Skip to main content

tv   US Senate  CSPAN  December 6, 2016 10:00am-12:31pm EST

10:00 am
yesterday the vice president presiding that portion of the bill for his sunny data cancer last year and the senate voted to advance the entire measure towards a final passage. nova announced yet but that could come as late as the 10:00 hour today. live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. today's opening prayer will be offered by reverend t.f. tenney, bishop emeritus of the united pentacostal church international in alexandria, virginia. bishop.
10:01 am
the guest chaplain: mr. president, members of the senate, may the lord be with you. let us bow our heads in reference to his presence. god, our help in ages past, be our comfort still. thank you for this great, great nation, and its foundation of "one nation, under god, indivisible." thank you, lord, that we can emphasize "indivisible." thank you for the liberty, the justice, and the freedoms we enjoy. we pray for all who walk these hallowed halls where life-changing, world-changing decisions are made. bless this austere gathering of
10:02 am
men and women chosen by you and the american people to serve us all. give them wisdom to acknowledge you first in all they do. give them grace, as has been extended to them. guide them, o holy spirit. guide them, o holy spirit. fill them and this chamber with your presence, and fill these halls with your glory. when they leave today, may they say, "we have not just been in the presence of men; we have been in the presence of god." now, in the name of the one i trust, jesus christ, my lord and savior, fill this place, holy spirit.
10:03 am
the president pro tempore: plee join me in reciting the pledgef allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of americ, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for a. khasbulato-- mr. cassidy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. cassidy: may i briefly acknowledge and thank the pastor for being here. today is his 83rd birthday.
10:04 am
he has blessed many people. he is an anointed man of god who many others have looked towards as guidance, as a man who by his life and by his words guides them to a deeper relationship with god. so, on behalf of our entire senate, i extend our thanks to bishop tenney for being here today. thank you. i yield back. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday the senate voted overwhelmingly to take the next step to pass the 21st century cures bill, bipartisan legislation to bolster medical innovation. this legislation promotes critical investments in research and treatment development. it helps cut through unnecessary regulations that would hinder the development of cures while also protecting safety. and it builds upon the progress of the innovative therapies and regenerative medicine. this legislation puts patients first. it helps strengthen the kind of
10:05 am
research and treatments needed to cure the most devastating diseases, and it includes provisions to help enhance men it will health -- mental health programs and to provide fund being to fight opioid abuse. i've heard from health professionals across my state who express the impact this legislation can make. from the kentucky hospital association to the university of kentucky, our state's largest research university. this bill, u.k.'s president says, supports the president's investment and research which addresses the compelling questions of our day. i will be pleased to welcome u.k.'s president capaluto to the capitol this morning. cures is one example, he says, of how the university will be better-equipped to improve the lives of those in our commonwealth. we know this bill wouldn't have been possible without chairman
10:06 am
alexander's seasless effort is along -- ceaseless efforts along ranking member murray's efforts to drive it forward. we thank them as well as senator cassidy. i also want to recognize my friend, vice president biden, who joined us yesterday for his efforts to include his cancer moonshot initiative in the package. this is an issue that hits close to home for the vice president. as we all know, he's been a leading voice in supporting efforts to strengthen cancer research and to find a cure. i'm pleased that we'll pass this legislation soon so that we can begin to put its provisions to work on behalf of american families. now, on the other important issues before the senate, i've spoken with the speaker on a number of occasions about an issue facing coal miner retirees like those i represent in kentucky and have insisted that the c.r. include a provision to address that issue so these retirees don't lose their health
10:07 am
care benefits at the end of this year. we hope to have a final bill to share with members soon, and we look forward to turning to it as soon as possible after house action. i'll have nor say on this -- i'll have more to say 0en that later. we're also working to wrap up a number of conference reports including for the defense authorization bill and the water resources development bill. last night i took the next step on the defense conference voter that we can pass it this week. this legislation will provide more of the tools service members need to take on in the security challenges, help strengthen our military posture, and support our men and women in uniform with the benefits and the pay raises they've earned. i hope the senate will also take the next step soon on a water development resources conference report. this water resources conference report will invest in our nation's waterways infrastructure, enhance commerce, and support safe and reliable water sources to prevent future situations like the one we saw in flint,
10:08 am
michigan. to that poipts, this bill also -- to that point, this bill also includes assistance for families like those in flint who have already been impacted by lead poisoning. so, mr. president, we all remember where we were on september 11, 2001. the man we honor today certainly does. he was in berlin. he'd only just begun his second day as ambassador to germany and then everything changed. planes smashed into the world trade center, terrorist attacked the pentagon where his son-in-law worked, his family
10:09 am
thankfully emerged unbroken that day; others were not so fortunate. ambassador coats found himself thrown into a role he couldn't have foreseen a day earlier, a role in which he would excel, but one that would forever change him. those who know dan coats say that day in september affected him profoundly. it shook him as a father, it sharpened him as a policy-maker, it clarified the stakes and his sense of responsibility. he may not have known it then, but he would feel the tug of that responsibility many years later and answer the call. senator coats had enjoyed a successful congressional career when he decided to retire in 1998. he earn earned a reputation for working hard, getting things accomplished, being an indispensable member of his
10:10 am
conference. after dan announced his decision mott to seek reelection, then-majority leader trent lott range him up said, "you can't leave," lott recalls saying. "i can't go forward in the senate without you." dan's success was no accident. he learned the legislative ropes working for an up-and-coming congressman named dan quayle. he applied that knowledge as he progressed from quail's staffer to quail's successor, first in the house, then in the senate. this was evident whether dwans focused on rebuilding the military after the cold washings bringing opportunity to low-income families and children, even dissecting the finer points of american garbage policy. yes, garbage policy. toward the beginning of dan's time in the senate, hoosier landfills were filling with new jersey trash and hoosiers were fed up.
10:11 am
so in came dan with a war cry, "don't dump on us!" and just the right blend of determination, legislative know-how and humor to capture the attention of colleagues and the hearts of constituents. some were amused in d.c. or trengton, but back in -- or trenton, but back in indiana, hoosiers why over the moon p. for many, their first introduction to this plucky new senator came through his famous trash ad. the coats for senate commercial which featured a garbage man, led to a place in the halls. perhaps a ticket back to the senate. when senator lott was not able to persuade dan to run for senate later, he offered him this statement he's bid him farewell. "dan coats is levering the senate, but he is not leaving
10:12 am
us. i have a feeling that he's going to have a real influence in many ways for the rest of his life and he's going to stay close to all of us." how right he was. fast-forward to just over a decade later. former senator coats looked out and saw a country in crisis, adrift on the world stage. stagnant at home, sliding into despair. dan was deeply unsettled. he shared his concerns with his wife marcia. he realized he had two choices. he could sit back and watch or he could do something. dan coats chose to do something. the election was hardly a sure thing. he pulled through anyway. when he returned to the capitol, he put his head down and got right to work. dan can be a man of few words.
10:13 am
he doesn't always feel the need to speak up, but when he does, people pay attention. it's a true mark of distinction in a body like this with its big egos and sharp elbows. people listen to this former ambassador when he explains the ins and outs of foreign policy. people listen to this veteran of previous health care debates when he dissects the problems of obamacare. and when this fiscal expert shares his waste of the week, people pay attention. it's how we learned taxpayer dollars are being spent on swedish massages for bunny rabbits. it's how we discovered taxpayer money was being wasted to determine whether hanger -- that's hunger plus anger -- is a real thing. senator coats knew he wasn't going to solve all of our nation's problems as one senator
10:14 am
in one term but he understood the important contributions he could make. he also recognized his responsibility to make them. in the process, he submitted a legacy that will long outlast him here in the senate. it will certainly continue on in my office. my own chief of staff is a coats' alum. ryan -- speaker ryan's chief of staff dave hoffey is another coats' alum. the list of coats' staffers who have gone on to achieve great things, from former white house chief writer gerson to incoming indiana governor eric holcomb is as long as it is impressive. i know dan is looking forward to spending more time at wrigley field after he retires. here is the tweet dan dan sent t last month. "a century in the making. we fining aolly made it -- we
10:15 am
finally made it. what a great day to be a cubs' fan." it is hard to overstate the importance of moment for him. i mean, this is the guy who spent part of his honeymoon -- his honeymoon -- at wrigley field. so i wonder if maybe, just maybe, he was able to see a little of himself in his favorite team. maybe in a guy like fellow indiana university hoosier kyle schwarber, a standout player who stepped away from the game for a season and then came back and picked right up where he left off without a hitch, knocking it out of the park just when his team needed him most. dan promises he's not coming back a third time. we'll see. it's obvious dan never needed the office or the title. not the first time, not the second time, not a third time. that said, i know dan isn't going to stop caring. i know he has isn't going to stp
10:16 am
working. so we're going to keep the dan coats bat signal plugged in should the people call out for a hero yet again, and i hope our friend will suit up one more time, because if nothing else, we're really, really going to miss him. so let us recognize and congratulate senator coats for his many years of service. let us wish him well in his latest retirement, and let me personally thank him for his wise counsel and trusted friendship. i'll miss you, my friend. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, senator mark kirk has never been
10:17 am
one to be intimidated by a challenge. he's willing to work hard even when the going gets tough. he never shies away from a tough debate, and he always comes prepared. he has been defying the odds for a long time and inspiring others along the way. nearly five years ago, senator kirk suffered a debilitating stroke, one that threatened to end his senate service nearly as soon as it had begun. in the blink of an eye, kirk went from juggling constituent meetings and committee hearings to lying in a hospital bed wondering if he would ever walk again. or talk again. or read again. if senator kirk had decided to just quit the senate and focus on his recovery, no one would have blamed him, but he didn't do that.
10:18 am
he never lost hope. he never gave up. he set his sights on getting back to work for the people of illinois and the nation. that's exactly what he did. and we were there to witness his triumph several months later. cane in hand, a smile on his face, joe manchin to one side, joe biden to the other, one foot in front of the other, senator mark kirk climbed and climbed and climbed. he ascended each of those 45 capitol steps to the top of this chamber as we all cheered him on. mark could rest assured no one was going to let him fail or fall that day, and senator manchin could rest assured that he wouldn't have to go another
10:19 am
day waiting for his buddy's return. days after mark's stroke, senator manchin hopped on a flight to chicago to check on his friend in person. he saw firsthand the many challenges kirk had to overcome in recovery, but he never doubted mark's will, determination or desire to get back to work. kirk, he says, is like the energizer bunny. he just keeps going and going and going. manchin and kirk might seem like an unconventional pair. one's a democrat, the other republican. the west virginian is an outdoorsman. the illinoisan is a gamer. senator manchin is a mounteer and senator kirk isn't. but as the senior senator from west virginia put it, they just clicked from day one and quickly became the best of friends. now they go boating together,
10:20 am
they meet for lunch nearly every thursday, and they support each other. the support of good friends like senator manchin has been critical to senator kirk's dramatic recovery. he has found support in other places, too, including the mailbox. a few weeks after his stroke, jackson, a 9-year-old fellow stroke survivor from illinois, wrote senator kirk to share his own story and some words of encouragement. don't give up on yourself, jackson wrote. all the hard work is worth it. p.s., he said, i think kids should get paid to go to school. the pair quickly became pen pals and even picked up a new joint sport of tower climbing in their rerehabilitation. -- rehabilitation. senator kirk calls jackson his personal hero. last year, he invited him to visit washington, too, and be
10:21 am
his guest at the state of the union. to hear kirk tell it, he may have never made it back for that address at all without jackson's support and kind words. i know the support he received from his fellow home state senator didn't go unnoticed either. after mark's stroke, senator durbin visited kirk's staff, offering to help out however he could. senator kirk's story reminds us that the senate can be more than just a place of work. it can actually be a family. in his own words, the things that divide us in politics are infinitesimal compared with the dignity of our common humanity. it's a powerful message, and i think it's one we can all learn from. senator kirk says that america's men and women in uniform represent the greatest force for human dignity on earth. he's right. and the work he's done to help us meet the obligation our
10:22 am
nation has to military families and our veterans will endure beyond his term. mark kirk, a veteran himself, understands the sacrifices our service members and their families make each day on our behalf. he knows they deserve our full support not only when they are on active duty but also after their tours are complete. that's why he's worked to help guarantee the quality health care that our heroes are counting on. it's why he's worked to help eliminate corruption within the v.a. so that our veterans receive timely care as well. he's proven himself as a leader on national security issues, too. he understands the value of our alliances and works to strengthen them, especially with israel. he has a clear-eyed view of our adversaries, too, and has never been afraid to speak out or take action, from north korea to iran. when it comes to iran
10:23 am
specifically, senator kirk was the tip of the spear on this issue. bringing attention to the threat of iran's aggressive behavior and pushing for legislation to help hold tehran accountable. he has long been an advocate for critical iran sanctions like those extended just this past week. even when the administration pushed back, even when democratic colleagues pushed back, too. he doesn't back down, and thanks to efforts like his, we were able to see the legislation through. so, yes, senator kirk may be leaving the senate, but he's cast a long shadow here, and he's not done yet. we know he won't stop looking out for our country. we know he won't stop advocating for stroke survivors. we know he's not going to stop.
10:24 am
he will just keep going and going and going like he always has. senator kirk reminds each of us that it's possible to persevere through even the most difficult of obstacles like -- life presents. so today we thank him for the impact he's made on this body, for the inspiration he has been to so many and for the years he's dedicated to serving the people of illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: mr. president, have you announced the business of the senate? the presiding officer: we have not. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the house message to accompany h.r. 34, which the clerk will report. the clerk: house message to accompany h.r. 34, an act to authorize and strengthen the
10:25 am
tsunami detection forecast warning research and mitigation program of the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, and for other purposes. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: mr. president, i rise to speak in morning business, with the permission of the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, let me say at the outset that i took the floor last week and said a few words of tribute and friendship to my colleague, senator kirk. i am glad to hear the majority leader's statement this morning. it was spot on and captured his public spirit as well as his personal strength that has brought him to this moment in history, and i have been honored to serve with him for the last six years. i'd say to my colleague, senator coats from indiana, we served together in the house, in the senate, and i actually visited him when he was ambassador representing the united states and germany. it's an amazing public career on his part, and i wish him the
10:26 am
very best, whatever the future holds for him. mr. president, i want to tell the story about an extraordinary young woman and someone that we should all get to know. her name is laura alvarado. when she was 8 years old, laura was brought to the united states from mexico. she grew up in chicago, in my home state of illinois. in high school, she was an extraordinary student and was involved in extracurricular and volunteer activities. she was a member of the national honor society, she played soccer, tennis, basketball and a member of student government, school newspaper, the chess club, yearbook club and many more. she decided to go to northeastern illinois university. she worked two jobs while she was going to school because she didn't qualify for any federal assistance to go to college. in 2006, she graduated from
10:27 am
honors from northeastern. her major -- justice studies. but then she was stuck again. her ambition in life was to become a lawyer, but she couldn't pursue her dream. it took her six years, six years in 2012 when president obama established daca, an executive order which said to laura and thousands just like her you're in a special category. you were undocumented in america, but you were brought here as a child. you didn't make the decision to come to this country. your family did. and so we're going to give young people like laura a chance on a temporary basis if they will pay a filing fee of almost $500, submit themselves to a criminal background check to make certain they are no threat to anyone in this country, we will give them a two-year status where they cannot be deported and they can
10:28 am
work in america. laura applied. there were people that were cautioning her be careful. if you identify yourself as undocumented to this government, somebody might use it against you someday, but laura, who aspired to be a lawyer, decided to follow the law, register, pay her fee, go through the background check and try to get this -- the status of daca. she received it. and because of it, she was allowed to apply and be accepted at southern illinois university school of law in carbondale. in law school, she was an outstanding student again. she won the moot court competition. she was selected for the order of barristers, a legal honor society. this spring, ten years after she graduated from college, laura received her law degree. over the summer, she passed her bar exam. and just last month, she received her illinois law license which she is holding here proudly. laura never gave up on her dream
10:29 am
of becoming a lawyer, but it's a dream that never would have happened were it not for president obama's executive order, an executive order that didn't give her a free pass to law school. just the opposite. it said to her if you're accepted in a law school, the government will not pay you a penny to help your education. you have to go out and work for it. she did. now we face a question. with a new president coming in who says he wants to abolish the daca that made laura eligible to go to law school, he wants to abolish the status where these young people brought here as babies and toddlers into this country are not subject to deportation and can work for a living. if that is abolished, then laura, despite all of her hard work, all of her education, all of her achievements in life, faces deportation from this country. laura said she wants to use her
10:30 am
law degree to help people who don't have a fighting chance without lawyers that are more focused on service than on money. we're better if laura's here as a lawyer, practicing in america. we're certainly better in illinois to have someone with a law license willing to give back to our state. and now the choice is up to congress. are we going to step in and give laura the chance that she asks for to prove herself again as she has so many times in her young life? i'm glad to say that lindsey graham, the senator from south carolina and i are working together in an effort to draw up legislation to reach that goal and give these daca eligibles a temporary reprieve so if there is elimination of this executive order we don't eliminate the protection that keeps them here in the united states where they cannot be deported and they have a chance to work. that's something we need to do not just for laura, but for
10:31 am
744,000 others as well. young people who grew up in this country and just deserve a chance to make this a better nation. mr. president, i'd like to enter another statement in the record in a separate part with permission of the chair. point without objection. --. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i'm going to salute the public life of senator barbara mikulski. before i do it, i want to thank a woman who is not here. it was a nun, a catholic nun and the debate coach for senator mikulski when she was in high school at the ?iewt of notre dame, an all girls high school, the same school nancy pelosi graduated from. as a young barbara mikulski was preparing to debate a particularly tough opponent, this nun, her debate coach, told her -- and i quote -- "you can do it, barb, get out there and roll those jesuit boys." i went to a jesuit college in
10:32 am
law school, and i'm proud and relieved to report i never had to face barbara mikulski in that kind of a debate. i rarely found anybody who could stand up to her in a debate. she can -- quote -- "still roll those jesuit boys" or anyone else who tries to stand in the way of helping women, children, seniors or advancing fairness. barbara mikulski has been my colleague for 20 years, my friend, the chairman of my appropriations committee and ranking member, and so many times an inspiration of. most of my colleagues know my first job in the senate was an an intern myself in the office of united states senator paul douglas of illinois. like barbara mikulski, paul douglas was a champion for the underdog and a pit bull when it came to protecting the american taxpayers. every year the university of illinois chooses a leader of uncommon decency and courage to
10:33 am
receive the senator paul douglas ethics in government award. this year i was honored to present that award on behalf of the university of illinois in the name of paul douglas to barbara mikulski of maryland. i know senator douglas would have been thrilled that she is carrying on that great public service tradition. some day i hope and i trust that i will see the ultimate last ceiling will break and there will be a woman elected president of this country. when that historic day comes, you can be sure that senator barbara mikulski will have had a hand in bringing it about. many of my colleagues have spoken about the long list of times she's already broken glass ceilings herself. barbara mikulski, first woman ever elected statewide in her beloved state of maryland. barbara mikulski, first democrat elected to both the u.s. house and the united states senate. barbara mikulski, first woman to ever serve as head of the powerful senate appropriations committee.
10:34 am
but barbara, very self-deprecating, has often said she's never been interested in simply being the first. she wants to be the first of many. and she has been. when maryland voters sent barbara mikulski to the senate in 1986, there were two women in the entire body: nancy landon kassebaum of kansas, a republican. barbara mikulski of maryland a democrat. it two women in this chamber out of 100 senators. today there are 20 women senators and after they're sworn in january 3, there will be 21. great progress but not nearly enough by barbara mikulski's standards. senator mikulski also had the brainchild of making sure that the women in the senate became an even more powerful force. her bipartisan women senators-only dinners were a rare display of bipartisanship
10:35 am
in an institution too often divided. the discoveries of common cause, common trust, common purpose resulting from those dinners have made a big difference on the floor of the united states senate. barbara ann mikulski is the proud granddaughter of polish immigrants. her parents owned a small grocery store in baltimore. she, her parents and her two younger sisters lived across the street in one of the famous baltimore row houses. as a young girl, barbara thought about becoming a catholic nun. she changed her mind as she put it -- quote -- "that vow of obedience kind of slowed me down a bit." so she found other ways to practice the social gospel of justice. she was a driving force behind the first bill signed by president barack obama, the lilly ledbetter fair pay act. i was there that day. the president signed the bill and took the first pen from the first bill he was signing, handed it to barbara mikulski
10:36 am
because he knew that she had been championing equality in the workplace for women throughout her career. there are two stories that i always think of when i think of senator mikulski. in october 2002, the senate voted on whether to authorize the war in iraq. only 23 of the 100 senators then serving voted against the iraq war resolution. of those 23 senators, only eight still remain in the senate today. barbara boxer, whose leaving at the end of this congress, patrick leahy, patty murray, jack reed, debbie stabenow, ron wyden, barbara mikulski, and myself. this is a woman who has been always willing to risk her career to follow her conscience. one of her great heroes is dorothy day, founder of the catholic worker movement. the reason, barbara mikulski says is that dorothy day was
10:37 am
always -- quote -- "trying to find the hopes of people. rather than preying on people's fear and anger." i saw barbara mikulski's instinctive appeal to hope on that infamous sad day -- september 11, 2001. as dust was settling on that heartrending, heartbreaking day, most of the members of the senate gathered on the steps of the capitol. the hope was that there would be a demonstration by members of both parties to the nation and to the world where solidarity unplanned, unscripted, barbara mikulski started singing "god bless america." everyone joined in. in one of america's darkest hours, barbara mikulski brought us together. that's what a real leader does. i and so many in the chamber and so many untold millions of americans are going to miss her presence in the senate. we take consolation in knowing
10:38 am
that while she's leaving the senate, she is not leaving the fight. she'll never leave the fight. those of us who are returning in the next congress have learned from senator mikulski, and we will continue to fight the good fight to invest in lifesaving, job-creating medical breakthroughs at the national institutes of health. or as barbara mikulski calls it, the national institutes of hope. we will continue the good fight she has fought with such pithyness and passion to make our nation safer and make our economy fairer for all americans. and i know that she'll continue that fight as well. barbara mikulski may be leaving the senate, but one ever has -- and i doubt -- no one ever has and i doubt anyone ever will think of baltimore's barbara mikulski as retiring from any of the challenges of life. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of
10:39 am
a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:40 am
10:41 am
10:42 am
10:43 am
10:44 am
10:45 am
10:46 am
10:47 am
quorum call:
10:48 am
10:49 am
10:50 am
10:51 am
10:52 am
10:53 am
10:54 am
10:55 am
mrs. fischer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be lifted, please. officer without objection. mrs. fischer: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to continue my tribute to this generation of nebraska heroes. they are the men and women who have given their lives defending our freedom in iraq and afghanistan. each one has a different story, and each gold star family has the same request: that we remember the sacrifice of their
10:56 am
loved one. by telling these stories of their service, here on the senate floor we can honor that family's request. today i honor the life and service of germaine debro, his father was a career air force technical sergeant. at a young age germaine even picked up a nickname, "g.i. joe." even then he had qualities that would make him a great soldier. his family moved often. germaine attended high school in omaha in nebraska before his family moved to arkansas. there germaine graduated high
10:57 am
school in 1991. later he and his family returned to nebraska. for a time, germaine wocialgd as a manager -- worked as a manager at the local burger king. but in 1994 he followed his calling and he enlisted in the army. in 1997, he joingd the nebraska -- joined the nebraska national guard. during these years, germaine became known for his genuine personality and for developing a great camaraderie with his fellow soldiers. according to specialist sean o'neil, germaine was the nicest guy you could ever meet. he would walk into 00 room and it would light up. to his battle buddies, specialist germaine debro was afaction nationally known as d.b. his dedication to his fellow soldiers was obvious.
10:58 am
being single, germaine volunteered for assignments so that married soldiers might remain at home with their families. germaine deployed to kuwait in 2001 and to bosnia in 2002. in 2005, he learned his unit, the first of the 167th cavalry of the nebraska army national guard, would deploy to iraq. germaine would be a signed to troop b. his family was anxious about him deploying again but he would not let his army brothers go without him. in the end, his family supported his decision. in explaining how his fellow soldiers felt about germaine, sergeant graph put it simply, he was like a dad to all of us.
10:59 am
after a year of training, the first of the 167th cavalry arrived in iraq in early 2006. that's when the sunni shia civil war erupted. in february, a mosque was bombed and iraq was plunged into ever-deeper -- ever deeper into sectarian violence. american forces had come to enforce peace. they found themselves engaged in intense war times operations. germaine's unit was right nlt thick of t enemy attacks were frequent. tensions were high. on september 4, 2006, a 20-truck convoy headed out from the site 30 miles north of baghdad. in the united states americans were celebrating labor day with barbecues, sporting events and
11:00 am
family gatherings. in iraq, germaine was driving a humvee, providing advance security for the convoy. 30 miles outside of baghdad, germaine's humvee struck an improvised explosive device. the vehicle was spun several times before erupting into flames. sergeant josiah warren riding in the right seat tried unsuccessfully to pull germaine free. germaine debro died on september 4, 2006. at iraq's camp anacanda, members of the nebraska national guard assembled to honor the man who had cared so deeply for them. on september 18, 2006, the morning star baptist church near downtown omaha was filled with
11:01 am
people paying a final tribute to germaine debro. outside 110 patriot riders stood guard. germaine's brother maurice read from a letter germaine had written to him. in it his brother offered some advice. if you don't take a risk, then you'll never know what happened. that was my brother, said maurice. he was a loving, caring person. germaine debro was promoted post humannously to the -- posthumously to the rank of sergeant. his military decorations include a bronze star and a purple heart. sergeant germaine debro is survived by his father alvin, his mother priscilla, his brothers alvin, jr. and maurice. he is a true nebraska hero and i'm honored to tell his story. thank you, mr. president. i would yield the floor. and suggest the absence -- i
11:02 am
would yield the floor. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island white thank urks mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to speak up to ten minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, sir. i rise today for my 151st time to wake up speech on climate change. i have covered many topics during these speeches from pulling back the veil on the fossil fuel industries' web of denial to sharing my visits to states from new hampshire to florida to utah to sig see the effects of climate change firsthand. one recurring theme of my speeches and in the scientific
11:03 am
literature has been the warning that the effects of climate change will hit home first and hardest along our coasts the oceans have soaked up more than 90% of the excess heat that has been trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. that's a lot of heat. the associated press has compared the ocean heat we've added since 1997 to a -- quote -- hiroshima style bomb being exploded every second in the ocean for 75 straight years. that excess energy is warming our oceans at alarming rates and by the principle of thermal expansion, we know that when water warms, it expands and that coupled with the melting ice sheets is driving up sea levels worldwide. for my ocean state, that's a big deal. warming and rising seas carry real consequences for coastal
11:04 am
economies. new england is being hit particularly hard on this front. the gulf of maine is warming faster than almost any other part of the ocean in the world. narragansett bay in my home state of rhode island has already seen a nearly four-degree fahrenheit increase in winter water temperatures since the 1960's. since measurements started in 1930, sea level is up nearly 10 inches at the tide gauge at naval station newport. now, 10 inches may not sound like an enormous amount, but if you add -- if you do the mathematics and take that 10 inches and you mult fly it by the -- multiply it by the 147 miles that narragansett bay occupies, that adds nearly 100 million cubic meters of water off shore. throw weight for when the next storm comes. we don't model storm surge very
11:05 am
well yet but it is a lot of potential harm for rhode island and if you look not just at narragansett bay but at rhode island state water, it's more than 500 million cubic meters which is more than 500 million metric tons of potential storm surge. earlier this year, researchers published in nature an updated estimate of global sea level rise with ne new estimates of hw melting an arctic sea ice will contribute. it's not good news. the intergovernmental panel on climate change had previously estimated sea level rise to reach between 1.7 and 3.2 feet by 2100. the new study doubles that estimate putting global sea level rise over 6 feet by the end of this century. to complicate matters more, as antarctica loses ice and
11:06 am
consequently mass, it will actually also affect the gravitational pull of the ant arctic on the oceans with antartica gravitational pull, other continents will proportionately pull more gravitational pulling ocean away from the south pole to their coasts. ben straws, the director of climate central's sea level rise program recently told "the washington post" the 22nd century would be the century of hell. there would really be an unthinkable level of sea rise. it would erase many major cities and some nations from the map. a study published in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences last month looked at the forget of rising seas on more than a hundred coastal cities around the world. the city predicts we'll hit 2 degrees sell celsius average gll warming which brings
11:07 am
catastrophic and irreversible climate effects sometime between 2040 and 2050. when that happens over 90% of the world's coastal areas will experience almost 8 inches of further sea level rise. on the atlantic coast of the united states it'sest maited to be more than 15 inches. if we continue our emissions unabated and hit 5 degrees kells yus, new york city could see over 3 and a half feet of sea water swamping its streets. the near of 2040 is not that far away. if you buy a house on the coast today, 2040 would fall well within your typical 30-year mortgage. as you might imagine, the real estate business is starting to take notice. stilzillow, the online real este market place has looked at how 6 feet of sea level rise by 2100 would affect over 100 million u.s. homes in its database. around one in 50 homes in the united states or just under two
11:08 am
million properties would find their ground floors under water by 2100. 36 u.s. cities would be considered completely lost and another 300 cities would lose at least half their homes. florida fairs the worst in the study losing more than 12% of the state's housing to sea level rise. hawaii is not far behind with over 9% of its homes expected to go under water. though new jersey's overyawl housing situation fairs somewhat better with a loss expected of just over 7%, the value of those homes well exceeds any other state. new jersey alone accounts for over 10% of the 882 -- $882 billion worth of potentially under water properties. miami beach would be the hardest hit city losing over 37,000 homes worth $33 billion and those numbers just count residential properties, not
11:09 am
expected losses to commercial or public properties. the insurance industry uses the term "hundred-year flood" to would describe a flood that has a 1% chance of occurring. according to a study commissioned by the federal emergency management agency, the area in the u.s. susceptible to 100-year floods will grow by 4r5% by the end -- 45% by the end of this century. our government accountable office says federal flood insurance premiums aren't keeping pace with that growing risk. for 2002 through 2013 already, taxpayers' bailed out insured properties to the tune of $18 billion to $25 billion. government-backed mortgage giant freddie mac is preparing itself for broad losses from climate-driven flooding. the economic losses and social
11:10 am
disruption may happen gradually, says its website, but they are likely to be greater in total than those experienced in the housing crisis and the great recession. let me say that again. they're likely to be greater in total than those experienced in the housing crisis and great recession. some of the effects of climate change, it says, may not even be insurable. and unlike the 2008 housing crash, owners of homes that are subsumed by rising seas would have little expectation of their home's value ever recovering. and therefore, they'd have little incentive to make their mortgage payments which would add to steep losses for lenders and insurers. we don't of course have to wait till 2100 to see the effects of sea level rise on coastal cities like miami or charleston or norfolk or newport, rhode island.
11:11 am
so-called sunny day flooding is increasing in coastal communities. as sea levels rise regular high tides can be all that's needed to flood streets, sidewalks and basements. noest -- noaa estimates nonstorm related nuisance flooding just from tides and sea level rise has increased somewhere between 300 and 925% along the united states' three coastlines since the 1960's. this past october's king tides, the year's highest tides, brought around 2 feet of water to boston's waterfront. last month's super moon pulled water into the streets of charleston and parking lots of new hampshire. this wayward octopus -- i don't know if you can see it clearly but there's a fairly good size octopus here ended up swimming through a miami parking garage. these extreme high tides give a
11:12 am
preview of what may be the new normal in this century. higher seas plus stronger storms forebode real catastrophe for coastal communities. the great new england hurricane of 1938 is the worst in rhode island's history. a storm surge of 12 to 15 feet hit narragansett bay engulfing downtown providence. you can see old photographs of the streetcars with just their roofs showing over the water. if that storm hit again today, it would have a big head start riding to shore on ten more inches of sea with that potentially 500 million metric tons of water available for storm surge. again, we don't know how much of it becomes storm surge but it certainly raises the potential. this picture is from historic newport after superstorm sandy gave us a glancing blow in rhode
11:13 am
island in 2012. it brought a storm surge of over 9 feet to providence and over 4 feet to the south coast of the state. and this is downtown newport, seaman's church institute right here and someone kayaking through downtown. according to the most recent report from the national ocean economics program, more than 134 million people live in u.s. coastal zone counties in 2014. these counties accounted for nearly half of the total u.s. g.d.p. and 40% of total u.s. employment. in my state rhode island, the coastal economy accounts for $5 billion of the state's g.d.p. and employed over 400,000 people in 2014. this productivity is at risk if those communities and their businesses cannot protect themselves from the consequences of our changing environment. a lot of places are taking this
11:14 am
threat seriously. although partisans in the state government make the phrase climate change a taboo in florida, local policymakers, particularly in south florida, are making climate change adaptation a priority, forming a regional bipartisan compact on climate resiliency. hiring resiliency and sustainable staff, building sea walls, installing pumps, updating building codes, and in miami beach's case just in that one city making $400 million in storm water management upgrades. in new hampshire the coastal risks and hazards commission has advised cities to prepare infrastructure and buildings for rising seas. louisiana reroute its -- rewrote its coastal master plan to accept the large prediction, of land loss and sea level rise facing that lowland state and include around 200 projects designed to protect southern
11:15 am
louisiana's marshes and limit the effects of storm surge. in alaska native villages are seeking financial support -- support to relocate coastal homesteads away to higher ground. in rhode island under the leadership of grover frugate at our coastal resources management council and in coorps with the leading experts at the university of rhode island and the rhode island geological survey, we are well aware of what climate change sea level rise and storm surge mean for our coastal communities. s -- storm tools a free public online tool developed through this collaboration, is providing our city planners and concerned citizens with a visualization of the effects of various levels of sea level rise and storm surge on their properties. the coastal risk environmental index shown here will add even
11:16 am
more specificity to the models working in storm tools. users can actually navigate google earth to see what flood damage from sea level rise and storm surge will look like on a building-by-building basis. the city of warrick, rhode island, featured here, is already using these maps in its future planning and its emergency planning. the rising tide calls for increased investment in coastal resiliency around the country. senators merkley and menendez and i asked the government accountability office to review the national oceanic and atmospheric administration's support for coastal states' resill generals efforts. among its findings, the g.a.o. report said that the regional coastal resilience grant program, and i quote them here, received 132 qualified applications, requesting a total of $105 million during its first
11:17 am
application period in fiscal year 2015. well, guess how much money was available to meet that $105 million approved or qualified need. $4.5 million. into was able to support less than 5% -- noaa was able to support less than 5% of the coastal states' demand. mr. president, climate change doesn't care whether you believe the science or whether you believe the propaganda and nonsense pumped out by the fossil fuel lobby. sure, homes and basements will flood either way. it's not a matter of belief. it's a matter of physics. but for all the denial and diversion, you will notice that the fossil fuel's web web of denial groups doesn't talk much about the effects we're seeing
11:18 am
along our coasts. their business is through denial and calculated miss ntion to create phony doubt. that is their mission. and if that's your mission, it's hard to deny water levels that are measured essentially on a glorified yardstick at tide gauges. it's hard to deny measurements from a p.h. test that high schoolers do in their science classes. it's hard to deny readings from thermometers. here in the senate, our choice is clear. we can take action or continue to sleepwalk through history, but we should remember pope francis' warning. pope francis has said that god always forgives, that mankind sometimes forgives, but that nature never forgives. you slap her, he said, and she will slap you back, and we, mr. president, have a big slap coming. if we do nothing, what will we tell the millions of americans
11:19 am
who live by the sea and rely on it for their livelihoods? what should we tell them when they can't get insured for the next hurricane or when their mortgages are under water in a literal sense? if we refuse to help our own citizens, who then would help the millions of others in developing countries around the world suffering the same fate and looking to our country for leadership? we have a moral obligation here to pluck our heads from the sand and get to work. the oceans warn. it is time we woke up and listened. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, it's my honor to come to the floor today with the senior senator from vermont, my friend, senator leahy, to talk about bipartisan legislation that will soon help victims of crime restore their lives. the justice for all reauthorization act passed the house last week and the senate
11:20 am
followed suit with unanimous support. now it's on its way to the president's desk so it can become the law of the land. back a few years ago when i served as the attorney general of texas, i felt like one of my most important jobs was to protect crime victims. and i know that all members of the senate feel the same way. the justice for all reauthorization act is first and foremost a bill that will help victims. it includes a number of provisions to help them get the justice they deserve. it will improve victims' rights by increasing access to restitution, reauthorize programs that support them in court and increase resources for forensic labs to reduce the rape kit backlog. now, i have spoken about the rape kit backlog before, and it's a big problem. at one point, it was estimated there were as many as 400,000 untested rape kits in america. and this was due primarily to a
11:21 am
lack of resources and a lack of focus in making this a priority. this is evidence that is proven to be enormously powerful to help convict the guilty and to help exonerate the innocent. this legislation will also give law enforcement more resources to keep violent offenders off the street and to fairly prosecute crimes. i know sometimes people must think that senator leahy and i are the odd couple of the senate. we've worked together not only on this legislation but also reforms of the freedom of information act. we share a passion for that topic as well. and i am enormously grateful to him for his partnership on this important legislation. i want to also thank chairman grassley for his leadership in helping shepherd this bipartisan bill through the judiciary committee. so i'm looking forward to the justice for all reauthorization
11:22 am
act becoming law soon so we can help more victims restore their lives. i'd yield to the senior senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i would thank the distinguished senior senator from texas, senator cornyn and i have had the privilege of being prosecutors. he as attorney general, i as state's attorney. and i think you get a special view of what is needed. i have enjoyed working with him because we don't have to -- we don't have to paint a great picture for each other. we both understand mistakes that could be made and why we don't want them. for six years, i have championed the reauthorization of the justice for all act. i want to assure our criminal justice system lives up to our national pledge of liberty and
11:23 am
justice for all. and having served as a prosecutor, as most former prosecutors, i am committed to assuring our criminal justice system has integrity and the confidence of the public it serves. i should say not just former prosecutors but current prosecutors feel that way. from my time on the front lines as a state's attorney in vermont in chitland county, for the past 15 years, i have served as cheert chair or ranking member of the senate judiciary committee. it has become clear to me that our system is deeply flawed. there is not always justice for all. i have met many innocent people wrongly convicted of crimes they didn't commit. i have shared the story of kirk bloodsworth. he was falsely convicted. he was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl, a horrible crime, but he maintained his innocence. in 1993, he became the first death row inmate to be exonerated by d.n.a., and they
11:24 am
were finally able to charge the man who did commit the horrible crime. some said boy, don't they look-alike, and that's what had happened. we know our system gets it wrong. we have a responsibility to improve our criminal justice system. i joined with kirk bloodsworth years ago to introduce and enact the postconviction d.n.a. testing grant program. it was originally part of the innocence protection act enacted in 2004. it gives defendants like kirk a chance to proof their innocence. to ensure our justice system gets it right from the beginning, the bill provides the right to improve the quality of indid i gent lawyers. to assure good representation for those accused of crimes. it means fewer innocent people will be behind bars. you know, it's an outrage if an
11:25 am
innocent person is wrongly punished, but denying justice is exacerbated because it means the person who committed the crime is still out there and oftentimes, as my friend from texas knows, they will commit the crime again. the american people deserve a system that gets it right the first time. many senators in this chamber know the story of my friend, debbie smith, also a friend of the senior senator from texas. she has become a champion for victims of sexual assault. she waited six years after being attacked before a rape kit was tested and the culprit was caught. during that six years, she had to live in terror of the the person who did this heinous crime might come back and do it again. no one should have to live in fear when their attacker remains free to victimize someone else or them again. this legislation provides
11:26 am
important resources to improve the quality and efficiency of forensic testing, but it also expands it to underserved populations like those in rural areas, which is much of my state, and actually every one of us have rural areas in our states. now, it has been my great honor to serve as the most senior democrat on the senate judiciary committee since 1997, almost 20 years, and during this time, i have worked with senators from both sides of the aisle to craft solutions to some of the most significant issues of our time. that's why i have been proud to partner with senator cornyn on this important legislation. i hope we will continue to work together in the next congress. we have to continue to protect all victims. we have to create fairness in our criminal justice system. we have to make sure we get it right the first time. so i call on those who have worked with me on this important
11:27 am
legislation, continue to support efforts. we can correct costly mistakes in our criminal justice system. we will be a better country for it. we'll have a lot more respect in our criminal justice system, and we'll do what the best of our prosecutors and our police want us to do, to get it right. i yield the floor, and i ask consent my full statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, let me express again my gratitude to the senior senator from vermont, senator leahy, for his critical role in making sure this legislation becomes law and tell him i look forward to continuing to work with him on similar topics in the future. mr. president, we're about a week into the lame-duck session, and we've already tackled some pretty significant legislation. last week, i was proud to see two bills that i introduced pass
11:28 am
the chamber. first was the cross-border trade enhancement act, a bill that will help staffing, safety and efficiency at our ports of entry, and that it passed the senate unanimously. in texas, as the presiding officer knows in arizona, this is not a new concern. some of our border communities have seen the infrastructure and the staffing proved to be inadequate at our legitimate ports of entry with a negative impact not only on the environment as cars stack up to cross the border but also providing an unnecessary drag on legitimate trade and commerce. we have seen that through the use of innovative public-private partnerships that we can increase staffing, we can improve the infrastructure, and basically end up filling the gap left by the federal government not doing its job by dealing as it of necessity must within our
11:29 am
international borders and make sure they work as they should, but this is a good step in the right direction, and i'm hopeful we can get the legislation to the president's desk in the coming days so that more ports of entry throughout the country can take advantage of its benefits. senator leahy and i just spoke about the justice for all reauthorization act, and then last night this chamber voted to move the 21st century cures bill forward with an incredible vote of 85 senators voting in favor. it passed the house overwhelmingly last week, and i look forward to getting it through the chamber and to the president's desk as soon as possible. this legislation will play an important role in supporting our scientists and researchers working to find cures to diseases like cancer, and that includes resources that will support the cancer moon shot program to help those studying and researching an end to cancer to get that job actually
11:30 am
accomplished. that means cancer centers like the m.d. anderson hospital will have more support to carry out their mission to make cancer history. cures will also support research for alzheimer's and help fund the fight against the opioid epidemic running rampant through many parts of our country. in other words, this legislation is critically important to the health of our country now and for generations to come. significantly, this legislation, the 21st century cures bill, includes reforms to our mental health delivery system in part based on legislation i introduced in the senate called the mental health and safe communities act. as a result of the deinstitutionalation and treatment of people with mint illness in the 1990's, the safety net that was supposed to be there to catch people so they didn't fall through the cracks never came into being, and so many people suffering from mental illness simply live on
11:31 am
our streets as homeless individuals or they are frequent fliers, so to speak, in our criminal justice system and have never, in many instances never had their mental illness diagnosed, much less treated, so they can actually have a chance at a better life. the mental health provisions included in the cures bill is one way to correct that course. it will also help families with a mentally ill loved one find a path to treatment and a way forward including assisted outpatient treatment programs. one of the biggest challenges families have when they have a mentally ill family member is, particularly when they're an adult, is getting them to comply with their doctor's orders and take their medication. due to the miracle of modern pharmacology, many people with mental illnesses, if they are compliant with their medication, can lead very productive lives. but often there's additional tools that need to be available to family members when they find
11:32 am
that their loved one is getting sicker and sicker and not being compliant with their medication and potentially become a danger to themselves or to the community at large. this legislation will equip state and local governments with better tools to assess individual health care needs so that those suffering from mental illness in the criminal justice system could begin to recover and get the help they need instead of just getting sicker and sicker. this bill also encourages the creation of crisis intervention teams so our law enforcement officers and first responders can know how to deescalate dangerous confrontations. in a police officer comes to the scene of a call only to confront a mentally ill person, if they're untrained and don't know how to deescalate the situation, they may find themselves in danger -- the first responder as well as the individual person with mental illness.
11:33 am
so this is about finding ways to help the mentally ill individual get help while keeping the community safe at the same time. mr. president, the last bit of business that we have is to fund the government. i've said many times the best way to do that is to take the appropriations bills up one at a time so that we can properly vet them, discuss them and pass them. our friends across the aisle had a different view this year and blocked the passage of individual appropriations bills. so while it's not my preference, it's where we are. right now we're looking forward to passing a continuing resolution soon as we fulfill our important responsibilities to the american people. so i'm glad to see that we're making some progress on other pieces of legislation, including the water resources development act, a bill that
11:34 am
will help us strengthen our waterways, to account for growing trade and to provide more drought and flood protection. finally we're working to finish up the national defense authorization bill that will make sure congress provides the resources to our military men and women so that they can accomplish their missions and keep america safe. mr. president, we have quite a bit of work left to do and not much time left to do it in before the holidays. but with a little cooperation, i'm sure we'll get it all done. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i'm here along with a number of my colleagues today to applaud the 21st century cures act as a major milestone and a long overdue initial investment in combatting the opioid epidemic. in particular, i applaud the
11:35 am
inclusion of $1 billion in funding over two years that will address this crisis. for treatment providers on the front lines of the epidemic, i'm pleased to say that with this bill, when it's passed by the senate -- and i believe it will be -- help is on the way. now make no mistake, these resources are badly needed. this remains an uncontrolled epidemic and it's still gaining strength, unfortunately. a staggering 47,000 americans died of drug overdoses in 2014. more americans than died in car accidents. and in new hampshire, we are bull's eye for the highest percentage of drug overdoses per population of any state in the country. sad to say. so i'm pleased that this bill includes language to prioritize the allocation of these new resources to the most heavily
11:36 am
affected states, and i intend to work with the current and incoming administrations to get this funding out to states as quickly as possible. more than a year ago i introduced legislation to help stem the tide of the opioid crisis by providing emergency funding to states, to first responders and to treatment providers. and of course i joined with other senators in working to include funding in the cures act , to provide at least an initial infusion of funding to fight the opioid epidemic. i'm relieved that these efforts have led to the bipartisan agreement that we will soon vote on. last month the united states surgeon general, dr. vif -- dr. vivek murphy led a call to action. he said that 21 million americans have a substance use disorder. far more than americans than have cancer. yet, only one in ten is
11:37 am
receiving any kind of treatment. my state of new hampshire and new england have been especially hard hit. but make no mistake, this is a nationwide epidemic, and it doesn't discriminate. it's impacting young and old, urban and rural, rich and poor, white and minorities, democrats, republicans, independents. this fall i met with susan messenger of holdenness, new hampshire. her son carl experimented with heroin at a party and quickly became addicted. he got treatment, he was in recovery, he was doing great. but he came down with a respiratory infection and was prescribed medicine that unknown to him included an opioid. just simple cherry cough medicine. carl relapsed and he died of a fentanyl overdose just days before his 25th birthday. mr. president, this chart,
11:38 am
drug overdose deaths across america, shows very vividly the extent of the problem. it was compiled by the national center for health statistics at the centers for december control and prevention and it shows the inexorable spread of the disease from the opioid crisis and the disease that it causes from 200e as much bright red -- to 2008, where it's growing, to 2014, where it's almost the entire country. and we can see that in the presiding officer's section of the country, in the southwest, it's particularly challenging, as well as in the appalachian regions of the east. according to the c.d.c., mortality trends in the opioid epidemic are similar to the trends in the h.i.v. epidemic at
11:39 am
its peak in the late 1980's and 1990's. the second chart is drug overdose deaths across new hampshire. it shows a parallel spread of the opioid epidemic in new hampshire with especially devastating effects in the northern part of the state, what we call the north country. so in 2003, we're seeing no -- no orange, no red. 2007, we're beginning to see patches of orange. 2011, they've turned red. and by 2014, it's particularly affecting the entire state. and here, the northern part of new hampshire, is where it is hardest hit. in his landmark report last month, the u.s. surgeon general said -- and i'm quoting -- it's time to change how we view addiction. not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency and compassion. and yet, what we're seeing in new hampshire and cross the
11:40 am
country is that treatment centers are completely overwhelmed. certainly the new funding in the cures act will be welcome news to friendship house in bethlehem, new hampshire, which is a treatment center that i visited on friday. its -- it's up here in the northern part of the state, in new hampshire's north country which has one of the highest overdose rates in new hampshire and friendship house is the only treatment center within a radius of 65 miles. in april kaiser health news reported on the case of eddie sawyer. eddie overdosed and died while waiting for his turn to be admitted to friendship house. when police found mr. sawyer on the table next to his bed was a list of treatment facilities. there were check marks next to the name of each facility. mr. sawyer had called every place on the list, and he had not found one that could take him for treatment.
11:41 am
again, the surgeon general's report says sunshine out of ten are being -- says nine out of ten are being turned away due to a lack of resources. hopefully this legislation will help that because in the last year i visited treatment centers in every part of the granite state, these centers are staffed by skilled, dedicated treatment professionals. they're saving lives every day. but they tell me that for every life they save, others are being lost for lack of treatment, for lack of capacity, for facilities and for funding. and when people with substance use disorders are turned away, this means they remain on the streets desperate, often committing crimes to support their addiction and a constant risk of a lethal overdose. last year a promising young woman named molly alice parks died of a heroin overdose in
11:42 am
manchester, new hampshire; new hampshire's largest city. her father wrote her obituary which appeared in the "union leader" newspaper and wrote openly about molly's struggle with addiction. the obituary included this plea to readers -- and i quote againd ones who are fighting addiction, molly's family asks that you do everything possible to be supportive, to guide them to rehabilitation before it's too late." i admire the courage of molly's father, his willingness to warn other families and talk openly about his daughter's addiction. but what if a family persuades a son or daughter to seek treatment and no treatment is available? sadly, that's the case in so many communities across america where treatment centers are overwhelmed. and that's why the additional resources in the cures act are so important. this new funding will make a real difference for treatment providers in each of our states.
11:43 am
and make no mistake, this legislation will save lives. the funding in the cures act is a welcome initial investment in combating the opioid epidemic. president-elect trump during dozens of visits to new hampshire over the last year pledged aggressive action to fight the opioid epidemic. when the new congress convenes in january, we must come together with our new president on a bipartisan basis to address the opioid crisis in a comprehensive fashion, including continuing resources for policing, prevention, treatment and recovery. as the surgeon general says, as we respond to this crisis is a test for america. and with so many lives at stake, it is a test we must not fail. with the 21st century cures act, congress is providing urgent new funding for treatment providers on the font lines,
11:44 am
professionals who have been doing truly heroic lifesaving work. our message in passing this legislation is help is on the way. i urge my colleagues to give strong bipartisan support to this important bill. thank you very much, mr. president. i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:45 am
quorum call:
11:46 am
11:47 am
11:48 am
11:49 am
11:50 am
11:51 am
11:52 am
11:53 am
11:54 am
11:55 am
11:56 am
11:57 am
11:58 am
11:59 am
12:00 pm
quorum call:
12:01 pm
12:02 pm
mr. manchin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: are we in morning business? the presiding officer: we are in a quorum cull. mr. manchin: i ask to vitiate the quorum call. mr. manchin: i ask unanimous consent to speak. i want to explain what's happening so all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle -- i've been here for six years as a senator, and i've always thought to make the -- fought to make the body work for the people of of west virginia and our country. i have never believed partisan gridlock is a way to accomplish our policy goals, and so i haven't come to this decision easily. i've never use add procedure that i'm using today. and i will use to basically stop all u.c.'s, a lot of good pieces of legislation, a lot of god friends who have -- good friends
12:03 pm
who have worked diligently and i want to work with them. my reason for doing this is over two years ago we promised the retired coal miners of america -- we promised them and most of their families -- and these are a lot of widows now -- and we promised them that they would have their health care benefits, which were guaranteed to them, and their pensions. and we've been working towards that. we knew this day would come. this is the only time since the thing we have. as of december 31st, the end of this month, less than four weeks away, sir, there's going to be 16,500 retired families, retired miners that are losing their health care benefits. there will be another 4,000 the 1st of next year. so i'm using this procedure, which i reluctantly and never thought i would have to, because we're fighting for those people that we've promised that we believe in, that have mard this nation, that have -- that have powered this nation that have
12:04 pm
given us the nation that we believe in. we have a pay-for for this. we have a way to move forward. all i'm asking for is the health care benefits for our retired miners. it is something they deserve. and we are the country that we are because of the hard work that they've done. i wanted my colleagues to know why this -- why this procedure is going to be a little bit more laborious than what they would have liked, why we might not be leaving here when they would have liked to have gone home, and if we don't stand for the people that have made our country as great as it is, we stand for nothing. so with that, i hope that my colleagues would understand where i'm coming from and i would hope they would understand and be with me on this for the sake of all these families and all these widows and all these miners who have given so much to our country. with that, i say "thank you" and i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i want to start by expressing my appreciation to
12:05 pm
all my colleagues who have worked so hard on the 21st century cures bill, investing in tackling our hardest-to-treat diseases, confronting the opioid epidemic, strengthening mental health care, and advancing medical innovation. the legislation that we will be voting on either really late tonight or tomorrow morning takes important steps to improve the care that patients receive. and i am very grateful to every senator and member of congress who worked across the aisle to make this legislation the best it could be for those who we serve. in particular, i want to express my heartfelt thanks to vice president joe biden. not everyone has the strength to respond to profound america perl tragedy by doing even more to protect and help others. but that's exactly what he has dofnlt we are all grateful for and inspired by his leadership, and i'm leadership it has give an lot of families hope knowing that joe biden is fighting for them and their loved ones.
12:06 pm
and, of course, i want to acknowledge and thank the chairman of the help committee, senator alexander, for his work and leadership on this bill, as well as the energy and commerce chairman fred upton, ranking member frank pallone and congresswoman diana degette. i am proud of our country's history of lifesaving public health initiatives and world-changing medical innovation. from eradicating smallpox to mapping the human genome, we have risen to challenges and found ways to combat seemingly unbeatable diseases and public health threats, and there's no question we are a stronger country nor that. the bill that we are talking about today, while far from perfect, gives us the chance to build on that tradition of leadership and respond to some urgent health challenges we face right now. one of those is the opioid epidemic. like many of my colleagues, i've heard from far too many families and local leaders in my home state about the ways the opioid
12:07 pm
use disorders are ruining lives and tearing families apart. my constituent, penny wil legate whose daughter died from an overdose at age of 18 sthais this crisis request k. "happen anywhere and it is everywhere." that's the same thing i heard from worry patients and sheriffs and community leaders across washington state. i was glad that earlier this year the senate passed a comprehensive addiction and recovery act to strengthen and improve programs that do address opioid addiction. but as democrats made clear, improving policy wasn't enough. tackling this crisis head-on requires putting new investments into these efforts as quickly as possible. and that's what this bill will do. it dedicates $1 billion over two years, above and beyond the budget caps, to help states and communities fight back and critically we were able to secure changes that ensure this money will go to states based on
12:08 pm
where it is needed the most. many of my colleagues were closely involved in this effort, but in particular i want to recognize senator whitehouse, shaheen, baldwin, markey, donely, and manchin. i've also hrd from people across waff -- i've also heard from people across washington state about what our broken mental health system means for them and their families. one constituent, whose experience has really stuck with me, is jenny's. jenny is from olympia, washington, and she was pregnant when her husband began having severe psychotic episodes. jenny told me that she remembered how striking the differences were between the coordinated, thoughtful care she received as an expecting mother and the confusing patchwork that she and her husband had to navigate to try and help him get better. now, jenny's husband cycle the in and out -- cycled in and out of the hospital without effective treatment and tragically -- tragically -- he
12:09 pm
took his own life while jenny was in the nicu with their newborn gab. jenny's story is one of many about families struggling to find quality mental health care for loved ones with mental illness. i am confident that everyone here today has heard these stories and we know we've got to do better. our legislation will help expand access to quality care for mental illness and substance use disorders by making it easier for patients to get in touch with providers. it will strengthen coordination between local agencies who are engaged in crisis intervention, and it will make sure that resources are available to strengthen the mental health workforce. while we weren't able to resolve the i.m.d. exclusion -- that's a policy that makes it extremely difficult for states to provide inpatient care to those with mental illness and substance use disorders -- this bill does change policy so that federal funding will fully support the
12:10 pm
physical needs of children in psychiatric facilities. it also puts in place measures to strengthen our mental health parity law to make sure that health insurance will cover mental health and addiction services when it's needed. chairman alexander and i worked with senators murphy and cassidy to move this legislation through our committee this year, and i want to recognize their commitment and leadership on this issue in particular. mr. president, in addition to investing in tackling the opioid epidemic and putting in place desperately needed reforms to our mental health care system, this legislation makes real investments in tackling the hardest-to-treat diseases. ko ring to the -- according to the national concert institute at n.i.h., 40% of women in the united states will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lives. right now, more than 5 million people are living with alzheimer's. these are truly staggering statistics, and they represent
12:11 pm
enormous hardship and suffering and loss in nearly every family and community. now, we've made enormous progress in you understanding and treating cancer and we know more about how the brain works and what diseases like alzheimer's and parkinson's and traumatic injuries do to human minds, but we can and must do more. that is exactly what the investments in this -- in any think in this bill will -- in n.i.h. in this bill will mean. while this is not the mandatory funding we had hoped for, this is real funding. $4.8 billion is paid for within this bill, targeted to specific n.i.h. initiatives and available to appropriators above and beyond the budget caps. that means, as a result of this legislation and thanks in particular to the leadership envisioned of vice president -- and vision of vice president biden, we will be able to invest billions right away in better
12:12 pm
understanding preventing and treating diseases that have impacted so many families. and this bill also ensures that those investments in research will benefit all americans, including women and children, lgbt individuals and racial and ethnic minorities. this bill also puts $500 billion above and beyond the budget caps towards helping the f.d.a. meet the same high standards of patient and consumer safety in the face of increasing demands on the agency and new responsibilities under this legislation. as democrats have made clear throughout this process, upholding the gold standard of f.d.a. approval that patients and families across the country trust is a top priority. in light of the antibiotic-resistant infections linked to contaminated medical devices in seattle and across the country, it was particularly important to me to make sure this bill strengthened the
12:13 pm
f.d.a.'s authority to require that medical device manufacturers ensure their products will remain safe after they've gone into repeated uses at our hospitals. we also fought hard to move many of the other f.d.a. reform policies that are included in this bill in the direction of greater patient and consumer safety. in particular, i was pleased we were able to take out legislation that would have watered down transparency around drug and device industry payments to doctors, and i appreciate my colleagues on the other side of the aisle were ultimately willing to work with us to meet those changes. now, looking ahead to next year, i plan to monitor implementation of this bill extremely closely with a focus on making sure the incoming administration ad'd ad- adheres to the policies late out in this bill and upholds the f.d.a.'s responsibility to patients and families to ensure our medicines and treatments are safe and effective.
12:14 pm
this standard has been critical to fueling biomedical innovation in america for over half a century. and while i am disappointed that republicans were unwilling to take action in this legislation to tackle the high costs of prescription drugs, i am very glad we were able to remove expensive provisions that could have driven up costs for consumers even more. mr. president, while this bill is not what i would have written on my own, it is seniorly not what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would have written on their own either. it does lock in critical advancements ahead of the incoming administration and the partisan approach they are signaling they will take on health care. and it will make a real difference for patients and families across the country now and for years into the future. mr. president, before i wrap up, i want to acknowledge the extraordinary time and effort put in by all of our staffs. there have been a lot of late nights and weekends for our staffs, not just this year but
12:15 pm
last year as well, on this bill. and i want to take just a minute to recognize their extraordinary effort and sacrifice. on senator alexander's staff, i want to particularly acknowledge and thank his staff director david clary, as well as mary sumter lapinsky, who worked very closely with my staff over many months. i als -- i want to acknowledge and thank margaret colter, melissa fath, cara townsend for their efforts on this bill. on the house i want to thank the staff of congressman pallone including staff director jeff carol long with tiffany geracio and thank the staff of chairman upton, particularly his staff director gary anders and his health policy lead. i want to thank the staff of my members on the help committee who worked so closely with my
12:16 pm
staff to make this a reality. in particular i want to thank david benine and joe dunn with senator murphy. i want to acknowledge the assistance of amy rosenbaum, genie lambenbrew among many others within the administration who helped make today possible. finally, mr. president, i want to close by thanking my staff. i can't say enough about my incredible staff who have put their time and talents into this bill from the word go. in particular i want to thank my staff director evan schatz and my health policy director nick baath for extraordinary efforts on this legislation. thank you. i want to acknowledge the work of remy brimm, melanie rainier, meghan howard, helen
12:17 pm
hart, john rider, nick mcclean and my chief of staff. i want you to notice, i notice their long hours and unwavering commitment on this legislation, and it means a lot. i urge my colleagues to join the house when we vote on this, which voted overwhelmingly in support of this bill, 392-26, and to join us in sending this legislation to president obama's desk. thank you, and i -- first, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that meghan howard, a fellow of senator murray's help committee staff be granted floor privileges for the remainder of the 114th congress. point without --. a senator: i have five requests for senators to meet during the session of today's senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. now, mr. president, before the
12:18 pm
distinguished senator from washington moves on to her other duties, i want to commend her and senator alexander for the outstanding job they've done and for the long hours she and her colleagues on the help committee have put in to making the cures act the reality that it will be in a few days. mr. wicker: i know the distinguished gentlelady is on her way to other meetings, and i have a few things to say about it, but i wanted to express that before she left the room. truly, as senator murray said, the 21st century cures act is a world-changing piece of legislation. it seems rather quiet and unremarkable today, but i actually believe that we're taking a major step toward
12:19 pm
disease cure and health care research that rivals the legislation that actually founded the national institutes of health some decades ago. so we're about important business here at christmastime, as we near the end of this lame-duck session. senator blunt and i, and perhaps other senators were over in the chamber of the other body last wednesday afternoon when the house of representatives passed the 21st century cures act by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 392-26. i appreciated the work that house leaders did from top to bottom and on both sides of the aisle on this important legislation, and of course i'm always pleased to visit my
12:20 pm
colleagues over there. a number of our house colleagues were over here last night, mr. president, when the u.s. senate invoked cloture on the cures act by an overwhelming vote of 85-13. we will get to the vote either this afternoon or early tomorrow, and i have every confidence that there will be a strong vote on final passage. this 21st century cures act is the product of several years of bipartisan work in both houses. my friend from washington state gave a comprehensive overview of the legislation, which is indeed breathtaking. i would like to come behind her and mention what an accomplishment this is in three areas. first, in alzheimer's research. secondly, in pediatric
12:21 pm
research. and finally, in the drug approval process. and i appreciate my friend from washington and 62 others in agreeing to take this -- to take into this legislation the eureka act, which i was happy to sponsor and which 62 of my colleagues cosponsored. eureka would at will initiate price competitions in the fight against some of our nation's most terrible diseases, including alzheimer's. these prizes would pay only for success and they would complement currently funding that is ongoing and will be ongoing according to the legislation. so they will be over and above what we're already doing for alzheimer's. and the senator from washington
12:22 pm
was correct about how costly alzheimer's is. it will top $1 trillion in taxpayer cost by the year 2050 unless we get a cure or unless we achieve major goals with regard to stopping alzheimer's. so it's an expensive disease, the most expensive disease in the history of this country. but also it's terribly expensive in terms of human suffering. i know many, many americans, including my family, have been touched in a very terrible and dramatic way by alzheimer's. so i'm pleased that the eureka prizes are part of this legislation. i want to thank everyone who has helped us in this regard, including the advice we got from the price foundation, from all
12:23 pm
the alzheimer's groups including the alzheimer's association and us against alzheimer's. thanks also should go to dr. francis collins and the entire team at the national institutes of health for making this provision work and for listening to a different idea: the concept of prizes for health care research, and giving it an attentive ear and being willing to agree that in addition to the funding, we would attack these diseases with a prize competition. the n.i.h. funding and cures includes additional dollars for the brain initiative. these eureka prizes will ensure our researchers have the tools they need. secondly, another important part of the n.i.h. section of the cures act is the national
12:24 pm
pediatric research network inspired by the pediatric research improvement act that i was happy to cosponsor with senator brown earlier this year. senator brown and i have been working together tirelessly to see n.i.h. implement the national pediatric research network. and i'm glad to see that this provision in the bill very simply, the goal is to expand access to clinical trials and treatments for children, especially those with rare diseases. so that is a second aspect of this cures bill that i'm so pleased to see the leadership of this committee being attentive to. and then also, thirdly, this bill makes major breakthroughs in the way we approve drugs in this country. and i'm pleased that language from another bill that i cosponsored, the
12:25 pm
patient-focused impact assessment act, was included in the bill. this section of the cures bill would ensure that patients understand the way f.d.a. considers the patient experience and the way f.d.a. considers data in the drug approval process. so for patients like those living with duchenne and their families, for people who are interested in the drug approval process and for the parents of children, this is really a truly bipartisan achievement. i'm happy that senator murray was here so i could congratulate her in person. certainly senator lamar alexander, chairman of the help committee, deserves high praise from both sides of the aisle for his leadership in this regard, and as well as the bipartisan leadership of the house of representatives. as we enter this holiday
12:26 pm
season, patients advocates and providers have an extra reason to rejoice as this billheads to the president's desk. thank you, mr. president. and i yield -- i am about to yield the floor. but first i ask unanimous consent that the senate stand in recess following the remarks of senator casey, until 2:15 p.m. today. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. wicker: and i yield the floor. mr. casey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. i would ask consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. in the interest of time, i'll limit my remarks. i rise this afternoon to commend and salute three senators from the democratic caucus who are
12:27 pm
leaving the senate this year. i'll have longer written statements for the record to appropriately pay tribute to their service. in alphabetical order: senator boxer from california, senator mikulski of maryland, and senator reid of nevada. i'll offer some specific remarks about leader reid in the interest of time. but i do want to commend and salute senator boxer for her service to the people of california and to our nation. and as well, senator mikulski for her great work. two great advocates, two individuals that we're going to misterably here in the united states senate -- miss terribly in the united states senate. as i said, i'll put longer statements in the record. with regard to senator reid, i can't help taking the time just to say a few words about him in the remaining minutes we have before we break for the caucus lunches. as many people know, senator
12:28 pm
harry reid is a son of searchlight, a small community in the state of nevada. and he comes from humble beginnings. in fact, it's probably best to read his words about his beginnings rather than try to describe or encapsulate them. he said -- and i quote, among many things about his background and his family, but he said this in short fashion about his background -- quote -- "my dad was a hard-rock miner. my mom took in wash, and i grew up around people of strong values." that's a direct quotation from harry reid about his background. and i think those values have helped him his whole life. those values and that work ethic and that strength of character allowed him to go from searchlight to rise up to become a leader in his home state of
12:29 pm
nevada, in many positions in state government, to be a member of the united states house of representatives, later to be elected to the united states senate in 1986, and then of course to become both the democratic leader, and he remains so until the end of this congress. but of course the pinnacle was his service as majority leader, one of the longest serving majority leaders in our history. but that is kind of the summary of his positions in government, important though they are, in leading a large and diverse caucus, a difficult job whether you're leading that caucus in the majority or leading it as the minority party. so we salute and commend his service to his home state of nevada and to the people of the united states. but maybe more important than just talking about positions he
12:30 pm
held is to talk about for just a minute who he is: a fighter. no person has fought harder for workers and for their families than harry reid. no senator, no person that i know in public life has made that such a central part of who they are and a central part of their priorities. and also at the same time a fighter for those who often don't have a voice here, people who don't have power ever in their lives or often don't have power on a regular basis. they always had a friend in harry reid, someone who would go to the end of the earth fighting on behalf of them. over and over again in our caucus, he would say, we have to work on this issue or we have to get this or that done for people out there that are hurting. and there are so many different examples of that that we don't have time

21 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on