Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate Confirms Nikki Haley as U.N. Ambassador  CSPAN  January 24, 2017 2:15pm-6:46pm EST

2:15 pm
list of 21 that he floated when he was running for the white house? and chuck schumer has not said whether not those people are acceptable or not outside of the mainstream or not. what is your view? >> i anticipate what we're going to get from the president is a highly qualified, well credentialed -- >> continue to watch this online@c-span.org. we will take your live to the senate floor. we may have debate thissu afternoon on senate nominations. e through south georgia taking the lives, unfortunately, of at least 15 georgians. among those areas hit the hardest were counties vowndersing the cities of adel and albany. these counties and cities are very near where i grew up and where i now reside personally. when last weekend's storms hit, emergency management teams there were still leading recovery efforts in response to deadly
2:16 pm
storms that had just caused widespread destruction earlier this month. i'm very greasm for the tireless -- grateful for the tireless and on-going efforts of the first responders in our state and stand with our georgia families during this difficult time. our hearts, of course, go out to the families affected by these severe storms. mr. president, i now yield to the senior senator from georgia. mr. isakson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: i want to thank my partner, senator perdue, for arranging this colloquy today. i want to join him in expressing sympathy to the families of those lost in georgia and to the thousands and thousands of jurorrians who have been injured, -- thousands and thousands of georgians who have been injured. i group as a young boy working in fitzgerald, georgia, not far from alban neevment i know what these folks are like. they do deserve and merit everything we can do to get them aid. i'm so happy secretary kelly called yesterday to offer the services of the federal
2:17 pm
emergency management agency. they have done a great deal of arranging the disaster area. people are already in place. my heart goes out to the injured and my heart goes out to my staivment my prayers go tout out to the families of those injured and in the hospital and those who perished in the terrible tornadoes. mr. perdue: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. perdue: i ask unanimous consent in the united states that the senate observe a moment of silence for those who have lost their lives in these recent storms. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will now observe a moment of silence. mr. perdue: mr. president, i now yield the floor. i thank my colleagues.
2:18 pm
i observe the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
2:19 pm
2:20 pm
2:21 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mr. flake: may i ask to do away with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: mr. president, rise to speak of legislation i'm introducing today, the transportation investment recalibration to equality act, or the tire act. the tire act would suspend the davis-bacon prevailing wage and all related infrastructure contracts. this would free up billions more in taxpayer dollars to be spent on jobs and on projects. for those who are not familiar, davis-bacon is a depression-era law that requires contractors on federal construction projects to pay workers no less than the so-called local prevailing wage. now, since its enactment over 80 years ago, the department of labor has unable to devise an
2:22 pm
effective system for determining prevailing wages. in fact, a 2004 department of labor inspector general report revealed that federal wage reporting surveys, which are a key metric used to determine prevailing wainls, are fundamentally -- wages, are fundamentally flawed. of all the wage reports surveyed by the i.g., 100% contained flaws. let me say that again. 100% of all the surveys were flawed. in addition, some of the wage surveys have not been updated since the 1980's. the bottom line is, every time davis-bacon applies to a federal project, less money is going to construction and more money is going to meet onerous wage requirements. according to the beaken hill institute, davis-bacon forces taxpayer to pay 22% above the market rate for labor on federal infrastructure projects. this is largely the result of
2:23 pm
disproportionate union participation in flawed wage surveys that skew federal decision making. now, despite representing only 14% of the construction industry, unions are able to leverage their clout with federal bureaucrats to inflate more than 60% of prevailing wages. tock tal -- talk about benefiting a few at the expense of many. here is some perspective on what it means in real dollars. in 2016, the federal government spent $23 billion on federal construction projects, $2.1 billion of these dollars were spent on above-market rate labor costs. again, $2.1 billion of the $23 billion spent was on above-market rate labor costs. this means that nearly 10% of all federal construction spending last year went to inflated contracts. not only does this translate
2:24 pm
into less construction funding going to actual construction, but according to george mason university, it results in roughly 30,000 lost construction jobs. so we lose both on the projects and the jobs that are created. more broadly, it discriminates against small businesses who don't have the resources to meet onerous federal reporting and compliance requirements. now, while it may be well-intentioned, davis-bacon ends up eliminating decent-paying construction jobs and hampering infrastructure spending. i have often talked to state and local officials who will say that if you have two bridges across the same river, even if they're just 100 yards 20r 00 yards -- or 200 yards or a mile apart, with the same underlying costs, if there are federal moneys involved in one and no federal moneys involved in the other, the one with federal
2:25 pm
moneys will cost significantly more and a big portion of that is because of davis-bacon requirements. now, we've got to in this body look for issues to bridge the partisan divide. it turns out one of these issues is, well, bridges and roads and dams and other infrastructure projects p. fixing our nation's crumbling infrastructure is a top priority for many in congress, and the new administration has touted a large infrastructure package as one of its agenda items. now however, despite the bipartisan consensus on both ends of pennsylvania avenue for infrastructure investment, visions for road -- the road ahead actually diverge with a projected price tag north of $800 billion for highways and bridges alone. every federal dollar needs to be spent as fcialtly as possible --
2:26 pm
as efficiently as possible. the tire act will determine wa wages for projects where they belong -- that's the market. now, mr. president, before i yield back, i'd like to say a few words about this friday's march for life. this friday, the national mall and capitol campus will again be filled with men and women from every corner of the country. together they'll gather in celebration of the sanctity of life and in solidarity for its protection. for 43 straight year, the march of life has given a powerful platform for average people to join in the political discourse to influence federal policy in support of life. that emphasis on the ability of the single person to bring about historic change is the theme of this year's march. now, this year's march is called
2:27 pm
the power of one. the march of life uses the following quote from the author j.r.r.tolkin. "even the smallest person can change the course of history." mr. president, this is a powerful message that we should all embrace. it reminds us that from the young people marching on a cold january morning to the unborn children whose futures are filled with unlimited potential, any one of them has the power to be a positive force for good. i yield back.
2:28 pm
2:29 pm
nor senator mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. a senator: mr. president, i
2:30 pm
would scuct ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. you may proceed. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. i would ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: we talk about it a lot but i'm not sure people around here have a real sense of what it means to folks back at home. medicaid is a program that's 50 years old, more than 50 years old now. and in some ways the name doesn't convey the scope of it. in some ways i wish it had a
2:31 pm
different name because it would remind people who benefits from it. if you, instead of referring it to the medicaid program, if you called it the kids, seniors, and folks are disabilities program or something like that, you'd be accurately describing the scope and the reach of the program because it has a profound impact on the lives of children, on the lives of older citizens trying to get long-term care in nursing homes, and of course it has a huge impact on individuals with disabilities. we know that in the campaign, president trump made a statement -- and i'm not quoting him exactly, but it was a brief statement during the campaign, and it was in writing, that he would not cut social security, medicare, or medicaid. i think a lot of people have forgot than the third one. and one of the tasks that we have in the senate is to make sure that when a statement like that is made that any president
2:32 pm
is held accountable to that promise. the examples i could cite are many about the impact of medicaid. just a couple are significant, not by way of exclusion but i'll just mention a few. i'm holding here a document, march of dimes document, an issue brief by the march of dimes. and it's entitled "value of medicaid." i won't read it all. but here's one i'm not sure a lot of people know. "medicaid covers 45% of births. 45% of all births." unquote, and they have a footnote for that. i'm not sure there are many in washington that know that. that's why i referred to it earlier in a more informal way, the baby program, because all
2:33 pm
of those children come into the world paid for by medicaid. medicaid is a substantial impact on rural families, rural america, rural hospitals. by one estimate, a couple of years ago, first focus, one of the advocacy groups here in washington, that tracks issues that relate to children, estimated that as of 2012 -- and i doubt it would have changed much since then. as of 2012, more than 45% of rural children got their health care through medicaid or the children's health insurance program. so almost half of rural children benefiting from one program or the other. just a couple more. one in five seniors receives medicare assistance through
2:34 pm
medicaid, and that includes premium assistance, cost sharing, long-term care, dental care and vision care. another important number, two-thirds of nursing home residents are covered by medicaid. i mentioned children before and the profound impact it has on their lives. medicaid covers 40% of all children in the country. i mentioned chip and medicaid combined covering almost half of rural children. but just medicaid alone covers 40% of all children in a rural, urban and everywhere in between. and if you just consider low-income kids or children that come from low-income families, medicaid covers some 75% of those children. so there's a lot to talk about, but one issue that's been joined now, or we're in the process of engaging on an issue is what will happen to medicaid. despite what the president said
2:35 pm
when he was campaigning -- and i'm talking specifically about medicaid -- just this weekend the administration announced without much, without much attention drawn to it at the time -- i hope increasingly more attention -- that the administration would support block granting medicaid. that's at variance with what the president said. in my judgment, a total contradiction of what he said and now apparently his administration has embraced the house republican approach to medicaid, which is block granting. there are a lot of ways to measure that, measure the impact of block granting. one -- and i'll just cite for the record. mr. president, i actually would like to have this made part of the record. it's a report by the center on budget and policy priorities dated march 15 of 2016,
2:36 pm
entitled "medicaid block grant would add millions to uninsured and underinsured." i'd ask that that be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: one of the headlines of that, one of the basic inclusions by a respected organization that tracks this information, i'll just read that headline. quoting them, "the block grant would cut federal exhaled funding by $1 trillion from 2017 to 2026." so if you're saying you're going to protect children and you're going to protect seniors and you're going to make sure that those with disabilities don't have any problems going forward, it's pretty difficult to do that if you take $1 trillion out of the medicaid program over the course of a decade. there is a, an op-ed in "the new york times" on christmas day, interestingly that it actually was printed on that
2:37 pm
holy day, an op-ed by gene sperling, someone that many people in washington know. but for those who don't gene served two presidents and served both presidents, both president clinton and president obama as the director of the national economic council. one of the conclusions that gene reached based upon his research and his vast experience -- and i'll quote him directly from the december 25 op-ed in "the new york times." this op-ed was entitled "the quiet war on medicaid." and i'm quoting -- "together full repeal" and there he means full repeal of the patient protection and affordable care act. "full repeal and block granting would cut medicaid and the children's health insurance program funding by almost $2.1 trillion over the next ten years, a 40% cut."
2:38 pm
so whether you look at it in terms of block granting's impact on medicaid or the combination of the block granting policy, which the administration has now embraced fully, and the repeal of the affordable care act, the result of that is you adversely impact two programs: the children's health insurance program and the medicaid program. so let me bring this back to real people. i just want to highlight a couple of excerpts from a letter i received recently, and then i'll conclude. this is a letter from coatsville, pennsylvania, in the southeastern corner of our state, a letter sent to me by pamela e. simpson. i'll just call her pam, because i don't know her personally. she wrote me a letter about her son. pam simpson's son rowan. she said rowan, i guess is now five years old and back in 2015
2:39 pm
he was diagnosed with an autism disorder. she went on to say how much rowan has benefited from the medicaid program. we call it medical assistance in pennsylvania. sheep said that among the -- she said among the services he received was the behavioral specialist consultant helping him in a therapeutic staff support worker, direct help, direct intervention so that rowan can grow and benefit from those direct services. she said that the agency that administers these kind of wrap-around services for rowan and children like him, in this case is called the child guidance resource center. and they started a particular program focused on social skills especially for children with autism. but here's how she concluded her
2:40 pm
letter, and this is why i want to cite it in the context of this critically important debate we're going to have about medicaid and the question of block granting, which sounds kind of benign, doesn't it, when you say it. it doesn't sound that bad, but in my judgment would be devastating to these families. she said to me in the letter -- quote -- "please think of my dear rowan and his happy face, his big blue eyes, his lovely strawberry blonde hair" -- and you can see it in these pictures i should have mentioned earlier. rowan in two different pictures and there dressed as a firefighter. "please think of me and my husband working every day to support our family, and please think of my nine-month-old daughter luna who smiles at her brother daily." there's luna in the picture, held by rowan. she says that she's worried that that little girl, when she's
2:41 pm
much older, will have to take care of rowan late in her life when pam and her husband are gone. and she ends the letter this way -- quote -- "overall we are desperately in need of rowan's medical assistance and would be devastated if we lost these benefits." unquote. what she's referring to there of course is medicaid. i have real trouble believing that if the trump administration's proposal on block granting medicaid marches forward now that they have embraced a counterproposal that republicans in washington -- embraced a proposal that republicans in washington embraced for years, block granting over and over and over again, now it's a live issue. now it's no longer just voting. now it's an issue that could be enacted into law, and i think
2:42 pm
that would be a terrible step in the wrong direction. so, mr. president, i think we've got to remember that when we consider these budget debates, when we consider the debate about health care and especially when we consider real families like pam's and real children like rowan. and with that, i would yield the floor. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask consent to continue as though in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i also ask consent, i understand the majority leader may be coming to the floor to make a request. if he does, i would certainly be willing to yield to him provided i don't lose my right to the floor. mr. president, a lot has happened here in washington in the last few days.
2:43 pm
marcelle and i knew that a number of vermonters were coming down for the women's march in washington. we set out on social media and we said, look, any vert vermonters who are coming down, why don't you join us for coffee, and we arranged to get the mod house here on capitol hill so they could. we at first didn't know how many would show up until we started getting the responses. people from my office and marcelle and i were there shortly after 6:00 in the morning, and people started pouring in. we finally had 500 or 600, from the little state of vermont came in there. and we met -- mr. president, i see the majority leader. i will yield and would ask consent that it not interrupt my
2:44 pm
statement and that i get the floor back when he's finished. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i understand he's not quite ready so let me go on about what happened. we had 500 or 600 vermonters came into the mod house. i had a chance to speak with them. and my wife marcelle gave one of the most powerful speeches, totally ad libbed that i've heard pointing out the stakes and what's going on in the country. of course she pointed to the supreme court right next door. what got me is these people came from all walks of life in vermont, some i knew, a lot of i them i didn't. some were republicans, some were democrats, some were independents, all very concerned. most came down in buses, driving all night long. it's a little over 500 miles.
2:45 pm
they came down so they could say no to hate. and we had thousands more who marched to our state capital in montpelier. let me put that in perspective. our state exactly, i was born there, i know it very well, has only 8,500 people. 15,000, 15,000 stood on our state house lawn to say no to hate. i got some of the most enthusiastic e-mails and tweets from my 14-year-old granddaughter, francesca, who told me how thrilled she was to be there, who spoke about people of my office and others who spoke at that. one vermonter took part in the
2:46 pm
enormous women's march in montpelier told a member of my staff this is the first time i have been able to smile since election day. and what we heard over and over again from the people who were here at vermont house, who met with us from vermont and the marchers when maifort and i -- when marcelle and i marched, we heard them say they want their voices to be heard, they want them to know the american people will keep them accountable. our 12-year-old sofia, marcelle and i were proud to march with them. i was proud to see this
2:47 pm
12-year-old hold her head high and knowing the respect that was being shown to her and her mother as it was to marcelle and i. and she knew that respect went to her in a way that reflected everybody -- black, white, no matter what you might be. people cared. now, we've heard some very disrespectful and offensive and actually dangerous comments that have come into our national discourse of all nays, -- of all natures, but the millions of men and women who marched across the country this weekend offered a powerful statement that they will not tolerate policies that restrict the rights of women and that treat women like second-class citizens. they won't treat my wife as one, they won't treat my daughter as
2:48 pm
one, they won't treat my three wonderful granddaughters as one, and that all five of our grandchildren will be treated the same. but i'm afraid that the trump administration ignored the voices of millions of americans and is already undermining the rights of women. two of the president's first executive orders targeted women. his first executive order attempted to dismantle the affordable care act which throws into limbo the health insurance arrangements of millions of american women. it's been guaranteed coverage. as part of the health care plan, they have been able to have affordable birth control for the first time, who have been able to tell insurance companies that, no, pregnancy is not a preexisting condition when you go to get insurance. in other words, women can be treated the same as men when they seek insurance. president trump also reinstated
2:49 pm
the so-called mexico city policy, a policy that would be illegal and unconstitutional in this country. he said that we can't even talk about birth control. we can't even talk outside this country about our foreign aid program. former senator i respected highly, a republican senator. when he was chair of the senate appropriations committee, and he was strongly against abortion, but he said this kind of a policy is only going to result in more abortions and more pregnancy-related deaths in developing countries, and he's right. he's right. affordable health care, affordable birth control, availability, that will bring
2:50 pm
down abortions, that will bring down pregnancy-related deaths, whether they are in the united states or those countries we help. mr. president, americans are watching. from what i heard and saw from vermonters on saturday, i could tell you they are fired up and ready to go. we need a president who is committed to equality, opportunity for all people, no matter their sex, their gender, their race. we cannot stand for policies that turn back the clock on so much progress that we've made. to paraphrase dr. martin luther king, we have to accept finite disappointment, but we must not give up infinite hope. only light can crowd out the darkness. i was proud to see so many vermonters speaking up. they're not going away, and as i
2:51 pm
pledged to them on saturday, i'm not going away. i'm going to speak. i'm going to speak in the same way i did when i walked -- when marcelle and i walked with our daughter and our granddaughter down with the million women march. i will continue to speak up, as the people in my office in vermont did, in montpelier, i will speak up for all five of our grandchildren, from francesca and sofia and fiona, but also, also for patrick and roy. i'll speak up for all americans. i'll speak up for all vermonters. they expect nothing less, and they deserve nothing less. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the
2:52 pm
absence of a quorum. i would withhold the call for the quorum. mrs. shaheen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: i'm pleased to follow my neighbor from vermont, senator patrick leahy. we also had a very inspiring march in the capital of new hampshire on saturday that senator hassan and i both attended. but i'm here to talk not about that so much as about the 44th anniversary of the roe v. wade decision, because that anniversary happened this past sunday. that ruling affirmed the constitutional right of women to control our own reproductive choices. it made abortion services safer and more accessible for women across this country. on saturday, as senator leahy said so eloquently, we saw
2:53 pm
millions of women and men come together in washington, in concord, new hampshire, and other cities across new hampshire and across the united states and all across the globe there were events in all 50 states and in 32 countries. we came together to defend this constitutional right as well as other critical gains for women in recent years. and our message expressed peacefully and powerfully was that we will not allow these gains to be taken away. we will not be dragged backward. despite the progress since the 1973 roe v. wade decision, women's reproductive health care remains under constant assault. states have passed restrictions intended to shut down clinics and limit access. and sadly, republican leadership here in congress has repeatedly attempted to defund planned
2:54 pm
parenthood, which is one of this nation's leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women. over 95% of the work that is done by planned parenthood is done to provide preventative services and health care to women, things like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings and other important preventative care. unfortunately, the trump administration and republican leaders here in congress have exhibited a dangerous obsession with rolling back women's reproductive rights. president trump has promised to nominate supreme court justices who will overturn roe v. wade. and, you know, it's interesting. he's talked about court decisions around lgbt rights as being settled law, and yet we've
2:55 pm
got the roe v. wade decision 44 years old, and for some reason he doesn't include that as settled law. just yesterday, in one of his first official acts, the president signed an executive order reinstating the global gag rule, also known as the mexico city policy that began with ronald reagan's executive order. that executive order prohibits u.s. financial aid to many international organizations that offer contraception and comprehensive planning services, family planning services to women. but what we've seen with this executive order that president trump signed is a broad expansion of that mexico city policy. the new trump administration has joined with republican leaders in congress in pledging a much broader assault on women's rights and the gains that women
2:56 pm
have made in recent years. in addition to terminating funding for planned parenthood, which more than 12,000 granite staters depend on for quality, affordable health care, they promised to repeal the affordable care act, which would have profoundly negative consequences for women's health. repeal would end obamacare's ban on discrimination against women in health insurance. it would allow, depending upon how their replacement law is crafted, it would allow health insurance insurers once again to classify pregnancy as a preexisting condition, and to deny many women coverage. it would allow insurers to charge women more simply because we are women. it will reverse women's access to contraception, contraception without cost sharing, and it would end access to preventative health services such as
2:57 pm
mammograms and cervical cancer screenings without cost sharing, all very significant benefits of the affordable care act. and we've also seen last week reports that at the justice department, the trump administration plans to eliminate the office on violence against women, including all 25 grant programs that have been working to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of violence against women for more than two decades. this at a time when one in five women in this country still report being the victim of a completed or attempted rape. well, taken together, these actions amount to more than a dangerous obsession with rolling back women's reproductive rights. they amount to an assault on the safety and well-being of women and girls in the united states and across the globe, and this is exactly what millions of
2:58 pm
women and men were protesting on saturday. and sadly, people are not just concerned. they're frightened, and unfortunately with very good reason. as those of us who gathered and marched on saturday made very clear, we are not going to stand still for this assault on our rights and gains. we are not going to be taken backward. this week, i'm introducing bipartisan legislation to permanently repeal the global gag rule with senator collins. this rule bans federal funds for nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion services or information about abortion as part of comprehensive family planning services. as i said earlier, the trump administration's reinstatement of the global gag rule is even more extreme and harmful than it has been in previous republican
2:59 pm
administrations. previously, under president reagan and the bush administrations, this policy applied only to family planning funding, but under president trump's order, it applies to every program that falls under global health assistance. this means that it puts at risk 15 times more funding and millions more women and families. this targets some of the most effective health organizations that work in the developing world, organizations that are doing great work to provide h.i.v. services and maternal health care to counsel women on the risks of the zika infection, and it ignores decades of research because we know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, fewer maternal deaths and child deaths and fewer abortions. so if you want to prevent
3:00 pm
abortion, something that i think we all agree on, then why not give women and their families access to family planning services? i don't think we can allow extreme ideology to triumph over the urgent practical needs of women and families across the world. the facts make clear when family services are acceptable, rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions go down. here in the united states the abortion rate has dropped to the lowest level since 1943, a success that is directly attributed to reduced cost-sharing for contraception under the affordable care act. what do we have? we have the leadership in congress trying to reverse that assistance to women and famili families. in recent days, we've been presented with a fateful choice,
3:01 pm
we can stand aside and let the trump -- on programs that protect women from sexual assault and other forms of violence or we can come together on a bipartisan basis to protect the important gains that women have made in recent years and decades. you know, back in the early 1980s, i chaired a committee in new hampshire that was working on women's employment in the state, and one of the conclusions that we came to was when women are supported, their families are supported. so this is not just about women in this country. this shabout families. it's -- this is about families. it's about women, children, and their fathers and brothers and mothers. it is about what is in the best interest of the american people. millions of americans joined together on saturday, peacefully
3:02 pm
and passionately, to urge congress to make the right choice -- to protect women's constitutional rights, to protect our access to health care. i urge my senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to listen to those voices and i urge my colleagues to join with me in ending the global gag rule once and for all. thank you, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: mr. president, this past sunday was the 44th anniversary of roe v. wade and i want to take a moment of how far we've come since the supreme court decision. because of roe v. wade, american women for the last 44 years have the right, the freedom, the privacy to make their own decisions about their own bodies
3:03 pm
with their doctors, with their families, without the federal government barging its way into the conversation and telling them what they can or can't do with their own bodies. roe v. wade was one of the most important supreme court decisions in the history of women's rights in this nation, but it was only a start. in the 44 years since, we have made so much progress with. women's health and much of that progress has to do with what we accomplished in the affordable care act. millions of american women now have access to health care coverage that used to be extremely difficult and expensive for a lot of women to get. millions of american women now have access to afford -- affordable preventive health care services, including
3:04 pm
contraception, birth control, mammograms, and cervical cancer screening. since the affordable care act was passed, the number of unwanted pregnancies has gone down in part because more women have access to affordable contraception. there is to this doubt that american women have better access to safe an affordable health care because of roe v. wade and the affordable care act. but some of my colleagues are committed to turning back the clock on women's health and taking away women's access to this lifesaving care. they are doing everything in their power to get rid of the affordable care act and they are determined to see roe v. wade get overturned. one of president trump's first executive orders was so extreme that it would take away funding for any international organization who even talk about whether a woman might want to terminate a pregnancy. we should never let this happen.
3:05 pm
if we take away women's access to the health care they need, it would be devastating, even life threatening for millions of american women. this weekend a massive group of women and men and children joined together in women's marchs across the globe. they were there to speak out, to be heard, to protest some of these issues that would deeply affect american families and women in particular. i was so proud to march with them. i was inspired by them, their passion, their determination, their commitment to never give up. the women's marchs were truly the biggest outpouring of support and activism i've seen in my lifetime and certainly that we've seen in this generation. they were loud and clear statements that we will not let the government dictate to us how
3:06 pm
we should manage these most personal decisions. when -- when you're going to have a family, how big your family's going to be. those decisions are made by husbands and wives, by spouses all across this country about what their family's going to look like. mr. president, i urge all of my colleagues in this chamber to listen to the millions of americans, the millions of women who would like to make those decisions themselves, who would like to choose their health care, who would not like to be charged more just because they are women, who would not like to see their health care coverage dropped the minute they become pregnant, who would like not to be told you have a preexisting condition and we will not cover you. that is what we go back to. we have to fight for the affordable care act and we have to make sure the supreme court does not overturn roe v. wade.
3:07 pm
listen to your constituents. these marchs weren't just in new york. they were in every state across the country. these marchs were real, they were powerful, and they were determined. these men and women want to be heard. members of congress, i hope you are listening to them. that is our job -- to represent our country. their voices must be heard. we shall not ignore them. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from wymong. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that at 5:00 p.m. on tuesday, january 24, the senate proceed to the consideration of the following nominations in en bloc, numbers six and seven, that there there be 30 minutes of debate on the nominations en bloc equally divided in the
3:08 pm
usual form and following the use or yielding back of time, the senate vote on the nominations en bloc with no intervening action or debate, if confirmed the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominations be printed in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? hearing none, without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wymong. mr. barrasso: mr. president, last week the committee on environment and public works had a hearing on the nomination of oklahoma attorney general scott pruitt to lead the environmental protection agency. the hearing was really about the future of this agency and how we can get it back to doing the job that it was meant to do from the very beginning. we are blessed, mr. president, in this country with enormous natural resources. our goal should be to use these resources responsibly, in ways
3:09 pm
that protect our environment, and help make our economy strong. over the past eight years the leaders of the environmental protection agency have created broad and legally questionable new regulations that undermine the american people's faith in the agency. the political leaders of this agency have been reckless, irresponsible, and arrogant. a course of correction is long overdue and it's exactly what we're going to get. now, if you have any doubts that the e.p.a. lost its way, you can just look at two of the biggest environmental scandals we have seen in long, long time. the summer of 2015 there was what became known as the gold king mine disaster. the environmental protection agency spilled three million gallons of toxic wastewater into a river in colorado. this was water filled with toxic
3:10 pm
substances like arsenic and lead. it flowed to new mexico and utah, through the land of the navarro nation. mr. president, there are 2 hun,000 people who -- 200,000 who drink water. farmers couldn't use the water for the crops. the other issue that environmental protection agency helped to cause was in flint, michigan. the e.p.a. failed to do the proper oversight. as a result,,000s of children -- tho u.s. a nds were exposed to lead. the agency knew of it and for months did nothing to warn the people. these are just two scandals where the environmental protection agency actually harmed people's health because the e.p.a. was neglect.
3:11 pm
there are also many ways that the agency harmed families and the american economy, not by accident, but intentionally. it issued thousands of pages of regulations trying to shut down the coal industry in the united states. since 2009, the environmental protection agency has come out with nearly 200 new recollections. according to the american action forum, the total cost of all this new red tape is about $340 billion. the agency has piled enormous new resreubgss and costs -- restrictions and costs on to american families and businesses all to produce minuscule benefits. one of them was the so-called clean power plan. states sued to block this bureaucratic overreach. of the courts had to step in and tell washington, not so fast. we should be looking for ways to make american agency as clean
3:12 pm
and as fast as we can without raising costs to the american families. that is not what the e.p.a. did with the power regulations. the e.p.a. you the put out a new rule to expand waters of the united states. the agency declared that it has control over things like irrigation ditches and back yard ponds all across america. two different courts have blocked this rule from taking effect. why? because it goes far beyond the agency's own authority. for eight years now the leaders of the e.p.a. have not had their priorities straight. they've been pursuing a political agenda instead of focusing on what should be the agency's core mission. the environmental protection agency was created for a reason. it was created because america needed someone to perform this mission. now, there's a right way to do the job. we can strike the right balance so that we protect our
3:13 pm
environment while allowing our economy to grow. my home state of wymong is one of the most pristine states in the country, one of the most beautiful places in the world, as well as one of the most energy-rich states in the country. wymong has struck the right balance. we've done it successfully, and so have many other states. we can address threats to our environment best through the cooperation of states, towns, indian tribes and washington, a cooperation. the quality of america's air, water, and land are local concerns as much as they are national concerns. the environmental protection agency should not try to dictate -- dictate regulations are from washington without consulting its partners at all levels. much of the work that the e.p.a. has intended to give states a chance to take action first. federal regulators are meant to be a backstop, acting when
3:14 pm
states fail or when communities fail to act. restoring this proper order and restoring the partnership with states with the e.p.a. is essential to making sure people see the agency as legitimate once again. the agency needs to learn to listen before it acts. we can also restore the environmental protection agency by restating its commitment to the rule of law. american people elect a congress because of the rule of law. the agency must enforce the laws as they are written by congress. the agency cannot write the law, can't ignore the parts of the laws that it doesn't like, although that is exactly what this e.p.a. has been doing. now, we all know that the e.p.a. used to do very good work. in the past it had protected america's environment while understanding that there needs to be reasonable regulations that allow people to use our
3:15 pm
natural resources. every american wants clean air, clean water, and commonsense protection for our species. that won't change. we need the e.p.a. to do its job. and we need it to do the job right. through six hours of questioning before our committee last week, scott pruitt showed that he understands the need to return the environmental protection agency back to its proper course. he showed he's committed to working as a partner with americans all across the country to find the best ways to address the threats to our environment. his record as the attorney general of oklahoma showed that he's committed to restoring and maintaining the rule of law. i'm confident attorney general pruitt will be able to right the ship at the e.p.a. i'm confident that he can restore the balance between the benefits the agency can deliver for americans with the costs
3:16 pm
that it imposes. as chairman of the environmental of public works, i am committed to making sure that the senate exercises appropriate oversight to make sure that happens. thank you, mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
3:17 pm
3:18 pm
3:19 pm
3:20 pm
3:21 pm
3:22 pm
3:23 pm
3:24 pm
3:25 pm
3:26 pm
3:27 pm
3:28 pm
3:29 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. let me ask unanimous consent that the pending quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: then ask unanimous consent that patrick riley, a fellow in my office be granted floor primplegs for the remainder -- privileges for the remainder of the congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, republicans in congress have been on the war path for a long time to repeal the affordable care act. in fact, in this new congress, their first order of business has been to pave the way for dismandzling this -- dismantling this law despite the fact that 20 million americans have gained health insurance coverage thanks to this law, despite people no longer being denied coverage for
3:30 pm
preexisting conditions, despite big savings in health care costs and despite everyone with insurance being able to access important preventive health services for free, my republican colleagues have decided to repeal it and they have after seven years to get ready knoll replacement, not even a path to a replacement at this point. yes, they are set on repeal ago law that has provided both health and financial security to millions of americans, with no replacement in sight. just, at this point, some empty i.o.u. for some future piece of legislation that may or may not be any good. it's a little like being asked to jump out of an airplane with no parachute and told, trust us. the we'll build a -- we'll build a parachute four before you hit the ground. we don't know what this nonexistent republican replacement would look like. but we know what a repeal would
3:31 pm
do. it would gut tax credits that help millions of americans obtain health insurance they could not otherwise aafford. it would unmind the medicaid program which covers millions of more americans in some 30 states that have chosen to participate, tossing tens of millions of americans out of their health insurance. it would deliver an enormous tax boon to millionaires and billionaires, as usual for republicans, by repealing the revenue we use to pay for obamacare. this tax boon is a 16% reduction in the taxes owed by millionaires and billionaires on their investment income. so republicans want to take health insurance away from tens of millions of ordinary americans and simultaneously reward those at the very top of the income pile with a big, big
3:32 pm
tax benefit. so much for all the talk we've heard from republicans about the deficit. at least in rhode island, the affordable care act is working. the law launched accountable care organizations that are improving care while lower cost. in rhode island, coastal medical and inainheg-- and integra are y driving down per-person health expenditures but achieving high marks on quality and patient experience. in total, coastal has saved $24 million over three years and integra has saved $4 million in it's first year as an a.c.o. the affordable care act also protected seniors from the dreaded drug price doughnut hole. and i could tell you, i heard a lot about the doughnut hole from seniors in rhode island when i was running for the senate. the affordable care act has
3:33 pm
protected families where someone has a chronic condition and couldn't get insurance, and the affordable care act has prevented insurers from throwing customers off coverage when they got sick. it is true that some of the health insurance exchanges haven't attracted enough competition. we can fix that. indeed, to help with that issue, senators brown, franken, and i are today introducing the consumer health options and insurance competition enhancement act, or the choice act, to add a public health insurance option to the health insurance exchanges. this public option would guarantee that consumers always have an affordable, high-quality option when shopping for health insurance and a strong health care fallback when markets fail. obamacare may not be perfect, but it's done an awful lot of
3:34 pm
good. millions of americans who lacked insurance now have it and the rate of uninsured americans has fallen to 8.6%. about half of what it was in 2010, projected federal health care costs are down nearly $3 trillion. instead of demolishing a system that works well for millions of americans with no replacement on the horizon, let's use our proposal here to make it better. let's add a public option to our health insurance exchanges. i thank the chair. mr. president, if i could address another topic now and ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 15 minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: the question that i bring to the floor today, mr. president, is what is scott
3:35 pm
prostitute hiding? last week the environment and public works committee held a hearing on president trump's nominee to the environmental protection agency. today for my 155th "time to wake up" speech, i've got unanswered questions about mr. pruitt's fitness for that roavment -- role. his evasiveness at his hearing signaled nothing good about his ties to the industry he would regulate, if confirmed. and the lack of curiosity about these industry ties from my republican colleagues speaks volumes about the political clout of that industry. one question stood out: our new chairman, senator barrasso, posed the standard question of nominees to mr. pruitt in our hearing. "do you know of any matters which you may or may not have
3:36 pm
disclosed that might place you in any conflict of interest if you are confirmed?" mr. pruitt answers, "no." well, mr. president, scott pruitt crawls with conflict of interest. he has conflicts of interest with the fossil fuel industry from his political fund-raising. we just don't know how bad. he likely has conflicts of interest from confidential private meetings with fossil fuel companies at republican attorney generals association get-togethers, but we just don't know how bad. and there's almost certainly evidence of conflicts of interest in his undisclosed e-mails with fossil fuel companies. but again we just don't know how bad. he came clean on none of this in his confirmation hearing. this chart is a simple and a likely incomplete representation of the many financial links reported between pruitt and the
3:37 pm
fossil fuel industry. at the top are the companies and the entities that have supported mr. pruitt with political funding. down below are the political organizations for which he has raised money p. pruitt for attorney general was his reelection campaign. the polluters gave to pruitt for attorney general. oklahoma strong pac was his leadership pac, a separate political fund-raising vehicle. the polluters gave to oklahoma strong. there was another one here called liberty 2.0, mr. pruitt's super pac, but he closed it down, so we don't list it. but while it existed, his super pac took nearly $200 you tho in fossil fuel -- 200,000 in fossil fuel industry contributions. mr. pruitt served as the chair of the republican attorney generals association in 2012 and 2013, and was a member of the
3:38 pm
executive committee through 2015. between 2014 and 2016 is raga received $530,000 from koch industries. it received $350,000 from murray energy. it received $160,000 from exxonmobil. and it received $125,000 from devon energy. devon energy, by the way, is the company whose letter mr. pruitt transposed virtuallie verbatim onto his official letterhead to send to the e.p.a. as the official position of the oklahoma attorney general. during his hearing, pruitt refused to provide details about any solicitations he made from regulated industries for the republican attorney generals association. we know they got special
3:39 pm
attention from raga. here is a "confidential" 2015 meeting agenda from raga, when pruitt was on its executive committee. i ask unanimous consent to enter the meeting agenda nag into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: this confidential agenda mentions a "private meeting with murray energy." if mentioned a "private meeting with southern company." and it mentions a "private meeting with american fuel petrochemical manufacturers" which represents a lot of these characters. murray energy, of course, is right there. southern company is right there. and the fuel petrochemical organization i'm sure represents the others. but this -- this confidential
3:40 pm
meeting agenda -- is all we have about what took place in those private meetings. i asked mr. pruitt in our hearings about the congress tent of these private meetings, and he wouldn't answer any quessments he didn't want us to know what was discuss there had with the big fossil fuel polluters, companies whose pollution he will oversee as e.p.a. administrator. pruitt was also a chairman of the rule of law defense fund. the so-called rule of law defense fund is a dark money political operation that launders the identity of donors giving money to the republican attorney generals general association. as "the new york times" said,ed fund is "a legal entity that allows companies benefiting from the actions of mr. pruitt and other republican attorney
3:41 pm
generals to make anonymous donations in unlimited amounts." it is a complete black hole of political cash. in the hearing, pruitt refused to shine any light into the dark money he solicited or received from these fossil fuel polluters or others for the rule of law defense fund. not who he asked for money, not who gave money, not what they gave, nothing. this is an organization that appears to have a million-dollar-a-year budget. so someone was busy raising a lot of money. how much exactly? from whom? and what was the deal? scott pruitt doesn't want our committee or this senate or the american people to know. colleagues and i sent letters to the office of government ethics and to the environmental protection agency's top ethics
3:42 pm
official. their responses indicate that their ethics rules predate citizens united and its torrent of dark political money. their regulatory authority on government ethics has not caught up with the post-citizens united dark money world. since their ethics authorities have not been updated for these dark money conflicts, then if pruitt doesn't disclose any of this information before the senate, no one will know. and even those government ethics watchdogs may end up blind to conflicts of interest. that doesn't mean there isn't a conflict of interest here. what it means is it's a hidden conflict of interest. and that makes it our duty in the senate to examine those relationships. except for the fact that the fossil fuel industry now more or less runs the republican party, so there is a scrupulous lack of
3:43 pm
interest in this fossil fuel industry dark money. how badly does pruitt want to hide his dealings with his fossil fuel patrons? an open records act request was filed with the oklahoma attorney generals office, mr. pruitt's office, for e-mails with energy firms, fossil fuel trade groups, and their political arms. with companies like devon energy and murray energy and koch industries and the american petroleum institute, which is the industry's trade association. let me share three facts about this open records inquiry. one, the open records act request was filed more than 745 days ago, over two years,
3:44 pm
mr. president. two years. two. pruitt's office has admitted that there are at least 3,000 responsive documents to that open records act request. just consider that fact alone for a moment. there were 3,000 e-mails and other documents between his office and these fossil fuel companies and front groups. 3,000. and three -- zero. exactly zero of those documents have been produced. 745 days, 3,000 documents, zero produced. just think how smelly those 3,000 e-mails must be when he'd rather have this flagrant open records compliance failure than
3:45 pm
have any of those 3,000 e-mails see the light of day. given the important financial interests of these groups before the e.p.a., do we really not think that 3,000 e-mails back and forth between him and his office and those groups might be relevant to his conflicts of interest as administrator? until very recently, republicans had a keen interest in e-mails. chairman barrasso asked that important question: do you know of any matters which you may or may not have disclosed that might place you in any conflict of interest if you are confirmed? scott pruitt answered "no." on this record, there is every reason to believe that his statement is false. might having raised significant dark money from the industry he would regulate create a conflict
3:46 pm
of interest? let's say he made a call to devon energy and said, hey, i slapped your letter on my letterhead and turned it in as if it was the official work. oklahoma attorney general's office. now i need $1 million. and you can give it to the rule of law defense fund as dark money without anyone knowing that it was you. might such a quid pro quo create a conflict of interest in his ability to carry out the duties of e.p.a. administrator in matters affecting devon energy? impossible to say that it would not be a conflict of interest. let's say that at those confidential, those confidential private meetings with murray energy and southern company that something went on. might something that takes place
3:47 pm
in private meetings with big energy interests that he's going to have to regulate create a possible conflict of interest? he paid to be there. they wanted something. might that not give rise to a conflict of interest? and who knows, who knows what conflicts of interest would be divulged if his office were not sitting on 3,000 undisclosed e-mails with fossil fuel industries that he will be regulating as e.p.a. administrator. i challenge anyone to come to the senate floor and tell me with a straight face that there is nothing that those e-mails could reveal that might create a conflict of interest for the man discharged with regulating the companies on the other end of those e-mails.
3:48 pm
mr. president, no just doesn't cut it as an answer from mr. pruitt when there is still so much that he is hiding. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
3:49 pm
3:50 pm
3:51 pm
3:52 pm
3:53 pm
3:54 pm
3:55 pm
3:56 pm
3:57 pm
3:58 pm
3:59 pm
4:00 pm
quorum call:
4:01 pm
4:02 pm
4:03 pm
4:04 pm
4:05 pm
4:06 pm
4:07 pm
4:08 pm
4:09 pm
4:10 pm
4:11 pm
4:12 pm
4:13 pm
4:14 pm
4:15 pm
quorum call: mr. peters: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. i rise to speak on the nomination of betsy devos for secretary of education. public education is deeply personal to me. i am proud to have attended michigan public schools, and i have three children who did so as well. i know firsthand the importance of a strong public education system. my father herb was a proud teacher and taught english for 32 years in rochester, michigan, where i grew up. my father was part of the greatest generation. he fought for our country in
4:16 pm
world war ii and returned home to help build america's middle class. our nation owes these men and women a debt of gratitude -- for anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules can find opportunity. but too many families today feel that the american dream remains just out of reach. it seems that they can hardly get by, much less get ahead. in a time of growing income ininequality, schools provide a ladder of opportunity in communities across the nation, urban, rural, and suburban. public schools are vital to our nation's global competitiveness. i think we can all agree that a child's chance to succeed should not be dictated by his or her zip code. while many crucial education
4:17 pm
decisions are made at state and local level, the federal government also has a role to play in providing the necessary educational tools and proper protections for all of our children to flourish. we need a secretary of education who is dedicated to improving access to quality public education based on sound evidence and ensuring the proper implementation of federal laws designed to protect and to help all of our children. that is why, madam president, i am deeply troubled by president trump's nomination of betsy devos to serve as secretary of education. mrs. devos, like so many recent graduates, is applying for a j job. and the american people should look at her resume, interview, and past performance.
4:18 pm
mrs. devos' resume does not contain any experience of education, not as a teacher, administrator, not as a parent, not as a school board member, and not as a borrower for loans for college. her only experience is taxpayer money to private schools and the rapid expansion of charter schools without sufficient accountability to parents and students. so let's look at her interview. her appearance before the senate help committee last week raised many more questions and did not provide answers. during his confirmation hearing, mrs. devos showed herself to be unfamiliar with basic educational concepts, like the debate of measuring student's success through growth or
4:19 pm
efficiency. if mrs. devos doesn't know how to measure suc success, how cane be expected to achieve success in our schools. mrs. devos has never heard of the education disability act. this law has provided access to education for children with unique needs and support their parents who depend on a law that mrs. devos will be in charge of enforcing if confirmed. and it appeared as if this was the first time that she ever heard of this law just last week. so, finally, let's take a look at her past performance. i am particularly troubled by mrs. devos' long-time advocacy toll funnel michigan taxpayer dollars to private and charter school systems that are not held accountable for their performance. let me be clear, our education system is far from perfect, and i support effective, innovative
4:20 pm
educational retpopl that lift up our -- reforms that lift up our children, but these reforms need to be driven by facts and not ideology. in my home state of michigan, the charter school experiment has not lived up to the promises made. in fact, 65% of charter schools in mesh emission -- in michigan, fail, yes, fail, to perform traditional public schools in reading outcome. in detroit 70% of the schools are in the bottom portile. despite the outcomes, mrs. devos stated during her confirmation hearing that she did not think that public charter schools should be held to the same standards as traditional public schools. well, that simply doesn't make sense. it doesn't make sense that many charter schools accepting taxpayer money not only perform
4:21 pm
worse than traditional public schools in terms of academic success, but also get to skirt laws that protect against discrimination and support disabled youth. we should hold all schools receiving federal dollars to the same level of accountability. madam president, i have reviewed her resume, her interview, and her track record, and i have no confidence that mrs. devos will fully support our traditional public schools, our teachers, you our parents, and most importantly, our children who only get one shot. they just one shot to get an excellent k-12 education. her approach has failed the children of michigan and her confirmation process gives me to -- american children deserve the opportunity for a quality education, no matter who they are and no matter where they
4:22 pm
live. and i stand with the many educators and parents in michigan and across the nation when i say mrs. devos lacks the experience, qualifications and the right vision to oversee our nation's educational system. simply put, our children deserve a whole lot better. i cannot and will not support betsy devos' nomination to serve as the secretary of education and i hope my colleagues will join me in unity against her nomination. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
4:23 pm
4:24 pm
4:25 pm
4:26 pm
4:27 pm
4:28 pm
4:29 pm
4:30 pm
quorum call:
4:31 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, is the senate in a quorum call. the presiding officer: we are. mr. thune: i would ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, it's hard to believe but the internet as we know it is already in its third decade. this essential technology continues to transform the world around us, often in very unexpected ways. just a few short years ago the idea of the internet being built
4:32 pm
into farm equipment like tractors would have been untrirveggable -- unthinkable. yet today tractors and combines is making agriculture more and more efficient. this is one small example of how new information technologies have become a fundamental part of our economy. there isn't a job creator in america, mr. president, who doesn't have a story to tell about how or when he or she realized the internet had become a critical part of his or her business. but while the digital economy is creating massive opportunities, our nation's laws are not keeping pace. over the past several years, netflix and amazon have completely disrupted the video world. the iphone which redefined personal computing and activity just celebrated its 10th anniversary yet most of the government policies dealing with video, wireless and internet platforms were written for a world where none of these things an existed. it's a testament to the
4:33 pm
ingenuity of american businesses and entrepreneurs that they have been able to adapt and succeed with laws that are increasingly out of date. while i don't doubt that they will continue to work around these challenges, american companies and consumers deserve better. it's past time to modernize our communication laws to facilitate the growth of the internet. and it's high time to update government policies to better reflect the innovations made possible by digital technologi technologies. as chairman of the senate commerce committee, i've committed to modernizing government policies to the digital age, and that will be one of our top priorities of the commerce committee this year. one way government can boost investment in our dinch tall infrastructure is by finding -- digital infrastructure is by finding ways to make it cheaper and easier to build broadband networks at the commerce committee i introduced legislation called the mobile now act to ensure that huge
4:34 pm
swaths of wireless spectrum are made available for commercial use by the year 2020. by then we expect to see the next generation of ultrahigh speed mobile services known as 5g which will need more spectrum than is available today. the mobile now act would also cut through much of the bureaucratic red tape that makes it difficult to build wireless infrastructure on federal property. i'm happy to report that the commerce committee passed the mobile now act earlier today. but, mr. president, this legislation is just the start. the commerce committee will continue to develop legislative proposals to spur broadband deployment, make more spectrum available for the public, and improve connectivity throughout rural america. good internet infrastructure policies and investments matter very little, however, if government bureaucrats can overregulate the digital world. the federal communications commission has long been the main government regulator for
4:35 pm
telecommunications but as we've turned away from traditional telecom services and toward new technologies, the f.c.c. has found its role gradually diminishing. this is inevitable and good byproduct of technological innovation, but instead of accepting this, over the past several years the f.c.c. has aggressively pushed the government or pushed i should say for government interference in the internet. speaking about new economic opportunities on the internet, the last f.c.c. chairman declared and i quote, "government is where we will work this out." government is where we will work this out. well, mr. president, i believe consumers and job creators should be the ones deciding about new technologies, not the government. and i think most americans would agree. right now some internet providers are offering innovative service plans that allow you to stream video music or other content for free.
4:36 pm
these innovative offers are a sign of strong competition in the marketplace, yet two weeks ago the outgoing f.c.c. issued a report raising what it called and i quote, sers concerns that such practices likely harm consumers, end quote. that's right, mr. president, it seems that the f.c.c. thinks that being able to do more online for less money is somehow bad for consumers. meanwhile, consumers themselves seem to strongly disagree because a lot of these free data offerings are turning out to be quite popular. mr. president, one of the important take aways from november's election is that the american people are tired of government bureaucrats trying to micromanage their liveses. one way we can address this concern is by modernizing how the f.c.c. operating in reforming what it's allowed to do. the f.c.c. should be focused on fixing fundamental problems in the market plais, not dictating the direction -- marketplace,
4:37 pm
not dictating the direction of technological progress. the last time congress passed meaningful laws effecting the f.c.c. was when the internet was in its infancy. it's clearly time for f.c.c. reform once again. at the commerce committee, we've had many conversations about improving this agency, and i believe that this year presents a real opportunity to turn those conversations into solutions. i'm confident that we can attract the bipartisan support that's needed to move legislation modernizing the f.c.c. across the senate floor. another area where i'd like to achieve bipartisan agreement is on legislation to protect the open internet. we need clear and reasonable rules for the digital road that everyone can understand. complex and ambiguous regulations that shift with the political winds aren't in anyone's best interests. for americans to get the maximum benefit from the internet, they
4:38 pm
need certainty about what the rules are and most importantly what the rules will be in the coming years. and the only way to achieve this is for congress to pass bipartisan legislation. i've been working with my colleagues to find a legislative solution. while we're not there yet, i'm committed to getting there. mr. president, the commerce committee was incredibly productive last year with 60 americas enacted into law. we made real progress on internet focused legislation, including committee approval of the mobile now act that i mentioned earlier. and we'll build on that foundation in this congress. i look forward to taking advantage of the good ideas of our committee members on both sides of the aisle. and, mr. president, at the end of the day, it's not as i said congress is going to come up with the best solutions. it will be the american innovators and entrepreneurs who will determine what the digital future holds, not us here in washington, d.c. government should focus on
4:39 pm
facilitating their success while making sure that we are not accidentally standing in their way. i'm excited to see how the internet and other emerging technologies will continue to change our world in the coming years, and i am eager, mr. president, to do my small part in ensuring that all americans benefit from these amazing, amazing advances. mr. president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
4:40 pm
4:41 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call in progress be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i was not preparing to come down and speak today. i just want to make a few comments because i've been listening to what's going on in one of the other rooms up here. everyone is zeroing in and targeting a guy named scott pruitt that they don't think should be confirmed to be the
4:42 pm
administrator of the e.p.a. well, i know scott pruitt pretty well. he happens to be the attorney general for my state of oklahoma. in fact, i recruited him to run for the state legislature many years ago. he's someone i know very, very well. he resides in my city of tulsa, oklahoma, and he is imminently -- eminently qualified for this thing. i want to make a couple of comments responding. i chair the environmental and public works committee for some number of years, and during that time frame, we started considering his nomination, and i heard all kinds of criticisms. i say to the chair that they talk about the fact he has sued the e.p.a., and how can a person who sued the e.p.a. be qualified to serve as the director of the e.p.a.? well, i think that's a pretty good qualification considering what the e.p.a. has been doing
4:43 pm
over the -- during the obama administration. look at some of the lawsuits that he has, waters of the united states, of the many regulations they've come up with, this is one of the most onerous. i would say probably in all states, louisiana, oklahoma and the rest of them, that they have the same response as the farm bureau had when i asked the question, what is the worst thing that could happen or has happened to the farmers and ranchers of america, not just in oklahoma but throughout america. and they said, well, it's not anything that's in the ag bill or agriculture bill. it's the overregulation of the e.p.a. now, you ask the question, which of all the regulations of the e.p.a. is the worst one according to farmers now, and that is the wotus, waters of the united states. liberals as long as i can
4:44 pm
remember have tried to get the jurisdiction of water away from the states and give it to the federal government. that's the general philosophy of someone who's liberal. they want to have the power concentrated in the united states, in washington. so that was the effort that they made. as a matter of fact, it was six years ago that -- there's a house member and a senate member that introduced a bill to take the word narv navigable out of e law. if they could have taken that word navigable out, then the federal government would have taken over the entire jurisdiction. well, the two that were doing that were senator feingold from wisconsin and congressman overstar from - minnesota.
4:45 pm
we defeated both of them at the polls. so it's -- this is an issue that has been an issue that's been around for a long time. yes in fact scott pruitt as attorney general from tulsa sued the -- he joined 15 other states, i might add, including the state of louisiana, in suing the rule that the obama administration had put through on wotus, the water resources, and to show how he was on sound ground, the sixth circuit court of appeals has since that time said that, yes, he was right, he was -- and they put a stay on it. the next of the regulations -- you know, i just did a tv thing asking about the most onerous of regulations. it is kind of hard to thanes question because they're all so bad. they all inflict such a hardship on the business community throughout america. but the clean power plan -- let's go back and look at the history of that. the clean power plan, it all
4:46 pm
started back in about 19 -- 2002 when at that time they wanted to have -- had to do -- when they first started talking about global warming. so they had -- they were going to somehow do away with the emissions of co2. and so they tried to do it with legislation in 2002, then again in 2004, again in 2005 and about every other year since then it's always been rejected by the united states senate it's been rejected by the united states senate, by an increased margin each time. we have to keep say, no, we're going to have some type of a cap-and-trade legislation. we calculated what that cost. it's between $300 billion and $400 billion a year, and frankly it wouldn't accomplish anything. i have to say that the first administrator of the e.p.a. under obama was lisa jackson.
4:47 pm
i enjoyed her. i thought she -- i asked her the question, you know, if we were to do away with co2 altogether in the united states of america, would this have the effect of reducing it worldwide? she said, no, because this isn't where the problem system of the problem is in china. the problem is in india, the problem is mexico. so the more we chase our ability to generate electricity to those asian the more -- and they don't i have restrictions on co2 emissions, then nays going to increase -- then that's going to increase, not decrease. but they were able to pass it legislatively. so along comes president obama. he says, well, we can't do it through legislation. we're do it through regulation. so we had the clean power plan, essentially the same thing as the legislation we had defeated. and so, yes, scott pruitt, the attorney general from oklahoma, kiecame along and filed a lawsut against the e.p.a. this worked out pretty well, had
4:48 pm
had a lot of support behind t it was the united states supreme court that stayed this. so what i'm saying is, yes, sure, he has had occasion, along with some 26 other states in the case of the clean power plan, of filing a lawsuit against the e.p.a. but he's been successful in doing that. let me clarify another thing that's been misrepresented on this floor several times. they refer to a characterization that i gave oh, about four or five years ago called the mexico. the -- the hoax. the hoax is not climate change. we all know that climate change is constantly changing. scriptural evidence, contextural evidence is always there. the hoax is that the world is coming to and he because of man-made gases. that's the thing -- the clarification that needs to be made if we're going to be completely honest. by the way, when they criticize
4:49 pm
scott pruitt for suing the e.p.a., i am reminding them that he also has sued several oil companies, conocophillips, he had a lawsuit against them for alleged double dipping, b.p., chevron, and so it's not just as if he's somehow owninged by the oil companies. -- owned by the oil companies. and i always have to say, when people say, well, you know, have you -- the oil companies contribute to campaigns. not anything like the far-left environmentalists do. remember tom steyer, tom styer said i'm going to put $100 million of my money to elect people who will go along with all of these far-left programs. and of course it didn't work in 2014. he actually at that time spent $75 million -- this is one individual we're talking about. so those guys over there, they're the ones that are putting money in campaigns. and i understand that. the last thing i had -- i want
4:50 pm
to correct, and i wish more people would talk about this. frankly, i wish that president trump would say more about this, because they always talk about this 97% of the scientists go along with the global warming thing. that isn't true at all. you go to my web site. you'll find a piece that was in "the wall street journal" that makes it very, very clear that that isn't true and documents that case. the scientists that have been saying this are one group. it's called the ipcc, intergovernmental panel on climate change. that's the united nations, in case someone who doesn't understand that. and they're the ones that provided the -- all the credibility in terms of the science that backs up all of the statements that were made about global warming. and i have had an occasion -- some people are not aware that every december now for 21 years the united nations has had the biggest party of the year.
4:51 pm
it's always in an exotic place. in 2009 it was in copenhagen. we had all the people. my good friends i love here in the senate and in the house went over to tell 192 countries that we're going to pass legislation that will have cap and trade and i went over as ash to tell them that what has been represented to them was not in fact going to happen. right before going, lisa jackson was the first nominee -- or the first confirmed director of the e.p.a. i asked her the question, on the record, live on tv, in the committee room that i -- the committee that i chaired. i said, i understand i'm going to be going over to copenhagen to tell them the truth over there. in the meantime, you're going to take over jurisdiction so you can try to do this with a regulation. to do that you have to have an endangerment finding. for -- to have an endangerment
4:52 pm
finding, you have to have science behind you. now, what science will you use if -- and she was smiling. she was a very honest person. and she was smiling. i said, what science are you going to use for your endangerment finding that gives you the opportunity to do this what you couldn't do with legislation, you can do with regulation? she said, well, the ipcc, intergovernmental panel on climate change. as luck would have it, it was a matter of days after that that climategate came n how many people remember climategate. they never talk about it? let me tell you how it was characterized. what it was was those individuals that are at the top of the ipcc had gotten together and tried to alter the science to support their point of view and they got caught doing it. and the world responded to it. "newsweek," they said, once-celebrated climate researchers feel like the used car salesmen. some of the most quoted data and recommendations were taken
4:53 pm
straight out of unchecked activist brochures. the u.n. scientist dr. phillip lloyd said the result is not scientific. they're all talking about climategate now. they are talking about how the ipcc rigged the science. a guy that was an ipcc physicist said that climategate was a fraud on a scale i've never seen before. clive cook with the "financial times," he said that the stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering. christopher tooker with the u.k. telegraph, one of the largest in london, he said it's the worst scientific scandal of our jeep reagan administration. what are -- generation. what they talking about? the science that is behind their acuizations that they've made. so if anyone hears them repeat, even if it's been refuted, the 97% of the scientists agree they are not right. my time has expired here. i just wanted to clarify that.
4:54 pm
so people know -- because one thing i know is going to happen is that scott pruitt, the attorney general from the state of oklahoma, will be confirmed by a good margin, by i think bay party march -- by a party margin to be the administrator of the e.p.a. it will be a great change. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
4:55 pm
4:56 pm
4:57 pm
4:58 pm
4:59 pm
5:00 pm
quorum call: mr. scott: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president. i ask for the quorum call to be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president. i stand today in support of my --. the presiding officer: under the previous order the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations en bloc, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nominations, department of state. nikki haley of south carolina to be the representative with the united nations, of the united states of america to the united nations and the representative of the united states of america in the security council of the united nations. united nations, nikki haley of south carolina to be representative of the general assembly. the presiding officer: there
5:01 pm
will now be 30 minutes of debate equally divided in the usual form. mr. scott: thank you mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president. today i stand in support of my good friend and governor, nikki haley, who has been nominated for the position of ambassador to the united nations. simply put, governor haley is the right choice, and i could not be prouder to support her nomination. she has shown amazing leadership during very trying times in south carolina, and i know that she will bring the same strength and resolve in reinforcing and strengthening our relationships with our allies. as she showed through her confirmation hearing, nikki is a strong, principled leader. and during a time with so much international instability, we need a decisive and compassionate leader like governor haley representing our nation. she is the type of visionary leader that will help turn the
5:02 pm
diplomatic tide of the past few years and reassure our allies that the united states stands in strong support of them. nikki has served the people of south carolina very well, and she will be missed. but now i look forward to addressing her by her new title ambassador. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll, please. quorum call:
5:03 pm
5:04 pm
5:05 pm
5:06 pm
5:07 pm
5:08 pm
5:09 pm
5:10 pm
5:11 pm
5:12 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the gentleman from south carolina. mr. graham: thank you, mr. president. are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are, sir. mr. graham: i ask unanimous consent to terminate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. graham: thank you. thank you, mr. president. i know we're going to vote here fairly soon, but i just want to
5:13 pm
address the body before the vote. nikki haley is soon to be the u.s. ambassador to the united nations, i believe. a very strong vote in the committee, 19-2. senator corker and cardin, i think did an excellent job of running the hearing. governor haley conducted herself very well. i know as governor of south carolina she brought us together at home. she has dealt with some things incredibly difficult for any state with the 1,000 year flood and the tragedy in charleston with the dylann roof, nine parishioners at the mother emanuel church. she carried herself with dignity and grace. she was able to rally the state, remove the confederate flag from capitol grounds. all i can say is the skill set she has for bringing people together i've seen. as she goes into this new job
5:14 pm
she can learn the nuances of foreign policy. the diplomacy is something you either have or you don't. she's tough, she's determined and i think very capable of being the united states' voice in the united nations. as a matter of fact, i think she'll represent us good. i mean extremely well. not just good. extremely well. the bottom line is her story is a uniquely american story. immigrant parents coming to a small town in south carolina, and she said very pointedly, i was too light to be african-american or black, and i was too dark to be white. she's an indian american, and she and her family have contributed greatly to our state. so i think all of us can be proud that nikki haley will soon be our voice, america's face in the united nations, and i think president trump chose wisely. i look forward to helping her in
5:15 pm
her new job, and i would urge this body to support her nomination because i've seen her in action and i think she'll represent us all very well. with that, i yield and notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll, please. quorum call:
5:16 pm
5:17 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. cardin: thank you. mr. president, we shortly will be voting on the u.s. ambassador to the united nations, nikki
5:18 pm
haley. she went through her confirmation hearings at the senate foreign relations committee, and i had a chance during those confirmation hearings to ask her a series of questions. i have also had an opportunity to meet with her and talk personally about her vision of the united nations and the united states role in how she would conduct her leadership at the united nations. mr. president, i must say originally there was some concern because of her lack of foreign policy experience, but i must tell you i was extremely impressed about her competency as governor of south carolina, the work that she did dealing with some very difficult issues, including a tragedy that occurred in her state, as well as dealing with the confederate flag and removing it from the state capitol. she handled these issues with real professionalism and sensitivity to all communities, and during her confirmation hearing, she displayed the
5:19 pm
willingness to reach out, to understand more about world affairs and to become fully knowledgeable in these areas, and she exercised, i thought, a commitment to passion -- a passion and a commitment to the issues that are important to this government and good governance and democracy. i was impressed during her confirmation hearing about the important work with the united nations and all it does to work for peacekeepers to try to avoid conflicts, but also does an incredible job on humanitarian issues with refugee assistance as well as sustainable development goals that provide help to people around the world, increasing maternal health, reducing infant mortality, dealing with women's education
5:20 pm
needs. these original sustainable development goals now, originally millennium development goals, now the sustainable development goals have saved millions of lives. and i must tell you, governor haley was very mindful of this and very committed to the united nations and the work that it does and u.s. participation in the united nations. she recognized that it's important that we engage the international community in the work that's done within the united nations, and when she was questioned about whether she thought it was a good idea or not to slash funds to the united nations in order to make a point about votes that we thought were unpopular, she said no, she opposed that slash-and-burn strategy that we need to engage and find ways to leverage our participation to get more favorable results. i might tell you, she was very strong about her sensitivity that the united nations has not been fair to one of our key
5:21 pm
allies, israel, and that she would be a strong voice to make sure that those types of issues were -- were dealt with and the united states used all the tools at its disposal to fight against that type of bias and prejudice in the united nations. we talked a great deal in our committee about moral clarity from our nominees, so there's no misunderstanding anywhere in the world that the united states stands for human rights, that the united states stands against abuses that take place around the world, that will fight for democracy in all parts of the world and support those causes through our diplomacy for our development assistance through our tools, and she was very clear about the moral certainty issue. just to give a few examples, we talk a great deal about russia and its conduct and what it's doing here in the united states about the attack on our free election system. she was very clear about how outraged she was with that type
5:22 pm
of conduct, what russia has done in ukraine, its occupation of crimea. she acknowledged that crimea is not russian, that it belongs to ukraine and spoke very strongly about defending ukraine's right and sovereignty. and we talked specifically about what was happening in syria and russia's support for the assad regime and the atrocities that have taken place in that country, most recently in aleppo. we asked would she characterize that type of conduct as war crimes, without any equivocation, she said absolutely, that this was a matter that required international accountability. i also brought up with her what was happening in the philippines, one of our allies, where the president of the philippines has done extrajudicial killings, and how she would characterize that as gross violations of human rights, and she agreed that that type of conduct cannot be
5:23 pm
tolerated, and that we need to speak to whether they are friend or foe when they commit this type of conduct, that this is wrong and the united states must stand up for our principles, and i was impressed by the way that she spoke to those types of issues. one of the more telling questions that we asked was whether she would support any registry for any sub group of ethnic or religious americans, and she said absolutely not. she had i thought moral clarity in her response to some of the most important questions which i think made all of us feel that she has the passion to represent the united states well at the united nations and our views. what was particularly important to us is how she spoke out that she she would speak out to power within the united nations, that she had no problem in dealing with mr. putin and calling his conduct exactly what it was and would not be intimidated by mr. putin saying well, you need me for some other issue, that we have to be clear that we will not tolerate that type of
5:24 pm
conduct that violates basic human rights. and she gave us confidence that she would speak up in the cabinet room with mr. trump and the cabinet as to these values on behalf of the american people. so for all those reasons, it was a comfortable vote for me to support her nomination and confirmation. i do want to relay a fact that she really does represent the -- the american story. she is a daughter of immigrants and came to this country at great risk in order to seek a better life for the children. she experienced some of the discrimination against immigrant communities as she grew up in this country and tried to participate in the business and the political sphere. she overcame all of those types of -- of challenges and is extremely sensitive, i think, to all the needs of americans. so for all those reasons, i am
5:25 pm
proud to recommend to our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, i hope we will support her confirmation, and i think that she is the right person now to represent us at the united nations. for all those reasons, i will support her nomination. with that, mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: and the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
5:26 pm
5:27 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: i would like to ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. corker: mr. president, i will speak only for a few minutes so that we can have the vote go off at 5:30 on time. i just wanted to say that i'm pleased to be here to support governor nikki haley as our ambassador to the united nations. the united nations is at a crossroads and really needs
5:28 pm
someone who is very reform minded for the united states to lead our efforts in that regard. that not only would benefit u.s. interests but candidly it would benefit the world. she is someone who has shown that, as governor, that ability as governor of south carolina. she also has a clarity about her as it relates to representing u.s. interests. people on both sides of the aisle in our committee were able to recognize that her instincts relative to where the united states needs to be on certain issues. i think most of us understand that the united states leading on issues of human rights, leading on issues of conscience, that the american values that we all hold dear and want to promote around the world are things that she has the ability to communicate and cares deeply about, and i think people were very impressed.
5:29 pm
the united nations has multiple issues relative to peacekeeping that have not been addressed. sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers have been rampant and things have not been done in that regard to -- to curtail that activity, at least not in the ways that they should, and i know she feels very passionately about that issue. there's no question that she is not the most adept person in foreign policy. i mean, she would be the first person to tell that. she has spent most of her time really out of the country solely on economic development trips, but i think that where the united nations is today is at a place where we need a real driven person who cares about our own u.s. national interests but also has the ability to break through the clutter and reform. she has worked with legislators to bring people together to make that happen in her own state. she has had an exemplary record in that regard. and my guess is that's really
5:30 pm
the first effort that needs to take place there. over time, through the relationship she develops there, the travel that will take place, i'm absolutely certain, especially with the drive that she has, that she will develop some of the other capacity that i know over time she will want to utilize there at the united nations. i'm here to recommend her. i look forward to supporting her. i do want to thank, in spite of the fact that i'm disappointed that we're handling our secretary of state in a manner that has -- that is not in keeping with precedent -- bipartisan precedent, in spite of the fact that we're not going to handle that in a way that we should and could today, through a vote on that, i am appreciative of the minority leader allowing this vote to take place today and i'm glad she will be confirmed
5:31 pm
overwhelmingly as your u.n. ambassador. with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the question occurs on the nominations en bloc. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
5:32 pm
5:33 pm
5:34 pm
5:35 pm
5:36 pm
5:37 pm
5:38 pm
5:39 pm
5:40 pm
5:41 pm
5:42 pm
5:43 pm
5:44 pm
5:45 pm
vote:
5:46 pm
5:47 pm
5:48 pm
5:49 pm
5:50 pm
5:51 pm
5:52 pm
5:53 pm
5:54 pm
5:55 pm
5:56 pm
5:57 pm
5:58 pm
5:59 pm
6:00 pm
vote:
6:01 pm
6:02 pm
6:03 pm
6:04 pm
6:05 pm
6:06 pm
6:07 pm
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the nomination of nikki r. haley of south carolina to be representative of the united states of america to the united nations and the security council and the sessions of the general assembly are confirmed. under the previous order, the motions to reconsider are considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be notified of the senate's action. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move the senate proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all those no favor say aye. opposed, no. the ayes have it.
6:08 pm
the ayes have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 2, rex tillerson to be secretary of state. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the mom nation. -- the nomination. the clerk: rex w. tillerson of texas to be secretary of state. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of rex tillerson to be secretary of state, signed by 17 senators as follows: mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call with respect to the
6:09 pm
cloture motion be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
6:10 pm
6:11 pm
6:12 pm
mr. thune: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. thune: skilled that the quorum call be suspend. the presiding officer: without objection the senator 10 recognized. mr. thune: i scrp that tbhot standing rule 22, on use it monday, january 30, the senate proceed to executive calendar 4. i ask that there being 20 minutes of debate on the noil nation divided in the usual form. following the use or yielding back of time, the senate vote on the nomination with no intervening action or debate. that if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, that no further motions be in order, understand that any statements relating to the nomination be printed in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. thun-- mr. thune: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
6:13 pm
6:14 pm
6:15 pm
quorum call:
6:16 pm
mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i ask unanimous consent -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. lankford: -- that the qowsh be viscerated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: i ask the chao modified vote occur on tuesday, january 31. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: mr. president, in 2010, when i ran for congress, all the questions circled around the affordable care act. every town hall meeting, every conversation, everyone that caught me in the grocery store, everywhere i went there was a conversation about the affordable care act. what's going to happen, where things are going to go, and a lot of concerns on it? the president promised at the time if you liked your insurance, your doctor and your hospital, you would keep it, and it would just get better. prices would go down. options for insurance would go up. there would be marketplaces where more and more companies would rush in and that would drive the prices down.
6:17 pm
now seven years later, the greatest fears of a lot of the oklahomaans that i'm around all the time have come true. here's the crisis in oklahoma dealing with health care. we have the highest rate increase in the entire nation. last year our rates went up in oklahoma 76%. last year. the year before that, they went up 35%. that is 111% rate increase in two years in my state. over the course of the last three years insurance companies have left my state. all 77 counties of oklahoma now have one insurance carrier left. i met with that insurance carrier before. they're seriously looking at how they stay functional in oklahoma in the days ahead. , which is a concern to me that there's a possibility we may have zero on our marketplace in
6:18 pm
some counties and in some locations in oklahoma. with a 76% increase, i've had some folks that caught me and said your state didn't expand medicaid. that's the problem. if you would have expanded medicaid, then it would have been an issue. well, i would tell you that it has now come back with a study from h.h.s. that they have confirmed that that's true. if our state would have expanded medicaid, it would have reduced our cost 7% total in the state. so that means instead of having a 76% increase like we had, we would have only had a 69% increase of health care costs in our state. zero competition, dramatically higher deductibles, dramatic ally higher premiums. every hospital in my state, rural and urban, every hospital in my state has more charity care now and more bad debt now than what they had seven years ago.
6:19 pm
insure oklahoma, set up a decade ago to take care of people that did not have health insurance continues to falter because my state is playing mother may i every year with the federal government on whether we can maintain a program our state had and is growing. small risk pools are not allowed. people still don't know the price of their health care. electronic health records can't talk to each other still. there's still a rise in the cost of prescription drugs. we still have overlapping administrative costs on dual eligibles, medicare and medicaid, for senior adults. compliance costs for our doctors, our clinics and our hospitals have skyrocketed. physician-owned hospitals which we have quite a few in oklahoma, have been cut off and limited since 2010 and are slowly struggling just to be able to stay afloat. and fewer doctors are taking medicare and medicaid patients. on the horizon, mr. president, it gets even worse. because most people don't
6:20 pm
realize the affordable care act was backloaded, that the worst of the worst of it wouldn't be for several years out. well, guess what? it's now several years out. union households in my state are about to take a major hit with the cadillac tax that's coming because union households in my state have their insurances too good, and those individuals will face a tax increase. the insurance insurance companys coming which is a massive tax increase on insurance companies which they will pass directly down to consumers, that cost. and so it will go up again. and we continue to fight off the independent payment advisory board, a board specifically set up to be able to cut options for patients if they cost too much. that's still out there on the horizon. not to mention the tax penalties that go up even more next year. people ask me, why are you still focused on repealing obamacare? why is this such a big deal?
6:21 pm
it's because the people in my state are struggling under the negative effects of this and it's got to be dealt with. let me give you a couple of real-life stories. an oklahoma yan from the southwest part of my state wrote and said senator lankford, i came home tonight having finished with the cotton harvest and looking forward to celebrating with my wife and kids after harvest. i was greeted at the supper table with somber news about our health care premiums from my wife. our premium is going from $960 per month to $1,755 a month. that's with a deductible of $6,000. i can't even process and figure out how to handle this. i am through. i am done with any hope for any bright future for my family. an oklahoman from podo said my husband and i have health care
6:22 pm
marketplace health insurance for the last three year. the first year my monthly premium was over $1,200. this year i will pay, 1,923 monthly. i get a letter from my health insurance carrier that my monthly premium will go up next year to $3,540 a month. that's an increase for our family of 84%. how is this possible? and how can anything be done about this? when individuals ask me about obamacare and they say you're just arguing about something because of disdain for the president, no, this is what we have disdain for. this is what people are frustrated about. people that work, people that pay for their health care insurance cannot pay their mortgage and their health insurance any more because they're literally priced out of it. this is what bill clinton meant in october of last year when he made this statement: so you've got this crazy statement where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then
6:23 pm
the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. rits the craziest thing in the world. i could not agree with bill clinton more on that because that's exactly what's happening in oklahoma. but now here's what's happening. because for years americans and oklahomans have said we've got to do something to stop this. it's choking out my family. we are finally at a point we're going to do something about it. but i have colleagues that are now spreading the fear all over the country that suddenly everyone's going to be thrown off their insurance and we're going to have people living out on the streets without coverage. i heard on the floor of this senate 30 million people could die if we repeal obamacare. i've heard 20 million people will lose their insurance. i've heard there is no replacement plan. people will get sick because
6:24 pm
their coverage will be gone. well let me go tblu a couple of those -- go through a couple of those because there are people calling my office and righting righting -- writing me. they are cancer patients, diabetics, people that are very difficult to get insurance, and they're being told that all those mean republicans up there don't like you and don't care about you and they all want to just throw you out on the street. when the people that say that know it couldn't be further from the truth. it may make for good politics, but it's using people that are in a very vulnerable spot in a negative way. first let me get a couple of facts straight. this 30 million number that's being thrown around, even the president doesn't agree with that. even past-president obama doesn't agree with that. it's not 30 million. in fact it's not 20 million. it's 14 million people that have
6:25 pm
gained access to health care coverage, if you count the people that have actually gained coverage and paid for their premiums through the course of the year or have been a part of the expansion of medicaid. of those 14 million people, 11.8 million gained additional coverage from medicaid. not from the exchanges. and of that, almost 12 million people that god -- got expanded coverage from medicaid, one of the architects from obamacare said the vast majority of people that were added to medicaid weren't added because of expanded coverage. they were added because of motions during advertising. they were already eligible for medicaid. really we're talking about six million people or so that have been added to it. i'm not belittling those six million people. that's a lot of people. but it's not 20 million and it's not 30 million. so now what? as people address this to me, they ask what just happened on january 6?
6:26 pm
when the senate and then later when the house voted to start the legislative process to repeal obamacare, what just happened? we actually just started the process is what happened. it wasn't a total repeal. no one's been thrown out. it starts a legislative process. and as we start that legislative process of what's called reconciliation and as we work through that process, it's a very simple process. it starts the opening conversation to work through committees, to work through debate on the floor so that in the days ahead we will bring a full repeal of obamacare and a replacement. but that replacement is not going to be a 2,700 page bill to replace the previous 2,700 page bill. it will be a series of solutions. and it will deal with things over a long-term basis. it's not a vote that suddenly ends people's health care in one day. this begins a transition point to make sure that we're watching out for those individuals like those cancer patients, like those diabetics, like those individuals that are in very
6:27 pm
vulnerable situations that over the next couple of years we'll be able to transition to other care. we are watching to make sure that this is not some sudden shift for those individuals. understand, there are very vulnerable people that are on our health care options right now that need to make sure they know there is still that safety net there for them and that moving forward we'll continue to be able to watch for them. we want to be able to move p back a lot of those decisions back to the states. quite frankly that's where those decisions were before, and we want to be able to allow those individuals that are in very vulnerable situations to seek out the doctor they want, to get the options for the health care coverage that they want and to have greater access to insurance. not less. because the people in my state that have been added, that have received those subsidies are grateful to be able to have health care. but those individuals that in my state that can now literally no longer afford to have health care because they have been priced out of the market are stuck. obamacare moved the system from
6:28 pm
uninsured from one group of people to uninsured for another one. let me give you one statement. coming from a person from oklahoma who said my wife and i will be going without health insurance next year. i don't resent anyone who is not able to afford health care. i just resent a government system that causes us to be priced out of the reach for working people. why is it we can argue about obamacare and people can say those individuals got coverage, and people are not paying attention to a whole new group of americans that no longer have coverage because they've literally been priced out of the market? why is it for the sake of six million people we've affected the cost of health care for millions and millions of other americans? we can do this transition. we will do this transition. it will take a couple of years. it's not going to be rapid. and there will be a large debate that will happen nationally in the process. that's appropriate. but allow us to be able to walk through this process together.
6:29 pm
one quick illustration, mr. president, and then i'll be done. i have a friend of mine that she discovered last year she had mold in her house. initially there was some treatments that were done, but she had been very sick for awhile, didn't know why. they did some treatments to the house and such and thought that would settle it. it didn't. eventually she had to move out of her own home. now they have had to strip the walls and take out all the sheet rock. they are literally replacing studs, replacing everything in the house and it will be a long-term issue to be able to get it all right. i tell you that simple story to be able to say anyone who says that replacing health care is going to be some simple, spray everything down is going to fix it doesn't understand the complexities and the difficulty of the american health care system. this will be much like my friend who is having to do a pretty radical transition that's going to take a long time. but that will actually get her house whole and healthy again. if you want to have a healthy nation again, people that have access to health care regardless
6:30 pm
of what class that you're in, it's going to take awhile to make this transition, and it will be difficult in the process. but i can assure you, this congress is watching out, all people of all ethnicities, of all neighborhoods, of all diseases. to make sure that we are paying attention to this one simple thing. when obamacare was put into place, it punished people. we should encourage people to be able to get health care and should be able to walk through with people in their most vulnerable moments and make sure they're able to have personal decisions, access to their own doctors, access to hospitals that can afford to stay afloat and the ability for people to choose their own insurance. why is that so radical? it used to not be. there are things that need to be fixed, but it begins with giving the power of the decision back to the patient and back to people where it needs to be.
6:31 pm
with that, mr. president, i'd yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 26 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 26, designating the week of january january 22-january 28, 2017, as national school choice week. the presiding officer: is there objection? is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the upcoming
6:32 pm
adjournment of the senate, the president of the senate, the president pro tempore and the majority and the minority leaders be authorized to make appointments to commissions, committees, boards, conferences or interparliamentary conferences authorized by law by concurrent action of the two houses or by the -- or by order of the senate and that they be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. friday, january 27, for a pro forma session only, with no business being conducted. further, when the senate adjourns on friday, january 27, it convene on monday, january 30, at 3:00 p.m. further, following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. further, that following leader remarks, the senate be in a period of morning business until 5:00 p.m., with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each.
6:33 pm
further, at 5:00 p.m. monday, january 30, the senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration of calendar number 2, rex tillerson to be secretary of state, and there be 30 minutes of debate equally divided in the usual form. finally, that notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22, the cloture vote on the tillerson nomination occur at 5:30 p.m. monday. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order, following the remarks of senators schatz and sullivan. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schatz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. schatz: thank you, mr. president. more than 50 years ago, when medicaid was created, congress made a smart decision. lawmakers designed the program so that if health care costs rise, if the economy starts to struggle, medicaid would be there for the american people no matter what.
6:34 pm
now, a couple of days ago, the counselor to the president says that as part of the replacement plan for the affordable care act, medicaid will be converted to block grants, and let's be clear about what this means. people like grants, they like medicaid. maybe they are not sure whether they like block grants. whether intentional or not, this kind of techno accurate i can, bureaucratic language can trick people. it sounds fine. maybe it's even the smart thing to do. so let me be totally explicit about what block granting medicaid actually means. it means cutting medicaid. it means less money for medicaid. it means less health care for people. it's a euphemism. it's not quite a lie, but it's a way of describing something so that you don't know exactly what it is. they're calling it a block grant because they don't want to say that they're cutting medicaid.
6:35 pm
these cuts are going to hurt millions of people. they will hurt working families who rely on medicaid to pay for nursing home care for their families. i mean, you have got to be pretty out of touch to not know anyone who at some point in their life will rely on nursing home subsidies for medicaid. it's happening in my extended family right now. and it's important to remember medicaid certainly helps children, medicaid certainly helps people who are economically disadvantaged. it helps poor people, but it also helps middle-class families, because at the end of your life, at the end of a family member's life, who can pay for nursing home care out of pocket? you may have saved all of your life, but, for instance, in hawaii, a nursing home costs around $10,000 a month. $10,000 a month. and so it is a rare family that can pay $10,000 a month for a grandmother or a great
6:36 pm
grandmother or for a father or a mother. nobody can do that. and so this is going to harm middle-class families. it's also going to hurt women in particular. women need medicaid for maternal health services and for family planning, and these cuts are going to hurt seniors and people with disabilities. these people have nowhere else to turn. that's the point of medicaid. medicaid is their only option. and now, i have heard some people say well, this is going to expand local control. this is preposterous. the truth is that block granting medicaid, which is the same thing as cutting medicaid and giving a fixed amount to the states gives states less control, not more control. they force states to choose between seniors and kids, between people with disabilities and women, or between health care and education. look, it does not matter who you voted for.
6:37 pm
american voters, left, right and center, have been sent, and what we do in washington is we run for office saying one thing, and then we get in office and we do exactly the opposite. and, frankly, the congress has earned that reputation. this is another instance where a party has promised not to cut medicaid, but here we are week one, day five debating cuts to this important program. this is a deal breaker for me and many of my colleagues, and it will be a disaster for millions of americans. i call on everyone on both sides of the aisle to stand up for seniors, to stand up for women, to stand up for children and to fight any cuts to medicaid. i yield the floor.
6:38 pm
mr. sullivan: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: i ask unanimous consent that the appointments at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sullivan: mr. president, alaska is a beautiful state, the mountains, the seas, the glaciers, the wildlife. most in this room, many watching on tv, have seen my state on tv shows, on reality shows. almost everybody talks about at least someday coming to visit. we love tourists. like the presiding officer does, so please come. you'll have a great experience, guaranteed. but what makes my state particularly special is the people. kind people, tough people, generous of heart, and, yes, people with a lot of opinions. my state is filled with people who are strong willed and strong
6:39 pm
hearted, creating caring communities in some of the harshest environments in the world. mr. president, as part of an initiative that i'm doing to highlight somebody -- some of these great alaskan citizens, i would like to recognize this afternoon eileen nabowski as the alaskan of the week. she is someone of a strong mind and a strong heart and has helped to make her community and our state a better place. eileen lives with her husband in a cabin in salcha, alaska, near the fairbanks area. this year, this area of my state has experienced some brutally dangerously cold temperatures. recently, it was 59 degrees below zero.
6:40 pm
near salcha. that's cold. 59 below zero. yet, in my state, people work in such weather, they give to their communities, they reach out and watch over their neighbors. eileen has been both the special education and regular education teacher for become 40 years. she is currently at university park elementary school. to better communicate with her students, she went to night school to learn american sign language. she is active in her church, and particularly active in interior alaska high school wrestling, helping dozens and dozens of students. she has been so involved over the past 40 years in this important visit that she was recently elected into the state of alaska wrestler's hall of fame. an article in "the fairbanks daily news miner" quotes her as
6:41 pm
saying wrestling can take any size kid and they can be successful. congratulations, eileen, for helping dozens and dozens of kids in alaska, kids of all sizes and making them successful. she stated when you help each other, it makes living easier up here in the colds of alaska. the same can be said about anyplace in america. so thanks, eileen, for helping make life easier, for your service and for being this week's alaskan of the week. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the following statement appear separately in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sullivan: mr. president, i want to talk a little bit about this afternoon, the way my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are unfortunately and with no reason delaying and
6:42 pm
delaying the confirmation of heads of critically important agencies, cabinet secretaries for our country. now, we have differences of opinion in this body. that's often a good thing. we debate, we share ideas, we agree, we disagree, we give the voters the very best we have and then we let them make their own decisions, which they do at the ballot box. on election day, the american people chose president trump and vice president pence. the american people did so knowingly that they would appoint a new cabinet and be focused on the issues that they ran on. but the american people did not vote for delay, they did not vote for obstruction. they voted for action, and they voted for a smooth transition, which is what this body has
6:43 pm
traditionally done. in fact, there has been a long-standing tradition of the u.s. senate in working hard to confirm cabinet nominees of a newly elected president in a timely fashion, particularly when it comes to the president's national security team. for example, in 2009, upon the election of president obama, seven of his cabinet members, seven were sworn into office on the first day. five more were confirmed by the end of the first week. 14 cabinet officials inside of a week. where are we right now? two cabinet officials, one c.i.a. director. mr. president, that's not what the american people expect. that's not the tradition in the senate. my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have a
6:44 pm
responsibility, they have a responsibility to the american people to put a government in place to treat the confirmation process with the same courtesy and seriousness that the senate gave to president obama's cabinet-level nominees, and that's not happening right now. and this is serious business, particularly on the national security issues. so i'm hopeful, i'm hopeful that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle can start getting serious and show this administration the same courtesy that republicans showed president obama's administration when he came into office. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
6:45 pm
>> the senate gobbling up at earlier today members can from south carolina governor, nikki haley to be the next u.s. ambassador to the united nation. next week expect debates on rex to listen to be secretary of state. it's possible to to hear debate on other cabinet nominations as well. including senator jeff sessions to had the -- and elaine chao as transportation secretary. the chamber out now for the rest of the week as republican senators meet with the republican house members tomorrow through friday for their annual retreat in philadelphia. from on that we spoke with a capitol hill reporter. >> the house and senate republicans are holding a three-day joint retreat in philadelphia wednesday through friday. christina of the hill, what, what is the purpose of the retreat? >> this is the first time since president trump was inaugurated a few days ago that key congressional republicans will have

20 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on