[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 50 (Thursday, March 22, 2018)]
[Pages S1892-S1919]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2018--MOTION TO 
                           PROCEED--Continued

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.


                        Tributes to Thad Cochran

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Madam President, I rise to say a word about my friend 
Thad Cochran, who is retiring from the U.S. Senate.
  In 1968, I had the job of recruiting State chairman for Citizens for 
Nixon-Agnew. I was a very young, wet-behind-the-ears former legislative 
assistant to Senator Howard Baker. We were working in the Willard Hotel 
in the fall of 1968. The idea was to try to find outstanding citizens 
who weren't necessarily Republicans because in the southern part of our 
country, there weren't a lot of Republicans, especially in the State of 
Mississippi.
  So I called around the State of Mississippi to find out who might be 
willing to head up this Nixon-Agnew campaign. Everybody I called said: 
Well, there are two young men here who are just the most outstanding 
young men, both are cheerleaders at Ole Miss, or had been, and both are 
going to grow up to be the Governor of Mississippi, which was, at that 
time, I guess, the nicest thing one could say about some aspiring young 
man because nobody thought the two U.S. Senators, Eastland and Stennis, 
would ever retire. So growing up to be the Governor of Mississippi was 
really a great compliment to a young man in Mississippi at the time. 
One of those young men was named Trent Lott, and one of those young men 
was named Thad Cochran.
  I telephoned Thad Cochran, and I invited him to become chairman of 
the Citizens for Nixon-Agnew. He was a Democrat, but he agreed to do 
that. We met in October of that year in Indianapolis. The mayor of 
Indianapolis then was Richard Lugar, a young mayor at that time and 
later a Member of this body. That was the beginning of Thad Cochran's 
Republican Party activity.
  He and that other young man--who were so promising--both ran for U.S. 
Congress in 1972, and to the surprise of a great many people, they were 
elected, the first Republicans since Reconstruction, I suppose, from 
Mississippi--Thad Cochran and Trent Lott.
  In 1978, Thad Cochran did something nobody had done from his State 
since the Reconstruction; he became a Republican who was elected to the 
U.S. Senate, and he has been here ever since.
  The reason he was able to be successful is not surprising. Thad was 
and is an engaging, pleasant person. His parents were educators. He 
learned to play the piano. He was a terrific baseball player--good 
enough to play professional baseball. He joined the Navy. He was, in 
every respect, an outstanding young man, just as he has been a 
distinguished public servant throughout his life.

[[Page S1893]]

  He has been widely respected here by his colleagues, elected to be 
chairman of the Republican conference, and most recently he has been 
chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which is as important as any 
position in this body.
  In an era where not everybody seems to think it is important to act 
like a gentleman, Thad Cochran is a gentleman, and we respect that and 
the example he has set.
  So he has been a pioneer for the Republican Party, he has been a good 
example for young people, and for all of us, really, in terms of what 
we should expect and try to emulate in public life, and, to me, he has 
been a great friend.
  So my wife Honey and I would like to say to him and to Kay, his wife, 
that we respect him, we look forward to the next chapter in his life, 
and we honor his service to this country.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. WICKER. Madam President, I, too, wish to join my colleagues in a 
tribute to our retiring statesman, Senator Thad Cochran.
  First of all, I have been asked by Phyllis J. Anderson, Tribal Chief 
of the Mississippi Band of Chocktaw Indians, to have printed in the 
Record a proclamation that was adopted only recently about Senator 
Cochran in appreciation for his 46 years of public service as a Member 
of the House and of the Senate, and I ask unanimous consent that the 
proclamation be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                  Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians


A TRIBAL PROCLAMATION IN RECOGNITION AND APPRECIATION OF THE HONORABLE 
                        THAD COCHRAN--March 2018

       WHEREAS, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians recognizes 
     and honors The Honorable Thad Cochran for his 46 years of 
     dedicated public service as a Member of the U.S. House of 
     Representatives and distinguished U.S. Senator representing 
     the State of Mississippi, including Choctaw citizens of our 
     great Tribe; and,
       WHEREAS, Senator Cochran has faithfully served, as both 
     Chairman and Member, on Committees important to Mississippi 
     and to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, including the 
     Committees on Appropriations, Indian Affairs, Agriculture, 
     Nutrition, and Forestry, Judiciary, Rules and Administration, 
     Ethics and the Labor and Human Resources; and,
       WHEREAS, Senator Cochran has achieved a wide-ranging 
     legislative record and valuable legacy that reflects the 
     needs of Mississippi, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw 
     Indians, and the nation.
       WHEREAS, Senator Cochran's work has helped to create jobs 
     and spur economic growth in Mississippi and has continuously 
     supported tribal sovereignty and self-determination which has 
     contributed to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians being 
     one of the largest employers in our State; and,
       WHEREAS, Senator Cochran's work has also promoted progress 
     in our nation's rural communities, including on our nation's 
     Indian reservations, through various programs for economic 
     and educational development teacher training, vocational 
     education, libraries, university-based research and 
     development, conservation of the environment and our 
     wetlands, forestry, health care and criminal justice; and,
       WHEREAS, Senator Cochran, who also served in the U.S. Navy, 
     has worked to protect the U.S. Armed Forces and our men and 
     women in uniform, as well the Navy's shipbuilding programs 
     and military bases and installations in Mississippi. Now, 
     therefore, be it
       RESOLVED, that I, Phyliss J. Anderson, by the authority 
     vested in me as Tribal Chief, do hereby honor the legacy of 
     the Honorable Thad Cochran and extend the sincere gratitude, 
     appreciation, and many blessings of the Mississippi Band of 
     Choctaw Indians to Senator Cochran upon his retirement after 
     five decades of public service in the U.S. Navy, U.S. House 
     of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

                                          Phyliss J. Anderson,

                                    Tribal Chief, Mississippi Band
                                               of Choctaw Indians.

  Mr. WICKER. Madam President, I would note that the last paragraph of 
this document says: ``Resolved, that I, Phyllis J. Anderson, by the 
authority vested in me as Tribal Chief, do hereby honor the legacy of 
the Honorable Thad Cochran and extend sincere gratitude, appreciation, 
and many blessings of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to 
Senator Cochran upon his retirement after five decades of public 
service in the U.S. Navy, U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. 
Senate.
  Signed by Phyllis J. Anderson, Tribal Chief.
  Back in December of 1937, Thad Cochran was born in the little town of 
Pontotoc, MS, population 1,832. He was born in the delivery room of the 
Rayburn Clinic. Some 13\1/2\ years later, I was born in the delivery 
room of the Rayburn Clinic in Pontotoc, MS.
  During the campaign, some years later in 1994, when I was first 
trying to be a Member of the House of Representatives, Senator Thad 
Cochran and I went around the northern part of the State and told many 
people that he and I were born not only in the same town and not only 
in the same clinic but born in the same room, the delivery room of the 
Rayburn Clinic. We thought that was the truth. As it turned out, we 
found out later from our moms, the Rayburn Clinic had moved down the 
street; so while we were both born in the delivery room of Rayburn 
Clinic, that clinic itself had moved. It just points out how long 
Senator Thad Cochran and I have been friends and how long our families 
have been friends and how well associated we have been down through the 
years.
  Senator Alexander mentioned that campaign in 1968, and then he 
mentioned that he was a candidate for Congress successfully in 1972. I 
was honored, as a college student, to go door-to-door for Senator 
Cochran during that 1972 campaign.
  Yesterday was National Poetry Day. Perhaps it is appropriate for me, 
today, to quote a couple of poets, the first being Henry Wadsworth 
Longfellow who said:

     Lives of great men all remind us
     We can make our lives sublime;
     And departing, leave behind us
     Footprints on the sands of time.

  As Thad Cochran departs the Senate in a few days, I think it is 
appropriate for us to reflect, as my friend from Tennessee and my 
friend from Texas have already done, and as others will do, about the 
great footprints Senator Thad Cochran will have left in the sands of 
time for our Nation.
  Because of Thad Cochran, our Nation's defense is stronger today.
  Because of the efforts of our colleague from Mississippi, my senior 
Senator, Americans are healthier today and will continue to be 
healthier.
  American agriculture is stronger today because of the efforts of this 
``quiet persuader'' in the field of agriculture; and our economy, as a 
whole, is stronger because of the many efforts of Senator Thad Cochran 
and before that, Representative Thad Cochran in the U.S. House.
  I am just very grateful. We are all grateful for all he has done.
  Senator Cochran acknowledged in his statement about his impending 
retirement that health had become an issue for him, and it was time to 
move on.
  I told reporters and I told Members who asked me--I said it is a 
bittersweet moment, it is a poignant moment for me to hear such things. 
These sorts of things happen, and we all face health issues at some 
point.
  Alfred Lord Tennyson, in his magnificent poem ``Ulysses,'' said:

     Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
     We are not now that strength which in old days
     Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
     One equal temper of heroic hearts,
     Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
     To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

  I say to my friend Thad that we appreciate the fact that he has been 
strong in will and, though time and fate have happened to Thad Cochran 
and will happen to me and to all of us, what abides is the legacy he 
has left of being a ``quiet persuader,'' of being a person of 
accomplishment, of being a gentleman who has made this country and its 
citizens better off, and I thank him.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, when I learned that our distinguished 
colleague from Mississippi would be retiring this month, I found it 
difficult to imagine the Senate without him.
  That is for good reason. Thad Cochran arrived here in 1978. Two 
hundred and fifty-four Senators have since followed in his footsteps. 
Of those currently serving, 97 of us are newer at this than Thad is, 
and every single one of us has been treated to a first-rate example of 
honorable service, a master class in the art of legislation, and living 
proof that unwavering principle

[[Page S1894]]

and unflappable collegiality can and should coexist.
  We all know Thad has a knack for making things look easy. So many 
graces and talents seem second nature to him, but appearances can be 
deceiving.
  Take the start of his political career. When we think about it, it is 
only natural that Senator Cochran liked to work on conservation issues. 
I expect his adventures as a Mississippi Republican in the early 1970s 
helped him understand just what it feels like to be an endangered 
species.
  In 1972, Thad was a rising-star attorney when he was asked to try and 
become just the second GOP Congressman from his State since 
Reconstruction. The possibility seemed so remote that when he asked 
Rose how she would like being married to a Congressman, she replied, 
``I don't know--which one?''
  Long odds, indeed.
  But true to form, Thad won in the end--and again and again--and then 
he became the first Republican Senator from Mississippi in a century.
  It is safe to say service is in Thad's DNA. Both his parents were 
devoted educators. His father, W.H., served as superintendent of a 
large, rural public school district. His mother Emma was a pioneering 
mathematics teacher who wrote new curricula.
  In Pontotoc, MS, their two boys grew up with a healthy appreciation 
for the power of good schooling.
  Thad graduated as high school valedictorian, then came a naval 
commission, and then law school, where he graduated at the top of his 
class, but no amount of success can take the kindness and courtesy out 
of this quintessentially southern gentleman. A deep respect for others 
is Thad's calling card.
  Just a few weeks after he arrived in Washington, he brought his staff 
together and he said:

       We're going to treat everyone the same. We're here to find 
     answers for everyone, even if they disagree with us. We're 
     here to serve the people of Mississippi.

  Even at a time when the wounds of segregation were still raw, he made 
it clear this meant all--all--Mississippians. In fact, he hired the 
first African-American congressional staffer to work in a Mississippi 
office since reconstruction--Nehemiah Flowers. And for all his staff, 
Thad took the time to pen a detailed memo laying out high expectations 
for serving constituents and treating everyone with dignity. That 
temperament led to a litany of accomplishments.

  Mississippians knew that in Thad they had a quiet persuader, a steady 
workhorse, and a dogged advocate who almost never made a fuss but 
almost always made a difference. Indeed, the policy achievements of 
this mighty Appropriations chairman are so numerous as to defy easy 
summary.
  I know this schoolteacher's son is particularly proud of his work on 
education. Senator Cochran carried the banner for research partnerships 
that raised the profile of historically Black colleges and 
universities. He delivered critical funding to expand scholarship 
access. He spearheaded the Delta Education Initiative. He inspired the 
Cochran Fellowship Program, which has changed the lives of more than 
17,000 agriculture professionals from around the world.
  It is no exaggeration to say that Thad Cochran's work has broadened 
the horizons of millions, but it didn't stop there. There were the 
landmark bipartisan bills, like the Cochran-Inouye National Missile 
Defense Act. There is his partnership with his dear friend, Senator 
Leahy, on the Farm to School Program. The list just keeps growing.
  When he first ran for the Senate in 1978, Thad's stump speech 
included a line that Mississippians deserved a Senator who would work 
full-time for them. They certainly got one. Thad didn't come to 
Washington to curry favor, win praise, or hog the limelight. When I say 
he preferred making a difference to making a fuss, I really mean it. 
This man served in the Senate for seven terms and only appeared on Meet 
the Press twice.
  No, Thad had other business to attend to. He spent his 39 years in 
this body working full-time for students and educators, full-time for 
farmers and ranchers, full-time to deliver funding for our brave 
servicemembers and our veterans who returned home.
  It is rare, even in the halls of Government, to meet someone as 
influential as Senator Thad Cochran. It is even rarer to meet someone 
as kind, as even tempered, and as concerned for the welfare of others. 
It is almost unheard of that this same man would be both. That is just 
who Thad is.
  He wrote the book on composure under pressure. He served as the 
careful custodian of billions of taxpayer dollars without losing an 
ounce of humility. On the Senate floor and in committee, he tackled 
heated debates and complicated legislative challenges with true servant 
leadership. On the tennis court, by all accounts, he offered his 
colleagues a different and altogether less hospitable sort of service. 
But true to form, I hear Thad always combined winning and graciousness. 
He has certainly had enough practice at both.
  From Pontotoc, MS, to the Senate floor, Thad Cochran's story has 
grown but it hasn't changed. It is a story about putting others first. 
It is about doing the right thing every step of the way. It is a story 
that will continue to teach and inspire those of us who now must carry 
on our work without him.
  I know that Thad's devoted staff are sorry to see him go. Their 
allegiance to him, famous throughout the Senate, is further testimony 
to his own principled professionalism. This is exemplified by nobody 
quite so well as Doris Wagley, Senator Cochran's personal secretary, 
who has served Thad ever since 1973, when he was first sworn in as a 
Congressman. She planned to take the job for just a year or so and then 
reassess--enough said. She, along with all of Senator Cochran's 
excellent staff, has our admiration and our gratitude.
  I would particularly like to thank two men who have led teams in 
service to Mississippi and Senator Cochran so well--Brad White, his 
chief of staff, and Bruce Evans, his longtime staff director on the 
Appropriations Committee. I am grateful for their hard work on behalf 
of the Senate. I know the early mornings and late nights were many, 
including just these last few weeks.
  Thad's friends know that retirement will allow him more happy times 
with his wife Kay, his beloved children, Clayton and Kate, and the 
three grandchildren he adores. He departs with our warmest wishes.
  We will miss our great persuader. We will miss our loyal friend. We 
stand with Mississippians and a grateful nation in honoring the service 
of Senator Thad Cochran.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I thank the distinguished majority leader 
and the distinguished other Senator from Mississippi for their 
comments.
  I have often thought that Thad Cochran and I would serve here 
together straight through whatever time we have in the Senate. Because 
he is such a dear friend, I have often felt that Senator Thad Cochran 
was plucked from a central casting to fill the role of a devoted public 
servant. More than most of us, he looks the part, but more than most of 
us, he embodies the best of what the Senate can be. Currently, in this 
body, I have served longer here than anybody else, but I have never 
felt closer to a Senator than I do to Thad Cochran, my dear friend.
  Our country needs more public servants like Thad. As Congress has 
become more partisan in recent years, Thad has stood by his values. He 
brings substance, not sound-bites, to the upper Chamber. His 
leadership, as has been described, as ``the quiet persuader'' is going 
to be missed.
  They talk about his being the son of a schoolteacher. So it is no 
shock that he devoted his life to public service. He joined the Navy 
after graduating from Ole Miss. He went on to earn a law degree from 
the University of Mississippi and then became engaged in Mississippi 
politics, often traveling with his father to help with voter 
registrations in campaigns around the State. He worked on campaigns 
from county sheriff to the Governor's race.
  Thad then went to the House in 1972--here to Washington, a couple 
years ahead of me--and then we became Senate partners in 1978.
  He and I both became chairmen of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, 
Nutrition, and Forestry. Today in the committee's hearings room, our 
official portraits hang together. It is easy to tell them apart. He is 
the one with the hair and better looking.

[[Page S1895]]

  Marcelle and I have joined Thad in Mississippi to visit sprawling 
cotton farms and fish farms, and twice Thad joined me in Vermont to 
visit small family dairy farmers. I even introduced him to my mother in 
Montpelier.
  Now, I have to make a confession here, and I hope this doesn't go out 
of this room. It was during one of those trips to Vermont--to St. 
Johnsbury, VT--in 1985 that I had extolled the beauty of Vermont in the 
wintertime. When we arrived, I think the southern gentleman was not 
ready for temperatures that dipped down to around 20 below zero. That 
is cold weather even by Vermont standards. This wonderful southern 
gentleman turned to me and he said: Pat, this is not Mississippi 
weather. Then, he made a few other suggestions of what I was trying to 
do to him, but we had a wonderful visit just the same. We stayed in 
what is called the Rabbit Inn, with fireplaces going. The next day at 
our meetings, I think Vermont was ready to elect Thad Cochran as its 
third Senator, because he was so impressive.
  We also traveled beyond Vermont and Mississippi. We met with leaders 
around the world. As senior Members of the Senate, we could go in a 
bipartisan way to see what they thought about the United States and to 
answer their questions. We and our wives became closer in these fact-
finding visits. No matter how long the trip was--and some were to the 
other side of the Earth--Thad, through his conversation and his 
friendship, made even the longest trip seem short.
  In our travels, one of the things I could always count on was that 
Thad would always check in on the Cochran fellows in whatever country 
we were in. Starting in 1984, the Cochran Fellowship Program has 
provided training for more than 17,500 people from 125 different 
countries to develop agricultural systems and to strengthen trade 
between our countries. The program also strengthens understanding 
between the United States and other countries.
  Thad is leaving a legacy that is tied to our Nation's agricultural 
development. When he was chair of the Agriculture Committee, he left 
his fingerprints on the farm bill, which are still there today. More 
recently, we championed the reauthorization of the Farm to School 
Program, which provides Federal resources to bring fresh and nutritious 
local food from local farmers to more than 40,000 schools across the 
country, including 83 percent of the schools in Vermont--what a legacy, 
as the son of a teacher and a great advocate for Mississippi farmers. 
Thad knows how important this program is to strengthening local farm 
economies and educating young kids and their families about the 
importance of eating locally grown and nutritionally dense food. This 
picture was taken as we were visiting a farm--obviously not when it was 
25 below zero. It was probably a warm summer day. So that is why we 
only have on light sweaters.
  Even though we are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum, 
Thad and I have crossed the aisle to work hand-in-hand for the American 
people--from our work in the Senate to our work for years as regents at 
the Smithsonian. In every bill and program on which we have worked, he 
has been a Senator with integrity, decency, civility, and, most 
importantly, a dear and cherished friend. Thad will always keep his 
word, and I tell that to the Senate because that is a quality that is 
becoming too rare sometimes in both parties. He is old school. Many of 
us would say the best school.
  When I became vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I 
knew I would have a steadfast partner in Senator Cochran. He has earned 
the moniker of ``the quiet persuader.'' He was also referred to by one 
of the members of the Appropriations Committee once--a moniker that 
should be appreciated--as a workhorse, not a show horse. That is why he 
has been so successful--the quiet persuader. Well, the quite persuader, 
when Hurricane Katrina struck, used his leadership to direct nearly 
$100 billion to communities on the gulf coast to rebuild.
  Thad will leave this Chamber having cast more than 13,000 votes and 
becoming the 10th longest serving Senator in the history of our 
country. A constant champion of Mississippi and the American people, I 
don't think many people truly understand how much Senator Cochran has 
accomplished for his State and his country.
  Marcelle and I count Thad and Kay among our dearest friends. His 
leadership on the Appropriations Committee in the Senate will be sorely 
missed. Our country needs more devoted public servants like Thad 
Cochran, and I am sad to see my dear friend leave. But I know his 
legacy is a presence that will be felt in this Chamber, in Mississippi, 
and across the country for generations to come. I will enjoy looking at 
the photographs of my dear friend taken in Vermont, Mississippi, and 
around the world. He is one of my heroes.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I, too, would like to start by thanking my 
good friend, Senator Thad Cochran, for the tireless dedication and 
public service he has brought forth here throughout some 40-something 
years--45 years.
  As has been said, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives 
over 45 years ago, and he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978. As 
all of us know, Thad was a practicing attorney in Jackson, MS, and a 
graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law. He also 
studied abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, where we visited 
one time.
  We have served together in the U.S. Senate for over 30 years. He has 
been an excellent colleague, and I have been honored to have worked 
with him. We represent neighboring States, Mississippi and Alabama, and 
we have both worked on some of the same priorities. But, mainly, he has 
served Mississippi with the utmost dignity and respect.
  He has an excellent staff. We are all grateful for their hard work, 
their help, and their coordination with all of us.
  As chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he has been a remarkable 
negotiator. As the majority leader will tell you--he is one himself--we 
need those traits at this point in time.
  Thad has provided critical funding for various Mississippi priorities 
over the years. He hasn't forgotten where he is from. Right here, with 
a lot of help, he led the restoration of the gulf coast after Hurricane 
Katrina. As I have understood them, his major priorities have always 
been the defense of this Nation; education, as Senator Leahy talked 
about; agriculture, where he served as the chairman of the Ag Committee 
for a long time; rural issues, not only in Mississippi but all over 
America. Thad also spent many years serving on the Rules Committee, 
where I now chair.
  I believe history will reflect Thad Cochran's long legacy of strong 
leadership, and I, myself, believe that he has made an extraordinary 
impact here in the U.S. Senate.
  Thad, as we all know, is very courteous, well-mannered, and has a 
low-key demeanor most of the time. He is quiet, he is patient, and he 
has built seniority through power and perseverance.
  Some people say that Thad Cochran is the last true southern 
gentleman, and I think there is a lot of truth to that. Some people say 
that he represents the lost art of being nice; we all need to work on 
that. He always has been and will be a hero both here and back home in 
Mississippi.
  Thad, I wish you and your wonderful wife, Kay, well. I think all of 
us should strive to continue on the wise path that you have paved for 
us here in the Senate.
  I believe we are all grateful for his service to Mississippi and our 
Nation. We wish him God's speed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I have known and admired Thad Cochran for 
40 years--since he first came to the Senate. At the time, I was a young 
staffer for Senator Bill Cohen, who also was elected to the Senate that 
same year.
  I saw from the start that this gentleman from Mississippi was so 
bright, insightful, and creative yet also humble, kind, and devoted to 
helping others. He treated everyone with such dignity. He was nice to 
everyone, from the elevator operators to the highest officials around 
the world. He truly is one who leads by example.
  Those qualities are his legacy, and I have seen them time and again 
as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee when Thad was an 
important member and, of course, when he became the chairman.

[[Page S1896]]

  Last year was the 150th anniversary of the creation of the 
Appropriations Committee, and Thad marked that occasion by reminding 
all of us of our great responsibility to make thoughtful and informed 
decisions in the allocation of public funds. In managing appropriations 
bills, he was always so inclusive, willing to incorporate ideas and 
priorities from everyone who could make a persuasive case. The fact is, 
Thad has always placed careful consideration and compromise above 
partisan politics. That really reflects how Thad has led his life.
  He has excelled at everything he has ever undertaken. When he joined 
the Boy Scouts, he became an Eagle Scout. In his high school, he was 
valedictorian. In college, he had the highest scholastic achievements. 
He excelled in serving in the Navy, and, of course, we know how much he 
has accomplished as our esteemed and dear colleague here in the Senate.
  When Thad served as chairman of the Appropriations Agriculture 
Subcommittee, he traveled to the State of Maine with me, and we met 
with Maine's potato farmers and blueberry growers--not exactly staple 
crops of Mississippi. Thad listened intently to these farmers and 
growers. It was clear that he cared about them and that he valued our 
family farms and our rural communities.
  That night, we had a lovely Maine lobster dinner at an inn on the 
coast. During that dinner, Thad shared with me his passion for good 
literature, his love of music, and his passion for education that had 
been instilled in him by his parents.
  Of course, another issue that brought Thad and me together was making 
sure that our naval fleet was strong. As a U.S. Navy veteran who served 
for a time in Boston, MA, Thad has always been a dedicated advocate for 
his shipyard in Mississippi, as I am for Bath Iron Works in the State 
of Maine. Thad has twice visited BIW with me to see the great work done 
there.
  In 2013, Thad received the Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award 
in recognition of his longstanding commitment to American sea power.
  Through four decades in the Senate, plus three terms in the House of 
Representatives, Thad has compiled an admirable legislative record on 
issues ranging from education to libraries, the arts, our national 
defense, scientific and biomedical research, conservation initiatives, 
and civil rights. But perhaps his greatest legacy is that he taught us 
how a Senator should act, and that legacy will live on forever.
  Thad, our Nation is so grateful for your service, and I, personally, 
am so appreciative of your friendship. I offer my best wishes to you 
and to Kay. You will be greatly missed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The minority leader.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I had the privilege to speak at some 
length about Thad in leader remarks, but I wanted to add one point. I 
know my colleagues are waiting.
  Another trait of Thad's, which has made him so successful, is that he 
has a long memory and knows how to work the legislative process. I 
remember, after the devastation of Katrina, Thad came over to me and 
talked to me about the need for so much, including a rail line that was 
somewhat controversial in the southern part of the State. He convinced 
me that it was desperately needed, and I voted for it.
  Well, the wheel always turns, and 6 years later, we were devastated 
by Sandy. We needed all the help we could get, and I went to Thad. I 
didn't have to say a thing. He said: I remember what you did for me. I 
am going to help you all the way with Sandy, and he did.
  This is just one of many great traits about this man and why he was 
so amazingly successful for the country and, most of all, for his 
beloved State of Mississippi. He made people want to help him and help 
his State, even though we don't have--as the Senator from Maine has 
said, our States are so different. We wanted to help each other, and we 
are bound by it.
  Thad, you are a great man and a great example to all of us on how to 
conduct ourselves. We will miss you here in the Senate but wish you 
God's speed in whatever else you do.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The President pro tempore.
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to a long-time 
friend, a revered public servant, and a true southern gentleman, 
Senator Thad Cochran.
  Thad Cochran will be retiring at the end of this month, bringing an 
end to more than 40 years of exemplary service to Mississippi and our 
Nation.
  Senator Cochran is a Mississippi man through and through. He was born 
in Pontotoc to a mother who was a school teacher and a father who was a 
principal. After graduating as valedictorian at his high school, Thad 
attended Ole Miss, where he earned both his bachelor's and juris doctor 
degrees. After serving in the Navy, he practiced private law in 
Mississippi for several years, but it wasn't long before he entered 
politics.
  After serving in the House of Representatives, Thad first came to the 
Senate in 1978, just 2 years after my own election. The truth is, I 
hardly know this place without him, and I can hardly imagine what 
things will be like when Thad is no longer sitting here.
  It is difficult to describe the special bond you share with someone 
who has been your close friend and partner here on the floor and 
colleague for more than four decades. Thad and I have been here through 
some of the most formative events in modern history, including the fall 
of the Soviet Union, the rise of American hegemony, the creation of the 
internet, and the coming of the digital age. As Members of this body, 
we have had the privilege not only to witness history but also to help 
shape it.
  Whether as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the 
Agriculture Committee, or the Appropriations Committee, Senator Cochran 
has spearheaded some of the most significant policy initiatives of the 
last several decades. With an equal mix of healthy persistence and pure 
southern charm, he quickly earned his reputation as the ``quiet 
persuader.'' I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I say he will 
be sorely missed.
  Thad Cochran is so much more than the senior Senator from 
Mississippi. He is so much more than the legislation he has passed and 
the titles he has held and the awards he has received. Thad Cochran is 
a fixture of American politics, a man synonymous with the Senate, who 
embodies in every way all that is right and good about this body--a 
commitment to comity, character, and respect.
  I think my colleague Senator Leahy put it best when he said that 
Senator Cochran represents the old school. He personifies a generation 
of lawmakers brought up on the principles of bipartisan and compromise, 
and I believe that these very virtues have been the keys to his success 
as a legislator.
  Even in recent years, as our politics grew ever more divisive, Thad 
reminded us that in the era of endless gridlock and perpetual 
polarization, there is no alternative to civility and healthy debate. 
Thad is always someone you could trust to put the good of others above 
self, someone you could count on to reach across the aisle even when 
the political risks were great. In so doing, Thad gave all of us a 
template for effective legislating, and he followed the model for 
decades for the betterment of Mississippi and the Nation.
  I consider myself lucky to know Thad and even luckier to call him 
friend. It is true that this body will not be the same without him, but 
I hope we can honor his service by recommitting ourselves to the 
virtues of civility and respect every day.
  Today, I want to thank my colleague from Mississippi for his example 
and his many years of friendship. I wish him and his family the very 
best.
  Thad, I want you to know that not only will we miss you, we will not 
get along as well without you. I think the world of you. It has been a 
pleasure for me to sit right by you on the floor for all of these 
years, and it has been a pleasure to learn from you. God bless you, and 
just know that a lot of us are pulling for you in every way.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, everybody doesn't just come up with the 
same description of someone they have worked with every day by 
accident. When we think about everything that has been said and 
everyone independently setting down what we remember about Senator 
Cochran, what we think about when we think about Senator

[[Page S1897]]

Cochran--he is a gentleman. He is a quiet persuader. He gets things 
done in a way that makes things that would otherwise seem hard for 
other people seem easy for him.
  The true, groundbreaking politician came to the Congress in 1972, but 
in 1978, he was the first Republican elected statewide in Mississippi 
in over 100 years.
  He gave evidence to that willingness to serve everybody in the 
direction he gave his staff. Nobody ever talks about Senator Cochran 
without talking about his staff. It doesn't take long into that 
conversation to talk about his staff. Just as Thad Cochran encouraged 
them to do on day one, they always tried to solve everybody's problem 
they worked for, no matter what that past relationship might have been 
or how they disagreed on other things.
  The first time I got a chance to work with Senator Cochran, I was the 
chief deputy whip in the House, and we were in a leadership meeting 
trying to bring some things to a conclusion. I think the majority 
leader in the Senate at the time was Thad's colleague from Mississippi. 
Trent Lott turned to Thad and me--I was the junior person at the table. 
My mom and dad were dairy farmers, and maybe that is why Senator Lott 
thought I would understand this. It was a dairy issue, as I recall, and 
he said: Why don't you and Senator Cochran work this out? I think it 
was something on milk marketing orders, which almost nobody understood. 
It was a problem that nobody thought they could solve. I had been here 
about 25 months, and Senator Cochran had been here 25 years, and what I 
got was the great gift of watching him work out that problem, and it 
got to the conclusion that, for whatever reason, everybody was happy 
with.
  His leadership, for States like Missouri and Mississippi with large 
rural populations--I think we have a bigger urban population than 
Mississippi, but we both have big rural populations. Whether it was 
agricultural issues or flood insurance or rural economic development, 
Thad Cochran was always there--at one time, not just as the chairman of 
the Agriculture Committee but also the chairman of the agriculture 
appropriating committee, and anybody who has worked around here very 
long knows it doesn't get much more powerful than that when it comes 
time to solve problems.
  There have been mentions of Hurricane Katrina and stepping up, along 
with Haley Barbour, the Governor of Mississippi, coming together, 
convincing the Congress of things that needed to be done, and a few 
things that got done in Mississippi that didn't get done anywhere else.
  I was presiding this morning when Senator Schumer spoke. He 
mentioned--he didn't mention it is his comments a few minutes ago, but 
he mentioned this morning--and this is an important view of both of 
them--he said that he remembered Thad saying one time: I don't call a 
lot of press conferences; I don't think it is part of my 
responsibility. Senator Schumer quickly pointed out that was not his 
view of press conferences, but it was Thad's view of press conferences 
or ``Meet the Press'' or anything else that didn't focus on his job of 
getting things done.
  The bill we will vote on today does things for members of the Active 
Armed Forces and veterans that we haven't done in a long time. It is a 
fitting conclusion to the service of Thad Cochran, who in 2013 received 
the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award. He was stationed in Boston 
for part of his service in the Navy, where nobody could understand what 
he said, but they wanted to do whatever it was that Thad Cochran wanted 
to do.
  I liked the term that Senator Shelby used, that Thad Cochran is one 
of the last practitioners of the lost art of being nice--the lost art 
of being nice.
  I talked to my 13-year-old son Charlie just this morning, and I said: 
You know, Charlie, it is actually easier to be thoughtful than to be 
thoughtless. So many of us don't mature much beyond the 13-year-old 
understanding of that. We would be better off to watch and learn from 
what Thad Cochran did so well while he served in this body.
  Thad and Kay will be missed in the daily Senate family, but they will 
always be an important part of the Senate family.
  It is an exciting time when you get to go home to Mississippi and 
don't immediately understand that you very quickly have to turn around 
and come back to Washington to do what Thad did so well for so long, 
representing the people he worked for, the people he loved. At least 
two generations of Mississippians don't remember when Thad Cochran 
wasn't their Senator, and only when this time in the Senate ends will 
people fully begin to realize how much he did, how much they appreciate 
what he did, and how much has happened because Thad Cochran was here.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.
  Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, it is an honor for me to come to the 
floor of the Senate and talk for a minute about my friend Thad Cochran. 
I know everybody has probably said everything that needs to be said; 
just everybody hasn't said it yet. Kind of in the vein of what Senator 
Blunt said, everybody says the same thing about Senator Cochran: He is 
gracious, smart, gentle, effective, and a great colleague.
  I want to tell my colleagues about Thad Cochran. When I came to the 
Senate 14 years ago, I had served in every legislative body I could be 
elected to where I live. I served in the Georgia House, the Georgia 
Senate, the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate--all representative legislative 
bodies. In each one of them, I got some advice.
  My first year in the Georgia House, 41 years ago, I got some very 
good advice. A good friend of mine said: Johnny, I will tell you what 
you do. The first year you are here, don't say a word. Just watch 
everybody talk. Watch what everybody else does. Look at people you 
would like to be like, and for the remainder of your career, be like 
that person, because in the end, this business is about relationships 
and effectiveness, not about bluster and bragging.
  I did pick out a guy; his name was Carl Harrison. Carl Harrison has 
since passed away, but he was one of the best friends I have ever had 
in life. I watched him in the Georgia Legislature, and I patterned 
myself after Carl Harrison, and the success I had was because I 
followed a great leader like him.
  When I got to the U.S. Senate, I knew I needed leadership. I knew I 
needed to find a book or something to tell me how to be a good Senator. 
I remembered Carl. I said: You know, I am going to sit in this body. I 
have 6 years in this term. Surely I can take a few months for the first 
year and kind of figure things out.
  So I started watching. I could see the characteristics and the 
quality of each and every individual in the Senate, and everybody 
offers unique gifts that they have given to this body. I kept watching 
Thad Cochran. He was respected. He always had time for you. He never 
let you know he had been here a lot longer than you ever thought about 
being here, maybe even longer than you had been born. He listened to 
you, and if you asked him a question, he gave you an answer.
  So I called my wife and I said: Sweetheart, when we come back to 
Washington next week, I want to take Thad Cochran to dinner because I 
have decided he is the guy I would like to be most like.
  I am not making this up; this is exactly what happened.
  So we went to Ocean Air. Thad, I don't know if you remember that 
night. It was pretty crowded. Thad is not a loud guy, but when Thad 
walks in a room, it gets a little bit quieter because everybody knows 
wisdom has arrived. My wife and I enjoyed that dinner that night, and 
we became great friends.
  We had a number of issues on which we engaged each other over the 
course of the years, and on all of them, I think we were on the same 
side--except catfish. I think I got it wrong on catfish, and I 
apologize for that, but I tried to redeem myself.
  The highest compliment I can pay is to say that I wanted to be just 
like Thad Cochran. So in the 13 years since that dinner at Ocean Air 
and in everything I have done and tried to do in the Senate, I have 
tried to be like Thad Cochran.
  Mark Twain once wrote: When confronted with a difficult decision, do 
what is right. You will surprise a few, but you will amaze the rest.
  When we have tough decisions to make, when somebody has to cut to the

[[Page S1898]]

chase and point you in the right direction to get the job done, it is 
Thad Cochran whom you want in your foxhole. He is the perfect example 
for me of a noble life and a noble leader.
  I have a favorite poem. It is in a book called ``Leaves of Gold'' 
from the Methodist Church. I think that poem applies to Thad Cochran 
better than any words I can say. The poem goes like this:

     I'd rather see a good person
     Than hear about one any day.
     I'd rather have a good person walk with me
     Than merely show the way.
     For my eyes are better pupils
     And more willing than my ear.
     And fine counsel is confusing
     But example is always clear.
     And the best of all the people
     Are the ones that live their creeds.
     For to see the good in action
     Is what everybody needs.
     While I'll be very glad to do it
     If you'll let me see it done;
     But I can watch your hands in action,
     But your tongue too fast may run.
     But the lectures you deliver
     May be very wise and very true;
     But I'd rather get my lecture
     By observing what you do.
     For I may misunderstand you
     And the high advice you give;
     But there's no misunderstanding
     The way you act and the way you live.

  Thad, you have blessed us all by the way you act, the way you live, 
and by the example you set. May God bless you and your family. I wish 
you the best. And may you always come back, because if you ever need 
me, I will be right here for you because you have always been there for 
me. God bless you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I wish to thank the Senator from Georgia for 
those comments, and I would like to associate myself with all of them. 
We should have saved it for the concluding speech, I think.
  I rise today to also honor a man who has spent the last 46 years 
faithfully serving the State of Mississippi in Congress.
  Thad, you are the longest currently serving Member of Congress, and 
we are going to miss your experience and your leadership. You have left 
a mark on Congress that won't soon be forgotten. You have served with 
great distinction and made a difference in the Senate. Your time in 
Washington began when the people of Mississippi voted to send you to 
the House of Representatives, and you represented their interests in 
that Chamber from 1972 to 1978. Then you ran for and won the noble 
Senate seat.
  Thad and I have found ourselves on two sides of the U.S. coin. He 
chairs the Appropriations Committee; I chair the Budget Committee. Even 
though he does the detail of spending the money and I work to set the 
parameters, I have always respected him and enjoyed working with him.
  Former Senators have spoken highly of Senator Cochran. In fact, in 
2007, while congratulating Thad on his 10,000th vote, our good friend, 
the late Senator Ted Kennedy, said:

       Thad and I don't always agree on policy matters--and more 
     often than not we find ourselves on opposite sides of the 
     issues--but those disagreements never diminished my respect 
     for his thoughtfulness and nor do they diminish the 
     friendship I feel toward him.

  I think that is a pretty common refrain for somebody who is quiet and 
effective and perseveres through everything.
  Thad is known to hold strong opinions, but that has never stopped him 
from developing a close working relationship with Members of both 
parties. Throughout his career, he has used his experience and mastery 
of the issues to persuade his colleagues, but he has done so privately 
rather than bashing in the media. This determined, yet respectful, 
approach to negotiations and his passion to find solutions to the 
problems and concerns of the people of Wyoming and America have led to 
his nickname, the ``quiet persuader.'' He has been a great mentor to 
me. Thad has had a remarkable career, and his leadership will be dearly 
missed. He has inspired future leaders from his State, and in that way 
and so many others he has made a difference.

  Diana joins me in sending our best wishes to you, to your wife Kay, 
and to the rest of your family, and our appreciation for your 
willingness to serve Mississippi and the Nation so faithfully and so 
long.
  There are countless sayings about how politics isn't for anyone but 
the brave and the resilient. I think your experience, especially this 
past year, has shown that there is no challenge too large for you to 
overcome, and clearly you specialize in making the world a better 
place--and that is a win-win for us all, especially our children and 
our grandchildren.
  I am sad to see you leave the Senate at the end of this month, but I 
wish you a well-deserved retirement and other adventures.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic whip.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I rise today, on this side of the aisle, 
to thank my friend Senator Cochran.
  Yesterday, I made a longer speech in the Congressional Record, but I 
didn't want this moment to go by without tributes from both sides of 
the aisle while you are personally present on the floor.
  My relationship with Senator Cochran was fortuitous. There used to be 
two giants in the Senate--Ted Stevens and Danny Inouye--and forever and 
ever they were the two, a Democrat and Republican--who were in charge 
of the Department of Defense Appropriations bill, and we bowed to their 
knowledge and wisdom. Then the day came when they were both gone, and 
the new people stepping in were Thad Cochran and Dick Durbin.
  I felt totally undeserving to be given that responsibility, and 
certainly could never follow the act of Danny Inouye, as great as he 
was in serving our country, both in the military and the U.S. Senate, 
and Thad had the responsibility of following Ted Stevens as the Defense 
Committee chair.
  While we both knew we were being held to high standards as people 
compared us, as they inevitably would, the thing we decided to do from 
the beginning was to do it together--to learn on the job and to work 
together. It really hearkens back to a Senate that I remember--and I am 
sure Senator Shelby and others remember--when we first got here, when 
the Appropriations Committee assignments were really bipartisan 
assignments, start to finish.
  My work on the Defense Subcommittee with Thad Cochran was bipartisan 
from the start. It always was. There was mutual respect. If I ever had 
an issue, I could go to him. He knew the same thing was true, if there 
was an issue related to his concerns or the State of Mississippi, he 
could come to me. We never ever set out to trouble or embarrass one 
another publicly. We tried to always have a good, positive working 
relationship. The very few disagreements we had were behind closed 
doors and usually resolved behind closed doors. It really was the 
Senate I was elected to and the one I miss today. We need more of it.
  Thad Cochran, you made it easy when you were chairman of the Defense 
Committee for this ranking Democrat to be an active partner of yours in 
doing some important things. I think we accepted our responsibility and 
did our level best; I think our American national defense is stronger 
today because of it; and I am lucky because I had a good friend, good 
mentor, and good colleague by my side.
  I wish you the very best. If you want a longer version of this 
speech, it was given in the Record yesterday, so you could take it home 
and read it, if you would like.
  I thank you again for being such a great Senator, a great 
representative of your State of Mississippi, and a great colleague when 
it came to our appropriations work.
  Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                         FAREWELL TO THE SENATE

  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I appreciate the opportunity to express 
my deep gratitude for the honor given to me by the people of 
Mississippi to represent them in Washington.
  I leave the Senate with confidence that our enduring Constitution 
guards our country from human error, empowers our citizens to achieve 
greatness, and shines as a beacon of freedom and liberty for the world.

[[Page S1899]]

  I am optimistic about the future of our great Nation and in the U.S. 
Senate's role in determining that future.
  While in Congress, I have served with nine Presidents during times of 
conflict and peace. We have debated policies from trade to taxes to 
terrorism. We have engaged in heated arguments. But even in full 
disagreement, I believe all our motivations begin at the same point: 
the sincere desire to serve our States and country.
  No one remains in the House or Senate who was here when I first took 
office in January 1973, but I am particularly thankful for the 
friendship and leadership of the senior Senator from Vermont, Mr. 
Leahy. He and I have fought side by side with each other and sometimes 
face to face against each other, always with friendship and respect.
  I am also grateful to have served with honorable Senators from my 
State. My colleague, Senator Wicker, has been a friend and a strong and 
effective advocate for our State. We have worked together not only in 
the Senate, but also when he served as a U.S. Representative. Former 
Majority Leader Trent Lott continues to be a voice in our national 
conversation. And the late John C. Stennis provided a witness to 
integrity when I first joined this body. His signature is above my 
signature at this desk.
  It is a tradition in the Senate, like schoolchildren used to do, to 
sign the drawers of our desks. Senator Stennis signed this desk drawer. 
He noted the beginning of his service in 1947 and added a dash. He 
never filled in the date signifying the end of his Senate service in 
1989. Perhaps there is symbolism there, that our service does not end 
when we depart this Chamber.
  I have been honored by this body to serve as chairman both of the 
Appropriations and Agriculture Committees. I am thankful to my 
colleagues, past and present, and to the committee staff for assisting 
in crafting responsible funding priorities for our country and for 
developing strategic agriculture policy to ensure the best use of our 
natural resources to provide affordable and healthy food for our 
citizens and people around the world.
  I thank my talented and dedicated staff, many of whom have worked for 
many years in service to our country. All of us in this body know we 
could not achieve our priorities without exceptional staff. I have 
staff members who have served the Senate since my first term. I have 
one staff member, Doris Wagley, who was already in the office working 
the very first day I showed up for work in the House of Representatives 
in 1973. Whether they have been here for 45 years or a shorter tenure, 
I am grateful for their good assistance.
  I ran my first Senate reelection campaign in 1984, largely on 
constituent service. I will always be proud of my State staff for their 
work on behalf of Mississippians. State staff help us keep our promises 
to our veterans, find opportunities for small businesses, ensure the 
elderly or infirmed receive care, and cut through bureaucracy. I am 
sure members of your State staffs, like my staff, have hearts for their 
fellow citizens, regardless of their political affiliation.
  All our citizens have the right to be heard and to have a voice in 
their government. I believe our job as their servants is not to tell 
others what to think or tell others what to do. Our job is to represent 
them. I have endeavored to do that the best way I possibly could; and 
now the time has come for me to pass the power granted by the people of 
Mississippi, the power of service, to someone else.
  When John Sharp Williams of Mississippi left the Senate, he delivered 
a farewell speech at a dinner organized by the Mississippi Society of 
Washington. It is sometimes called the ``Mockingbird Speech.'' While I 
do not share some of the cynicism of that speech, there are sentiments 
I can appreciate. Here is an excerpt of that speech given March 3, 
1923:

       I am going back to Yazoo City and to my old home on a rural 
     free-delivery route. I want to get up again each morning as I 
     hear the rooster's crow . . . and as night and the time for 
     bed approaches, I will listen to the greatest chorus of 
     voices that man ever heard, music that will charm me and make 
     me ready for repose, the voices of my mockingbirds trilling 
     in the trees. And in that way I want to live the rest of my 
     life, and when the end comes, I hope to be carried out of the 
     house by my neighbors and laid to rest among my people. Now, 
     some may say that is not a very wonderful future, all of this 
     I have mapped out for myself, but I say there is merit in 
     calm retirement . . . Perhaps it is a sign that I ought to 
     retire, for retirement brings repose, and repose allows a 
     kindly judgment of all things.

  I will now return to my beloved Mississippi and my family and friends 
there. I will miss this stately Chamber and this city. I will not miss 
this power or politics. I will miss people: you, my colleagues. I will 
treasure your courtesy and kindness. I trust, if your travels bring you 
to Oxford, MS, you will not hesitate to visit and join me for a 
refreshment on the porch. We can listen to the mockingbirds together.
  Thank you.
  Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sasse). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                        Tribute to Thad Cochran

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I wish to add my words to what we saw on 
the Senate floor here a couple of minutes ago. I had the honor of 
presiding over much of the ceremony recognizing Senator Thad Cochran's 
incredible service to Mississippi and to America. You heard a lot. It 
was really remarkable--45 years in the Congress and four decades as a 
U.S. Senator. I think Senator Leahy, from Vermont, said it best when he 
talked about Thad Cochran's integrity--a man who will always keep his 
word.
  As Alaska's Senator, I also want to mention what a great friend he 
was to our State and to our Senators. Senator Cochran was very close to 
Senator Ted Stevens--the late Senator Ted Stevens--and to Frank 
Murkowski. He really supported our State--my State--and I want to thank 
him for that.
  He has this great nickname that I think was given to him in 2006, 
when Time Magazine said he was one of the best U.S. Senators and called 
him the ``quiet persuader.'' You heard that term a lot just a few 
minutes ago. In that article, they said that he had gained the trust of 
the administration and on Capitol Hill for his quiet, courtly manner, 
using his experience and mastery of the issues to persuade his 
colleagues privately rather than making demands of them in public.
  It is a great example we can all learn from. I was proud to have been 
able to serve and learn from Thad Cochran for the last 3 years.


                        Tribute to Carlos Gomez

  Mr. President, one of the things I enjoy doing in my duties in the 
Senate is to come down each week to recognize somebody special in my 
State--somebody who has made a difference for their community, somebody 
who might not get the attention that people get in the press or in 
other areas but someone who has really made an impact. I like to call 
that person our Alaskan of the Week.
  Right now what has been happening in Alaska is a very special time. 
Our State, in many ways, is shrouded with myth and mystique. We 
certainly have, I believe, the most beautiful State in the country. 
There is a lot of excitement that happens, a lot of special things. 
Just last week, we had 60 mushers who were being pulled by dog teams, 
dozens of dogs--these great athletes, as we call them--nearly 1,000 
miles through some of the harshest landscapes and some of the harshest 
climates. We just finished the Iditarod, the last great race. We want 
to encourage people watching on TV and people in the Galleries to come 
on up to Alaska. You will love it. It will be the trip of a lifetime. 
Come see the Iditarod next year, the last great race. We just finished 
that.
  It is a great time to be in Alaska. It is still winter, of course. It 
is time to ski and for snow machines. It is still cold, and there is 
lots of snow, but the sun is now coming out high in the sky. Of course, 
in Alaska, there is hockey. We love hockey. We all know it is a tough 
and competitive sport, but it certainly fits into the ethos of my 
State. All across the State, kids and adults play hockey--boys, girls, 
men, and women, in indoor and outdoor rinks, ponds, and lakes--and 
skate up and take to the ice.

[[Page S1900]]

  However, as many parents who are involved in hockey know, gear can be 
very expensive. Actually, hockey can be very expensive. Many kids and 
adults can miss out on this great, great sport--a great sport in my 
State--because of the cost.
  I would like to introduce you to Anchorage resident Carlos Gomez, who 
is our Alaskan of the Week. He has dedicated an extraordinary amount of 
his time and his life to try to make sure that all kids in my State--
boys and girls from all walks of life--get to play hockey, like so many 
others do in Alaska, no matter if they can afford it or not.
  Let me tell you about Mr. Carlos Gomez, because he is not one to brag 
about himself. Like most Alaskans of the Week, he is an unsung hero, 
doing so much for the community. His impact on hockey--particularly, 
for the youth of Alaska--is remarkable. In many ways, his story is 
truly a classic story of the American dream.
  Carlos was born in California. When he was 10, he and his brother 
went to live with an aunt in San Diego. His wife Dalia was born in 
Colombia and then moved to Alaska, also with an aunt, when she was just 
7 years old. Carlos received a scholarship from the University of 
California San Diego but had to drop out and cut his studies short 
because the strain of both going to school and providing for his family 
and contributing enough for his family was very difficult.
  He ended up in Alaska in 1972 to work as an ironworker, where he 
helped to build our State. He built the Alaska pipeline during that 
time. It was a huge and exciting time in the State. He met his wife 
Dalia, as I mentioned, and they settled down in a modest home in 
Airport Heights, AK, and began to raise a family.
  They had three wonderful kids. His daughters are Monica and Natalie, 
and his son is Scott. All of them are great, bright kids. One of them, 
Scott, who we in Alaska simply call Scotty--and I will get to that--had 
amazing athletic talents. When Scotty was just 4 years old, Carlos took 
him to his first hockey game. Scotty wanted to try it himself. Soon the 
young boy was hooked and wanted to play hockey as often as he could, 
and he was good. The problem was that although they weren't poor as a 
family, they didn't have the extra money for all the equipment and the 
expense that hockey requires. The Anchorage Boys & Girls Club had a 
program that loaned out hockey equipment and hockey gear. They helped 
to utilize that. As Scotty grew, he needed more equipment, and he 
stayed focused on hockey. Soon Carlos, our Alaskan of the Week, became 
so involved in youth hockey and had such a heart for the youth who 
wanted to play hockey in Alaska but had difficulty affording it that he 
became this master fundraiser throughout Alaska for the sport, not only 
for his son but for all the kids in the community who wanted to play 
hockey across the city.
  Fast forward to 1998, and Scotty, his son, a 4-year-old playing 
hockey on ponds in Anchorage, is selected by the New Jersey Devils as 
their first-round draft choice--the first Latino ever drafted to be in 
the first round of the NHL draft. Scotty went on to become an all-star, 
Stanley Cup winner and a recipient of the Calder Memorial Trophy as the 
league's rookie of the year--all in his first NHL season. That is not 
bad for a little kid from Anchorage--all before he turned 21. He went 
on to win another Stanley Cup and later played for the New York 
Rangers, the Montreal Canadiens, the San Jose Sharks, the Florida 
Panthers, and the St. Louis Blues. He even chose to return home to 
Anchorage during the NHL lockout to play briefly for our very own 
Alaska Aces.
  As you can imagine, Scotty is quite popular and well-known in 
Anchorage. He is admired by so many, and his father is as well. He 
could have stopped championing, as he has done for so many years, the 
sport of hockey at any point along the way, but what he did was that he 
kept doing this. He kept working. He kept encouraging young kids in 
Alaska to get on the ice to achieve their goals, just like his son 
did. So Carlos, Scotty, and the rest of the family set up the Scotty 
Gomez Foundation, which is devoted to that cause, and Carlos Gomez is 
still running it today. There are more kids like Scotty out there, 
Carlos said, and ``we're going to give that kid an opportunity,'' like 
my son had.

  The foundation has done so much for youth hockey in Alaska. Thousands 
of kids across the State have access to gear and the ability to play 
this great sport that they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. Around 
Anchorage's rinks, you will find the dark blue and gold gear--just like 
our Alaska flag--with a ram. It is the Gomez ram, and it helps kids, no 
matter their backgrounds or experience, get on the ice and play this 
great sport.
  The foundation has put money into rehabbing rinks, like the one in 
East Anchorage, which is the neighborhood outdoor rink where Scotty 
learned to play hockey. When the Anchorage School District dropped the 
girls' high school hockey in the spring of 2013, the Scotty Gomez 
Foundation, under Carlos's leadership, stepped up, picked up the sport 
for 3 years, and redeveloped it into cooperatives across Anchorage's 
eight public high schools. Girls' hockey in Anchorage is alive today 
because of Carlos Gomez and his family. Also, in his never forgetting 
the generosity given to Scotty in his start in hockey, the foundation 
sponsors youth hockey events and grants for the Boys & Girls Club of 
Anchorage. That is really giving back to the community.
  One of the Scotty Gomez Foundation's biggest events every year is the 
Last Frontier Pond Hockey Classic, which is organized by Carlos and his 
partner, Mike Davenport, in Big Lake. The event took place just two 
weekends ago, and it was quite an event. More than 600 hockey players 
showed up--kids, lawyers, doctors, slope workers, former pro and 
college players--men and women. Counting everybody, more than 1,000 
people, from all walks of life, went to the event to raise money for 
youth hockey in Alaska.
  It is amazing what one family can do to touch so many, led by Mr. 
Carlos Gomez. As Scotty said, ``It was my father's dream to give back. 
This is all him. He always just wants to help others.''
  If you are a kid in Alaska who wants to play hockey, Carlos Gomez 
will egg you on and make sure nothing, especially the cost of 
equipment, will stop you.
  Scotty said:

       When I was growing up, he was like a father to all of the 
     neighborhood kids who needed one. My dad's a true hero.

  I thank Mr. Carlos Gomez for all he has done for Alaska's youth and 
youth hockey throughout our great State. We are honored to call him our 
Alaskan of the Week.
  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. BROWN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                          March For Our Lives

  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, this weekend, Americans around the country 
and at, at least, a dozen places in my State of Ohio will hold peaceful 
marches in their communities to demand that we in this body--the people 
who represent them--actually do something to protect them from gun 
violence, not just state that my thoughts and prayers are with the 
victims and the families but to actually do something.
  That sort of activism is so important to our democracy. Change never 
starts in Washington. We make progress because of the grassroots 
movements of Americans across our country who demand action. For too 
long, Congress has ignored millions of Americans who want reasonable 
gun safety measures. Instead, this Congress continues to do the bidding 
of the gun lobbyists.
  We already see activism making a difference. It is a minor step, but 
this week, in the bipartisan budget deal, we will vote to loosen 
government regulations that severely limit research on gun safety. It 
is an important first step, but we have a long way to go. We can't say 
we are doing what it takes to keep our country safe until we are 
finally willing to pass commonsense laws that protect all Americans 
from gun violence. Many of us have tried.
  I supported the original Federal assault weapons ban in 1994 during 
my first term in Congress. I joined with many of my colleagues to vote 
to

[[Page S1901]]

renew it after the shooting at Sandy Hook. Weapons of war don't belong 
on our streets or in our classrooms.
  We have tried to pass legislation to close loopholes in our 
background check system so the people who buy guns on the internet or 
at gun shows have to go through the same background checks as law-
abiding gun owners who buy their guns at stores in Ohio.
  After the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, we tried to pass 
legislation to prevent people on the terrorist watch list from buying 
guns. People can't believe the law in this country; that if you are on 
the government's terrorist watch list, you can't go to the Cleveland 
Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, to the John Glenn Columbus 
International Airport in Columbus, or to the Ronald Reagan Washington 
National Airport in Washington and get on an airplane, which is the 
right thing, but that you can go out and buy a gun.
  We know what happened each and every time. The gun lobby stood in the 
way. It stands in the way, despite the fact that the laws we are 
talking about will not undermine the rules and rights of law-abiding 
gun owners. I have always respected the rights of hunters and 
collectors and other law-abiding gun owners. No one is trying to take 
away their guns. Yet, when our students aren't safe in school, it is 
clear something has to be done. We will not give up on making our 
country safer. We will keep fighting until we get weapons of war out of 
our schools and off our streets.
  Creating change in our country is not easy. It requires often going 
up against powerful special interests. It is how things happen in this 
country. It is how women got the right to vote. It is how we passed 
civil rights. It is how we passed workers' compensation. It is how we 
passed Medicare. It is how we got Social Security. People banded 
together--activists--around the country. They pushed their country and 
pushed their government at the State level, at the county level, at the 
courthouse, at the Capitol in Washington. They stood against powerful 
special interests and won on behalf of the public. From the Women's 
March to airport rallies, to the activism around the Affordable Care 
Act, last year, Americans proved over and over the power of activism.
  The people I will be with on Saturday--my daughters, my wife, and 
probably three of our grandchildren--will join hundreds of thousands 
all over this country in fighting for these issues. The people who will 
be marching on Saturday are the ones we were elected to serve. We were 
not elected to serve special interest gun lobbyists. These activists 
give me hope for the future. I hope my colleagues in this body will 
listen to the activists, not to the lobbyists.
  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. SASSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.


             Unanimous Consent Request--Executive Calendar

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to executive session for the consideration of the following 
nomination: Executive Calendar No. 619, the nomination of Richard 
Grenell to be Ambassador to Germany. I ask unanimous consent that the 
Senate vote on the nomination with no intervening action or debate; 
that if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid 
upon the table; that the President be immediately notified of the 
Senate's action; that no further motions be in order; and that any 
statements relating to the nomination be printed in the Record.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I cannot 
in good faith support a nominee who has a lengthy track record of 
tweets attacking both prominent Democratic women and prominent 
Republican women. Since his nomination, these tweets have continued, 
showing a complete disregard for the Senate confirmation process and a 
disregard for the seriousness of the position for which he has been 
nominated.
  At the same time, Mr. Grenell has been dismissive of the importance 
of the threat Russia poses to U.S. democracy, and we certainly need to 
have U.S. Ambassadors who can work with our European allies and 
partners, now more than ever, to reinforce the strength of the 
institutions we have built to protect the rule of law and democracy and 
to defend our western democracies against Russian interference.
  So with that, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                              Gun Violence

  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to talk about an 
issue we have talked about a lot in Washington but frankly haven't done 
enough about, and that is gun violence. In the next number of hours--
certainly all day Saturday--we are going have demonstrations across the 
country. Young people will be going into local communities, as well as 
coming to Washington, to march on behalf of those whose lives have been 
lost and to urge us to take action. The exact name of the effort being 
undertaken is March for Our Lives. We have never seen on this issue--
and maybe any other issue--this kind of intense activism that young 
people have undertaken across the country.
  This march on Saturday, March for Our Lives, will be unprecedented in 
recent American history. I am going to be in the city of Philadelphia, 
and I know some people will be marching in Washington, as well as in 
communities across the country.
  The focus of the work of young people across the country--starting 
with the students in Parkland, FL, but growing all across the country 
in these many weeks--will be taking action, demanding that the U.S. 
Senate, the U.S. House, and any other legislative body that can have an 
impact on this should take action. That is what they are demanding. I 
think there are a number of folks in Washington who have wanted to take 
action for years.
  I hope, in response to that activism, in response to those marches, 
when we come back after our break--and I hope days and weeks after 
that--that there will be a response here in the Senate and that we will 
debate the issue or debate one amendment or one bill and then vote on 
it, and then take the next bill and vote on that, and keep going until 
we have a number of votes. It doesn't mean that we can be certain of 
the outcome. In my judgment, the reason to have a vote is to make sure 
that the American people see us debating this issue and voting on it.
  Otherwise, to take no action, to simply say that there is nothing we 
can do about a uniquely American problem--the other option of course is 
to surrender, to say that gun violence is just part of American life, 
we have to get used to it, there is nothing we can do about it, and 
surrender to the problem. I think most Americans don't want to keep 
reading that number of deaths that pile up every year. At last count, 
there were 33,000 gun deaths in 1 year. I don't think many Americans 
want to settle for that. That is not the America I know. That is not 
the America most people know.

  In America, we take action on tough issues. We tackle them or try to 
tackle them. We don't surrender to the problem. We don't surrender to 
one political point of view and say that paralysis leads to no 
solution. That is not American.
  Back in December of 2012, when Sandy Hook Elementary School was the 
scene of the kind of horror and carnage that we have rarely seen in 
American history, there also was that predisposition to just move on 
and do nothing, to say there is nothing we can do. I was confronted 
with those questions that same weekend because I knew, in the months 
ahead, there would be a series of votes. There turned out to be a vote 
on background checks, a vote on the limitation of high-capacity 
magazines--in essence, how many

[[Page S1902]]

bullets can an individual shoot at any one time. That is the reason for 
the mass casualties. That is the reason we have so many people who die 
in school shootings or in movie theaters or in nightclubs or in so many 
other settings, and, most recently, in yet another school. The third 
vote, of course, was a vote to ban military-style assault weapons.
  Knowing I would be facing those votes, which turned out to be in the 
early part of 2013, I had to ask myself a basic question, and I think 
this is a question a lot of Americans are asking at times like this: Is 
there nothing the most powerful country in the world, the most powerful 
country in the history of the human race, could do to at least reduce 
the likelihood that we will not have more mass shootings, we will not 
have more school shootings, we will not go year after year, after 
33,000 people lost their lives from gunshot wounds--a number that is 
likely to grow if we don't take action. That is the choice: Do almost 
nothing, nothing itself, or take action. That is the fundamental choice 
we face. That is why we need votes and debates preceding those votes.
  It is hard to comprehend that it has been half a decade--5 years--
since we had a sustained debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate on gun 
violence. We have had intermittent debates. We have had limited 
discussions. We have had some speeches. I guess all of that is helpful, 
but we have had no sustained debate on one of the major issues facing 
the American people.
  They don't expect us to solve this problem in a couple of days or 
weeks, but they do expect us to vote, and they expect us to debate. 
After 5 years, it is about time we had a sustained debate.
  Many of us receive letters on a range of issues, depending on what 
the issue of the week is or the issue of the month is. I recently 
received mail in a form we don't see enough of anymore--postcards. 
These were written by students and individuals too young to even be 
referred to as students. Here is one that is only age 5. His name is 
Corey. He said in his note to me that he doesn't want to have guns in 
his school, and he wants me to do something about it. It goes on from 
there in the short note, and he attached some artwork in the back. That 
is what Corey said; he doesn't want to have guns in school.
  Then there is Mason, who wrote to me and said:

       I want to feel safe in school. There should not be guns in 
     my school.

  He goes on to talk about what he is worried about. He said: ``I want 
to feel safe in school.''
  Then, finally, probably the one who summed up these issues the best 
was a young man by the name of Hayden. He wrote to me and said:

       I am a 5th grader and I don't feel safe because it is too 
     easy to get a gun permit. I should not know about this stuff. 
     I don't feel safe.

  Then he ended with this question: ``Am I worth it?'' Then Hayden 
asked again: ``Am I worth it?'' He asked that twice in a postcard where 
he is just writing a few sentences. Then he put a heart on the other 
side. In a few sentences, Hayden is summing up the challenge we face in 
the Senate and across the country. He said twice in the same letter: 
``I do not feel safe. . . . I don't feel safe''--something probably 
most people my age or in my generation, so to speak, never had to worry 
about.
  We didn't think of going to school and being threatened by gun 
violence. There might have been anxiety in school, there might have 
been things we were worried about, but this wasn't one of them. This is 
new, and this was a uniquely American problem. No other country in the 
world faces this kind of a problem.
  We have to ask ourselves if a young person in fifth grade doesn't 
feel safe because of these mass shootings, and mass shootings in 
school, and then asks us, ``Am I worth it,'' every one of us in both 
parties should say: Of course, you are worth it, Hayden. Hayden is 
worth the effort to try to keep him safe in school.
  If the answer to that question is yes, that he is worth us doing 
something about it, then you have to ask the question, What am I going 
to do about it? Are we just going to do what we usually do around here, 
just don't vote, don't have any sustained debate, and pretend it is not 
happening because there are forces out there that have a stranglehold 
on the process that say: You are not even allowed to vote, let alone 
debate and pass a bill.
  There are forces out there that don't even want us to debate the 
issue, but I think we can do more to respond to Hayden's request and, 
of course, respond to what young people across the country are 
demanding.
  You have young people who are not old enough to vote yet--and I am 
not just talking about Hayden and his postcard but all those young 
people who are coming to Washington and going to town squares in small 
towns and big cities to march for their lives. Many of them are not 18 
years old yet. They can't vote, and they are leading the country, 
suggesting to us how to vote, demanding that we take action. It is 
rather ironic that this problem has gotten so bad that young people who 
still cannot cast a vote are asking us to do our jobs and to vote.
  It is not difficult to vote in the U.S. Senate. Usually, you just 
have to be standing and put your hand up or thumb up or some indication 
to the individuals in the Senate who record those votes. It is not that 
difficult. It doesn't require a lot of exertion. It doesn't require a 
lot of energy. You just have to be on the floor, be standing, and say 
yes or no. If someone wants to vote against all these gun measures, if 
they want to vote against background checks and limitation on the high-
capacity magazines and still let what we have in American law now, 
which is a terrorist can get a gun in America--if you want to continue 
that, fine. That is your choice. That is your choice, but at least 
vote. At least have the sense of responsibility to vote on a tough 
issue.
  We will have an opportunity to answer the postcard and answer the 
question Hayden asked--is he worth it? I think he is, and I think we 
ought to vote.


               Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

  Mr. President, I will be brief. I just want to note one of the 
recognitions of this month. I want to take a moment and remind everyone 
that March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
  In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 
that 14 percent of children in the United States have a developmental 
disability; that is, almost 10 million children. Developmental 
disabilities include autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, learning 
disabilities, and many other congenital disabilities.
  In the past, we took a rather paternalistic point of view with regard 
to people with developmental disabilities--taking care of them but not 
raising them up and fostering their skills and abilities. This was 
shortsighted on our part.
  Today, with the help of such laws as the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Act--we heard a lot about that referred to by 
its acronym, IDEA--the Americans with Disabilities Act, so-called ADA, 
and then my legislation from a couple of years ago, the ABLE Act, each 
of these pieces of legislation are breaking down barriers to encourage 
and support people with developmental and all types of disabilities.
  People with developmental disabilities contribute numerous benefits 
to our society. In Pennsylvania, thousands of people with developmental 
disabilities are working in competitive, integrated jobs at such places 
as SAP, FedEx Ground, PNC Bank, Giant Eagle grocery stores, and many 
small businesses throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  People with developmental disabilities make our lives richer and 
fuller. As we celebrate them, I pledge--I know this is a pledge many in 
the Senate make--to protect their rights and the rights of all people 
with disabilities to have equal access to all of our society.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.


                              Nominations

  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, earlier this week, the Senate voted to 
confirm Kevin McAleenan to be the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and 
Border Protection. This is a national security job. It is the person in 
charge of making sure America has secure borders. He was approved 
unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee that voted on it before it 
came to the floor.

[[Page S1903]]

  In spite of that unanimous vote, the Democrats in this body still 
delayed this nominee from taking office for as long as they could. They 
forced the majority to file cloture on it. We had the vote last week, 
then we had to wait to do it, spend the time, and in the end, 30 
Democrats--the Democrats who demanded we hold a cloture vote, delay the 
vote--voted in favor of his confirmation. This had nothing to do with 
his qualifications for the office. They just wanted to delay and 
obstruct. That is what we are dealing with here.
  Forcing a cloture vote on a noncontroversial executive nominee used 
to be extremely rare--hardly ever happened. There were 15 people 
confirmed after a cloture vote at this point for the previous four 
Presidents combined. So if you take a look at the previous four 
Presidents--Obama, Clinton, both Bushes--a total of 15 votes were 
taken, requiring cloture in each of those Presidencies, total.
  What about President Trump? Fifty people--50, 5-0--have been 
confirmed only after deliberate delay by the Democrats, forcing us to 
waste time on cloture votes. That doesn't even count people who were 
nominated to be judges. We are just talking about Presidential 
appointments in the executive branch. This delay is unproductive, and 
it is unprecedented.
  Democrats are insisting on cloture votes because there is a Senate 
rule that allows for up to 30 hours of debate on Presidential nominees 
after we have had that vote. In reality, very little of this time is 
actually spent on debating the nominees or their credentials to serve 
in the office for which they have been nominated.
  It is a pattern of ongoing obstruction the Democrats have been 
following since the very first day of the Trump administration. That is 
right. Since the very first day, Inauguration Day last year, 
Republicans wanted to vote on Mike Pompeo's nomination to be head of 
the Central Intelligence Agency, an important key position in any 
President's Cabinet, but we already had the debate in the Foreign 
Relations Committee. We could have had a debate on the floor that 
evening, but no. A small number of Democrats blocked it and forced us 
to have first a cloture vote and delay moving forward, delaying the 
process from day one--Inauguration Day--of the administration.

  How much of the 30 hours did the Democrats actually spend debating 
this person's qualifications to be head of the CIA? Less than 2 hours. 
They wasted 30 hours of the whole time; only 2 hours was used in 
debate. That is how long the Democrats spent on this floor giving their 
reasons why they wanted to vote against the nominee. It had nothing to 
do with Mr. Pompeo; it was just so Democrats could waste 3 more days, 
allowing nothing else to happen, blocking other activities in the 
Senate. The rules allow the Democrats to stall, and they took full 
advantage of the rules.
  It is time, in my opinion, to end this partisan spectacle. We have 78 
more nominees for various jobs who have made it through their committee 
hearings and are waiting for a vote on this floor. Most of these people 
have bipartisan support. They can be and will be confirmed easily. The 
administration has to waste time to get their team in place. Democrats 
aren't using the rules for debate. They are not using the rules for 
deliberation. It is only for delay.
  It wasn't and hasn't always been this way, and there is no reason it 
should continue this way. The Senate had a different standard for 
executive branch nominations a few years ago. In 2013 and 2014, the 
rules said that we would have a full 30 hours of debate only for 
Cabinet Secretaries; for all other executive branch Presidential 
appointees, only 8 hours of debate. But today we allow 30 hours on 
every nomination, and Democrats have shown that, in most cases, it is 
far too much time.
  We need a fair debate on every nomination. The procedure from 2013 
and 2014 was fair. The way Democrats are wasting time today to keep us 
from doing work is not fair. It is time to return to the rules for 
debating nominations that the Senate used 4 years ago.
  The rules that we used in 2013 and 2014 were the result of a 
compromise. Democrats controlled the Senate at the time, and a Democrat 
was making the nominations; that was President Obama. Republicans 
agreed to a fair time limit on the amount of debate. There was a 
bipartisan group who worked on this compromise--four Republicans, four 
Democrats--and I was one of the four Republicans who were part of that 
group. Senator Schumer, who is now the Democratic leader, was part of 
that group as well. There was overwhelming support for these changes on 
both sides of the aisle. It is time to change the Senate rules and go 
back to that process that Senator Schumer supported in 2013 and in 2014 
when Democrats were in the majority.
  Today, Democrats deliberately delay in ways that limit us to a couple 
of nominations in a typical week. If we go back to the 2014 standard, 
we could clear multiple nominations in a single day.
  We should have this process back in place by the time we take up Mike 
Pompeo's nomination to be Secretary of State when we get back in April.
  The world is a dangerous place. We have serious concerns about 
Russia, Iran, China, and important trade issues that we need to be 
working on. The President will be meeting with North Korean leader Kim 
Jong Un. America needs to have a full slate of people helping the 
President on these issues, and we need them to be the correct, very 
talented people that a President needs.
  We are fortunate to have Mike Pompeo as the likely nominee to be 
Secretary of State. He is the right person for the job. He knows the 
issues. He knows the people. He has the intelligence. He has the 
integrity. He has the experience for the job.
  We will be having confirmation hearings in the Foreign Relations 
Committee in April. Let's have a hearing, a fair debate, and then let's 
vote. Let's not have any of these continued stalling tactics and this 
pointless obstruction that Democrats have engaged in ever since the 
first day President Trump took office.
  Mike Pompeo's nomination to be Secretary of State will still get 30 
hours of debate, and after that, we will need to confirm a new CIA 
Director. Last year, we allowed 30 hours of debate on that nomination, 
and Democrats used only 2 of the 30. Under the compromise rules that I 
think we should return to, we would allow up to 8 hours of debate. It 
is clearly enough--more than most people would think would be needed.
  We have more than 100 other qualified people who have been voted on 
and approved by the appropriate Senate committee, and they are waiting 
to do important jobs. With all of the threats that our country is 
facing around the world, it is time for Democrats in the Senate to stop 
wasting time and stop abusing the rules. It is time for Democrats to 
join Republicans and the President to do all we can to keep America 
prosperous, safe, and secure.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.


                      Omnibus Appropriations Bill

  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I come to the floor to talk about H.R. 
4851, legislation that just recently passed the Senate in the last hour 
or so. Hopefully it is on its way to final reconciliation with the 
House and hopefully will become law later today.
  Before I talk about that, I want to take a second to recognize some 
provisions that are in the omnibus that we also are going to be voting 
on in the next few hours, two provisions that are very important to the 
Pacific Northwest--one, finally a fix on fire borrowing, which is so 
important to the entire Northwest but particularly in the State of 
Washington, which has seen the great impact of forest fires in the last 
several years. This will end the fire borrowing that we have seen that 
has prevented us from doing the kind of fuel reduction that we would 
like to see to protect our communities, and it will help us better 
manage with stewardship contracts and release the funds that should be 
going to recreation management within our forests.
  This fire funding fix has been long in the making. I thank my 
colleagues, Senators Wyden, Risch, and Crapo, for their hard work, and 
I thank Bryan Petit from my office, who has worked tirelessly on this 
as well. We are starting a new day in how we treat our forests and 
hopefully one that will reduce the risks to many communities.
  I thank our colleagues for working so diligently on including a 
provision on

[[Page S1904]]

affordable housing. This is the first affordable housing increase in a 
decade. I want to thank specifically Senator Schumer and Senator 
McConnell and Senator Hatch, my cosponsor on this legislation, for 
helping us get this done. This is not everything we would like to see 
in affordable housing, but certainly it is starting to point in the 
right direction.
  I also thank Anna Taylor, Artie Mandel, Lara Muldoon, and Jay Khosla 
for working so diligently on trying to make the housing crisis 
something that we have to deal with here in the U.S. Senate. For us in 
the Pacific Northwest, the homelessness crisis, our returning veterans, 
our aging population, and workforce housing have become the No. 1 
issue. For Seattle and the whole Northwest, starting to put more 
resources on the table to build affordable housing is the right 
direction, and we need it desperately now, and this legislation will 
help us.


             Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site Bill

  Now, Mr. President, I come with my colleague Senator Young--and I 
know Senator Donnelly wishes he could join us--to talk about the 
legislation that Representative Andre Carson has sent to the Senate and 
we just recently passed back to the House. This bill designates the 
Landmark for Peace Memorial, which is located in the Martin Luther King 
Jr. Park in Indianapolis, and it designates it as the Kennedy-King 
National Commemorative Site.
  This legislation provides that this commemorative site shall be part 
of the African American Civil Rights Network that Congress established 
last December, and it will be only the second commemorative site in our 
beloved National Park System. The other designation went to Charleston, 
AR, the location of the first public school in the South to be fully 
integrated.
  This national commemorative site, which will remain as part of a city 
park, is not going to be part of the National Park System, although I 
am happy to discuss that with my colleagues moving forward. The 
National Park Service is authorized to enter into cooperative 
agreements to help provide for education and interpretation of this 
site.
  The Young-Donnelly amendment removes language in the bill authorizing 
the Park Service to conduct a special resource study and assess its 
potential for inclusion in the National Park System. I know my 
colleague Senator Young is here on the floor, and I thank him for his 
leadership. I hope that some day he and I can continue, with Senator 
Donnelly, to expand on this and revisit this issue. The original 
legislation passed unanimously out of the House of Representatives, and 
I know Senator Young worked hard to clear the one objection, but I 
don't think that one objection should delay us from furthering our 
interest in this issue.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
the full text of Robert F. Kennedy's speech in Indianapolis on April 4, 
1968, the 50th anniversary coming up next week.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:


  FULL TEXT OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY'S SPEECH: INDIANAPOLIS, APRIL 4, 1968

       Ladies and Gentlemen,
       I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this 
     evening, because I have some very sad news for all of you 
     Could you lower those signs, please? I have some very sad 
     news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our 
     fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the 
     world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was 
     killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
       Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to 
     justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of 
     that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time 
     for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of 
     a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.
       For those of you who are black considering the evidence 
     evidently is that there were white people who were 
     responsible you can be filled with bitterness, and with 
     hatred, and a desire for revenge.
       We can move in that direction as a country, in greater 
     polarization black people amongst blacks, and white amongst 
     whites, filled with hatred toward one another.
       Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to 
     understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, 
     that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with 
     an effort to understand, compassion, and love.
       For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with 
     hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against 
     all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my 
     own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my 
     family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
       But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have 
     to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond 
     these rather difficult times.
       My favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

     Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
     falls drop by drop upon the heart,
     until, in our own despair,
     against our will,
     comes wisdom
     through the awful grace of God.

       What we need in the United States is not division;
       what we need in the United States is not hatred;
       what we need in the United States is not violence and 
     lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward 
     one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still 
     suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether 
     they be black.
       So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for 
     the family of Martin Luther King yeah, it's true but more 
     importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of 
     us love a prayer for understanding and that compassion of 
     which I spoke.
       We can do well in this country. We will have difficult 
     times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we and we 
     will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of 
     violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the 
     end of disorder.
       But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority 
     of black people in this country want to live together, want 
     to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all 
     human beings that abide in our land.
       And let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so 
     many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle 
     the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, 
     and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
       Thank you very much.

  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, some days we need a reminder of what 
perspective in the face of crisis really accomplishes. We know that 50 
years after this historic speech, we have an understanding about how 
incredibly magnificent this moment was, so I am so glad to join my 
colleague in commemorating it. It was about holding the consciousness 
of a society and how to respond to an unbelievable, tragic, violent 
event and to hold the consciousness of a society with words--just 
words. And that is the point--that words matter; that words matter to a 
society. They are what holds us together. They are what creates unity. 
They are what creates perspective. In this case, they also created 
history.
  Senator Kennedy spoke to a crowd in Indianapolis and announced the 
death of Martin Luther King--an unbelievable responsibility. If you 
watch now in videos of the speech, you will hear the gasps of the 
audience, who was unaware that that event, in that moment, had taken 
place. Yet he spoke to the crowd about why violence and retribution 
should not be pursued. He created calm among chaos. He created a moment 
where everybody realized that they were commemorating the life of Dr. 
Martin Luther King, that his life had been about a nonviolent response 
to tragedy and to the challenges we face.
  When we commemorate this moment with this designation, we are 
commemorating a moment, in my opinion, of the human spirit. We are 
commemorating a moment--the incredible pain Robert Kennedy must have 
felt, knowing that Martin Luther King had just been assassinated. Yet 
he spoke to the crowd about keeping the peace and remembering the 
lessons of Dr. King.
  We will never know what kind of Presidency RFK might have given our 
Nation, but we know this from his speech: We know what kind of man he 
was, and we know what kind of human spirit and soul can communicate, in 
that moment of tragedy, the direction of a nation.
  It is so important at this moment in our history that we reflect on 
this 50th anniversary. At a time when it is better to use words to 
speak calmly and competently in the face of tragedy, I hope that here 
in Washington, we will remember one of the greatest political speeches 
of all time.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. YOUNG. Mr. President, earlier today, the Senate passed the 
Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site Act--an effort that I was 
pleased to lead here in the Senate, alongside my colleague Senator 
Donnelly. This important legislation commemorates the

[[Page S1905]]

Landmark for Peace Memorial in Indianapolis and establishes the site as 
part of the African American Civil Rights Network. The act would not 
have passed without the support of both Chairman Murkowski and Ranking 
Member Cantwell, and I thank both of them and their hard-working staffs 
for their assistance in this effort.

  I also extend my sincere gratitude to Representative Brooks, Senator 
Donnelly, and Representative Carson for working with me to pass this 
measure that recognizes a significant moment in Indiana's and our 
Nation's history.
  Two weeks from now, on April 4, the city of Indianapolis will 
commemorate the 50th anniversary of Senator Robert F. Kennedy's 
timeless speech in the Circle City. On that fateful evening in 1968, 
Senator Kennedy was scheduled to be in Indianapolis for a campaign 
event. As Senator Kennedy arrived in Indianapolis late that evening, he 
learned of the tragic death of Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis, TN. 
Senator Kennedy decided to speak to the assembled Hoosiers who had come 
to see him and inform them of the tragic news of King's death. He 
confirmed the terrible rumors that many were beginning to hear that 
evening in the course of his words.
  Cities throughout America were erupting in riots, in many instances, 
as they learned of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. However, in 
Indianapolis, Senator Kennedy spoke to the grief-stricken crowd, and he 
inspired them. He inspired them to replace the hatred they felt with 
compassion and love. To this day, Hoosiers warmly remember Senator 
Kennedy's moving speech, and we recognize his heartfelt words as a 
reason why Indianapolis remained calm and peaceful while riots swept 
much of the Nation.
  I wish to close today with a quote from Senator Kennedy's speech--
powerful words that still ring true 50 years after he uttered them. 
These words will forever mark Senator Kennedy's grave in Arlington 
National Cemetery:

       What we need in the United States is not division; what we 
     need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the 
     United States is not violence and lawlessness; but love and 
     wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of 
     justice toward those who still suffer within our country, 
     whether they be white or whether they be black.

  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, the Senator from Maine will arrive in 
just a moment, and I ask unanimous consent for up to an hour for us and 
Senator Graham and Senator Rounds to address the Senate within that 
hour--the four of us, and others who wish--to speak on the health 
insurance issue within that hour.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                            Health Insurance

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I am here today to talk about the 
plumber making $60,000 whose health insurance is $20,000 and he pays 
for all of it and about the fact that the bill we are about to vote on 
today could have had in it bipartisan legislation--supported by the 
President of the United States, the majority leader, and the Speaker of 
the House--that would have reduced that plumber's health insurance bill 
from $12,000 to $8,000, according to the Oliver Wyman health consulting 
experts, who have evaluated the bipartisan legislation that we have 
proposed.
  The only reason it doesn't have that in there is because Democrats 
have objected to putting on this bill we are voting on today the 
traditional Hyde amendment that governs how dollars are spent when an 
abortion is involved. The traditional Hyde amendment is a compromise 
that has been on every appropriations bill--and this is an 
appropriations bill--since 1976 and that Democrats have voted for 
hundreds of times and Republicans have voted for hundreds of times. On 
this very bill that we are voting on today, more than 100 times the 
Hyde language applies to other programs.
  So Democrats are scrambling and embarrassed, coming up with excuse 
after excuse, trying to explain to the self-employed businessperson--
the farmer, the songwriter, the plumber--who might be making $60,000 or 
$70,000 and paying $20,000 for their insurance, and paying it all, with 
no government subsidy--why they are blocking a 40-percent reduction in 
their health insurance and why they will not apply the Hyde language to 
the health insurance rate reduction and they will apply it to 100 other 
programs. Not just in past voting but today, every single Democrat 
today who votes for the omnibus bill will be voting to apply the Hyde 
language restricting abortion to at least 100 other programs.
  For example, how will they explain this to the plumber, the farmer, 
and the self-employed businesswoman: I will apply the Hyde language and 
restrict Federal funding for abortions to the National Institutes of 
Health but not to reduce your health insurance rates by 40 percent. I 
will apply the Hyde language to community health centers today, but I 
am going to block the bipartisan proposal to reduce your health 
insurance by 40 percent that is supported by the President, the 
majority leader, and the Speaker of the House. I will vote today to 
apply the Hyde language to the Federal Employment Health Benefits 
Program, which provides health insurance to 3 million or so employees, 
but I will not vote for a health insurance program to reduce your rates 
by 40 percent because I will not apply the Hyde language to it?
  How are they going to explain today and next October, when the 
insurance rates are announced for 2019, 2020, and 2021, that they had 
an opportunity in March of this year to reduce rates in 2019, 2020, and 
2021 by 40 percent and they refused to do it because they said: We will 
not apply the traditional Hyde language to health insurance, even 
though we are going to apply it to the Indian health programs, to the 
VA, to women's medical care, to global health programs, to the Ryan 
White HIV/AIDS program--to 100 programs that Democrats will be voting 
on today to apply the Hyde language to. They will do that, but they are 
going to block bipartisan legislation--supported by the President, the 
majority leader, and the Speaker--that will reduce the health insurance 
rates of the plumber making $60,000 from $20,000 to $12,000?
  I want to speak about that plumber. I want to speak ahead to October 
1, when the rates for 2019 are announced. I want to talk about Marty, 
the farmer in Tennessee who I met at the Chick-fil-A, who came up to me 
and said: I was paying $300 a month for my health insurance, and over 
the last 5 years it has gone up to $1,300, and I can't afford it.
  I said: I have a Christmas present for you. Then, I thought I had a 
Valentine card for it. Then, I thought I had an Easter present for it, 
because we got bipartisan legislation, supported by the President, the 
majority leader, and the Speaker. I said: We can put that in the 
omnibus bill, we can pass it by the end of March, and we can reduce 
your rates.
  There are 9 million Americans who don't get insurance on the job. 
They don't get insurance from the government. They buy it themselves. 
They are hardworking Americans. They are the plumber, the farmer, the 
small businessperson. They are making $60,000, $70,000, $80,000, 
$90,000 a year. Their insurance bills are $15,000, $20,000, $25,000 a 
year. They are rapidly approaching a point, if they haven't already, 
that they have to go without insurance because they can't afford it, 
and we have a way to do something about that.
  It is happening in my State of Tennessee. Rates went up another 57 
percent last year for those people. That is thousands of dollars. Yet 
we could have today reduced their rates by thousands of dollars. Here 
is how:
  We have developed two bipartisan bills, beginning in the fall. Our 
committee--the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee--held 
four hearings. We had roundtables to which we invited all the Senators. 
Senator Murray, the ranking Democrat, and I presided over this.
  We talked about all of the issues and tried to see what we could do, 
and we came up with what we call the Alexander-Murray bill. It had two 
parts to it. The first part was regulatory reform. We took something 
already in the Affordable Care Act--the 1332 innovation waivers--and we 
made it possible for States to streamline it and use it.
  We also added a few other things. We changed the law so that 
Minnesota and New York could use the basic health plan and could tap 
into the subsidies in the way that those States wanted to do

[[Page S1906]]

it. That is $130 million a year in Minnesota and $1 billion in New 
York. Democrats are blocking that today--$130 million in Minnesota and 
$1 billion in New York, and Democrats are saying no to that today. Why? 
Because they will not apply the Hyde language to the health insurance 
rate decrease, even though they are going to vote to apply it to 100 
other pieces of legislation in this very bill.
  We did the regulatory reform, and then we did something many 
Republicans didn't want to do and the President didn't want to do to 
start with. We extended the cost-sharing subsidy payments for 3 more 
years. These are payments to reduce rates for low-income people on 
their copays and deductibles. We agreed to do that.
  Then, Senator Collins and Senator Nelson, a Republican and a 
Democrat, came up with a plan--the House did, too, with Representative 
Costello--to add reinsurance. Reinsurance is something about which, in 
our hearings and in our meetings, virtually every Senator in both 
parties said: We really need to do that, because the reason the 
individual market is in such trouble is that it has so many of the 
sickest Americans in it and they are soaking up all the money.
  The reinsurance program that we suggested and have in Senator Collins 
and Senator Nelson's bill--3 years, $10 billion a year--would give 
States funds as well as planning money to set up those invisible risk 
pools, those reinsurance programs, that were meant for the sickest 
Americans to have their needs taken care of, and you lower the rates 
for everybody else.
  So we have regulatory reform, 3 years of cost-sharing subsidies, 3 
years of reinsurance, $10 billion a year. The Congressional Budget 
Office says: If you score it based on real spending, it actually saves 
the government money by reducing the premiums that taxpayers have to 
pay for--a $1 billion advantage for New York for each of the next 3 
years, $130 million for Minnesota for each of the next 3 years. We fix 
the problem in New Hampshire, to allow both Democratic Senators and the 
Republican Governor to say: Please do this; we want to be able to mix 
our ObamaCare and Medicaid savings.
  We said: Yes, you can do that, and so can every State.
  Within the Affordable Care Act, we did what Democrats have been 
saying to do ever since we couldn't repeal and replace it last August 
and said: We will work with you to fix it.
  The part that needs fixing is the part causing the plumber who makes 
$60,000 to pay $20,000 for his health insurance, and we have a way to 
fix it--to reduce it by 40 percent, according to Oliver Wyman 
consulting; by 20 percent, according to the Congressional Budget 
Office. Yet the Democrats are blocking it today because they will not 
apply the traditional Hyde language that they voted for every single 
year since 1976 in the omnibus bill and that they will be voting on 
today for 100-plus times.
  How do you explain that to the plumber? How do you explain that to 
the farmer? How do you explain that to the 9 million Americans who see 
their health insurance rates going through the roof?
  Let's not make any mistake about who is doing this. We are big boys 
and girls in the Senate. When we take a stand, we ought to admit it. 
What the Democrats are doing is they are blocking a 40-percent rate 
decrease for one single reason--one single reason. The President of the 
United States supports it, the Speaker supports it, the majority leader 
supports it, and we are ready to put it in the bill, and they say no.
  Let's look down the road to October. All of the insurance companies 
will announce their rates for 2019, and we will be looking ahead to 
2020 and 2021. Rates will be going up instead of going down. The 
farmer, the self-employed person, the songwriter are going to be 
saying: How am I going to be able to afford this?
  Nothing is more important to Americans than healthcare. Nothing is 
more frightening to Americans than the prospect of not being able to 
afford to buy healthcare. That is what we are doing here.
  I am disappointed by this. I have spent hundreds of hours on this 
since September. We had a piece of legislation introduced on this floor 
by 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats that the Democratic leader said 
every single Democrat would vote for and the national Democratic 
chairman said was great bipartisan legislation. That is two-thirds of 
our bill.
  What is the other third? The other third is the Collins-Nelson bill, 
which adds $10 billion a year for reinsurance. The Governors like this. 
The State insurance commissioners like this. The plumber and the 
songwriter like it. Who doesn't like it? A few Democrats who are saying 
that the Hyde language, which says--let's be specific about what it 
says--you can't use Federal funds for elective abortions, but you may 
use any other funds. That is exactly the law that we have in our bill.
  The Hyde language is in the bill we are going to be voting on later 
today. It was put there in 1976. It is adopted year after year. It is 
on page 1036, if anybody wants to look it up. Then, there is language 
in the bill that we are going to be voting on today restricting Federal 
employee health benefits with Hyde-like language, which is on page 588. 
You will be voting for it today. Then, there is the title X family 
planning legislation. That is in the bill you are going to be voting 
for, as well, today. That is Hyde language. Then, there is the Mexico 
City legislation. You are going to vote for that today.
  But you are going to tell the farmer, the songwriter, and the 
employer that they are not allowed to have a 40-percent health 
insurance decrease. They are going to have to not be able to afford 
health insurance for their family. As to Federal funding for the DC 
government, you are going to vote for that today. Using funds for 
elective abortions is restricted in the bill that we are voting on 
today.
  Senator Collins from Maine is here, and the Senator from South 
Carolina is here. They have worked hard on this. We are a group of 
Senators who I think are fairly, usually seen as trying to get results 
around here. We are greatly disappointed by this--not just for this 
institution but for the people we serve because the hard, simple fact 
is that we have legislation that could be in this bill that will reduce 
your health insurance rates by 40 percent starting in 2019 and 
continuing for the next 2 years, until it gets up to 40.
  We have the support of the President. We have the support of the 
Speaker. We have the support of the majority leader. But the Democratic 
leader says: You can't have it in the bill. We are going to vote 100 
times to apply the Hyde language to everything from the National 
Institutes of Health to community health centers, but we are not going 
to let you reduce healthcare rates.
  That is why Democrats are scrambling, coming up with excuse after 
excuse. They are going to have to really come up with scrambling and 
excuse after excuse on October 1, when the rates are announced.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cassidy). The Senator from South Carolina.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I will be very brief. The first thing I 
want to do is to thank Senators Alexander and Collins for trying to 
work very hard to solve a problem that we can fix. There are a lot of 
things about healthcare that I don't see us fixing between now and 
tomorrow. This is not one of them. Healthcare is very complex. It is 
one-fifth of the economy. I think there is a better way to do 
healthcare than ObamaCare. Most Republicans want to replace it. Most 
Democrats want to repair it.
  We are not talking about that. We are talking about an island of 
agreement that will matter between now and October--what Senator 
Alexander and Murray came up with. You had bipartisan support. There 
are two provisions that allow flexibility in terms of the 1332 
regulations and to continue payments to make sure that person who makes 
too much for a subsidy but not enough to be self-sufficient when it 
comes to healthcare gets a little bit of help. That is the plumber and 
the other people that Senator Alexander described.
  President Obama took care of these people through Executive action. 
That has been found to be unconstitutional by our courts. 
Legislatively, we are trying to continue this program to help somebody 
whose premiums are going

[[Page S1907]]

through the roof but who are not eligible for the statutory subsidies 
and create a new level of help that will keep their premiums from 
skyrocketing and actually decrease their premiums in October by 40 
percent.
  There are a lot of things we can agree on, and there are a lot of 
things we can accomplish when it comes to healthcare, but this is not 
one of them. I can only imagine how these two Senators feel.
  Senator Collins, working with Senator Nelson from Florida, added a 
third provision to the Alexander-Murray concept that makes eminent 
sense. I doubt if there is one Governor in the country who would oppose 
what Senator Collins is trying to do--to allow States to petition for 
Federal funding to help the States deal with the sickest people in that 
State by coming up with innovative, high-risk pools and allowing States 
to experiment with what works best for the sickest people in their 
State by accessing Federal funding. You can't spend it on roads and 
bridges, but you can use it for the high-risk population, the people 
who drive the most cost. I doubt if there is any Governor in the 
country who would say that this is a bad idea.
  Senator Nelson thinks it is a good idea. Our most conservative 
Members in the House think it is a good idea. We have taken Alexander-
Murray and added a third component that I think is an excellent idea. 
When you combine the three things, you can lower the cost by 40 percent 
for that self-insured person who makes over $45,000 and lower their 
premiums by 40 percent by October.
  It matters a lot to the people described, and there are millions of 
these people who will not get a 40-percent reduction. They are going to 
get a 10-percent or a 20-percent increase, and already they are paying 
about 25 to 30 percent of their income just for healthcare. It is mind-
boggling that we are where we are.
  I will just add this and turn it over to Senator Rounds. How did we 
get here? I think the desire to control the House and take back the 
Senate is overwhelmingly good policy. Somebody on the other side 
believes that if we can block this proposal--the Collins-Nelson-
proposal, the Alexander-Murray proposal--if we can keep that from 
becoming law, these premium increases that are surely to come will fall 
upon the Republican Party and will give us yet another tool to take 
back the House and regain the majority in the Senate. The reason I say 
that is because I have come to believe that there is no other 
explanation, and that is sad. That to me is a real dropping of the 
Democratic Party in terms of the role they play around here.
  We work together where we can. Sometimes we are wrong; sometimes they 
are right. Sometimes it is the other way around. But this is the one 
occasion where we seem to have been right up until now.
  Why is it not in the omnibus bill? Because of Democratic objections. 
Last Saturday, we spent an hour on the phone with the President of the 
United States--Senator Collins, Senator Alexander, myself, and 
Congressman Walden--talking about this proposal, about how it would 
lower premiums, how it is good policy, and how this is the right way to 
continue to help the people in question. At the end of the hour 
discussion, the President said: Count me in. I want to help. I agree to 
the concept. What would you like me to do?
  It never crossed our minds to call a Democrat. Our concern was the 
House. We needed the President to call Speaker Ryan. Senator McConnell 
was enthusiastic for this. We honestly believed that the problem would 
be in the House, with our Freedom Caucus friends. We asked the 
President to call the Speaker of the House, and Kevin McCarthy, and he 
did. The Speaker told him: We are for it.
  I thought: home run.
  Between last Saturday and now, what happened is that Nancy Pelosi, 
the minority leader in the House, and Senate Democrats have objected to 
this proposal, and the rationale is abortion. The language that is in 
law is exactly the same language that would apply to this legislation. 
The Stupak language applying to the Affordable Care Act, dealing with 
Federal funds and abortion, is still the law of the land. But under the 
omnibus approach, we are going to run the subsidies through the Labor-
HHS bill, where Hyde protection would apply--no more, no less than any 
other Federal dollar dealing with healthcare.
  Senator Alexander has done a very good service to the body. In the 
bill that we will vote on soon, there are over 100 applications of the 
Hyde language to healthcare spending at the Federal level. Apparently, 
these dollars don't make the cut. Why? They know that if we don't get 
this relief in March, in October premiums are going to go up, and they 
are literally making up a phony excuse based on Hyde protections. The 
reason I know it is phony is that, if they really believe what they are 
saying about Hyde language, they wouldn't vote for this bill at all 
because every other Federal dollar runs through the same system we are 
proposing this go through. If you really cared about the abortion issue 
the way you claim, you could not support this bill or any other piece 
of legislation that has been around since 1976.
  Clearly, the Hyde problem is not much of a problem when it comes to 
every other Federal healthcare dollar. It is only a problem here. The 
only reason it is a problem here is that you don't want us, as 
Republicans, working with you to fix a problem that needs to be fixed 
because you are thinking of October in terms of your political future. 
You are not thinking of October in terms of people.
  Here is what I hope happens to you. I hope you lose votes. We have 
our problems on our side. We will probably pay a price come November 
about some of the things we have done wrong. All I can say to my 
Democratic colleagues is this: The reason you are stopping this 
provision from becoming law is that you think it gives you a political 
advantage in November because of premium increases in October. This is 
exactly why the American people hate politics so much.
  I want to be on record in March as being a Member of the Senate who 
works with the other side when I can, surrounded by people on my side 
of the aisle who are historically seen as centrists when it comes to 
trying to solve problems. There is nobody on this floor who has a 
reputation of being an ideologue. Senator Collins is a pro-choice 
Republican, and she is OK with sending these dollars through Hyde 
protections because they have been around so long. Lisa Murkowski is a 
pro-choice Republican. She was with us yesterday, saying that she is 
dumbfounded about this argument about abortion.

  So play the tape later on. When the premiums go up 10 to 20 percent 
for hard-working people and there is a debate about why that happened, 
I want somebody to play this tape, because we have 24 hours to stop 
that.
  Every expert who has looked at this says the following: If you do 
Alexander-Murray-Collins-Nelson, you will prevent a premium increase of 
10 to 20 percent, and you will lower premiums in the next couple of 
years by up to 40 percent. I don't know what the day is. It is some day 
in March, but I have lost track of what day it is. Yet I am here to 
say, when that debate comes about in October, I want you to play this 
tape. We had a chance today to fix this problem, and the only reason we 
are not going to do it is due to our Democratic colleagues' decision to 
play politics with this issue rather than to solve the problem.
  The President of the United States is for this. The majority leader 
of the U.S. Senate is for this. The Speaker of the House is for this. 
Every Republican leader is for this. The Senators on the floor who work 
with Democrats are for this. We are urging our colleagues, before it is 
too late, to change their minds and get this into an omnibus in a 
fashion so as to lower premiums, not to sit on the sidelines and watch 
them go up. So, when the debate happens in October, play this tape.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. ROUNDS. Mr. President, first of all, let me offer my thanks to 
Senator Alexander and Senator Collins, and let me add my support for 
what Senator Graham has just indicated in terms of the importance of 
this particular amendment to the omnibus bill.
  Look, I am a pro-life Republican. By allowing the Hyde amendment to 
prevail in this particular case, as it does with all of the other 
funding that we send back to the States so that it cannot be used to 
fund abortions--and that

[[Page S1908]]

is what this is all about--it allows us to still continue to provide, 
with clear consciences, the dollars necessary to provide healthcare for 
individuals who otherwise may not get it.
  This particular proposal allows for States to, once again, take 
charge of part of the healthcare that we want to see delivered at the 
local level. By taking section 1332 and expanding what States can do, 
we actually provide more local control, which is a conservative 
approach. It is also one more opportunity to reduce the impact of what 
many of us have said was a mistake with ObamaCare in the first place.
  For conservatives, a lot of us campaigned on the fact that we wanted 
to repeal and replace ObamaCare. To repeal it and replace it, you have 
to have 60 votes here. In this particular case, what we have said is: 
Let's take those parts that are the most onerous and those parts that 
are adding to the cost of healthcare and take those out, but let's 
provide and continue to provide the protections that some people feel 
ObamaCare was responsible for, such as guaranteed renewable products, 
which were included in South Dakota's law before ObamaCare ever came 
along, and the opportunity for everybody to apply for a policy and to 
be accepted one way or another.
  This particular piece of legislation allows for, perhaps, as many as 
3.2 million Americans to actually be able to afford the policies that, 
today, they can't afford. I believe Senator Alexander used the example 
of someone who is making $60,000 a year and has a bill of $20,000 for 
his healthcare. The reality is that that person is not buying 
healthcare. So let's allow those folks the opportunity to have a 
reduction in the premiums that they otherwise could not afford to pay.
  This allows for the States, on a very responsible basis, to do what 
Senator Collins, as a former insurance commissioner, understands so 
clearly. What we have done with ObamaCare is to force individuals who 
have no place else to go into what we call the individual market. When 
we force all--or the vast majority--of the individuals who have health 
problems into the individual market to get coverage, it artificially 
drives up the cost of that individual policy. That individual market 
makes up 6 percent of the total number of the people who are covered, 
but that 6 percent of the premium going in picks up an unfairly large 
number of individuals who have no place else to go to get insurance. 
That drives the cost of the premiums up for those individuals and makes 
it, in many cases, more costly than they could ever afford.
  With a reinsurance provision for the States, it allows for a State to 
say: Look, issue the policies, but then allow us to expand the base 
over which we spread those losses. Let those States do that. This 
worked successfully before ObamaCare was ever a bad dream. This allows 
for us to take a larger base of people to share and to spread that 
risk. When you do that, you make that market more stable, and you start 
to invite carriers to step back into the market. That is what this is 
all about.
  I am not going to try to assign the intention of our colleagues who 
are on the other side of the aisle. I am a pragmatist. I really do 
believe that we have some very sincere colleagues on the other side of 
the aisle who understand how important this is.
  What I would invite is this: I am a conservative Republican. I want 
to see this move forward. I think, for the good of the American people, 
this is the right move to make. I would ask our colleagues on the other 
side of the aisle to consider the good this would do for people across 
this entire country and to find a way to work through this process in 
such a fashion that they could comfortably come forward and help us to 
get this to the finish line.
  If we can do this, we will make things better not just for those 3.2 
million Americans who would be able to qualify for insurance once again 
and be able to pay for it, but we honestly believe--and it is the 
Congressional Budget Office that has suggested this--that somewhere 
between 20 percent of the premiums they would otherwise pay would 
solidly be reduced. In some cases, according to healthcare 
professionals in the private market--these are the people who actually 
suggest and work with the insurance companies--as much as 40 percent of 
that total cost could be reduced.
  This is not a partisan issue. This is a matter of trying to actually 
make an impact on the lives of real Americans who need our help. 
Remember that the American people did not ask for ObamaCare, but they 
are the ones who are suffering because of the premium increases that 
have been caused by this law in the first place.
  What we are trying to do in what is, hopefully, an acceptable fashion 
is to find colleagues on the other side of the aisle who will once 
again join us in this legislation that they had previously supported--
for them to find a way to step forward--and actually help fix a problem 
for real Americans.
  Once again, I thank the Senator from Tennessee for all of the hard 
work he has done. As a former Governor, he understands that, once in a 
while, you reach across the aisle, and you find ways to get things 
done. In the Senate, it requires 60 votes to make this happen.
  I thank Senator Collins for her work. She is a former insurance 
commissioner. She gets it. She understands it.
  We want to find the common ground that it takes to actually fix a 
problem for the American people. This is not and should not be a 
partisan issue--fixing a problem that we all agree exists today.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be 
permitted to speak for up to 30 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, we have the opportunity today to take 
immediate action to lower the cost of health insurance by as much as 40 
percent and to increase the affordability of insurance for millions of 
Americans who purchase plans in the individual market.
  I commend Senator Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, 
Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, for his extraordinary 
leadership and hard work in this area.
  I am also very pleased with the work that has been done by 
Representative  Greg Walden, the chairman of the House Energy and 
Commerce Committee, and Representative Costello.
  We have come together, along with a substantial number of our 
colleagues, including Senators Graham, Rounds, Isakson, and Murkowski, 
among many others, on this very important insurance stabilization and 
rate reduction package.
  Let me begin by outlining the major provisions of what it is that we 
are proposing, because there has been, unfortunately, a lot of 
misunderstanding and, dare I say, misinformation.
  First, our legislation, based on the Alexander-Murray bill, would 
fund the cost-sharing reduction subsidies for 3 years. These are vital 
for Americans who have incomes that are below 250 percent of the 
poverty level. CSRs provide government assistance to help them pay for 
their deductibles and their copays.
  Second, our proposal also improves the ability of the States to take 
further steps to lower insurance premiums for their citizens. We 
provide meaningful flexibility for States by revising section 1332 of 
the Affordable Care Act, which authorizes State innovation waivers.
  Third, based on a bill that I authored with Senator Bill Nelson, our 
proposal provides a total of $30 billion over 3 years for States to 
have reinsurance, or invisible high-risk pools, by applying for a 
waiver under the section 1332 program I just mentioned.
  As I know the Presiding Officer well knows, reinsurance is a proven 
method for dealing with high-risk, expensive claims. It reduces 
uncertainty and has benefits not only for those who have preexisting 
conditions and need expensive healthcare but for the entire individual 
market, and it has been proven to work in States like Maine and Alaska.
  We have also included $500 million to assist States with the planning 
of the designs of their own reinsurance, or invisible high-risk pools. 
In the House, the Costello bill also had a Federal fallback in 
recognizing that we were late in the year and that we wanted to provide 
help immediately, which we have included for 2019, to give States

[[Page S1909]]

time to apply for waivers under section 1332.
  What does our bill not do?
  Our proposal does not change the Affordable Care Act's essential 
benefit requirements. It does not change the guarantee that an 
individual will be able to buy insurance. It does not change the 
protections for people with preexisting conditions. Yet it ensures that 
the Federal funding directly benefits consumers and not insurance 
companies.
  In considering this plan, Congress faces a fundamental question: Do 
we want to take action to significantly reduce the cost of health 
insurance for millions of Americans or are we just going to sit back, 
say no, and let this opportunity pass us by?
  Time is short. If Congress fails to act, insurance rates in the 
individual market will skyrocket this fall. This will directly harm the 
9 million Americans who pay for their own insurance without government 
or employer assistance. That is, for example, the fisherman in my State 
who is self-employed, the electrician, the plumber, the carpenter--
there are so many--the hair stylist. They are already paying far too 
much for their healthcare costs. Well, all of them will be facing 
another double-digit premium increase if they are to be insured, and 
rates can only be expected to continue to climb.
  Healthcare premiums are already too expensive under the Affordable 
Care Act. That is one of the problems with the Affordable Care Act that 
I have been committed to fixing. Last year, the average price of the 
Affordable Care Act silver plans, which are the most popular plans, 
increased on average by 34 percent. A growing number of counties in our 
country are at risk of having no insurers or only one insurer, leaving 
hard-working individuals with few or no choices for health insurance 
coverage. Inaction will only exacerbate the premium spikes and the 
market instability we have already experienced.
  When our country is confronted with such a serious problem--I mean, 
what is more important to people than healthcare?--Americans expect us 
to come together. They expect us to work constructively. They expect us 
to provide real relief from the rising cost of health insurance, which 
makes health insurance unaffordable for far too many Americans, and 
that is precisely what our plan would do.
  Let me be crystal clear. Our proposal is the last opportunity--the 
last opportunity--to prevent these rate increases that will go into 
effect, which will be announced on October 1. Our package will help to 
stabilize the insurance markets and make them more competitive.
  Every study has shown that our bill would make health insurance more 
affordable. According to the leading healthcare experts at Oliver 
Wyman, our bill would lower individual health insurance premiums in the 
individual market by as much as 40 percent compared to what people will 
otherwise pay if Congress fails to act. According to Oliver Wyman, it 
would also expand coverage to an additional 3.2 million Americans.
  I want to touch on a complicated but important issue that some of my 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle have raised as a reason not 
to pass this bill. There have been two reasons. One is the application 
of the Hyde amendment, which has been law for decades, which I will 
talk about subsequently, but the first has to do with what is referred 
to as silver-loading and zero-premium bronze plans.
  First a little background. The Affordable Care Act was designed to 
provide two key subsidies for enrollees who purchased coverage on the 
exchange and qualified from an income standpoint. The first are premium 
tax credits to help cover the cost of premiums for individuals earning 
between 100 and 400 percent of the Federal poverty level. The second 
are cost-sharing subsidies, or CSRs, to help cover the cost of 
deductibles and copays and other out-of-pocket expenses for individuals 
who are very low-income--earning between 100 and 250 percent of the 
Federal poverty level.
  Despite the fact that Congress never appropriated the funds to pay 
for the cost-sharing reductions, the Obama administration paid them 
anyway. The House sued to block this strategy and won in Federal 
district court.
  Lacking an appropriation from Congress, President Trump stopped 
making these payments last year. That concerned many of us, but let me 
make clear--he was following the court's decision. In response, 
insurance companies came up with the silver-loading strategy, under 
which they increased the price of their silver plans to compensate for 
the cost-sharing reduction payments they were no longer receiving. In 
essence, insurers have created silver plans that mimic CSRs for low-
income enrollees. Because the ACA's tax credits are tied to the silver 
plan premium, the tax credits ballooned in size, producing credits so 
large that they are often sufficient to fully cover the premiums on the 
bronze plans for lower income enrollees and, by the way, greatly 
increased the cost to Federal taxpayers, which is why the bill we put 
together, by right-sizing the market and avoiding the games that were 
played, actually pays for itself.
  We all remember the old saying that ``if something sounds too good to 
be true, it probably is.'' Well, free bronze plans for low-income 
individuals sounded too good to be true, and they are. I hope my 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle are listening to this 
explanation. The fact is that free bronze plans are only a good deal 
for low-income Americans who never get sick, who never get hurt, who 
never need to use their insurance. If they do, they will pay hundreds 
or even thousands of dollars more out of pocket.
  While these plans might have lower monthly payments or even be free, 
they have much higher deductibles and copays. Based on publicly 
available data pulled from the exchanges, I am going to describe an 
example illustrating that individuals with free bronze plans will face 
much steeper costs when they try to access care than if they paid the 
small premium for the silver plan.
  Let's take the example of Chris and Caroline, ages 34 and 32, who 
live in Portland, ME. They bought coverage on the exchange for 
themselves and their two young children for 2018. They make about 
$34,500 a year, which is about 140 percent of the Federal poverty 
level. They saw that they could get a ``free'' bronze plan, or they 
could choose to buy the cheapest silver plan for $54.83 a month. They 
chose the free bronze plan, not realizing that the silver plan would 
have given them access to subsidies, which provide lower deductibles 
and copays to low-income people. If Caroline gets pregnant this year 
and they are under the free bronze plan, they are going to have to pay 
out of pocket $7,350--and they make $34,500 a year. Had they picked the 
least expensive silver plan, they would have had to pay $500.
  Consider a hypothetical couple in their early thirties, Jacob and 
Emma, with two young children, living in Seattle, WA. They are making 
just under $35,000 a year. When they went shopping for coverage on the 
exchange, they, too, saw that they could get a free bronze plan, or 
they could buy the least expensive silver plan for about $84 a month. 
Jacob and Emma chose the free bronze plan, which doesn't come with the 
subsidies included in the silver plan to help low-income families with 
deductibles and copays. If someone in this young family faces a serious 
illness this year, the silver plan in Washington State would have 
capped Emma and Jacob's additional expenses at $660. Unfortunately, 
they have the so-called free bronze plan that some of my colleagues 
have been touting. They would face up to $7,210 in out-of-pocket 
expenses--hardly an affordable option for this low-income family.
  It used to be well understood by the affordability advocates in and 
out of the Senate that low-income Americans struggled to meet 
deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. Just 1 year ago today, the 
Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report arguing against the House 
reform bill because it did not contain CSRs, noting that ``cost-sharing 
reductions are a key part of the financial support currently provided 
to [low-income] enrollees'' and that without such support, deductibles 
``are often out of reach for people with lower and modest income.''
  A prior Kaiser Family Foundation report from 2015 showed that only 1 
in 10 individuals earning between 100 and 250 percent of the Federal 
poverty level--those are the individuals who would be eligible for CSRs 
under our bill--has savings or other assets large enough to cover a 
$6,000 deductible. In other

[[Page S1910]]

words, without CSRs, 90 percent of these individuals will have to wipe 
out their savings to cover their medical expenses before they even meet 
their deductible. Those who can't meet their deductible won't get 
reimbursed. For these Americans, a zero-premium plan will really mean a 
zero-benefit plan.
  I cannot believe that silver-loading and free bronze plans is a 
credible long-term strategy. First, I would note, in addition to the 
examples I have given, that CBO assessments from last year were that 
the silver-loading strategy would cost the Federal taxpayers $194 
billion over the budget window. Second, because low-income individuals 
will struggle to meet their deductibles, they will be unable to secure 
reimbursement of expenses. Sooner or later, taxpayers are going to be 
asking why they are paying nearly $200 billion more to subsidize 
policies that deliver such poor benefits.
  To be clear, the amendment we are offering prevents this strategy, 
protecting lower and modest-income enrollees, low-income families and 
individuals and the taxpayers.
  Now, let me discuss the Hyde amendment. I am disappointed, to say the 
least, that Democrats, who ought to have embraced this proposal, have 
instead rejected it because its funding is subject to the Hyde 
amendment. As a pro-choice Republican, I must say this puzzles me. The 
Hyde amendment has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for 
elective abortions for more than 40 years. It is not new policy. The 
entire Labor-HHS title of the omnibus before us today is subject to the 
Hyde amendment.
  There are variations of the Hyde amendment in other titles of the 
omnibus spending bill. It applies to a long list of Federal programs, 
including Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, Veterans Affairs, Indian 
Health Service, the Peace Corps, the Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and 
Customs Enforcement. I have heard it said that it doesn't apply to 
commercial insurance that is offered by the Federal Government--that is 
just not true. It applies to the Federal Employees Health Benefits 
Program, through which 8.3 million employees, retirees, and their 
families get their health insurance coverage. I have not seen my 
Democratic friends make any effort to change the applicability of Hyde 
to that insurance program.
  Together, these programs account for more than $1 trillion in 
government spending each year--all of which is covered by the Hyde 
amendment. That is 100 times the amount of reinsurance we are proposing 
in our amendment. A trillion dollars of Federal healthcare funding is 
already covered by the Hyde amendment, which has been policy for 40 
years. So how is this, in any way, a radical departure from current 
policy?
  I find it frustrating that some on the other side of the aisle are 
choosing to block this important package that will provide relief to 
those who need it most because of the application of the Hyde 
amendment. Let me say, they cite the Stupak amendment, which is section 
1303 of the Affordable Care Act. We leave that in place, we don't touch 
it, and we do not change the Hyde amendment's exemptions found in 
section 507, which allow private entities, State governments, or 
individuals to use their own funds to provide coverage for abortion. In 
other words, this is nothing radical or new, and it is baffling and 
gravely disappointing that this should be used to block this package.
  Dozens of healthcare consumer and business groups, as well as the 
National Association of Insurance Commissioners--those State 
commissioners whose job it is to look out for consumers--have called 
upon Congress to take action to lower premiums for millions of 
Americans and their families. These groups include the American 
Hospital Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the U.S. Chamber of 
Commerce, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer 
Society, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Federation of 
American Hospitals, and there are a wide range of groups representing 
people with diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, epilepsy. The United 
Way has called for action, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the American 
Lung Association. Just yesterday, the National Association of Insurance 
Commissioners put out a new letter in support of market stabilization.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that these three letters be 
printed in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks.
  Mr. President, how incredibly disappointing it would be if some 
Members derailed this serious effort to reduce the cost of health 
insurance for millions of Americans. While Members may disagree with 
certain provisions, the time has come for each and every Senator to 
decide: Are you for lower rates and more affordable coverage for the 18 
million Americans who get their insurance from the individual market or 
are you content to just sit back and let their insurance rates soar 
once again this fall, making health insurance even less affordable than 
it already is?
  In my view, the answer is clear and obvious. We must not lose sight 
of our goal, and that is making health insurance more affordable for 
millions of Americans. Including our insurance package in the omnibus 
funding bill is the right thing to do, and it is urgent that we do it 
now.
  Thank you.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

         National Association of Insurance Commissioners & The 
           Center for Insurance Policy and Research,
                                                   March 21, 2018.
     Hon. Lamar Alexander,
     Chair, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, U.S. 
         Senate, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Patty Murray,
     Ranking Member, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions 
         Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Susan Collins,
     U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Senator 
     Collins: Members of the National Association of Insurance 
     Commissioners (NAIC) continue to urge congressional support 
     for health insurance market stabilization reforms and applaud 
     the Senate leaders who have worked across the political aisle 
     to advance them. If Congress does not act to stabilize health 
     insurance markets, continued uncertainty regarding federal 
     funding, the health of the risk pool, and regulatory 
     requirements will result in even higher premiums and, 
     possibly, fewer carriers participating on the exchange--
     perhaps even bare counties.
       This is why commissioners from across the political 
     spectrum have contacted their congressional delegations, 
     testified before House and Senate committees, and urged 
     federal policymakers to take immediate action to stabilize 
     the health insurance markets.
       Specifically, state regulators support market stabilization 
     reforms that would:
       Provide federal funding for reinsurance programs to address 
     the deteriorating risk pools;
       Fully fund cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments that are 
     owed to insurance carriers that provide low-cost sharing 
     plans to lower-income enrollees; and,
       Make the Section 1332 waiver process more streamlined and 
     predictable for states.
       These concepts have received bipartisan support and, 
     contrary to some rhetoric, are in no way a ``bailout'' of the 
     insurance industry. They directly benefit consumers and help 
     stabilize the risk pool. CSR payments reimburse carriers for 
     providing a lower cost version of their Silver plans to 
     eligible consumers, and establishing reinsurance funding 
     acknowledges that the risk pools in many states are much 
     sicker than anticipated and help is needed to backstop 
     markets that might otherwise cease to exist in some counties. 
     Section 1332 waiver flexibility will provide states clearer 
     guidance and quicker action to address their market 
     realities, while preserving guardrails to protect consumers. 
     And finally, the Senate rightly acknowledges that ``sales 
     across state lines'' are best left to the states in the form 
     of interstate compacts.
       As insurance commissioners, we attempt to assess these 
     reforms with an apolitical perspective, but we recognize that 
     the political process in Washington does not always allow for 
     a perfect result. What is clear, however, is that without 
     these reforms markets across the country will continue to 
     deteriorate, and consumers will pay the price for this 
     inaction. We applaud Senators who have worked to advance 
     these reforms and we urge all Members of Congress to support 
     them and stabilize health insurance markets for our nation's 
     consumers.
           Sincerely,
     Julie Mix McPeak,
       NAIC President, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of 
     Commerce & Insurance.
     Raymond G. Farmer,
       NAIC Vice President, Director, South

[[Page S1911]]

     Carolina Department of Insurance.
     Eric A. Cioppa,
       NAIC President-Elect, Superintendent, Maine Bureau of 
     Insurance.
     Gordon I. Ito,
       NAIC Secretary-Treasurer, Commissioner, Insurance Division, 
     Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
                                  ____


Congress Must Act Now to Prevent Premium Spikes and Coverage Losses for 
       Millions of Americans, say 20 Patient and Consumer Groups

       Washington, D.C., Mar. 13, 2018.--20 patient and consumer 
     groups issued the following statement urging Congress to 
     include legislation in the forthcoming omnibus spending bill 
     to steady the health insurance market:
       ``Congressional leaders must include provisions to 
     stabilize the health insurance market in the March 23rd 
     omnibus government funding bill to prevent millions of 
     Americans from losing health insurance coverage. In the 
     coming months, insurers will set plan rates for 2019 and a 
     shaky marketplace will likely result in premium spikes--
     putting health insurance out of reach for many patients and 
     families.
       Several bipartisan proposals under consideration could 
     preserve and even expand access to affordable health 
     insurance for middle class families. They include cost-
     sharing reduction policies that could improve affordability 
     for low-income Americans and the creation of a reinsurance 
     program to help keep premiums stable for those with pre-
     existing conditions. We urge Congress to move swiftly, so 
     that plans on state exchanges can stabilize, and perhaps 
     lower, premiums for the millions of Americans who will turn 
     to the marketplace for coverage next year.
       Both parties in Congress have pledged to protect people 
     with pre-existing conditions, but recent regulatory actions 
     taken by the Trump administration to expand association and 
     short-term health plans could undermine existing protections.
       Recent data indicates that the number of Americans who are 
     uninsured is on the rise again for the first time since 2008. 
     At the end of 2017, 12.2 percent of U.S. adults lacked health 
     insurance--up from 10.9 percent at the end of 2016, an 
     increase of 3.2 million people.
       Quality insurance coverage improves patient outcomes and 
     allows Americans to stay healthy and remain financially 
     secure. The vulnerable communities we represent simply cannot 
     afford to lose access to health insurance that protects their 
     livelihood and wellbeing.''
         American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; American 
           Heart Association; American Lung Association; Arthritis 
           Foundation; Autism Speaks; Crohn's & Colitis 
           Foundation; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; Epilepsy 
           Foundation; Family Voices; Futures Without Violence.
         Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; Lutheran Services in 
           America; March of Dimes; National Alliance on Mental 
           Illness; National Health Council; National Multiple 
           Sclerosis Society; National Organization for Rare 
           Disorders; National Patient Advocate Foundation; United 
           Way Worldwide; Volunteers of America.
                                  ____

       Dear Leaders McConnell and Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and 
     Leader Pelosi: Americans need action now.
       We came together earlier this month to stress the 
     importance of congressional action to lower healthcare 
     premiums. Time is running out.
       In the next few weeks, health insurance providers will 
     begin to file premium rates for 2019 in the individual 
     market. In October, individuals and families who buy their 
     own coverage will review their options, see their premiums, 
     and make their choices. Without Congressional action now, the 
     plans offered to Americans will be nearly 30 percent more 
     expensive than they would be otherwise.
       Congress is working on an omnibus appropriations bill that 
     it must act on by March 23. As providers of health care and 
     coverage to hundreds of millions of Americans, we urge you to 
     ensure that bill includes elements that will reduce premiums, 
     improve affordability, and improve the individual market for 
     2019 and beyond:
       Establish a premium reduction/reinsurance program to help 
     cover the costs of people with significant health care needs.
       Provide multi-year funding for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) 
     benefits.
       According to independent analyses by Avalere Health and 
     Oliver Wyman, enacting both legislative provisions could 
     lower premiums by up to 21% in 2019 and increase enrollment 
     and expand coverage to over 1.5 million Americans. By 2020, 
     premiums could be 40% lower with an additional 2.1 million 
     Americans enrolled and covered. Moreover, this legislation 
     will help physicians and hospitals better serve the health 
     care needs of patients in their community and lower costs for 
     businesses that provide coverage to their employees.
       Time is running short. We urge you to deliver on the 
     promise to reduce premiums for millions of Americans and 
     their families.
           Sincerely,
     America's Health Insurance Plans;
     American Academy of Family Physicians;
     American Benefits Council;
     American Hospital Association;
     American Medical Association;
     Blue Cross Blue Shield Association;
     Federation of American Hospitals;
     U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I want to thank the Senator from Maine 
for her lucid and heartfelt description of what is before us. She has 
been an exceptional leader, and she continues to be. She looks for ways 
to get results.
  She sees people--the plumber I talked about making $60,000, the 
stylist, a farmer--the person who is working and paying all of his or 
her insurance with no subsidy help and who sees the real prospect 
coming that when the rates are announced October 1, they may not be 
able to afford any insurance, and they can see we have a solution for 
that.
  Now, this isn't a Republican solution or a Democratic solution. This 
is a solution that began to be developed almost the day Republicans 
failed to repeal and replace ObamaCare. I walked across the aisle to 
see if we could do what the Democrats were asking. Let's fix what we 
have temporarily so nobody is hurt. As we have explained this 
afternoon, we did that.
  We have a proposal that is the original Alexander-Murray proposal, 
developed in four hearings, in which more than half the Senate 
participated, which at one point the Democratic leader said every 
single Democrat would vote for. It takes an existing part of the 
Affordable Care Act and makes it work--that is the innovation waiver--
gives States more flexibility to create more choices and lower cost 
choices without changing the essential health benefits, without 
changing the guarantee for preexisting conditions. It is really a 
modest change, but it is a significant change. Then it has 3 years of 
cost-sharing subsidies--remember, the President said he did not want to 
pay those, but he supports this--and then 3 years of reinsurance so we 
can help the sickest people who are in the individual market, take them 
out, pay their needs, and reduce rates for everybody else. These are 
the best Republican and Democratic ideas that have been put together in 
a package and, as Senator Collins has said, virtually everyone who has 
looked at this--starting with the Oliver Wyman Health consultants who 
say it reduces rates up to 40 percent, the Congressional Budget Office 
says 20. That is thousands of dollars.
  If you are paying $20,000 for your insurance, if we do nothing, you 
might be paying $24,000. If we do this, you might be paying $16,000. 
That is a lot of money. If we do this, you might be paying $12,000. 
That is thousands of dollars less. That is a big tax cut for you, and 
it is a big tax increase. Why are we not doing this?
  Let's not kid ourselves. There is a lot of scrambling and embarrassed 
running around over on the other side of the aisle to come up with an 
excuse for this, but let's be honest about it. The Democrats are 
blocking this for one reason. They have convinced themselves they do 
not want to apply to the health insurance rate reduction in the omnibus 
bill the same law that applies to more than 100 other programs in this 
omnibus bill. So every single Democrat over here who says: I can't vote 
for a 40-percent rate reduction for you, Mr. Plumber or Ms. Hairstylist 
or Ms. Farmer. I can't do that because I can't put the Hyde amendment 
on it, but I am going to vote to put the Hyde amendment on the National 
Institutes of Health, I am going to vote to put the Hyde amendment on 
community health centers, I am going to vote today to put it on Federal 
employee health benefits and family planning grants under title X and 
100 other programs Democrats are going to vote to put the Hyde language 
on--yet they say we can't put the same language on a 40-percent health 
insurance reduction that is composed of three sections of bipartisan 
legislation that the Democratic leader has said, at least on two-thirds 
of it, that every single Democrat supported. Now, what is that? What is 
that?
  I mean, this should not be a partisan issue. I am not surprised there 
is

[[Page S1912]]

scrambling and embarrassment on the other side of the aisle. I don't 
know how they are going to explain this to the American people. I know 
a lot of people in Tennessee are desperately hoping we succeed. I hear 
it every time I go home.
  Health insurance is the No. 1 concern of the people in my State, and 
the most frightening prospect is, if they can't pay their bills, then 
they can't buy insurance. They might get sick and have no way to take 
care of it.
  Mr. President, I will ask consent to put into the Record a few items. 
The first is a list of 20 programs that are included in the omnibus 
bill we are likely to vote on today that have Hyde protection.
  Now, remember what the Hyde protection is. It is a compromise that 
was created in 1976 that said Federal funds may not be used for 
elective abortions, but basically you may use any other funds, and you 
may create a contract or arrangement to do that. So that is what we do 
with Medicare. That is what we do with Medicaid. That is what we are 
voting today to do at the National Institutes of Health, in the 
community health centers, voting today for the Federal Employee Health 
Benefits Program, for family planning grants, for the Indian health 
programs, for the VA women's health medical care, for global health 
programs, for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and school-based health 
centers. We are voting to put the Hyde protection on area health 
education centers, on maternal and childcare block grants, on the 
National Health Service Corps, but we can't put Hyde protection on 
health insurance--a 40-percent rate reduction on health insurance, a 
bipartisan proposal that has the support of the President, the majority 
leader, and the Speaker. They are all willing to put it in this bill, 
but you say no. You say no, and there is no good reason for that. There 
is no good reason whatsoever.
  We are going to vote to put the Hyde amendment on childcare community 
development block grants.
  I ask unanimous consent that a list of 20 of those programs be 
printed in the Record, although, there are more than 100 we will be 
voting on today.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:


            20 Programs Have Hyde Protections in the Omnibus

       1. National Institutes of Health
       2. Community health centers
       3. Federal Employee Health Benefits Program
       4. Family Planning Grants under Title X
       5. Indian Health Programs
       6. VA women's health medical care
       7. Global health programs at the Centers for Disease 
     Control and Prevention (CDC)
       8. Ryan white HIV/AIDS Program
       9. School based health centers
       10. Area Health Education Centers
       11. Maternal and child health block grant
       12. National Health Service Corps
       13. Bureau of Prisons health programs
       14. Childcare Community Development Block Grants
       15. Community Mental Health Services Block Grant
       16. Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant
       17. State Grants to Respond to the Opioid Crisis
       18. Rural Outreach Grants
       19. Domestic trafficking victim's fund
       20. Garrett Lee Smith youth suicide and early intervention 
     strategies
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent also to have 
printed in the Record a short summary of the three-part, bipartisan 
proposal that will produce the 40-percent rate decreases in the 
individual market, according to Oliver Wyman, and up to 20 percent, 
according to the Congressional Budget Office, over the next 3 years.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:


 Lower Premiums, More State Flexibility, Avoid Chaos in 2019, 2020 and 
                                  2021

       President Trump, Majority Leader McConnell, and Speaker 
     Ryan support this proposal.
     Premium Reduction through State-based Reinsurance Program
       Adds funding for 1332 reinsurance and invisible high risk 
     pool programs at $10 billion a year for 2019, 2020, and 2021, 
     with a federal fallback in the first year.
       Oliver Wyman projected premium decreases and coverage 
     increases:
       2019, 2020, and 2021: 40% lower premiums in states that 
     receive a 1332 waiver than what people in the individual 
     market would pay if Congress doesn't act.
       Will provide insurance coverage to an additional 3.2 
     million individuals.
       An alternate analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, 
     based on real spending on Obamacare subsidies, indicates that 
     the proposal would save over $9 billion over 10 years.
     Make Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers Work
       More flexibility for health plan designs
       Example: Iowa waiver proposal
       Example: higher co-pay opioids, lower co-pay statins
       ``Alaska for All'' (Maine, Minnesota)
       State-based program to help cover costs of the very sick 
     20% premium decrease for everyone
       Streamline approval process
       Let Governors apply for waiver
       Cut federal waiver approval time from 180 days to 120
       Create fast-track approval for emergency situations
       Create fast-track approval for ``copycat'' waivers
       Make the waiver last longer
       Make it harder for a waiver to be cancelled, giving states 
     certainty
       Create model waivers to help states get approved faster


       New Copper Plan: Catastrophic Insurance Regardless of Age

                  Interstate Health Insurance Compacts

     Consumer Notification
       Directs state insurance commissioners to require short-
     term, limited duration insurance display prominently in 
     marketing materials, the contract, and application materials 
     a notice to inform consumers that coverage and benefits 
     differ from coverage offered on the exchanges.
     Consumer Outreach, Education, and Assistance
       Allows HHS to contract with states to conduct outreach and 
     enrollment activities funded by existing user fees designated 
     for these activities.


              No bailout, ends ``silver-loading'' gimmick

     Funds Cost-Sharing Reduction Subsidies
       October through December of 2017, for 2018 for plans that 
     did not silver load and Basic Health Plans.
       Helps those who are below 250% of the poverty level who 
     receive government assistance to help them pay for their 
     deductibles and co-pays.
       All plans for 2019, 2020, and 2021.
     Standard Hyde Protections:
       Includes the same Hyde protections that already apply to 
     Medicaid, Medicare, Children's Health Insurance Program, 
     TRICARE, Indian Health Service, Federal Employees Health 
     Benefits Program, Veterans Affairs, and the Labor-HHS 
     appropriations bill. Clarifies that Hyde exemptions and 
     effect on non-federal funding remain the same.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed 
in the Record the Oliver Wyman analysis entitled ``A Proposal to Lower 
ACA Premiums by More than 40% and Cover 3.2 Million More'' Americans.
       There being no objection, the material was ordered to be 
     printed in the Record, as follows:

                            [March 12, 2018]

A Proposal To Lower ACA Premiums by More Than 40% and Cover 3.2 Million 
                                  More

      (By Tammy Tomczyk, FSA, FCA, MAAA and Kurt Giesa, FSA, MAAA)

       In our December 9, 2017 article, we analyzed the effects of 
     a proposal the US Senate was considering to fund cost-sharing 
     reduction (CSR) payments and appropriate $5 billion in 2019 
     and 2020 for states to establish reinsurance programs to 
     stabilize their individual insurance markets. We discussed 
     how pass-through savings could provide reinsurance coverage 
     equal to roughly $15 billion in protection for high-cost 
     claimants, and how this protection, combined with CSR 
     funding, would bring more people into the individual market 
     and lower premiums by over 20 percent.
       More recent congressional attention is focusing on a 
     proposal that includes an extension of CSRs and a reinsurance 
     program in 2019, 2020, and 2021, funded with a $10 billion 
     appropriation in each year, with a federal fallback option 
     available to states in 2019. The federal fallback option 
     would likely be based on--and use the federal infrastructure 
     built to administer--the Transitional Reinsurance Program in 
     place from 2014 through 2016.
       Our healthcare microsimulation model, used to understand 
     this package's likely effects on the market, assumed states 
     would use federal pass-through savings under Section 1332 of 
     the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to supplement and leverage the 
     $10 billion the considered legislation would authorize and 
     appropriate each year. Pass-through savings result from the 
     fact that the premium subsidies available under the ACA cover 
     the difference between the second lowest cost silver plan 
     available in a rating area and a fixed percentage of a 
     household's income, varying only by federal poverty level 
     (FPL). Lower premiums result directly in lower premium 
     subsidies, and under a Section 1332 waiver, these savings 
     from lower premiums may be used to provide additional 
     reinsurance.
       In our modeling, we are presuming that states will take 
     advantage of these pass-through savings in 2019. In reality, 
     states that have not already begun working on a waiver will 
     be challenged to get a 1332 waiver

[[Page S1913]]

     filed and approved under the current regulatory regime in 
     time to impact 2019 premiums. The current regulatory regime 
     includes a requirement that a state enact enabling 
     legislation, develop an application, hold public hearings 
     during a 30-day public comment period, and submit the 
     application to the US Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS 
     then undertakes a two-step review process that can span up to 
     225 days--up to 45 days for a completeness determination 
     followed by up to 180 days for review. But even those states 
     unable to get a waiver in place for 2019 would still benefit 
     from that year's federal fallback program.
       Therefore, we estimate, under the assumptions described 
     above, that an additional 3.2 million people will be covered 
     in the non-group market, and the proposal would result in 
     premiums that are at least 40 percent lower than they would 
     have been without the proposal in place, across all metal 
     levels. In those states that are not able to obtain a 1332 
     waiver and take advantage of pass-through savings for 2019, 
     we estimate that premium would decline by more than 20 
     percent across all metal levels. Those estimates include an 
     average 10 percent reduction due to the funding of CSRs, with 
     the remaining reduction coming from the reinsurance program.
       As a note, our modeling reflects elimination of the mandate 
     penalty, but does not consider the proposed regulation's 
     likely effects on association health plans or on short-term, 
     limited duration coverage.

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, the Congressional Budget Office 
estimate looks at this proposal two different ways, but it says that if 
we base it on real spending--that is, as if Congress actually passed 
this bill--the Alexander-Murray-Collins-Nelson proposal that reduces 
insurance rates 40 percent saves the Federal taxpayer money. In other 
words, it doesn't cost anything.
  As a U.S. Senator who came here to get results, who enjoys more than 
anything working across party lines to cause that to happen--because it 
takes 60 to get a result--who admires Senators like Senator Collins, 
who spends her time doing that, I am very disappointed, not just for 
me, not just for Senator Collins, who has spent hundreds of hours on 
this, not just for the Senate as an institution, but I think of people 
who come up to me like Marty at the Chick-fil-A, who said: I was paying 
$300 a month, and now I am paying $1,300 a month. I can't afford it; I 
am a farmer.
  I said: I have a Christmas present for you. And then I thought, well, 
I have a Valentine's present for you, and then I thought maybe I could 
say I have an Easter present for you, and now I can say I can't do 
it because the Democratic Party voted to put the Hyde protection on 
more than 100 programs today--as it has done every year since 1976--but 
it refused to put the Hyde protection on a 40-percent rate decrease 
that was developed across party lines, in long hearings that were 
attended by more than half the Senators--all of them coming in and 
saying: Oh, this is a wonderful thing.

  They came up to me and said: Chairman Alexander, this is so good. We 
wish the Senate would act like this more. We like the fact that you are 
having open hearings. Democrats are coming. You are letting us all come 
without being a member of the committee.
  Why are we not doing more of this? This is why we don't do more of 
it. We come to a result. We come up to a partisan end that hurts 
people.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.


                      Omnibus Appropriations Bill

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, I wish to talk a little bit about 
election security, but on a day like today, I have to at least mention 
where we are with the giant omnibus bill that got dropped on us last 
night at about 8:30--about 2,300 pages of legislative text--to try to 
deal with all of government spending, all of discretionary spending.
  If people don't know what an omnibus is, it is where we are supposed 
to pass 12 individuals bills dealing with 12 different topics of our 
spending. An omnibus is when you take all 12 of those and just do it at 
once. It is supposed to be the exception to the rule, but for the last 
17 years, we have done some version of an omnibus. Today's vote will be 
the 18th.
  We have 2,300 pages with technical legislative language and less than 
24 hours to be able to go through it. There is no way to be able to 
discover what all is in it.
  There is another historic event that has happened this past week, as 
well, which I think connects to this omnibus. Last Friday, the Treasury 
Department announced that we just crossed over $21 trillion in total 
debt--$21 trillion.
  I have had some folks who have caught me and said: Now that we have 
gone over $21 trillion and it looks like we could be rapidly 
approaching $1 trillion of deficit this year alone--which would mean 
that in the next 12 to 14 months, we will go from $21 trillion to $22 
trillion in total debt--gosh, that looks terrible. It has to be this 
Republican tax plan that is causing it. Well, there will probably be 
some deficit spending with the Republican tax plan that went in because 
it will take a couple of years for the income to be able to accelerate 
with it, but this omnibus alone is $300 billion of additional 
spending--just this, $300 billion.
  So we go up to over $600 billion in deficit spending this past year, 
and this omnibus will add another $300 billion to that. The disaster 
relief funding that was done this year was $140 billion on top of that, 
and the interest payment increase--just the increase--from last year to 
this year was $54 billion.
  It is not just some Republican tax plan that made this change. This 
is a very rapid acceleration in overspending that is happening right in 
front of our eyes, and the omnibus is not slowing it down. It is 
accelerating it. We have to change how we are doing budgeting and the 
trajectory that we face.
  There are 16 of us who have started meeting last month--8 Democrats 
and 8 Republicans, half from the House and half from the Senate--to 
evaluate how we do budgeting.
  The 1974 Congressional Budget Act that we are currently operating 
under created this incredibly complicated system that has not worked in 
a decade. Every year we come up and try to do it again, and every year 
we end up with some omnibus package, and none of us has an amendment. 
None of us has an opportunity to be able to see it, read it, or go 
through it. It is just this: Here is the number. There it is. Vote for 
it or not.
  We have to be able to fix that process. There is no long-term 
strategy. There is no regular order. There is no opportunity to be able 
to make changes. There is no plan.
  My hope is that by the end of the year, this bipartisan group will 
have the opportunity to be able to present a different way of doing 
budgeting. That is not trying to be partisan but just to be able to put 
a neutral process in place in which we can actually be strategic about 
where we are going, because we are accidentally stumbling into more and 
more debt every single month, and it will happen again today.


                           Election Security

  Mr. President, I wish to chat with this body a little bit about 
election security. Just to give a quick update, as many of you know, 
the Department of Homeland Security has been actively engaged in trying 
to fix what they can on election security leading up to the 2018 time 
period.
  I have absolutely zero doubt that the Russians tried to meddle in our 
elections in 2016. They started in 2014 trying to strategically plan 
for how they were going to try to interfere in our elections--the 
social media, the false news, and as many different ways as they can to 
be able to get out information and misinformation. They started the 
process early. Quite frankly, they planned and executed well. They 
exposed a weakness in our system.
  We are an open society that is exceptionally trusting of each other, 
and we are not used to having a foreign entity try to reach in and try 
to influence us like that.
  What the Russians exposed in 2016, we should be well able to push 
back against in 2018 and 2020 and not be caught off guard again. The 
Russians reached in and scammed multiple States in their election 
systems. They were looking at voter rolls, trying to figure out if they 
could get access to those. Now, they can't change votes by just looking 
at voter registrations, but if they could look at and download those 
files, they could also change those files, edit names, edit addresses, 
and then, suddenly, when people show up to vote, they are not really 
registered anymore or they are registered at a different precinct. They 
could create chaos on election day just by going in and editing those 
names. They could go into the unofficial results websites of 
secretaries of State and during the

[[Page S1914]]

day of the election actually start putting up false election results or 
changing algorithms and numbers, so that when numbers are added, they 
are actually counted wrong, just to create uncertainty in the process. 
So when the actual election day comes, the unofficial results come out, 
and they are not reliable and everyone doubts the system itself.
  Again, that doesn't change votes, and it doesn't change outcomes, but 
it certainly destabilizes the system. We should be aware of that.
  We have multiple States--there are not many, but there are around 10 
to 12 States--that cannot audit their elections when Election Day comes 
and goes. That means that they are completely counting on the machine 
to be able to keep an accurate count. Now, that machine is not attached 
to the internet. In fact, there is no State that has their election 
equipment attached to the internet on the day of the election, but for 
almost every one of them, there is a software update right before the 
election. If any entity were to be able to get into any one of the 
third-party software companies when the update is done and just put a 
bit of software in there that just messes with the machine, you would 
literally not know if that election result was reliable or not.
  Did that happen last time? No. Were the Russians looking to try to 
find different software companies and the different makes and models of 
those companies that make our election machines? Yes, and we should 
take that as a warning sign. Last time they were looking, and next time 
they may be looking to mess with it and change it. We should be well 
prepared for that.
  We have a piece of legislation. It is a very straightforward piece of 
legislation about secure elections. Myself, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala 
Harris, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins, and most of us who are all 
engaged in this one simple issue say: How do we stabilize our elections 
system?
  Elections are run by States and should be run by States. There is no 
reason for us to federalize elections, but the Federal Government 
should walk alongside States and say some simple things: We are going 
to have quick communication between the States and the Federal 
Government. So if a foreign entity is trying to reach into your State 
to mess with your system, we can quickly let you know about it, and we 
can help you in the process of protecting your State.
  The last time this occurred in 2016, it was months before the 
Department of Homeland Security was able to actually engage with those 
States to let them know that what was really happening was a foreign 
actor and to be able to help them with their security. We have to be 
faster on that.
  We want to be able to streamline that communication. We want to 
encourage States, when they buy election equipment or they get election 
equipment, that they be able to audit their results on the day of the 
elections. The Federal Government should not pick their equipment. 
Those States should because it is a State responsibility. But we should 
incentivize them to actually lean in and make sure their equipment is 
good, because at the end of the day, in a Presidential election, we are 
all counting on every other State to make sure their election system is 
good. If it is not, it is a problem for all of us.
  We want to make sure that there is not only streamlined communication 
and that there is not only good and auditable equipment, but that we 
actually give classification to individuals so that they can deal with 
classified information. That didn't happen last time, and so, again, it 
was months before there was any contact back and forth, because the 
Federal Government wanted to notify the States of what was happening, 
but no one had the clearance to be able to get the information. Let's 
fix that.
  DHS is in the process of fixing that, but we would like to put in 
legislation that just remains, so that in the future, we don't lull 
ourselves to sleep again. Last time, it was the Russians. Next time, it 
could be the North Koreans. Next time, it could be the Iranians. Next 
time, it could be a domestic activist group that is just mad at 
somebody for something, and they have learned the vulnerabilities that 
the Russians pointed out.
  In the days ahead, we need to secure our system for our election. It 
is not a partisan issue. It shouldn't be a partisan issue, but it 
should be something we learn the lesson on.
  We are quickly learning the lessons about our vulnerabilities--cyber 
vulnerabilities in our pipelines, in our electric grids, in our phone 
systems, in internet fibers, in our election systems, in our banking 
systems, and in multiple other areas. We should learn this lesson and 
learn it well.
  There are people who mean to do us harm. They are not necessarily 
going to attack us bodily, but they don't like our growing economy, 
they don't like our values, they don't like our openness, and they want 
to use our openness against us. We can't imagine doing that to someone 
else. They practice doing that to us.
  We need to put up a basic guard, and we need to communicate to 
nations and nation-states around the world: If you come and attack us, 
this is going to be our response, so that they clearly know what they 
are facing when they come after us next time.
  It happened once. It will happen again. Let's make sure that we are 
ready. Let's pass this bill about safe elections and get our elections 
secure so that we can trust the results year after year after year, as 
we have in the past.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.


                 Self-Initiation Trade Enforcement Act

  Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, my home State of Michigan has the best and 
most productive workers in the world. Michigan workers built the 
American auto industry and the American middle class, and they continue 
to roll out cutting edge innovations.
  Our farmers and agricultural producers deliver an incredible 
diversity of fresh products to American families day in and day out. 
Our cars, trucks, crops, timber, furniture, and more are shipped across 
the United States and exported all across the globe.
  In America, we believe that if you work hard and you play by the 
rules, you will be able to support yourself and your family and 
prosper. Unfortunately, our Nation's workers and businesses are too 
often facing unfair competition from foreign competitors.
  Our businesses, which play by the rules and pay their workers a fair 
wage for a hard day's work, too often lose business to foreign 
competitors who cheat. It is one thing to lose a sale to a competitor 
that has the right product at the right time or is better positioned in 
the market--that certainly happens--but it is another thing altogether 
to lose because an international competitor is being subsidized by a 
foreign government or deliberately dumping goods below cost to drive 
American companies out of business. This needs to stop, and it needs to 
stop now.
  Large companies are able to directly combat these practices by hiring 
teams of lawyers to enforce international trade rules, but what about 
family farms, small auto parts suppliers, and other small manufacturers 
that don't keep international trade lawyers on their payroll? American 
small businesses, family farms, and the workers who show up every 
morning can outcompete anyone on this planet if they are given a level 
playing field. It is time to give them that level playing field. We 
should be using the expertise and the strength of the Federal 
Government to stick up for these small businesses and give them a fair 
fight.
  Under current law, the Commerce Department has the authority to start 
their own trade investigation into these harmful trade practices, but 
they barely ever use it. That is why I have introduced the Self-
Initiation Trade Enforcement Act with my colleague Senator Burr.

  This bipartisan legislation will strengthen protections for small 
businesses and their workers by creating a permanent task force within 
the Commerce Department to support proactive investigations into unfair 
trade practices by foreign competitors. This task force will research 
trade data, spot abusive, unfair trade practices, and start formal 
investigations. This task force will also focus on cases impacting 
small- and medium-sized businesses--the exact businesses that need the 
support but may not even know how to ask for it.
  Additionally, putting the weight of the Commerce Department behind

[[Page S1915]]

these efforts shields these businesses from foreign retaliation. If a 
small business is able to track international trade data and if they 
are then able to hire a legal team necessary to successfully prosecute 
their claims--and believe me, these are two big ifs--they could still 
face retaliation from foreign governments that could make it harder for 
them to export after they win their case. An individual cherry grower 
in northern Michigan, for example, faces nearly impossible hurdles in 
taking on a foreign government, but the Commerce Department can look 
out for these small growers across the Nation and be their champion.
  At a recent bipartisan trade policy meeting that I attended, I was 
able to speak with President Trump and Commerce Secretary Ross about 
this bipartisan legislation. They both expressed their strong support, 
and I will continue working with them and my colleagues in Congress 
until this legislation is signed into law. Michigan workers and 
businesses just want a fair chance to compete, and I will never stop 
fighting for them so they can compete fairly and so they can win.
  I urge my colleagues to support the Self-Initiation Trade Enforcement 
Act that will help small businesses and family farms all across 
Michigan and all across the United States.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.


                              Jessie's Law

  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, after 2 years of hard work and because of 
the determination and strength of David and Kate Grubb of Charleston, 
WV, Jessie's Law was finally passed by Congress and signed into law, 
and I thank each and every one of my colleagues for their support.
  Jessie's Law is different from other pieces of legislation. Jessie's 
Law will actually save lives and prevent parents from experiencing the 
heartbreak of losing a child.
  Jessie Grubb's story is known to many of you already, but for those 
of you who haven't heard it and for those of you who don't know it, I 
want to go over some of the highlights.
  After years of struggling with heroin addiction, Jessie had been 
doing very well. She had been sober for 6 months. She was focusing on 
making a life for herself in Michigan and was training for a marathon. 
She had surgery for an infection related to her running injury and died 
the day after leaving the hospital. All of her hard work was ruined 
because of a careless mistake.
  Jessie's death is particularly heartbreaking because it was 100 
percent preventable. Her parents, David and Kate, traveled to Michigan 
for Jessie's surgery. Both Jesse and her parents told her doctors and 
hospital personnel that she was a recovering addict. It was reflected 
in her medical records in eight different places. However, it was not 
highlighted the same as it would be when you have any type of an 
allergy or if you go in and they ask--the question is usually asked--
are you allergic to penicillin? Then it is very much highlighted, to 
the point that a mistake would not be made. This was not done.
  After Jessie's surgery, the discharging doctor said he didn't know 
she was a recovering addict and sent her home with a prescription for 
50 oxycodone pills. She should never have been given a description for 
opioid medication in the first place, as she had asked when she entered 
the hospital.
  With the passage of Jessie's Law, we have taken the critical step 
toward saying that this will never happen again. Jessie's Law will 
establish new standards for healthcare providers to ensure that when a 
patient provides information about their opiate addiction, that 
information is shared with their doctors and nurses and is flagged just 
like we would flag a drug allergy. Having this critical information 
will help ensure that healthcare providers can make medically 
appropriate decisions about pain management for recovering opiate 
addicts. This simple step could have saved Jessie's life, and we owe it 
to her memory to make the change and keep other families from 
experiencing the same pain.
  It has been over 2 years. You would have thought this would have been 
done within 2 weeks. It is such common sense. I don't think anyone 
realized before that they could not or did not or were not responsible 
for or were not by law supposed to basically make sure that every 
record--every transcript that she had in that hospital should have been 
marked and highlighted so nobody could have missed it.
  Jessie's story and her family's pain are all too common in West 
Virginia and throughout this Nation. In 2016, 884 West Virginians lost 
their lives due to overdose. We have the highest loss of life per 
capita in the Nation--the highest in the Nation. Every hour, five 
people die from an opiate overdose. With continued support and tireless 
work from everyone, we can beat this epidemic once and for all. 
Jessie's legacy will save people's lives and will prevent parents and 
families from dealing with the pain and tragedy of losing a child.
  David and Kate, Jessie's parents, have been determined from day one 
to make sure Jessie's death wasn't meaningless, and I am honored to say 
that Jessie's legacy will live on for a long, long time--long after we 
are gone. I talked to David and Kate today, and I can't tell you how 
elated they were to know that it will finally pass in a piece of 
legislation we will be voting on shortly. It is going to save a lot of 
heartache and a lot of pain and the tragedy that families suffer.
  This was a beautiful young lady, as you can see. She was very 
intelligent, very athletic. She just happened to fall into the pits of 
this horrible epidemic we have.
  We thought when we first heard it that it was just an oversight, but 
there are the HIPAA laws and all the different concerns that people 
have for privacy, and we weren't able to change it. The Presiding 
Officer, being a physician, knows how hospitals work and how the 
information is treasured and guarded. But this was one where we 
thought, my goodness, if there is an allergy, if you are allergic to 
penicillin--if I come into the hospital as a patient and tell you that 
I am a recovering addict, so please make sure that everyone in this 
hospital knows that I have had an addiction and that I still have 
addiction problems that I will have all my life, but I am recovering--
Jessie was 6 months sober, and for some reason, it was not identified.
  Jessie's legacy will live on and the courage her parents have had to 
fight this fight so that we all can share it with the rest of the 
country, and maybe save countless lives throughout the country and each 
one of our States, and all the parents who suffer through this.
  The lives of David and Kate will be forever changed, but they have 
the beautiful memory of this beautiful young lady, 30 years of age, 
Jessie Grubb.
  Thank you, 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. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                                  DACA

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, we are in the process of considering an 
omnibus budget bill. It is over 2,000 pages long. In fairness, it 
includes many provisions of legislation that has been worked on by many 
of us for months, so it isn't a surprise package, by and large. There 
are elements in it that are new and that have been recently negotiated, 
but the underlying bill--the appropriations bills included in it--has 
been the subject of committee hearings and negotiations literally for 
months. I know that because since last year, we have been working on 
the Defense Department appropriations, which is included in the bill.
  My reason for coming to the floor, though, is to address an issue 
that is not included in the omnibus bill--one that I believe should be 
and one that is timely and compelling--and there is no reason why it is 
not included. It relates to those young people who were brought to the 
United States by their parents when they were infants, toddlers, 
children, and ended up in undocumented status in this country.
  Some of them--a very small number of them--may have been smuggled 
across the border into the United States. More likely, a common 
situation is that they came here on a visitor's visa with their 
parents, the visa

[[Page S1916]]

expired, and they stayed. That accounts for almost half of those who 
are currently undocumented in the United States.
  The difference is obvious. We are talking about children who really 
had no voice in their parents' decision about coming to this country 
and who literally grew up here, many times believing they were legal in 
the United States. It wasn't until later in life, usually when they 
were 10 or 12 years old, that their mothers and fathers sat down and 
said to them: We never filed the appropriate papers. You are 
undocumented in America. It means that your life is different from the 
lives of all the other kids you go to school with.
  These kids may be worried about making the football team or getting 
an A in math, but then their parents say: You also have to be worried 
about somebody knocking on our front door and deporting our family back 
to some other country.
  Your life in the United States could end at any moment. Be careful. 
Be careful not to violate the law. Be careful to keep your head down. 
Whatever you do, don't tell people that you are undocumented because it 
could subject you and members of your family to automatic deportation.
  That is what they grew up with. Through no fault of their own, they 
were brought to the United States. They are living in this country. 
They are standing in classrooms in our schools, pledging allegiance to 
that flag every single day, yet not legal, not documented in the United 
States. They are undocumented.
  Sixteen or seventeen years ago, I introduced a bill called the DREAM 
Act, which said that those young kids deserve a chance--a chance to 
earn their way to legal status, earn their way to citizenship. If they 
become part of drug gangs or criminal enterprises, so be it--they will 
forfeit any right to become any part of America's future; if not, if 
they are prepared to finish school and prepared to either continue 
their education, enlist in our military, or get a good job, we will 
give them a chance. That is what the DREAM Act said, and for 17 years, 
I have been trying to make it the law of the land, and I have fallen 
short.
  President Obama, when he was a Senator here from Illinois, was my 
colleague, and he was my cosponsor on the DREAM Act. So when he became 
President and it was clear that we couldn't pass the DREAM Act in 
Congress, I asked him: As President, can you do something to help? And 
he did. He created the DACA Program.
  Under the DACA Program, these young people could come forward, pay 
about a $500 filing fee, and go through a criminal background check to 
make sure they were no danger to this country. If they passed it, they 
would be given permission under President Obama's Executive order--
under the DACA order--to live in the United States for 2 years at a 
time and then to renew their status. During that 2 years, they couldn't 
be deported, and they could legally work.
  It was a big decision for a lot of these young people. Remember what 
I said earlier--that their parents had warned them: Don't tell the 
government who you are. Don't tell them where you live. They could use 
that information against you.
  But 780,000 young people came forward, trusting this government--
trusting that if we invited them to be a part of the United States on a 
renewable, temporary basis, it would not ultimately hurt them--780,000.
  What did they end up doing? Most of them went to school, but going to 
school as an undocumented person in America is a different challenge. 
You don't qualify for one penny of Federal assistance--no Pell grants, 
no government loans--so getting through college under those 
circumstances means borrowing money from some other source or working 
jobs to pay for your education, which many of them did.
  Over the years, these DACA recipients ended up graduating from 
school. There are 20,000 of them teaching in schools across America. 
They are the teachers in the grade school and middle school and high 
school classes, and they have DACA protection. Nine hundred of them 
volunteered to serve in our military. Think about that for a moment. 
They stood up and took an oath to serve the United States in the 
military and to literally risk their lives for a country that does not 
recognize their legal status. Nine hundred of them are in that 
circumstance.

  Many of them have done amazing things in their lives. I have come to 
the floor and told maybe 100, 110 stories of these Dreamers. They are 
amazing young people. They are resilient; they are talented; they are 
promising; they are exciting. Yet they are not legal in the eyes of the 
law in America.
  So we tried. We tried to make sure there was a way to protect them 
when the new President came into office. President Trump had said very 
clearly in his campaign that immigration was a big issue. He said a lot 
of things. Some of them were inflammatory, but, interestingly enough, 
he said several times that Dreamers are different. These young people 
are different.
  He told me personally: Senator, don't worry about it; we are going to 
take care of those kids. I believed him. I was hoping he would find a 
way to either embrace the Dream Act or extend DACA so that these young 
people would have their chance.
  But on September 5 of last year, President Trump made an announcement 
with Attorney General Sessions. He said: This is the end of DACA. This 
is the end of protection for these young people. By March 5 of this 
year, 2018, the program will no longer exist. He said to Congress: Do 
something about it. He challenged us to pass a law.
  The March 5 deadline was looming. Young people were falling out of 
the protection of DACA status, and their lives were uncertain. Some of 
them had quit school. They just didn't think there was any future or 
hope for them. Some of them faced the prospect of losing their job when 
they lost DACA protection. That was the reality.
  So there we sat, with that March 5 deadline looming--a deadline we 
knew was important because that was when all protection and all 
renewals would end for many, many thousands of these young people. A 
number of us took it up as a challenge, six of us--three Democrats and 
three Republicans. We sat down for months to try to write a new DACA 
law--and then there was a breakthrough.
  On January 9 of this year, President Trump called about 24 or 25 
Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate Members, to actually come 
to a meeting at the White House in the Cabinet room. It was an 
interesting meeting. It was the fourth time I had ever spoken to 
President Trump, and he invited me to sit right next to him. It was a 
little surprising that a Democratic Senator would be allowed to do 
that, but he invited me to, and we spent an hour, with the television 
coverage constant, discussing this issue. The President said some 
things that were encouraging about what we could do to solve this 
problem--a problem he had created when he eliminated the DACA Program.
  He said many things during the course of that meeting. He said: 
``We're going to do DACA, and then we can start immediately on . . . 
phase two, which would be comprehensive.'' He was referring to other 
immigration measures. Then he said: ``We do a phase one, which is DACA 
and security, and we do phase two, which is comprehensive 
immigration.''
  The President added that as part of any immigration deal, he wanted 
to end the diversity visa lottery--a separate issue--and change our 
longstanding laws that have allowed families to stay together and 
eventually be reunited as Americans. He referred to this as chain 
migration.
  When the President made that offer to solve the problem, which he had 
created when he eliminated DACA, several of us came back to Capitol 
Hill and said: We have to get this done.
  We labored quickly and made some tough decisions, Democrats giving on 
some issues, Republicans giving on others. We came up with a bipartisan 
bill--just what the President had asked for.
  We called him. It was 2 days later--January 11. I know; I made the 
call. I said: Mr. President, we have a bill. Senator Graham, a 
Republican of South Carolina, and I, as well as four other Senators, 
have come up with a bipartisan bill.
  He said: Bring it to the White House. Don't waste any time. I want to 
get this done.
  That was at 10 in the morning. We were scheduled and went to the 
White

[[Page S1917]]

House at noon. By the time we arrived, it was pretty clear that 
something dramatic had happened in the meantime, because someone in the 
White House had invited five other Members of Congress from the 
Republican Party, all of whom opposed our effort. The meeting was 
pretty well stacked against us. I will not get into the detail of the 
meeting. It has been widely reported. But at the end of it, President 
Trump rejected a bipartisan approach to solving this problem.
  It wasn't the only time he rejected a bipartisan approach. Senator 
Schumer and Leader Pelosi had offered him a similar approach before, 
saying: We can work together. It appeared they had an agreement, but it 
evaporated in a matter of hours.
  We know, as well, that there were offers made of bipartisan 
approaches. Senator McCain and Senator Coons offered a bill on the 
floor of the Senate. It was a good bill--not exactly what I wanted by 
any means, but at least it solved the problem. It was vehemently 
rejected by the Trump administration.
  All in all, there were six different bipartisan proposals offered to 
President Trump to solve the problem he had created by eliminating 
DACA. He rejected every single one of them.
  He sent to the floor of the Senate a bill offered by Senator Grassley 
of Iowa. Senator Grassley's bill embodied the President's approach to 
this. Now, understand the Senate's scorecard here. There are 51 
Republican Senators and 49 Democratic Senators. So when the President 
called his own bill, one of our Senators, Senator McCain, was away ill, 
but there were 50 Republican Senators and 49 Democrats who voted on 
that day.
  How many votes did the President's immigration proposal get? Thirty-
nine. The President got 39 votes. It was kind of a shock that the 
President's own party didn't support the President's bill--at least not 
all of them.
  When we offered the one I supported, the plan offered by Senator 
Rounds and Senator King, it ended up with 54 votes. Eight Republicans 
joined to have a bipartisan measure. But it wasn't enough; 54 votes 
will not do it. On an issue like this, it takes 60. So we have 
nothing--nothing. What that means is, in the eyes of the law, for the 
time being, these DACA-protected young people have no legal 
protection--save one other element.
  While we were debating, the courts were also involved. Two different 
Federal courts issued an order to the Trump administration and said: 
Stop. Don't do another thing; don't deport these kids. In fact, allow 
them to renew their DACA status.
  Former Senator Sessions, now the Attorney General, filed an emergency 
effort before the U.S. Supreme Court to stop that decision, and the 
U.S. Supreme Court rejected it. So now, today, there at least has been 
a postponement of deporting the young DACA kids. We don't know if that 
postponement will last a week, a month, a year. There is no telling. It 
is a pending court case. That is the only thing that is stopping the 
deportation of these 780,000 young people. That is it.
  The obvious question is, Well, why did you stop? If you failed to 
meet the March 5 deadline, why didn't the Congress--why didn't the 
Senate, why didn't the House--continue the effort to try to solve this 
problem? Isn't that what you were elected to do, Mr. Senator?
  The answer, obviously, is: Yes, we should. But we haven't.
  That is why I have come to the floor today. We have this 2,000-page 
bill that does not solve the DACA problem. We have this 2,000-page bill 
that addresses every subject imaginable but doesn't address the looming 
deadline we face in America. We are one court decision away from 
hundreds of thousands of young people being deported.
  What do the American people think of this idea of undocumented 
people, here but not recognized by law? I will tell you what they 
think. Eighty-five percent of the American people believe we ought to 
do what is right and fair for these young people. They support the 
Dreamers, and they support giving DACA protection. Eighty-five 
percent--60 percent of those who voted for President Trump--say that we 
should fix the DACA Program.
  But we have failed again. We have failed to do what the President 
challenged us to do, as he continues to reject every bipartisan 
proposal that has been brought before him--every one of them.
  I am going to be making a unanimous consent request when this is 
over. I think I know how it will end. Any single Senator can object and 
stop the protection of these DACA young people, and one is prepared to 
do it. It is my understanding that he is going to demand that we 
instead pass the President's immigration plan, which received--
remember--39 votes. Not even all of the Republican Senators supported 
it. It wasn't bipartisan in any way. There are provisions in the 
President's plan that are just plain wrong, and even 14 Republicans 
realize that and voted against it.
  So here we are at this moment, with an important bill with many 
positive aspects in it for all of America, including my State of 
Illinois. Yet there is one critical element still missing. We have 
failed to include a provision to solve the DACA problem created by 
President Trump. His refusal to accept any bipartisan compromise leaves 
us emptyhanded and these poor young people struggling to figure out 
what their lives will be.
  Last week, I was in the Chicago for what I refer to as high holy days 
in Chicago--the St. Patrick's Day weekend, with parades and parties and 
breakfasts and lunches. I skipped one of the traditional breakfasts to 
go out to Loyola University's school of medicine. The reason I went 
there is called Match Day at medical schools. It is when graduates of 
medical schools apply for their residencies. Residency, of course, is a 
continuation of their education, leading up to their becoming actual 
practicing physicians. It is a huge day in each of their lives. They 
have gone through college; they have finished medical school; and now 
they wait for that letter that gives them a chance to finish their 
medical education.
  I wanted to be there because six of the graduates of the Loyola 
University Chicago Stritch College of Medicine were protected by DACA. 
They are young people who are extraordinarily talented from all over 
the United States. They were given a chance to go to medical school, 
and here they were in a situation, waiting to see if they could become 
doctors. It turned out that because of our failure--because of the 
President's removing the DACA Program and our failure to pass a 
replacement, two of them have their residencies in doubt. A residency 
is a job. It is a big job. You don't just work 40 hours a week. It is 
sometimes 60 to 80 hours a week. It is a big undertaking. These young 
people, without DACA protection, cannot legally work in America and, 
therefore, found it next to impossible to find hospitals and 
universities that would take them and allow them to complete their 
medical education. That is the real-life consequence of our failure to 
act.
  That is the real-life consequence of our failure to include in this 
omnibus bill--or any bill to this point--a solution to the problem 
created by President Trump. That is why I am going to make this 
unanimous consent request that will, in fact, pass the Dream Act, solve 
this once and for all, and create a law that protects these young 
people and others in similar categories--one that has been offered on a 
bipartisan basis in the Senate and one that I believe should be passed 
immediately.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 1615

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on the 
Judiciary be discharged from further consideration of S. 1615 and the 
Senate proceed to its immediate consideration. I further ask consent 
that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and the motion 
to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no 
intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from North Carolina.
  Mr. TILLIS. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, first, I 
thank Senator Durbin for 17 years of work on this issue and for 
highlighting the reality that there are so many people who came here 
through the decisions of their parents--not decisions of their own. I, 
for one, believe they deserve a path to citizenship.
  I felt so strongly about it that I did something I don't believe any 
Republican-only bill has ever done before. I filed a bill, along with 
Senator

[[Page S1918]]

Lankford, to do just that--to provide a path to citizenship not only to 
the 690,000 who had enrolled in the DACA Program but to some 1.2 
million.
  I believe we need to come up with a solution to this problem, and I 
thank Senator Durbin for his dogged tenacity on this issue. I believe 
that if we continue to focus on it, we will succeed.
  I just need to set a few facts straight. I know the majority leader 
is in the Chamber, and I will keep my comments brief.
  I was in that January 9 meeting as well. In the January 9 meeting, we 
had an extraordinary meeting, and most of it was on tape. But the 
reality is, in the January 9 meeting, we walked away with an 
understanding that there were four pillars on which we were going to 
build a bipartisan bill. The President looked to the whips in the 
minority and the majority, and he said: You guys get together, produce 
a bipartisan bill, and I will support it.
  The goal was to go out and have everybody get together with the 
diverse interests that were represented in the room and come up with 
that bipartisan bill. We have to talk about ``bipartisan.'' A 
bipartisan bill is not a bill that gets just Republicans and Democrats 
on it. A bipartisan bill is a bill that gets up to 60--at least 60--
Republicans and Democrats on it. About a month ago, we came to the 
floor and had four bills. There was no open debate. It was just an up-
or-down vote. That is why it failed. It also failed when there were 
supermajorities, when President Obama was in place, when not a single 
Republican vote was necessary. That is why President Obama issued the 
DACA Executive order.
  President Trump did not create this problem. It was the inaction of 
Congress and even a Democratic-controlled Presidency and supermajority-
controlled Congress that couldn't solve this problem for whatever 
reason.
  On the bill that we had, we had three Democrats vote. I guess I could 
argue that 39 votes were Democrats. That was a bipartisan bill, but it 
was a bill that didn't get 60 votes.
  I hope we will continue to work on this issue so that we can provide 
certainty to the DACA population. It is not too late to do it. I think 
about the Dreamers every single day. They deserve a path to 
citizenship. The President deserves to be able to look the American 
people in the face and say he secured the border and made the homeland 
safer. I think we can work on some of the legal immigration issues that 
can actually get this solved.
  Senator Durbin, I look forward to working with you, and let this be 
the Congress where we actually solve the problem.


                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 2579

  Mr. President, at this time, I ask unanimous consent that the Senator 
modify his request and the Senate resume consideration of H.R. 2579; I 
further ask that the pending amendments be withdrawn with the exception 
of the Grassley amendment No. 1959; and, finally, I ask that the 
Grassley amendment be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be considered 
read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be 
considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or 
debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection to the modification?
  Mr. DURBIN. Reserving the right to object, Mr. President, I thank the 
Senator from North Carolina, and I believe he does have a genuine 
interest in this issue. I attended several of our meetings to discuss a 
bipartisan compromise, and I hope we can continue to do that. In the 
meantime, though, what he has offered is the Grassley approach, which 
was President Trump's immigration approach, which limited legal 
migration to the United States and members of families who wanted to be 
reunified, some of whom have waited 10 or 20 years to rejoin their 
families in the United States. Unfortunately, it also included the $25 
billion wall, which may be the price that has to be paid to spare these 
young DACA Dreamers, but I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Is there objection to the original request?
  Mr. TILLIS. I object, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Maine.


                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 1625

  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that when the 
Senate proceeds to the consideration of the House message to accompany 
H.R. 1625, the omnibus appropriations bill, the Collins-Alexander 
amendment at the desk be considered and agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I want to 
take a moment to talk about how we got to this point and why I am 
hopeful that, despite the Republican leader's decision to once again 
scuttle bipartisan negotiations on health stabilization, we can return 
to the table and work together to do what patients and families want; 
that is, to strengthen healthcare and lower the premiums next year.
  Chairman Alexander had said that in September every Democrat in the 
Senate was ready to pass the original Alexander-Murray legislation, and 
he is right. We wanted to work with Republicans to undo as much of 
President Trump's healthcare sabotage as possible because of how it is 
hurting families and forcing them to pay more for care. Unfortunately, 
Senator McConnell blocked our bipartisan agreement because he wanted to 
pressure his caucus into supporting yet another harmful Republican 
repeal bill. That TrumpCare bill failed, and I was again hopeful that 
after it did, we could make progress on our bipartisan legislation. 
Instead, Senate Republican leaders opted to do the exact opposite. They 
jammed through a terrible tax bill that actually raises families' 
premiums to pay for tax cuts for massive corporations. Even after that, 
I and Democrats were still at the table and ready to do what we could 
to stabilize markets and lower families' healthcare costs.
  Imagine my frustration when, at the very last minute--just days ago--
Republicans leaders once again made clear that they didn't want to 
lower families' premiums. They didn't want to stabilize a healthcare 
system that, as one House Republican said, they never supported anyway. 
Senate Republicans opted, instead, to surprise Democrats with a new, 
last-minute partisan proposal, the so-called stabilization bill, which 
included poison pills that Republicans knew Democrats would never agree 
to.
  The partisan bill that Republicans surprised us with would undermine 
access to care for people with preexisting conditions by writing 
President Trump's junk plans rule into law and by taking away 
protections included in our original agreement with Chairman Alexander 
to make sure that the sickest patients don't find themselves in a 
dramatically more expensive market.

  This partisan bill also pulled the most worn page out of the 
Republicans' ideological playbook--making extreme, political attacks on 
women's healthcare. This partisan bill would take huge steps beyond 
current law, making it so women can't even buy abortion coverage using 
their own money.
  From the start of negotiations last fall, I made it abundantly clear 
I will not allow women's reproductive freedoms to become a political 
football in these conversations. I also made clear that I understood, 
like it or not, that current prohibitions on taxpayer funding for 
abortion services would apply to our agreement. But that is not what 
this is--not at all.
  I think that was made pretty clear when Republicans surprised us with 
this last-minute change in a press release without inviting any 
Democrats to join. I believe, and I think most people would agree, that 
the massive expansion of restrictions on women's access to safe, legal 
abortion we see in this partisan bill has nothing to do with lowering 
families' premiums or making healthcare work better in our country. 
That is not something that was in our original deal that had bipartisan 
support, and it is not something that should be in this bill now.
  I am extremely disappointed that we have reached this point, but it 
does not mean I am giving up on getting this done. I know many 
Republicans have said that this is the end of the road for bipartisan 
negotiations on healthcare, but it is only if they choose that route.

[[Page S1919]]

  Today I am laying out what I hope Republicans and Democrats will 
ultimately be able to agree on. This is legislation that includes 
current law prohibitions on taxpayer funding for abortion--what Senate 
Democrats and Republicans agreed was acceptable months ago. It would 
take strong steps to lower premiums and make healthcare more affordable 
for patients. It would hold protections for people with preexisting 
conditions, as so many Republicans and Democrats have said we need to 
do.
  We are frustratingly close to an agreement, and I still do believe we 
can get there. This shouldn't be about the blame game. It should not be 
about pointing fingers. This has to be about getting results.
  I hope Republicans and Democrats will join me in supporting the 
amendment I am offering today, and even if they don't, I hope we can 
get back to the table and resume talks. I truly believe there are 
Republicans who want to do the right thing for patients and families, 
even if their leadership is determined to avoid a real debate and vote 
on the so-called ObamaCare bailout. Our work last fall showed that we 
can reach an agreement when we put aside partisan politics and focus on 
what is best for our families. I am ready to get back to work to get 
that done.
  I object to the pending unanimous consent request.


                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 1625

  I ask unanimous consent that when the Senate proceeds to the 
consideration of the House message to accompany H.R. 1625, the omnibus 
appropriations bill, the Murray amendment that is now at the desk be 
considered and agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard to the first request.
  Is there objection to the request from the Senator from Washington?
  Mr. McCONNELL. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Kentucky.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, this has been a very disappointing 
moment. Senator Collins is asking to pass an amendment that would not 
seem to be terribly controversial. As we have heard my colleagues state 
this afternoon, the Alexander-Murray-Collins-Nelson proposal would 
lower health insurance premiums--dramatically, in some cases--for 
American individuals and families. This assistance would be especially 
helpful to the middle-class families whom ObamaCare has hit the 
hardest.
  How do my colleagues propose accomplishing this worthy goal? Through 
another top-down, one-size-fits-all scheme cooked up here in 
Washington? No, their legislation is designed to encourage new thinking 
and creative policymaking at the State level, through the expansion of 
section 1332 State innovation waivers and high-risk pools. It would end 
the practice of silver-loading, which unnecessarily costs the taxpayers 
tens of billions of dollars. It includes Hyde amendment language that 
has been commonplace for decades, going back to the 1970s, preventing 
taxpayer dollars from funding abortions. Apparently, that commonsense 
provision is suddenly just a bridge too far for some of our friends 
across the aisle.
  For months, my colleague from Maine has led a bipartisan effort to 
bring common sense back to Americans' healthcare. Along with Senator 
Alexander, she has brought together Senators with different viewpoints 
and made real progress toward fixing the glaring failures of the 
current system. It is especially disappointing that their efforts are 
being blocked precisely when they stand the greatest chance of helping 
millions of Americans. It is not entirely surprising that my colleagues 
across the aisle are happy to talk the talk about lowering premiums for 
working families, but they refuse to actually walk the walk when given 
a golden opportunity. But it sure is disappointing.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be added as a cosponsor 
to the Collins-Alexander amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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