy and create good-paying 
jobs.
  The President walked away from that this morning. So here we are at a 
point in history. I am not sure which way to turn. You see, every 
President would like to make this claim: I am not going to do business 
with Congress if you investigate me. But the bottom line is, every 
President is investigated. Their administration is investigated. That 
is what we do. That is what the U.S. Congress does. That is what 
happens in a democracy. No President can say: I am pulling down the 
shades, and I am closing the doors. You can't look at me, and you can't 
look at what we are doing, either in activities as individuals or as 
agencies.
  No. There is accountability in our government. This Congress, the 
Senate, the House--we appropriate the funds for the executive branch, 
and we investigate them as we appropriate the money. How are you 
spending the taxpayers' dollars? Are you wasting them? Is there 
corruption involved in it? We ask those questions not just of this 
President but of every President. That is the nature of democracy, of 
accountability, and this President can't get off the hook. He may be 
weary of investigations--and I can tell you that President Obama was 
weary of investigations, too, and President Bush before him--but that 
is the nature of accountability in a democracy. For this President to 
say: No more. It is out of bounds for us to be investigated, and I 
won't do anything necessary for the economy and future of this country 
as long as the investigation continues--that is a sad day in the 
history of this country. I hope cooler heads will prevail, but I am not 
sure they will.
  We have so much we need to do. Look at this empty Chamber here. My 
speech in this Chamber each day is basically what you are going to hear 
if you are a visitor to Washington, DC. You are not going to hear a 
debate on legislation. Wouldn't you like for this Chamber to be filled 
with Republicans and Democrats who are debating a bill right now on the 
high cost of prescription drugs? I would. And we certainly have the 
power and responsibility to manage that issue, but we don't do it. We 
have done virtually nothing in this Chamber for this entire year.
  Senator McConnell has one goal: fill up Federal judicial vacancies 
with lifetime appointees as fast and as often as possible. We have seen 
men and women come before us, clearly unqualified to be judges, who are 
being given lifetime appointments. Why? It is part of a plan--a 
political plan to fill the courts with judges friendly to the 
Republican point of view. And so we do nothing else. Nothing else.
  I have been here a few years, in the Senate and the House. There is 
an issue called disaster aid. I have seen 100 different variations. 
There will be some horrendous weather event--a fire, a drought, a 
flood--and we have responded time and again wherever it occurred. 
Without concern as to whether it was a red State or a blue State, we 
have come together as an American family and said: We will give you a 
helping hand.
  We have a disaster bill that has been pending here for weeks, if not 
months. We can't even reach an agreement on how to send disaster aid to 
areas that have been hit by flooding and tornados, and it is an 
indication of what the problem is right here. The Senate is not being 
the Senate. It is not legislating. And now the President announced this 
morning that he has gone fishing. He is not going to be around to 
discuss issues like the infrastructure of this country.
  What can we do about it? Well, you can appeal to your Members of 
Congress and tell them you are fed up with it, and I hope you do. That 
is what a democracy is about. But you can also make sure that you 
participate and vote in the next election. Ultimately, in a democracy, 
the American people have the last word at the polling place on election 
day. If you are satisfied with an empty Chamber doing nothing, ignoring 
infrastructure, delaying disaster aid, if you think that is a good 
thing for this country, I suppose you know how you should vote. But if 
you are fed up with it and looking for change, I hope people across 
this country will see what happened today as a call to arms--maybe, 
importantly, a call to the polls.


                                  Iran

  Mr. President, yesterday there was a briefing for Members of the 
Senate, Democrats and Republicans. It was a closed-door briefing in an 
area of the Capitol the public has no access to. In that briefing room, 
they close the doors; they take away your telephone; and they ask if 
you have any other electronic devices to make sure that when you walk 
in that room, you can hear things, classified information, sometimes 
top-secret information, which is not available to most Americans and 
should not be. It is sensitive.

[[Page S3031]]

It is important. It relates to our national security. We don't meet 
there a lot--maybe once a month at most--and when we meet, we are 
together as Democrats and Republicans for a briefing.
  The briefing yesterday was from the Secretary of State, Mr. Pompeo, 
and the Acting Secretary of Defense. They came in and talked to us 
about the situation in Iran. I can't disclose the specifics--I am duty 
bound not to--but I can speak in general terms about what was said and 
what I think it means to the rest of America.
  I listened in disbelief yesterday to the administration's briefing 
justifying a confrontation with Iran. While I was listening, I thought 
to myself, before America plunges into another Middle Eastern war, we 
ought to take stock and remember how we got into the two wars in that 
part of the world--two wars, one of which is still raging, that left 
American soldiers subject to injury and death every day and cost 
American taxpayers billions of dollars.
  When we got into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we were led to believe 
that suddenly there were urgent events spiraling out of control in the 
Middle East that could only be stopped by U.S. military intervention. 
Some of my colleagues still in Congress today were here during that 
debate. On the floor of the Senate, we voted on the question of the 
invasion of Iraq. I remember it because it was about 4 weeks before the 
election. The vote was taken around midnight, and most Members, as they 
voted, left. I stayed because I wanted to hear the final vote.
  There were 23 of us who voted against the invasion of Iraq: 1 
Republican--Senator Chafee--and 22 Democrats. I can recall that some of 
my colleagues who voted against that invasion of Iraq lingered in the 
well. One of them was Paul Wellstone of Minnesota. Wellstone was up for 
reelection--a tough reelection in his home State. The popular sentiment 
was on the side of the invasion of Iraq. Wellstone voted against it.
  I went up to him, and I said: ``Paul, I hope this doesn't cost you 
the election.''
  He said to me: ``It is all right if it does. This is who I am. This 
is what I believe, and the people who elected me expect nothing less.''
  Sadly, Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash before that election a 
few weeks later. I still remember him right there in the well, talking 
to him about that vote.
  At the time, we had been told by Vice President Cheney and others 
that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which threatened not only 
friends and allies, like Israel, but could threaten the United States 
of America.
  Former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle argued before the invasion of 
Iraq that the Iraqis were going to pay for the war from their oil 
wealth. They would pay for this--whatever it would cost the American 
taxpayers--and he said there was no doubt that they would.
  President George W. Bush claimed the war was his last choice, and 
then he provocatively tried to link al-Qaida--the terrorists 
responsible for
9/11--with Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq--a specious claim that 
has never been proven and was restated by Secretary of Defense Donald 
Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld even tried to claim that a war in Iraq would last--
listen to this--``five days or [maybe] maybe five weeks or five months, 
but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that,'' said our 
Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. We are now in the 18th year of 
that war.
  Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Vice President Cheney 
said that when the Americans arrive in Iraq, we would be welcomed as 
liberators. Wolfowitz went on to say--he estimated that this call for 
hundreds of thousands of American troops to fight there was way off the 
mark.
  Five days or 5 weeks or 5 months?
  Well, the war started not long after these claims. It included 
deploying more than 150,000 American troops over and over and over 
again, and it has lasted for 18 years. No weapons of mass destruction 
were ever found. We were not greeted as liberators. The Iraqi oil 
interest did not pay for the cost of the war; the American taxpayers 
and families did. Sadly, more than 4,500 Americans gave their lives in 
that war, and 32,000 were wounded, some gravely wounded.
  One of those wounded veterans is my colleague in the Senate, Senator 
Tammy Duckworth. She was in the National Guard as a helicopter pilot. 
Twelve years ago, when she was flying over Iraq, a rocket-propelled 
grenade came into the cockpit and exploded. As the helicopter came to a 
crash on the ground, Tammy lost both of her legs and was at that point 
in danger of losing her arm, which she didn't, thank goodness. Today, 
she serves as my colleague in the Senate.
  In one of the many cruel ironies in what I believe to be one of the 
worst foreign policy disasters in American history, the unintended 
consequence of our invasion of Iraq was to give the nation of Iran a 
strategic victory by virtually turning Iraq into a client state.
  Make no mistake--our war and invasion of Iraq emboldened and 
empowered Iran. How do some of the current occupants of the White House 
driving policy against Iran feel about the Iraq war disaster? Well, in 
2015, National Security Advisor John Bolton said: ``I still think the 
decision to overthrow Saddam was correct.'' He made that statement 1 
month after writing a New York Times op-ed--this is John Bolton, the 
President's National Security Advisor--an op-ed entitled: ``To Stop 
Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran.''
  Now match this painful lesson in history with the current President 
having surpassed 10,000 false or misleading claims so far in a little 
over 2 years in office--more than 10,000 false claims in less than 3 
years. So you will understand my skepticism in trusting this 
administration of the President's to tell us the truth about the next 
war they are planning in the Middle East. In fact, within a single 
week, President Trump tweeted that he had hoped not to go to war with 
Iran and then went on to tweet that he would lead the fight ``that will 
be the official end of Iran.'' You can't keep up with this President 
and his tweets.
  Does this not trouble or give pause to any Republican colleague whose 
constituents might be called to serve in the third Middle Eastern war 
that the United States is participating in?
  Let me also remind my colleagues that before any one of us can vote 
on the Senate floor, we walk down this aisle, over to this corner, and 
wait for the Vice President of the United States to ask us to take the 
oath of office, to swear to uphold the Constitution of the United 
States.
  The Constitution of this country makes it expressly clear that the 
decision to go to war cannot be made solely by a President; it is to be 
made by the American people through their elected representatives in 
Congress, in the House and in the Senate. Before there is any war, the 
American people should have the last word, according to our 
Constitution.
  What I find most stunning about the administration's march to war in 
Iran is that its actions have really contributed to the current tension 
and confrontation we have in Iran. President Obama worked for years to 
come up with an agreement and to bring together an alliance to make 
certain that Iran could never develop a nuclear weapon.
  Listen to the participants in this alliance: of course, the United 
Kingdom, our longtime ally; France; the European Union; the United 
States; Germany; Russia and China. They are all part of this agreement 
to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The Republicans opposed 
it to a person, but the President was able to implement it.
  That agreement called for constant inspection by United Nation's 
agencies--nuclear agencies--to make certain that Iran lived up to the 
terms of the treaty and did not develop nuclear weapons. It worked. The 
inspectors came and told us, time and again, there were no locked 
doors, there was no denial of entry, no denial of access. They were 
able to look behind closed doors and came to the conclusion that Iran 
was complying with the treaty and not developing nuclear weapons.
  Then President Trump announced he was walking away from this 
agreement, walking away from this requirement under the treaty for 
neutral inspectors to crawl all over Iran and make sure they were 
living up to the terms of the agreement. That was the beginning of the 
Trump policy on Iran that leads us to where we are today.

[[Page S3032]]

  President Trump has been pursuing a provocative and incomprehensible 
policy of regime change in Iran, trying at one moment to flatter and 
meet with President Rouhani to negotiate and then the next moment 
threatening to obliterate Iran from the planet. President Trump 
withdrew from that nuclear agreement and tried to starve Iran of the 
agreed benefits it was to receive from that deal.
  Let me be clear, there is no doubt that Iran is responsible for 
dangerous conduct around the world, which I will never approve of, but 
an Iran with nuclear weapons is dramatically more dangerous than one 
without. The President doesn't understand that basic fact. Why not push 
back against Iran without withdrawing from the nuclear agreement? Why 
give them the pretext for belligerence and undermine our credibility 
with the global powers that joined us in that nuclear agreement?
  The tragic end result of this President's incoherent policy in Iran 
is that our allies are united against us, and Iran may restart nuclear 
activities within the next few weeks. President Trump's policy at the 
direction of Mr. Bolton seems to have only increased regional tensions, 
incentivized Iran to restart its nuclear weapons program, and fomented 
a pretext for another Middle Eastern war.
  This Congress, too often a rubberstamp for this President's worst 
behavior, must do more in the next few weeks and months to stop this 
effort based on the briefing we received yesterday. Wars are so easy to 
get into and so difficult to get out of. When I hear our advisers, in 
general terms, talking about short wars, I think about Iraq, and I 
think about Afghanistan and the fact that, 18 years later, with 
gravestones all across the United States, we are still paying the price 
for decisions that were made so long ago. Let us think twice before we 
engage in direct military confrontation with any country and, 
certainly, with Iran.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  (The remarks of Ms. Collins pertaining to the introduction of S. 1602 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Ms. COLLINS. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.


                       Senate Legislative Agenda

  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I don't have a speech prepared. I just 
want to share a few thoughts with my colleagues. What I am about to say 
I intend to say gently and constructively, and that is this: We need to 
do more. We need to do more. By ``we,'' I mean the U.S. Congress.
  We have completed almost 25 percent of the time allotted to this 
current Congress. And what have we done? Other than nominations, which 
are important--and I will come back to that--we have done nothing--
zero, zilch, nada.
  Let me talk about my friends in the House of Representatives first. I 
have great respect for them. I wish I had served in the House. I would 
have loved to have had that experience. So far, our friends in the 
House--at least the leadership--have done two things. No. 1, they have 
passed bills they know have not a hope in Hades of passing the U.S. 
Senate. We call those bills messaging bills, as you know. They are not 
designed for the next generation. They are designed for the next 
election. They don't do anything to make the American people any more 
secure or improve the quality of their lives, and we all know that.
  The second thing that my friends in the House leadership have done--
and I say this with all the respect I can muster--is to harass the 
President.
  Again, I say this gently, and I say this, hopefully, constructively 
to my friends in the House leadership: The House leadership needs to 
urinate or get off the pot. The House leadership needs to indict the 
President of the United States, impeach him, and let us hold a trial--
he will not be convicted--or they need to go ahead and hold in contempt 
every single member of the Trump administration so we can move those 
issues into our court system and get back to doing the people's 
business.
  Now, if they decide to go the court route, I would caution my friends 
to be very, very careful because once it enters the court system, it 
becomes a zero-sum game. One or two things are going to happen. Either 
the administration will win, in which case the oversight authority of 
the U.S. Congress will be undermined, or the House leadership will win, 
in which case no American with a brain above a single-cell organism is 
going to want to run for President of the United States, because 
Congress will be able to find out everything about your life, even the 
most intimate details, whether it is relevant to your job or not and 
whether it happened when you were President or not.
  What I hope happens is that my friends in the House leadership and 
the administration sit down and talk--not talk like 8-year-olds in the 
back of a minivan fighting but talk constructively about how their 
behavior could impact important institutions in this country--and work 
it out.
  I thank the Attorney General for making overtures to the House 
leadership to try to find common ground.
  Now, let me talk about the Senate. We need to do more. I am not 
saying we haven't done anything. We have confirmed some very important 
nominees to the Trump administration. It is long overdue. They are fine 
men and women. We have confirmed some very fine men and women to the 
Federal Judiciary, and I believe they will make this country safer and 
will make this country better. I am very proud of that effort. So let 
me say it again. I am not saying we have done nothing. I am saying we 
need to do more.
  There are issues where our Democratic friends and my Republican 
friends have more in common than we don't. We need to bring the bills 
to the floor of the Senate. Everyone has their own list, and everyone 
in the Senate knows what I am talking about, whether they will say it 
or not.
  What is one of the things that moms and dads worry about when they 
lie down at night and can't sleep? The cost of prescription drugs. 
There is bipartisan support for prescription drug reform.
  I just read a study in the Journal of the American Medical 
Association. They studied the U.S. healthcare delivery system and the 
healthcare delivery systems of all other wealthy countries. So it is 
apples to apples. In America, we pay about $1,500 for every man, woman, 
or child every year for pharmaceutical drugs. In the average rich 
country, other countries pay $750.
  I am not criticizing our pharmaceutical drug companies. What they do 
is marvelous. We live longer. They save money. They keep us out of 
hospitals. But why is everybody else paying $750 and our people are 
paying $1,500? There are things we can do that will help make the 
pharmaceutical industry better but also help consumers. Do you know 
what we are doing about it? Nothing. We need to bring a bill to the 
floor.
  I could give you another example. We all know there needs to be 
reform of our National Emergency Act. We know that. It is not about 
President Trump. It is about institutions, checks and balances, and 
Madisonian separation of powers.
  We could do something together to get rid of spam robocalls. I get 
about 12 a day.
  Rob Portman has a great bill that would end government shutdowns. We 
have more in common on that than we don't.
  We need a supplemental disaster bill. We have Americans who are 
hurting. In my State, after Katrina, we were flat on our backs. If it 
hadn't been for the American taxpayer, we would have never risen to our 
knees, much less to our feet. We have other Americans and friends in 
Puerto Rico who need help. We ought to be able to work it out.
  I could keep going. Everybody has their own list.
  I don't care whether we move a bill through committee or whether we 
bring a bill directly to the floor of the Senate--I am in labor, not 
management; that is above my pay grade--but we need to try. We need to 
try.
  I understand it is an election cycle. I get that. I say to the 
Presiding Officer, I am a politician. You know that. But we are always 
in an election cycle. When are we not in an election cycle? And I 
understand some of my colleagues with a lot more experience than I 
have--and I listen carefully to them, and I try to listen carefully to 
them--are thinking right now: Kennedy, that is just not the way it is 
done here.

[[Page S3033]]

  Well, by God, maybe it is not, but maybe it should be.
  I know some of my friends are thinking: Kennedy, if we do that, we 
are taking too big of a political risk.
  Maybe we are. Maybe we will win.
  I just think that there are bills that will make the American people 
able to live better lives, and we ought to spend a little more time 
thinking about the next generation than the next election.
  With that, 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. WHITEHOUSE. 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.


                         The Federalist Society

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, on Tuesday, the Washington Post 
published an important piece of investigative journalism. The 
journalists looked into a very narrow, very wealthy group of special 
interests seeking to control our Federal judiciary. It was a revealing 
story, one that matters a great deal to the Senate and to the people we 
serve. I come to the floor today to discuss that tightening special 
interest grip on our courts.
  The central operative in this court-fixing scheme is Leonard Leo of 
the Federalist Society, the organization at the center of this effort. 
As I described here on the Senate floor several weeks ago, there are 
three incarnations of the Federalist Society.
  The first is a debating society for conservatives at law schools. 
They convene panels and forums for like-minded, aspiring lawyers to 
talk about conservative ideas and judicial doctrine. That is all fine.
  The second is a flashy Washington, DC, think tank. They attract big-
name lawyers, scholars, and politicians--even Supreme Court Justices--
to their events. They publish and podcast. They hold black tie galas. I 
don't agree with the work they do, but I don't question their right to 
do it.
  The third Federalist Society is what was exposed in the Post article. 
It is something much, much darker, both in its funding and in its 
function. It is a vehicle for powerful interests seeking to ``reorder'' 
the judiciary under their control so as to benefit their corporate 
rightwing purposes. It seeks to accomplish by judicial power grab what 
the Republican Party has been unable to accomplish through the open 
Democratic process.
  This third, dark Federalist Society understands the fundamental power 
through the Federal judiciary to rig the system in favor of special 
interests.
  So what did the Post find out about how our judges on the most 
important courts in the country are selected? It found a network of 
front groups. It found shell entities with no employees. It found 
shared post office mail drops, common contractors and officers across 
nominally separate entities, even common presidents of nominally 
separate entities. In these characteristics, it has some resemblance to 
money laundering and crime syndicates.
  What else did they find? They found dark money funders, anonymous 
advertising, enormous pay packages for the operatives, and judicial 
lists prepared secretly. It found $250 million in dark money flowing 
through this apparatus.
  The story turns up familiar dark money political funders like the 
Mercers and the National Rifle Association, but it also exposes groups 
that are harder to spot, which may not have garnered much attention 
before but serve central functions in Leonard Leo's court-fixing 
apparatus.
  A few weeks ago I delivered remarks on the Senate floor about the 
sweeping influence of Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society court-
fixing scheme. I touched on one Federalist Society product of this 
scheme in particular: the newly confirmed DC Court of Appeals judge, 
Neomi Rao. I described some pretty straightforward facts about Rao. Her 
connection to the Federalist Society is no secret. Sitting on the DC 
Circuit right now, her bio still appears on the Federalist Society 
website along with the list of 26 times she has been featured--26 times 
she has been featured at Federalist Society events.
  Before being nominated for one of the most influential courts in the 
country, which some call the second highest court in the land, she had 
never been a judge, she had never tried a case. Instead, she had served 
as the Trump administration's point person for helping big Republican 
donors tear down Federal safety regulations. She did this as the head 
of the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, 
OIRA. That is not disputed.
  Before that, she founded something provocatively called the Center 
for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University's 
Antonin Scalia Law School. Her center is a cog in Leonard Leo's 
machine.
  Let's revisit Rao's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee 
about the funding for the Center for the Study of the Administrative 
State. She testified that neither the Koch Foundation nor any anonymous 
donors had funded her center. Well, a trove of documents obtained by 
me, the New York Times, and others showed that was not true. A Virginia 
open records request had revealed that an anonymous donor funneling its 
dark money donation through Leonard Leo and the Charles Koch Foundation 
in fact donated $30 million intended to flow to her organization, her 
Center for the Study of the Administrative State.
  Well, my remarks drew quite a reaction. The center's current director 
took to Medium to post a 2,500-word rebuttal. He claimed I was all 
wrong about the center's funding--that none of its money came from 
those anonymous and Koch brothers' donations.
  The National Review jumped into the fray and noted the Medium post on 
its website. The nub of their criticism was that although I was right, 
the Scalia Law School had indeed received millions in anonymous and 
Koch brothers' money. That money had gone to fund scholarships, not to 
the anti-regulatory Center for the Study of the Administrative State.
  Let's start by assuming that is true. I will tell you, if I gave $30 
million to my alma mater ``for scholarships,'' I would expect a thank-
you. I expect they would see a gift of $30 million in scholarships as a 
benefit to the school. If they were asked ``Has Senator Whitehouse ever 
given you a gift?'' I would expect them to say ``Yes, he gave us a $30 
million scholarship fund.'' I might even expect a nice press release. 
So I don't buy the ``this was just scholarships money'' dodge around 
telling the truth to the Judiciary Committee.
  But look a little more. In 2016, George Mason University, indeed, 
received a $10 million donation from the Charles Koch Foundation and, 
indeed, did receive a $20 million donation from an anonymous donor. 
Both gifts came with grant agreements, and these grant agreements were 
among the Virginia open records documents. So we can learn a little bit 
more.
  The grant agreements stipulate that the money was intended to fund 
``scholarships'' but also specify that gifts were conditioned on the 
school's providing ``funding . . . and support for''--you guessed it--
Neomi Rao's Center for the Study of the Administrative State.
  That is not all we found. Private communications revealed with the 
grant agreements show that the Koch Foundation and their handpicked law 
school administrators viewed all of this money as fungible.
  I earlier said that if I gave $30 million, I might expect a press 
release. The Antonin Scalia Law School did a press release. Its 
announcement of this funding stated: ``The scholarship money will also 
benefit the institution because it frees up resources that can be 
allocated for other priorities, including additional faculty hires and 
support for academic programs.''
  It didn't end there. The documents keep telling us more. They include 
a progress report--a progress report--to the Koch Foundation. Under the 
heading ``most pressing needs,'' Dean Henry Butler wrote to the Koch 
Foundation: ``Cash is King (scholarships are cash).'' In that same memo 
to the Koch Foundation--which, by the way, is kind of a bizarre 
document to exist in the first place, unless this is kind of a front 
for Koch brothers' political activities--Dean Butler also made clear 
that Rao's center had indeed received hundreds of thousands in funding 
from an anonymous donor, just as I charged, and further made clear that 
Rao's center was

[[Page S3034]]

being funded with $400,000 from ``naming-gifts scholarship revenue''--
the Koch brothers' ``scholarships'' money that was earmarked for Neomi 
Rao's center. It was being rerouted to fund Leonard Leo and Neomi Rao's 
project to gut public protections in this country on behalf of those 
donors. The dark plot thickened.
  Here is the most interesting part of all. The open records documents 
also show that the law school dean, Henry Butler, regularly reported to 
Leonard Leo on developments at Neomi Rao's center, including faculty 
hiring and other Federalist Society priorities. The emails are very 
cozy. The dean is deferential. There is even a calendar entry for lunch 
at a Washington, DC, restaurant for Neomi Rao, Henry Butler, and 
Leonard Leo. Cozier still is that another condition of the Koch 
Foundation's massive gift was that Henry Butler be protected as dean 
because they viewed him--specifically him--as ``critical to advancing 
the school's mission.'' That mission? Doing the Koch Foundation and 
Leonard Leo's bidding to help cripple public interest protections in 
this country for big special interests funding Leo, funding the center, 
and funding the Federalist Society.

  Neomi Rao's defenders were quick to push back on this point and 
argued that my criticisms of her center's work was stifling their 
academic inquiry. They pointed to the center's research roundtables and 
public policy conferences as evidence of its fair and independent 
academic bona fides.
  Sorry, but it is tough to buy when, in one private fundraising email, 
Dean Butler was revealed to have asked one wealthy donor for a $1.5 
million gift ``to entice Neomi [Rao] to return home to Scalia Law after 
she dismantles the administrative state.''
  Tell me, who is the real threat to academic inquiry here?
  Perhaps more to the point, now that she is a judge: Who is a present 
threat to judicial independence on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals?
  Fancy lunches and weird, cozy relationships between public law school 
deans and DC power brokers can seem a bit in the weeds, so let's not 
lose sight of the bigger picture here. This stuff matters because 
Americans are now seeing their courts fill with judges, like Neomi Rao, 
who are expected and chosen to reliably rule for big corporate and 
Republican partisan special interests--the ones funding the Federalist 
Society's selection of these judges, the ones funding the Judicial 
Crisis Network's confirmation of these judges, the ones funding Amici, 
the front group Amici that shows up to argue in court.
  I recently looked at the numbers for the Federalist Society-dominated 
Supreme Court. Under Chief Justice Roberts' tenure, through the end of 
the October term of 2017 to 2018, Republican appointees delivered 
partisan 5-to-4 rulings that favored corporate or Republican partisan 
special interests, not three or four times, not even a dozen or two 
dozen times, but 73 times. If you look at the Court's cases during 
Chief Justice Roberts' tenure and look at the 5-to-4 decisions and look 
at the 5-to-4 decisions wherein the breakdown between the five and the 
four was partisan and look at those 5-to-4 partisan decisions, for the 
ones in which there was a clearly apparent, big Republican donor 
interest, you will find that every single one of those 73 decisions was 
won--was decided--in favor of the big Republican donor interest. There 
were 73 victories delivered for big Republican interests with there 
being no Democratic appointee who joined the majority.
  Here is one case study--a recent decision after the 73. It is Lamps 
Plus v. Varela. The plaintiff, Frank Varela, sued his employer, Lamps 
Plus, after a company data breach led to a fraudulent tax return being 
filed in his name. An appellate court looked at the case and relied on 
a State contract principle to agree with plaintiff Varela. That is a 
traditionally conservative principle--deferring to State laws. Along 
came the Supreme Court in this case, and it ditched the conservative 
principle to rule in favor of the corporation in a 5-to-4 partisan 
decision.
  There is another case study pending before the Court now--Kisor v. 
Wilkie. On its face, Kisor addresses an obscure administrative law 
doctrine about judicial deference to Federal Agencies, but Kisor has 
been described as a ``stalking horse for much larger game.'' The larger 
purpose is to strip away judicial deference to administrative Agencies' 
capacity to regulate independently in the public's interest.
  You have to understand that if you are a mighty corporation, you come 
to an administrative Agency from a position of terrific advantage 
ordinarily, and where administrative Agencies are willing to stand up, 
that is important, but if you can get your judges on a court and strip 
away that deference, now you can put the fix in through the courts.
  Imagine a world in which Federal Agencies get virtually no judicial 
deference and in which Leonard Leo's special interest, handpicked 
judges rule on Americans' disputes with big corporations. If these big 
special interests are sick of protections for workers in the workplace, 
let the judges get rid of them. Dismantle the administrative state. If 
a big special interest is sick of safeguards for our air and water or 
dangers in toys our children play with, dismantle the administrative 
state. Tear down the safety regulations. They will have the judges to 
do that. If corporations are sick of a guardrail that keeps our 
financial system from dragging down millions of Americans' financial 
security, these judges stand ready to dismantle the administrative 
state that protects investors.
  Leonard Leo's dark Federalist Society element is installing judges 
who are poised to systematically and relentlessly dismantle government 
Agencies that are sworn to keep us safe and secure.
  How do you push back on this machine wherein the big-money special 
interests select a nominee by contributing to the Federalist Society 
and Leonard Leo's secretive judicial lists and judge-picking process? 
They spend money campaigning for their selected judge's confirmation 
through the Judicial Crisis Network. They then spend money through 
amicus briefs and argue before the judges on whom they have spent money 
to select and confirm. Sure enough--bingo--it is 73 to 0 in the 
important decisions in which they can get the Republican appointees to 
gang up in a group of five and deliver and deliver for the interests of 
the center of this, which you can't properly identify because it is not 
transparent.
  The Federalist Society doesn't disclose its donors. The Judicial 
Crisis Network doesn't disclose its donors. The Supreme Court rule 
doesn't get at who the real donors are to this phony front group, 
Amici. You find out later on who the winners are--73 to nothing.
  How do you push back on that machine? You push back with sunlight, 
with transparency. We must have transparency in our campaign finance 
system. We must have transparency in this special interest conveyor 
belt that is filling our courts. We should also have transparency in 
the courts. Right now, the dark money-funded front groups behind 
Leonard Leo and behind the Federalist Society's judge-picking operation 
are probably also behind those amicus briefs. With a little 
transparency, we would know. It is through these amicus briefs that the 
judges who were selected and confirmed by these folks get instructed on 
how they should rule. This is a recipe for corruption.
  The Court itself should require real transparency from so-called 
friends of the Court. These amicus groups come in under a Supreme Court 
rule. The Supreme Court rule only requires them to disclose who paid 
for the brief. Yet who is really behind the group? We don't know. The 
Supreme Court could correct that. It could correct it like that, but 
then it would start to expose who is here.
  If the Court will not, Congress must. Democracy dies in darkness, it 
has been said, and so does judicial independence. The American people 
deserve to know when powerful special interests are paying to sway 
Federal judges with self-serving legal advice. If those same interests 
paid to get those judges selected and paid to campaign for their 
confirmations and then paid to have the amicus briefs put before the 
Court, the need for the American people to understand what is going on 
becomes even more profound.
  I close with a big thank-you to the Washington Post for its 
reporting. Thanks to its careful investigative work of its pouring 
through tax records and interviews, we now know a lot

[[Page S3035]]

more about the Federalist Society's court-fixing operation.
  Our President likes to describe investigative journalism that pokes 
and probes at the mischief of his administration as fake news. There is 
nothing fake about this news. This is in the best traditions of 
investigative journalism, and I am grateful for its work to illustrate 
how our courts are being captured by corporations and runaway 
partisanship that is fueled by dark money.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.


                               Healthcare

  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the ongoing 
threat from the Trump administration to healthcare and the guaranteed 
protections that millions of American families depend upon.
  President Trump has tried to pass repeal plans that would take 
people's healthcare away and allow insurance companies to charge more 
for people with preexisting health conditions or those insurance 
companies could deny them coverage altogether.
  When that repeal plan failed to pass in the Senate in the summer of 
2017, instead of working in a bipartisan way to lower healthcare costs, 
President Trump turned to truly sabotaging our healthcare system.
  What do I mean by that?
  The Trump administration made it harder for people to sign up for the 
Affordable Care Act coverage. They have done so by limiting the window 
of time when people can enroll. They have truly created instability in 
the healthcare market, and their sabotage has contributed to premium 
spikes that we have seen across the country, including in my home State 
of Wisconsin.
  The Trump administration has even gone to court to support a lawsuit 
in order to overturn the Affordable Care Act completely, and that, of 
course, would include protections for people with preexisting health 
conditions. They have essentially gone into court to ask the court to 
strike down the Affordable Care Act. Now, if they were to succeed, 
insurance companies will again be able to deny coverage or charge much 
higher premiums for the more than 130 million Americans who have some 
sort of preexisting health condition. The number with preexisting 
health conditions includes some 2 million Wisconsinites.
  What is the President's plan to protect people with preexisting 
health conditions? He doesn't have one, and I don't believe he ever 
will.
  In fact, he has acted in just the opposite vein. This administration 
has expanded junk insurance plans that can deny coverage to people with 
preexisting conditions, and they don't have to cover essential services 
like prescription drugs or emergency room care or maternity care.
  I ask my friends on the other side of the aisle to think about this 
for a moment. President Trump supports overturning the law that 
provides protections for people with preexisting health conditions at 
the same time he is expanding these junk plans that don't provide those 
very protections. If this isn't straight-up sabotage, I really don't 
know what is.
  When I was 9 years old, I got sick. I was really sick. I was in the 
hospital for 3 months. Now, I recovered, but my family still struggled 
because I had been branded with the words ``preexisting health 
condition'' and I was denied insurance coverage.
  That family and personal experience has driven my fight to make sure 
that every American has affordable and quality healthcare coverage.
  Today, because of the Affordable Care Act, those with preexisting 
health conditions cannot be discriminated against. They can't be denied 
healthcare coverage, and they can't be charged discriminatory premiums.
  I want to protect the guaranteed healthcare protections that so many 
millions of Americans now depend upon. I have introduced legislation 
along with my colleague Senator Doug Jones of Alabama to overturn the 
Trump administration's expansion of junk insurance plans.
  The entire Senate Democratic caucus, including the two Independents 
who caucus with us, have supported this legislation. They have signed 
on to this bill. The Nation's top healthcare organizations, 
representing tens of thousands of doctors and physicians, and patients 
and medical students, and other health experts have supported this 
legislation and endorsed it. Anyone who says they support healthcare 
coverage for people with preexisting conditions should support my 
legislation.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 1556

  Mr. President, as in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent 
that the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee be discharged 
from further consideration of S. 1556; that the Senate proceed to its 
immediate consideration; that the bill be considered read a third time 
and passed; and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and 
laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Reserving the right to object, this is the latest 
Democratic attempt to raise the cost of healthcare paid for out of your 
own pocket by taking away an ability to provide lower cost health 
insurance that preserves preexisting condition protection and the 
essential health benefits. These short-term health benefits were 
available under President Clinton. They were available under President 
Bush. They were available under President Obama right until the last 
few months of his office, when he cut them down to 3 months long.
  President Trump has simply said that you may now have them up to a 
year and renew them for 3 years. If you live in Fulton County, GA, your 
insurance costs will be 30 percent less against the typical ObamaCare 
bronze plan and even more against the silver plan.
  This is the latest Democratic attempt to increase the cost of what 
you pay for healthcare out of your own pocket. Their next attempt will 
be Medicare for All, which, if you have health insurance on the job, 
will take that health insurance away.
  I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. President, I am certainly disappointed that my 
Republican colleagues have chosen to object to protecting people with 
preexisting conditions.
  It is my contention that some of the very opposite impacts, because 
of these junk plans, are occurring than what my colleague has recited. 
In fact, I hardly consider them insurance plans. Many have argued that 
they are not worth the paper that they are written on. They don't cover 
many essential benefits. They are not required to cover people with 
preexisting health conditions. They can drop people. They can charge 
outrageous prices. What we found--and the reason that the Obama 
administration went from yearlong plans to 3-month plans--is that they 
saw the distortion in the markets. They saw that people who had 
believed that they might not get sick--healthy, often younger people--
were availing themselves of these plans, making the Affordable Care----
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a question?
  Ms. BALDWIN. I would yield to one question, and then I want to wrap 
up my comments.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, is the Senator of Wisconsin not aware 
that the short-term healthcare plans do not change the law of 
preexisting condition?
  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. President, these short-term plans do not have to 
cover preexisting conditions. I can tell you, as I have inquired--
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, may I----
  Ms. BALDWIN. I yielded already for a question. But I want to say----
  Mr. ALEXANDER. She gave the wrong answer, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin has the floor.
  Ms. BALDWIN. It may not be to the Senator's liking, but I was going 
to tell you about the plans that I read the fine print on from the 
State of Wisconsin. Now that these short-term plans are renewable for 
up to 3 years, in these junk plans, you can see the fine print. Many 
times they start with this: We will not cover a preexisting condition. 
Every single one of them refuses to cover maternity care. That means 
none of these junk plans cover that essential benefit. Most of them 
don't cover

[[Page S3036]]

emergency room care. Most of them don't cover prescription drugs. So 
regardless of how the law impacts people who have other types of 
insurance, I feel strongly that these junk plans are very distorting of 
the market and not worth the paper they are written on for those who 
have chosen to take that route.
  Last fall, we heard all my colleagues across the aisle say, often 
repeatedly, that they support protections for people with preexisting 
health conditions. Today I just offered an opportunity for Democrats 
and Republicans to come together to protect people's access to quality, 
affordable healthcare when they need it the most, but there was an 
objection.
  I say to the American people that we must not lose sight of the fight 
right in front of us. We have a President who time after time has 
sabotaged our healthcare system, raised healthcare costs, and pushed 
these junk insurance plans that don't have to cover people with 
preexisting conditions. We have an administration that is asking a 
court to strike down the Affordable Care Act and its protections for 
people with preexisting conditions in their entirety.
  The choice for the American people could not be more clear. We want 
to make things better, and my Republican colleagues refuse to join us 
in this effort, which would be to prevent this administration from 
making things worse.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.


      Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019

  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, the House recently passed a piece of 
legislation called the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions 
Act. The substance of this legislation would prevent a Trump 
administration rule from going into effect that would allow for States 
to license the kind of insurance plans that Senator Baldwin was 
referring to. These are plans that do not cover preexisting conditions 
or the essential healthcare benefits.
  I am going to offer right now a unanimous consent request to proceed 
to immediate consideration of this bill. I suspect it will be objected 
to. After an opportunity for Republicans to object, I will speak to the 
merits of this legislation. So let me start with a request to bring 
this legislation that will protect people with preexisting conditions 
and the essential healthcare benefits to the floor.


                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 986

  Mr. President, my motion is as such: As if in legislative session, I 
ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate 
consideration of Calendar No. 90, H.R. 986, Protecting Americans with 
Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019; that the bill be considered read a 
third time and passed; and that the motion to reconsider be considered 
made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, reserving my right to object, section 
1332 is the innovation waiver that is part of the Affordable Care Act, 
passed by the Democratic majority. That act includes protection for 
preexisting conditions. Using the flexibility granted under section 
1332 does not change anything about preexisting conditions. So it is 
misleading to the American people to suggest that it does.
  This is another Democratic attempt to make it more expensive, to cost 
more for what you pay for healthcare out of your own pocket by taking 
away flexibility from the States to find a less expensive way for you 
to afford healthcare and, at the same time, not changing the 
preexisting condition protection that is provided by the Affordable 
Care Act. This is the latest attempt to do it, but the boldest attempt 
to raise the cost of your healthcare is Medicare for All, which if you 
have insurance on the job, as 181 million Americans do, would take that 
insurance away from you.
  I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mr. MURPHY. Thank you, Mr. President. Again, I share in Senator 
Baldwin's disappointment that we can't move immediately to this 
legislation. This isn't a political game. These are individuals all 
across the country who are relying on us to make sure that they are not 
subject to the abuses of the market. They are relying on us to make 
sure we don't return to the days in which insurance companies could 
prevent you from getting healthcare simply because you were sick or 
return to the days when you bought an insurance product and then it 
didn't turn out to ultimately be insurance.
  Let's be clear. The waiver that the President has allowed States to 
take advantage of would absolutely--it would by definition of the 
rule--allow for States to waive the preexisting condition requirement. 
The rule itself says that the innovation that happens at the State 
level does not have to comply with the essential healthcare benefits 
requirement. It says in the rule that you do not have to comply with 
preexisting conditions requirements. That is the reason that they are 
so cheap. So I am at a loss as to why we have Republicans on the floor 
saying that preexisting conditions will be protected under this rule. 
That is not true. The rule says that States do not have to comply with 
the preexisting requirement. It says that States do not have to cover 
essential healthcare benefits. That is why these junk plans are 
attractive, because they aren't actually insurance, and they are only 
insurance for people who are at the time very healthy.
  We have to get on the same page here. We have to be reading from the 
same script. The fact of the matter is, the definition of the rule 
allows for protections for people with preexisting conditions to be 
discriminated against.
  I am sorry that we weren't able to bring up this piece of legislation 
because healthcare insurance should be healthcare insurance. And what 
we worry about are two things. First is that by allowing for the 
marketing of these junk plans, you are going to have all sorts of 
people who today aren't sick jumping into those plans, coming off of 
the plans that protect people with preexisting conditions. The people 
who are going to be left behind on those regulated plans are people who 
are sick, people who have preexisting conditions. So you are, all of a 
sudden, bifurcating the insurance market. You are going to have a 
market for people who are currently healthy, and then you are going to 
have a market for people who are sick or have ever had a preexisting 
condition.
  You do not have to be an actuary and you don't have to have taken 
classes in healthcare insurance economics to know that when that 
happens, rates skyrocket for people who have a preexisting condition--
for the millions of people around this country who have had a serious 
diagnosis at some point during their life.
  So as you sell these junk plans, there is no way but for costs to go 
up. That is on top of the increases we saw last year. Last year, 
insurance companies priced in the costs of Trump administration 
sabotage. They priced into their premiums the attacks on our healthcare 
system from the Republican Congress.
  In many States, we saw insurance plans pushing 60 percent, 40 
percent, and, in some cases, 80 percent increases in premiums. Now on 
top of that, for sick people, for people with preexisting conditions, 
the rates are going to be even bigger because of the flight of those 
without preexisting conditions into marketplaces set up specifically 
for them.
  The second thing we worry about is that these junk plans market 
themselves as insurance, but they aren't. Here is a list of things that 
I would generally consider to be covered under my insurance plan.
  If I bought an insurance plan, if I handed over a check to the 
insurance company, I kind of think that if I go to the emergency room, 
I am not going to have to pay for it out of my pocket. I am thinking to 
myself: Well, you know what, if I need prescription drugs, they are 
going to cover some of that. Well, if I have a mental health diagnosis, 
doesn't insurance cover my head as well as the rest of my body?
  These are the things that I would assume that insurance covers, but 
these junk plans don't cover these things.
  Junk plans do not cover trips to the emergency room. Junk plans often 
don't cover hospitalizations. They don't cover prescription drugs. 
Almost none of them cover maternity care. Your checkups might not be 
covered

[[Page S3037]]

under a junk plan. Preexisting conditions will cost you more. 
Contraception isn't going to be in lots of these plans. They are not 
required to cover lab services or pediatrics. Mental health isn't going 
to be in many of these junk plans. As for rehab services, if you get 
injured, you are not going to find those in some of these plans. And if 
you have a chronic disease, there is nothing in the law that requires 
treatment for those to be covered.
  So all of a sudden, as for the things you thought insurance covered, 
they don't cover it, and you have been paying a premium for years. 
Then, when you finally need access to the system, it is not there. That 
is what these plans can do. That is what the law and the Trump 
administration rule allows States to license as insurance. And that is 
why we are on the floor today, to ask--to plead--to our colleagues to 
bring legislation before this body, either Senator Baldwin's 
legislation or Representative Kuster's legislation that has already 
passed the House, that would stop these junk insurance plans from being 
sold all around this country, which will trick many Americans into 
believing they have insurance when they don't and will dramatically 
raise the cost of care potentially in many States for people who have 
serious preexisting conditions.

  I am not surprised at the objection to both of our unanimous consent 
requests. Nevertheless, I am disappointed in it. We will continue to be 
down here on the floor for as much time as it takes to try to rally the 
whole of this body to protect people with preexisting conditions, to 
fight back against the sabotage of the Affordable Care Act and the 
healthcare system by this President. Hopefully, one day we will be 
successful.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I am proud to be here on the floor today 
to join with Senator Baldwin and Senator Jones on their resolution with 
Senator Murphy. I have to say to Senator Murphy, before he puts that 
down, I have to look at that list and tell you that, before the 
Affordable Care Act, I would get calls like this, and I am sure you 
did, too.
  Someone calls me and would say: I paid into healthcare all my life 
and never gotten sick, and then I finally needed surgery. What do you 
mean it only pays for 1 day in the hospital? Well, it never paid for 
more than 1 day in the hospital, but they didn't know it because they 
didn't get sick.
  So folks buy the junk plans--and thank you for the list--but they buy 
the junk plan being healthy and then will never know that it doesn't 
cover those things unless they get sick. When they find out, it will be 
too late.
  So that is why we are here because we know that healthcare isn't 
political. It shouldn't be political. It is personal for every one of 
us. It is personal for ourselves and our families. It affects all of 
us, whether we are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, vote, don't 
vote, urban, rural from any State in the Union.
  In fact, when people tell me their healthcare stories, they don't 
start by telling me their political affiliation. They talk to me about 
what has happened to them, what has happened to their mom and dad, what 
has happened to their children. Political affiliation doesn't matter.
  People in Michigan simply want to know that the healthcare they 
depend on will be there for them and be affordable for them and their 
family today and into the future, and that is the fight that we have as 
Democrats. We will continue that fight.
  Unfortunately, they have reason to be worried about the rise of 
short-term, limited duration insurance plans. They should be worried 
about what these plans don't cover--junk plans, as we are calling them. 
As Senator Baldwin said so well, they are junk. They don't really cover 
anything. They make you feel good, as long as you are healthy, that you 
have got insurance, but then you find out, when you get sick, that your 
child is not covered or you are not covered.
  The fact many of these plans are medically underwritten, which means 
that the insurance company--by the way, junk plans are about putting 
decisions back in the hands of the insurance company, instead of you 
knowing that you and your doctor can decide what you need and that it 
will be covered. The insurance companies can charge whatever they want 
based on somebody's health, gender, age, or other status.
  Remember when being a woman was considered a preexisting condition? I 
do. These plans are bringing that back. One recent study found that 
none of these plans that have been approved by the Trump administration 
so far cover maternity care--none of them. We fought hard--I fought 
hard--as a member of the Finance Committee to make sure that women's 
healthcare and maternity care were covered. Our healthcare is as basic 
a healthcare as any man's healthcare and ought to be covered the same.

  I want to repeat this. We have a maternal health crisis in this 
country, and the administration is pushing plans that don't cover basic 
coverage for women. On top of that, these junk plans can exclude people 
with preexisting conditions--yes, they can--and impose yearly or 
lifetime caps on care.
  Remember when you had to worry about how many cancer treatments the 
insurance company would pay for? Now, there aren't caps so that you can 
decide and your doctor can decide with you on what it takes to put you 
in remission and put you on a healthy path. It is estimated about half 
of Michigan families include somebody with a preexisting condition--
about half--with everything from heart disease to asthma to arthritis. 
I met with some of them earlier this month during the National Brain 
Tumor Society's Head to the Hill event.
  Tiffany, who is from Livonia, was just 17 years old when she was 
diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since then, her tumor has reoccurred six 
times. She has been through seven surgeries, chemotherapy, and 
radiation treatments. The location of her tumor means that Tiffany has 
also lost some of the use of her left arm and hand. Tiffany doesn't 
have a choice. Her life depends on having comprehensive health 
insurance. Unfortunately, that kind of insurance is getting less and 
less affordable.
  So when our Republican colleagues come to the floor and say that we 
just want to raise prices, let me tell you what has really happened in 
the last year. The sabotage by the Trump administration, the 
unravelling of the Affordable Care Act, the junk plans, now the 
instability and going into court to try to totally repeal the 
Affordable Care Act, all of that instability--everything that has been 
done--means that comprehensive health insurance costs have gone up 16.6 
percent this year, so somebody buying insurance is paying an average 
16.6 percent more than they did last year because of all of this effort 
to sabotage, undermine, and unravel the healthcare system.
  Tiffany should be able to focus on getting the treatment she needs 
and living her best life possible, not how she will pay for the 
insurance she needs. We all know Tiffany isn't alone. It is estimated 
that 130 million people in our country are living with preexisting 
conditions--130 million people. That is 130 million people who could be 
hurt either directly or indirectly by these short-term junk plans.
  Two weeks ago, I had the chance to speak at the Detroit Race for the 
Cure, which raises money for breast cancer research and services. As I 
stood on the stage and looked out at over 10,000 people, a lot of 
beautiful pink all surrounding us in downtown Detroit, I saw people 
with preexisting conditions. One woman, who was standing on the stage 
near me, asked me the question: Why is it that I have to worry about 
whether or not I will be able to get insurance in the future? Why do I 
have to worry about that?
  She added: Why don't President Trump and other Republicans understand 
this is my life?
  It is not political for her. It is personal. It is her life. I think 
that is a very good question: Why don't Republicans understand that 
people like Tiffany and those women in pink deserve healthcare 
protections?
  Protecting people with preexisting conditions isn't about politics. 
It is about saving lives. I urge my colleagues to support this 
commonsense legislation and the efforts of Senator Baldwin and Jones.

[[Page S3038]]

  



                       Violence Against Women Act

  Mr. President, I want to take an additional moment to talk about a 
second issue that is about saving lives.
  For almost 25 years, the Violence Against Women Act has helped 
prevent domestic violence and provide survivors with the things they 
need to build a better life for themselves and their families. This 
important piece of legislation is now expired.
  The House passed a VAWA--Violence Against Women's Reauthorization 
bill 48 days ago and sent it to us. It contained important updates to 
protect people from violent dating partners and stalkers, and it helps 
restore Tribal jurisdiction over certain crimes committed on Tribal 
lands.
  Unfortunately, just as in the case of junk insurance plans, we have 
seen no action on this floor--no action--by the majority leader. I 
think, in fact, it has been over 2 months since we have had actual 
legislation and votes on legislation that would solve problems and 
address concerns of the American people. It has been 48 days since the 
House of Representatives sent us a bill to continue support and funding 
for domestic violence shelters and other important support.
  Well, people with preexisting conditions have waited long enough. 
Survivors of domestic violence have waited long enough. People whose 
lives are being threatened by violent dating partners or stalkers have 
waited long enough.
  Here is my question for the Senate majority leader: What are you 
waiting for?
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cruz). The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
  Mr. BURR. 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. BURR. I ask unanimous consent that we start the 4:30 votes now.
  I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Nielson 
nomination?
  Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from North Carolina (Mr. Tillis).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from North Carolina (Mr. 
Tillis) would have voted ``yea.''
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from California (Ms. Harris) 
is necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 51, nays 47, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 123 Ex.]

                                YEAS--51

     Alexander
     Barrasso
     Blackburn
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Braun
     Burr
     Capito
     Cassidy
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Cramer
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Fischer
     Gardner
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hawley
     Hoeven
     Hyde-Smith
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johnson
     Kennedy
     Lankford
     Lee
     McConnell
     McSally
     Moran
     Murkowski
     Paul
     Perdue
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Romney
     Rounds
     Rubio
     Sasse
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)
     Shelby
     Sullivan
     Thune
     Toomey
     Wicker
     Young

                                NAYS--47

     Baldwin
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Booker
     Brown
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Collins
     Coons
     Cortez Masto
     Duckworth
     Durbin
     Feinstein
     Gillibrand
     Hassan
     Heinrich
     Hirono
     Jones
     Kaine
     King
     Klobuchar
     Leahy
     Manchin
     Markey
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Murphy
     Murray
     Peters
     Reed
     Rosen
     Sanders
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Shaheen
     Sinema
     Smith
     Stabenow
     Tester
     Udall
     Van Hollen
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wyden

                             NOT VOTING--2

     Harris
     Tillis
       
  The nomination was confirmed.


                           Order of Business

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the remaining 
votes be 10 minutes in length.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________