tv U.S. Senate Considers Montenegro Membership of NATO CSPAN March 27, 2017 2:59pm-6:30pm EDT
but building a wall is going to help. >> my name is leah barr, a communications major here at bloom state university and my messages president donald trump, i know a lot of candidates make a lot of promises running for president but i would like him to go over the rate. >> voices from the road on c-span. >> c-span: where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >>. >> the senate about to gamble in to start the week. today lawmakers will consider whether montenegro should
join the nato alliance, something supported by senator john mccain and opposed by kentucky's rand paul. a vote to advance that is at 5:30 eastern time today. the house also has three bills on the schedule including one dealing with preparedness pacific northwest and tomorrow in-house resolution of disapproval on an fcc rule on sharing information of broadband internet customers, live on c-span. we take you live to the floor of senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer.
the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, our hearts are steadfast toward you, lead us safely to the refuge of your choosing, for you desire to give us a future and a hope. provide us with grateful hearts to appreciate your mercies that are new each day. today, give our senators the power to do your will, as they realize more fully that they are servants of heaven and stewards
of your mysteries. lord, give them your perspective on their daily tasks and every decision they must make. may faithfulness to you become the focus of their living, keeping them from becoming careless about their spiritual and moral growth. we pray in your sacred name. amen. the president pro tempore: pease join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: at the end of the cold war, many wondered whether nato could or should survive absent the glaring threat of the soviet union which tied together a diverse coalition of western countries. that soviet threat held the alliance together through myriad issues and challenges of burden sharing, nuclear doctrine and how to balance the roles of the european union and the security alliance. the united states as a global super power was at times criticized for not paying enough attention to the alliance and at other times for its heavy-handed leadership. when the berlin wall came down, nato was forced to evolve. at its core the alliance is not only about defeating a common threat, but also about common values. when our nation was attacked on september 11, nato acted on
september 12 and invoked article 5 of the washington treaty for the first time in history. and nato partners have worked to assist us in the war on terror ever since. about russian resurgence and quests for renewed greater power status, nato has given notice that it will stand up for western democracies as well, and has continued to do so. let's be clear, president putin mourns the fall of the soviet union. he is intent on using all elements of national power to expand russia's sphere of influence. he's also threatened by the examples of representative democracies anywhere near russia's borders and is accordingly trying to intimidate other nations from seeking entry into the alliance. the the partnership for peace established in 1994 has given newly independent states a path toward developing capabilities that would bind them closer to
the democracies of the west. it has given them something to strive for, and through the use of the membership action plans, nato is capable of setting forth the various reforms required for membership to those countries which aspire to join the alliance. this was the path poland took and romania and the czech republic. and so many of our friends in eastern europe. today it is the path montenegro is taking. a positive vote on the nato accession treaty before us tells those countries which complete nato member action plans that this undertaking, while difficult, is not futile. and let us remember we face a variety of threats in the world from isil to the syrian civil war to china's military build-up and territorial ambitions and our european allies face many threats as well.
nato remains an incredibly valuable alliance. it's an alliance, however, that must be sustained. that's why we asked our partners to meet their commitments to nato by spending 2% of g.d.p. on defense so the alliance can improve its capabilities. and that's why we must meet our own commitments including voting yes on the accession treaty before the senate today. now on another matter, last week supreme court nominee judge neil gorsuch came before the senate judiciary committee for his confirmation hearing. his testimony reaffirmed what we already know about judge gorsuch. he's fair, impartial, he has an outstanding legal mind, and
he's humble and well-respected. he also has a record of building consensus. here's what he said about that record at his hearing. here's what he said, i have decided over 2,700 cases, and my law clerks tell me that 97% of them have been unanimous. 99%, i've been in the majority. they tell me as well, he continued, that according to the congressional research service, my opinions have attracted the fewest number of dissents from my colleagues of anyone i've served with that they studied over the last ten years. so let's repeat that. judge gorsuch has ruled in more than 2,700 cases. he's been in the majority 99% of the time. and 97% have been unanimous
decisions. it's no wonder the american bar association, an organization that the democratic leader and the former democratic judiciary chairman have called the gold standard, gave judge gorsuch his highest rating: unanimously well-qualified. in that a.b.a. rating, it noted behaves on the writings, introduce and analyses we scrutinized to reach our rating, we discern that judge gorsuch believes strongly in the independence of the judicial branch of government and we predict he will be a strong voice in protecting it. the a.b.a. isn't alone in in support of the judge gorsuch. in fact, people from across the political spectrum have sung his praises, including many on the left that you might not expect. people like professor laurence tribe, former president obama's legal mentor, who called gorsuch, quote, a brilliant,
terrific guy who would do the court's work with distinction. and neal katyal, former president obama's top supreme court lawyer, who called him one of the most thoughtful and brilliant judges to have served our nation over the last century. this is the obama solicitor saying one of the most thoughtful and brilliant judges who have served our nation over the last century. liberal law professors including alan dershowitz who said gorsuch would be hard to oppose on the merits and donald elliot who called him a brilliant mind, who tries very hard to get the law right and follows the law as best he can wherever it may lead. and at his confirmation hearing last week, we heard from former and current colleagues on the federal bench who enthusiastically support his nomination. are all federal judges who know
him well. judge john kaine appointed to the district court in colorado by president carter voted judge gorsuch voted to affirm and reverse his decisions. in each instance, he remarked, i have felt i clearly understood and properly informed. he goes on to say, i think judge gorsuch listens well, decides justly, his dissents are constructive rather than vitriolic. i think he's an excellent judicial craftsman. former colleagues on the tenth circuit testified last week on his behalf as well. two former chief judges of that circuit, one appointed by president reagan, another appointed by president clinton, have written that judge gorsuch was like most good judges assiduously attentive to the facts and law in each case. judge gorsuch taha and robert henry, both judges, went on to say that if judge gorsuch was
confirmed to the supreme court, his other important traits are not likely to change either. things like his fair consideration of opposing views, his remarkable intelligence, his wonderful judicial temperament expressed to litigants and his collegiality toward colleagues. they conclude by saying if we seek to confirm to the supreme court a noted intellect, a collegial colleague and a gifted and eloquent writer as well as a person of exhibited judicial temperament, gorsuch fits the bill. he represents the best of the judicial tradition in our country. perhaps david frederick, a board member of the left-leaning american constitution society, best summed up why the senate should confirm judge gorsuch. in a recent "washington post" op-ed, he praised judge gorsuch for his reverence for our country's values and legal system. mr. frederick states that the facts developed in a case matter to him. the legal rules established by
legislatures and through precedent deserve deep respect and the importance of treating litigants, counsel and colleagues with civility is deeply ingrained in him. therefore, this self-proclaimed long-term supporter of democratic candidates and progressive causes said the senate should confirm gorsuch because there is no principled reason to vote no. let me repeat that. the senate should confirm him, he said, because there is no principled reason to vote no. unfortunately, some of our democratic colleagues are trying desperately to find any excuse to block this nomination. although this is unfortunate, it is not surprising. recall that the democratic leader stated before judge gorsuch was even nominated that he would oppose any person on the president's long list of qualified candidates, even if it meant keeping the seat open
for years. look, we know that our democratic friends are under an enormous amount of pressure from some on the far left who want them to, quote, resist. end quote. it's clear that many radical special interest groups simply refuse to accept the results of the election and would like nothing more than to obstruct the serious work before the senate. we saw the impact that had on the cabinet confirmation process which represented a historic level of instruction. we're seeing the same calls for obstruction now. this much is clear, if our democratic colleagues choose to hold up this nominee, then they're acknowledging that they'll go to any length, any length to block any supreme court nominee of a republican president. if neil gorsuch can't be confirmed, there is no nominee of any republican president that
our friends on the other side would argue deserves 60 votes. this isn't about the nominee at all. it isn't about his background, it isn't about his temperament, it isn't about his reputation as a judge. it's about those on the far left who want to prevent our country from moving forward. judge gorsuch's suitability for the appellate court was so noncontroversial that not a single senate democrat opposed his nomination. not then-senator obama, senate then-senators bidden, clinton or kennedy, not my good friend, the democratic leader, and there is no reason judge gorsuch shouldn't receive similarly overwhelmingly bipartisan support now. this is an important moment for our country. i would urge each of our colleagues to rise to the moment, rise to the moment and together to move forward with the confirmation of our next supreme court justice, judge neil gorsuch, and give him the
up-or-down vote that he deserves. now, mr. president, what is the business of the day? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of executive calendar number 1, the montenegro treaty, which the clerk will report. the clerk: treaty, calendar number 1. treaty doc 114-12. protocol to the north atlantic treaty of 1949 on the accession of montenegro. mr. mcconnell: i have an amendment that is at the desk. i ask the clerk to report. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell, proposes an amendment numbered 193. at the end -- mr. mcconnell: i ask the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays on my amendment.
the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. mcconnell: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the presiding officer: -- the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell, proposes amendment numbered 194 to amendment numbered 193. mr. mcconnell: i ask the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, i rise this afternoon on a few topics, first on the investigation into the trump campaign's potential ties to russia. this is a matter of such gravity we need to get it right. there should be no doubt about the integrity and impartiality of the investigation, either in the executive branch where the f.b.i. and department of justice are looking into it or in congress where the intelligence
committees of both chambers are conducting an investigation. unfortunately, the house intelligence committee has come under a cloud of suspicion and partisanship. a few months ago, chairman nunez spoke to reporters at the request of the white house to tamp down stories on the links between the trump campaign and russia, which is exactly what his committee must now investigate. this past week, chairman nunez broke with committee process and tradition to brief the president on information he learned but hadn't yet shared with the committee. now we learn this morning that chairman nunez was at the white house a day before that event. doing what? we don't know. mr. president, it could very well be the case that chairman nunez was briefing members of the administration about an investigation of which they are
the subject. chairman nunez is falling down on the job and seems to be more interested in protecting the president than in seeking the truth. you cannot have the person in charge of an impartial investigation be partial to one side. it's an inherent contradiction, and it undermines decades of bipartisan cooperation on the intelligence committee, which handles such sensitive information paramount to national securit it undermines congress as a co-equal branch of government, meant to hold the executive branch accountable for its actions, and it corrodes the american people's confidence in our government. mr. president, if speaker ryan wants the house to have a credible investigation, he needs to replace chairman nunes.
congress was meant by the framers to be separate and equal, and i sincerely worry that under his direction, mr. nunes is pushing the committee into a direction of object seek us itness and not one that is asking the hard questions and getting the important answers. there has always been a grand tradition of bipartisanship on the intelligence committees. when members go into the skiff, the room where they get secure briefings, they check their partisanship at the door. chairman nunes is right on the edge of doing permanent damage to that grand tradition of bipartisanship. chairman nunes seems to be more of a partisan for the president than an impartial actor. he has not been cooperating like someone who is interested in getting to the unvarnished truth. his actions look like those of
someone who is interested in protecting the president and his party, and that doesn't work when the goal of the committee is to investigate russia and its connection to the president and his campaign. without further adieu, speaker ryan should replace chairman nunes. now, mr. president, on another matter, the failure of trumpcare. this past friday was a good day for the american people. we can finally put to bed the disaster of a bill that was trumpcare which would have resulted in spottier coverage, 24 million fewer americans with health coverage and higher costs, premiums and deductibles for the middle class, the working poor and older americans. all to finance close to $600 billion in tax breaks for wealthy americans. americans should breathe a sigh
of relief that trumpcare will not become law. we're happy that it's gone and we can finally move on. and as i have said many times, we democrats provided our republican colleagues to drop replace and stop undermining the a.c.a. we're willing to work with our republican friends to improve the existing law. no one ever said the affordable care act was perfect. we have ideas to improve it. hopefully our colleagues on the republican side do as well. i hope once replace is dropped, the a.c.a. is no longer undermined by the administration, we can sit down and talk about it. but unfortunately, the administration has already done several things that undermine the law and hurt the people. during the final weeks of open enrollment, the trump administration discontinued the kind of public advertising
campaigns that encouraged people to sign up for insurance. the administration is working behind the scenes to give insurers flexibility to offer americans less coverage for the health care they need. and the executive order that president trump issued directing agencies to facilitate the repeal and replacement of a.c.a. has destabilized the marketplace. now that trumpcare is off the table, the president should rescind the executive order. today i'm urging the president and his entire administration to immediately cease all efforts to undermine the a.c.a. people's lives are at stake. the president should not hope that the health care system for tens of millions explodes. he should not want premiums to go up on his watch. he should not hope that americans lose treatment for opioid addiction on his watch. this approach is wrong and wrong
in two ways. first and foremost, it's wrong because it hurts people. the president must be a leader. it is not leadership for the president to hurt people and actively work to undermine our nation's health care system simply because he's angry that he didn't get his way on repealing the a.c.a. that's not presidential. that's pet lens. and secondly, this -- that's petulance. and secondly, this approach won't work politically. donald trump is no longer an outsider. he's president. the american people are looking to him to help solve their problems. if he doesn't, it's going to hurt him and his party. pointing the finger of blame isn't going to solve anyone's problems. that strategy is not only bad for the american people and beneath the presidency, it will backfire politically. he's in charge.
people want him to make their lives better, not make them worse because of some political anger or vendetta. now, i know many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle do care deeply about fixing the nation's health care problems, and we're ready to do that with them in a bipartisan way, but of course repeal must be taken off the table and the president must stop hurting citizens by undermining the affordable care act. finally, on tax issues, mr. president, now that the jig is finally up on health care, our republican friends have signaled they will turn to taxes. i hope they have learned the lessons of trumpcare. one of the reasons that trumpcare failed so spectacularly was because republicans tried to rush and ram it through via a reconciliation process even though it was deeply unpopular
with the public. at last poll, it showed only 17% of americans supported trumpcare, so that means even a large number of trump supporters were opposed to it. why was it so unpopular? probably because trumpcare would have given the wealthiest among us a monster tax cut while hammering over americans in the middle class with higher costs for less care. so i would say to my friends on the other side of the aisle if you try to pass a republican tax plan using the same reconciliation method in order to get a huge tax break for the wealthy and already profitable and powerful corporations, it will fail. the american people are not crying out for tax breaks on the wealthiest americans. god bless the wealthy. they're doing just fine without the tax breaks. but thus far, it seems our republican colleagues are headed in that direction.
even though the president campaigned as a populist, his administration has been all hard right, pro-corporate, pro-special interests, totally against the working people. if the president and republicans in congress continue in that direction, proposing policies that shift burdens off the wealthy and powerful, and not aim to help the middle class and working families, their efforts will continue to fail. and it will return tax reform into a partisan issue. the white house says tax reform isn't partisan, but it surely will be if they only propose massive tax cuts for the wealthy. and my prediction, if republicans go down that road, the republican tax scheme will meet the same fate as trumpcare. i hope they won't go down that road. i hope they won't. thank you prks mr. president.
mr. schatz: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from he -- from hawaii. mr. schatz: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schatz: last week trumpcare died and a lot of people are trying to figure out what happened. it wasn't due to a lack of effort or a personal relationship between the speaker and president, it died because the policy stunk. it died because people actually
left, right, and center, instead of cutting medicaid by $900 billion in order to provide a tax cut to wealthy americans was not a good idea as far as policy and politics. now that trumpcare has crashed and burned, republicans are going to try to do the same thing, tax cuts for the rich, but instead of cutting medicaid, they are going to charge people more for groceries. here's their proposal. they want to cut taxes for corporations again. that is what they want to do, whether you're talking about infrastructure, whether you're talking about health care, whether you're talking about so-called health reform, their solution is to cut taxes for corporations. they want to cut taxes for corporations again, but this time american families will pay for it through taxes on groceries and the other stuff they have to buy on a day-to-day
basis. we have seen this before. it is a give away for corporations and the wealthiest among us. as usual, they have to have a way to pay for it. they are going to keep proposing solutions for health care, infrastructure, and in this case tax reform. they are basically the same proposal. it is a subsidy for wall street and it's because they can't help themselves. this will cost the average american family thousands of dollars. they will have to pay more for gas, medicine, clothes, cars, food, and that's how border adjustment tax works. everything that you buy in the united states will be taxed. everything outside of the united states is not taxed, and the sort of principle behind that is that somehow we're going to
stimulate exports and disincentivize imports. it is not just that you're paying more for stuff imported, it's everything in the united states that you purchased that you will have to pay more for in order to incentivize exports, but all you're doing is charging the american people more. this is essentially a sales tax. i talked to my staff and they were trying to get into the tech knowcraddock -- technocratic details, as to whether it was a border adjustment tax that fits in some other legal category. for a regular person, it doesn't matter what you will call it, if you pay more and the government is collecting it, it's an increase in taxes. they will dazzle you with -- complexity. some republicans are able to make it more complicated than it is. they will try to dazzle you with complexity.
they are raising taxes on groceries and all the stuff that you buy. that is their version of tax reform. i can understand the tax code is awful. it's a mass. we've been trying -- a mess. we've been trying to do tax reform for 30 years. it is not unusual for the average american to say, you ought to re -- reform taxes. but they want you to buy gasoline, pillows, diapers, paper, whatever you need, and it will cost more with so-called tax reform. if they you can seed, the average american family could pay up to $1,700 more per year in order to corporations can get their tax cuts. think about what $1,700 means for families across the country. for a family of four with two kids in middle school, $1,700 pays for a few months worth of groceries. it pays for $1,700 in hawaii
will cover your rent for a month and lots of other places that will cover your rent for five months. for some people it will pay for a year of an oh, electric -- electric bill. it will pay for three or four months in hawaii. for the entire country we have no idea what a border adjustment tax would actually do in terms of our international relationships. i understand -- look, i voted against the transpacific partnership and for trade promotion authority. i have been very, very concerned to the extent to which we have not been getting the better of hoos trade deals -- these trade deals, especially when it comes to people in unions across the country, but we do not want to engage in a trade war. we do not want to screw up american manufacturing, american
farming. we have no idea what the impact will be. even if you're willing to accept increasing the costs of goods in the united states for some theoretical possibility that this will incentivize exports, we have no idea what it will do to the american economy overyou- overcall. -- overall. take tourism. in 2016 alone, tourism supported nearly 5.5 million american jobs directly and almost ten million more in industries like restaurants and retail. the tourism industry pumps $2.6 million into the economy every day. i'll say one other thing about tourism. as we worry about automation, as we worry about art -- artificial intelligence and an economy that will eviscerate some of our core
industries, tourism is not -- is the one thing you cannot take away from us. if people want to come to los angeles, cleveland or hawaii or kansas city, missouri, or florida, these are jobs that cannot be taken away. if you want to infuse cash into an economy, create a tourism economy. but all of these jobs, all of this revenue is under threat if it works out the way they want it to work out. because the dollar will be so strong that americans will want to travel abroad and foreigners will want to travel far, far away from us. so why are we punishing consumers and small businesses? why are we putting entire industries at risk? how republicans will tell you it's because they think the corporate tax is too high. but here's the truth -- right now major corporations have huge teams of tax lawyers that set up fake shell companies to get
around paying federal taxes at all or they abuse loopholes to drastically lower what they owe to the unite united states gove, and that's why we see some corporations that end up paying zero dollars this federal income tax year after year even they are -- though they are making a profit in the united states. republicans and democrats, together, should go after the tax dodgers. instead of getting rid of loopholes, they decided to tax consumers. this makes no sense and that's why we have to stop it. last week we saved health care for 24 million americans because people across the country of all political persuasions stood up to fight. this week the fight goes on, and once again, far too many people are in the cross hairs. i believe strongly so long as we continue to standing together, we can win this one too. a huge tax cut for the wealthy
objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, earlier today in the senate judiciary committee, we considered the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to serve as the next justice on the united states supreme court. according to judiciary committee practice, that nomination was held over for a week, which means that judge gorsuch will be voted out of the senate judiciary committee on april the 3rd and be available for floor action thereafter. as the nation knows, perhaps even the world knows, we held lengthy hearings last week to review his qualifications, his experience, and his approach to judging, and i have to say that he really impressed everybody who approached this whole issue with an open mind about whether he was qualified to serve on the high court. but, unfortunately, as we all know, those of us who work in
the united states senate, there's already been a threat by the democratic leader to filibuster his nomination. it's really important for the country to recall that there is -- there's never been a successful partisan filibuster of a nominee to the united states supreme court. now, i know sometimes people want to talk about abe for it is a and 196. but ultimately, abe fortas who was nominated by lyndon john soccer he ultimately asked to withdraw his nomination after one failed cloture vote and ultimately ended up resigning from the supreme court of the united states in disgrace. it is hardly a precedent for what the democrats have said they're going to do with regard to this good man and this good judge neil gorsuch. now, i understand my friend, the democratic leader, has a tough job. s a. got -- he's got a split
caucus -- those who want to take the democrats over the ledge and those who would like to find some way to work out a reasonable accommodation -- but, unfortunately, he's under a lot of pressure from the radical groups on the left to do whatever he can to tank this superb nominee. and, again, this would be unprecedented in american history. it is true that democrats in 2013 did dot so-called nuclear option, which is established a new precedent in the senate with regard to lower court judges -- that would be circuit court judges and district court judges, along with cabinet nominees. ironically, it's kind of come back to bite them a little bit, the so-called reid precedent in 2013 when president trump now has been able to confirm -- see all of his cabinet members
confirmed with 51 votes, or in the case of one, 50 plus the vice president. i was glad to see a report in a vermont publication, a quote from our friend, the senior senator from virtual, an -- from vermont when he said he wasn't inclined to filibuster the nomination of gorsuch. he deserves a minimum of an up-or-down vote. i hope our colleagues will follow the lead of senator leahy, when in the majority and the minority he realizes it is important to maintain decorum here on the united states senate. because usually what goes around comes un$ed around. and, you unfortunately, this new precedent of filibustering supreme court justices, if allowed to happen, is, i think, going to be -- continue to be very damaging to the senate and
even to the country. so i hope he's still of that same mind, that he is not inclined to filibuster the nomination of judge gorsuch. i know if he takes that position that he's going to influence a lot of other colleagues on the other side of the aisle because of his distinguished record of service in the senate and the judiciary committee. so i look forward to the committee approving judge gorsuch's nomination next week and then taking this nomination up on the senate floor and confirming the nomination of neil gorsuch to serve as the next associate justice on the united states supreme court. on another matter, mr. president, last week a lot of attention was focused on the house of representatives and their efforts to fix our nation's health care system. we've said for long time that obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced, and i stand by that comment. and i know many of our
colleagues do as well. but i want to make something else clear. the failure of obamacare isn't a problem for democrats or republicans alone. it is a problem for the entire country and particularly those who find their premiums going up by double digits every year, their deductibles unaffordable or actually even choices drying up because insurance companies simply have roe v. wade -- withdrawn from the individual market. our colleagues on the democratic side have repeatedly recognized the problems with obamacare, even though they pushed it through on a partisan vote seven years ago. the fact of the matter is, when the president promised, if you like your health care policy, you can keep it, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, and the premiums for a family of four would go down by an average of $2,500, none of that has proven to be true. so people were misled into
believing obamacare would somehow be the gold standard for health care in the country when people are being hurt now by high premiums, high deductibles, fewer choices, and, indeed, 30 million people remain uninsured in this country because of the cost or the fact that they just decide that they don't want to buy government-mandated health care. so they either pay a penalty to the i.r.s. or through the i.r.s. or they simply get a hardship exemption. that's 30 million people. currently uninsured more or less under obamacare. so i want to remind our colleagues on the other side that they understand that obamacare needs some work, and many of them have made repeated calls to fix it. last year, for example, the junior senator from wisconsin said of obamacare, there were things obviously that need perfecting, need revisiting.
even if it were perfect, over time we'd have to make adaptations, and i think we would absolutely want to strengthen it. so not even our colleague, the junior senator from wisconsin, is saying obamacare is delivering 100% on the promise. she's saying it needs some work. the senior senator from indiana has echoed this sentiment. he said, i supported the affordable care act because i wanted to help working and middle-class families to have access to health care. that doesn't mean the law is perfect, and it doesn't mean that we don't still have work to do. that's why i'm working with my colleagues to make this bill stronger. but, mr. president, we haven't seen any proposals from our friends across the aisle how to fix the law which they concede is far from perfect. instead what we've seen is them standing back, watching republicans try to do this by
ourselves and coming up short last week in the house of representatives. but to my mind, that certainly isn't -- that is not commendable behavior on their part. i thought we all came here to the united states senate to try to do things and to fix problems for the constituents that we represent. and for purely partisan reasons to say we know obamacare is falling apart and is not delivering as we promised, and oh, yes, you republicans can try to fix it, but if you don't have the votes to do it, we're just going to sit back and applaud or react with glee from a partisan perspective because our political opponents have somehow come up short when it came to the votes in the house. but the truth is obamacare didn't bring about massive relief for working and middle-class americans. for many it made life more difficult, with skyrocketing premiums, losing their plans and the doctors they wanted, and having less options to choose from. i'll quote one of our other
colleagues on the other side of the aisle, the junior senator from north dakota. her website says, with any major legislation, there are improvements that need to be made so that it works as well as possible, and that holds true for the health care reform law, speaking of obamacare. she goes on to say that she's committed to correcting the parts of the health care reform law that do not make sense, improve on others and implement new ideas that can further control health care costs and improve quality. i'm grateful to our colleague from north dakota for her honesty and her open take on where things stand with respect to obamacare. but that's just a start. what we need to do now is work together to try to address the failings of obamacare, where it's not delivering as promised, and where even our colleagues across the aisle have said it needs to be fixed in order to make sure that people have access to affordable,
accessible quality health care, because they don't have that now, mr. president. they don't have that now. my point is that obamacare was a bill sold to the american people under false pretenses by the previous administration, and it's proven to be a disaster for many people. i was reading an article, i think it was either in "the washington post" or "the new york times" today about a woman in texas who runs hair care salons, who's intentionally kept her number of employees under the threshold under which obamacare's employer mandate would be invoked. so rather than spending time focusing on growing her business and improving her business, she's consciously kept it smaller and with less employees because she knows that the burden of complying with the obamacare employer mandate will ultimately make her business less profitable. and when her business is less profitable, it means she can
hire fewer people and can't pay the wages perhaps, or the benefits she would like to pay her employees. so i would just say to our colleagues across the aisle, i understand you think you've, you had a pretty good day last week when the republicans couldn't pass the health care plan on our own in the house, but i don't think this is a time for people to enjoy other people's failed efforts to try to improve the status quo. what it is is a mandate, i believe, for all of us to work together to address the flaws that we know exist, that they've admitted exist, to try to do better when it comes to affordable, accessible health care for the american people. this law will fail. insurance companies will withdraw from the market and the individual market serving roughly 18 million people will literally dry up and go away. and imagine how those families
are going to be impacted. and i wouldn't want to be somebody who said, well, i had an opportunity to fix it. yes, i had an opportunity to address your concerns when it came to affordable health care, but for partisan political reasons, i simply stood down and did nothing and literally washed my hands of it. before this law collapses -- and it will -- i hope our colleagues across the aisle start offering their ideas and their solutions to bring families across the country better health care. that's what i think our constituents expect of us. that is in the finest traditions of the united states senate, and our constituents deserve no less. mr. president, i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. rubio: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: mr. president, i am pleased we in the senate here are about to take a vote on ratifying the protocol on the ascension of montenegro to nato. what i want to do is take a few moments to explain to people why i think this is an important vote, an important moment, both for our security as a nation but also to protect our interests abroad and that of our allies. we all know nato was started right after world war ii as the narrate atlantic treaty organization that was primarily designed in the cold war to confront the threats posed by the soviet union and its allies in the warsaw pact. and of course those threats have changed since the end of that war. here's what hasn't changed. what hasn't changed is the need for america and for her allies in a strong way to remain engaged in the world. that need has not changed. what has not changed is the need for democracies to be able to come together and collectively
not just defend their interests but the interests of all people around the world where freedom is threatened because the difficult, painful lesson of history is that dictators, tyrants, they are never pleased with what they have. they always want more. they always need more. and that's why it's so important that those nations on earth luckily and in a blessed way more nations than ever before find themselves living in societies where people get to choose their leaders. these alliances that we have around the world, nato being chief among them, they help advance our strategic and our economic interests, but most importantly, they help to keep our country safe. now, there was a lot of talk about how much moneys are paying into nato and it is true the united states is by far the largest contributor to nato. i think that is a combination of two things. one, decisions that were made by some of our allies in europe of how they want to spend their government money, but the other is just the reality that we're the united states of america,
and as the united states of america, you will always find that we always are making a disproportionate share and contribution on everything, from global aid to fight off hunger and disease to collective security. but while we can urge our allies, encourage our allies and ask our allies to make a greater contribution to their own defense, we should also not fall in the trap of diminishing what they are doing and what they have done. first of all, in europe today, many of our nato allies are increasing their defense spending, and they're doing so in response to russia's aggression in ukraine and its increased aggression elsewhere in the region. their soldiers are joining ours in deploying to central and eastern europe to reassure our allies who are facing aggression and potential aggression from vladimir putin. but i also think it's important to take a moment with all this talk about nato and money and how much everyone's giving to
also understand our nato allies have fought beside us and have died beside americans and afghanistan where more than 1,100 soldiers of the nato-led coalition paid the ultimate price for their lives. it is important to note this because on september 11 of 2001, paris was not attacked, berlin was not attacked, london was not attacked on that horrible day, and yet these nations and others, our partners invoked a shared commitment that led them to stand beside us on the other side of the world in an effort to prevent another attack like september 11 from taking place again on american soil or anywhere in the world. the montenegro is not even a member of nato yet, and yet it's sent hundreds of service members to join the american-led coalition in afghanistan. now, i have always argued that
when our alliances such as nato are under pressure from our potential adversaries and foes, we need to continue to expand and allow countries who meet the standards set by the alliance to join. this is -- that has never been more important than it is now, given the uncertainty and the security challenges that we face in europe, especially as vladimir putin continues his aggression and continues to threaten stability in the region. to be frank, putin would love nothing more than to destroy nato. in fact, you can see him trying to do that on a regular basis, divide these countries against each other, support candidates throughout europe that would take their countries out of nato, constantly calling into question its viability. he wants countries like montenegro to remain in his, vladimir putin's sphere of influence and i would call sphere of threat. as his recent attempts to deploy his asymmetrical tools to
influence his politics have shown, and that is why it is so important that we are moving to ratify montenegro's access to nato and to strengthen our relationship with montenegro through nato. we as a senate and as a country are sending a clear message to vladimir putin that we will not accept the establishment of russians' sphere of influence over countries that desire to ally themselves with the free and democratic community of nations. now today i have tried to refrain from using the term russian sphere of influence, russia, because the fact of the matter, as i said to someone earlier today or yesterday, there is a difference between russia and vladimir putin. and the events of the last 48 hours remind us of that. we are watching, as many russians who also desire to join the community of nations have turned out in cities and places across moscow and in other places in the thousands. they have turned out to protest
the rampant corruption that fuels the putin regime. and the putin regime, as all totalitarian regimes do, have cracked down. they have arrested, they have detained hundreds of peaceful protesters. and i ask you to compare that to montenegro whose membership in nato will help the united states and montenegro already deepen our already strong bilateral relationship. the stakes here are extraordinarily high for the united states, for our european allies. the senate needs to send a strong message of solidarity with those in europe who are standing up to the antidemocratic tactics of vladimir putin and his cronies, and that's why today i will be proud to cast my vote in support of montenegro's ascension to nato, and i hope that my colleagues here in the senate will do the same and join us in doing so as well. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: are we in a quorum call. the presiding officer: we are. ms. warren: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. warren: thank you, mr. president. last week republicans in congress came within an inch of ripping health insurance away from 20 million people in order to give tax breaks to rich people. that plan collapsed because the american people stood up and said no -- no to kicking seniors out of nursing homes, no to boasting kids -- boasting kids off their programs. in every corner of this country for months people spoke up about how the affordable care act and medicaid are saving their lives and saving their families from financial ruin. they poured their hearts out, they raised their voices, they demanded to be heard, and last week they won. the collapse of the republicans'
cruel scheme is a huge relief to millions pf people in this -- people in this country. i am not here to celebrate. i am here to warn the american people about what's coming next because instead of listening to the american people about what they want, the president of the united states has threatened to sabotage health care in america. it isn't subtle. one hour -- one hour after the republicans admitted they didn't have the votes in congress to destroy the affordable care act, president trump sat behind his desk in the oval office and told the entire nation that he wants to trigger a meltdown of our health care system because he thinks that would be helpful to him politically. so just so there's no confusion, i want to quote him word for word. he said, and i quote -- the best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let obamacare explode. let's be clear. it is deeply wrong for the
president of the united states whose one and only job it is to look out for the american people to root for the failure of our country's health care system. it is deeply wrong for the president of the united states to announce that he is going to drag down our entire health care sector, a sector that accounts for more than one-sixth of the entire u.s. economy just so he can stand on top of the wreckage and waggle his fingers and say, i told you so. health care for millions of americans is not a came. it is not entertainment. it is not a reality tv show. health care is literally life and death and it touches everyone in this country from elderly grandparents to tiny babies. president trump is responsible for making health care in this country work. it is his job. he is president of the united
states. his party controls both houses of congress. a legitimate president doesn't clap and cheer when things get worse for the american people. a legitimate president doesn't pound his chest about sabotaging the health and the security of the american people because it is politically expedient. a legitimate president does his job. the president's admission that he wants our health care system to collapse is a dangerous sign of where things are heading. for seven years republicans in congress have rooted against health care in this country, cheering every stumble and working at every turn to hobble the law and make it harder for people to get affordable insurance. president trump cannot repeal the affordable care act on his own, but he can strip health care from millions of americans and make it too expensive for millions more.
he can do that all on his own. in fact, he's already working on it. a few days after he took office, president trump signed and executive order directing his agency to use every tool at their disposal to try to disrupt the affordable care act. in p january, -- in january, he also pulled down the government's efforts to get more people signed up for health insurance. why? so fewer people would use the health exchanges, fewer would get insurance, and premiums would go up for those who did sign up, all in an effort to make obamacare fail. senator patty murray and i asked the inspector general at the department of health and human services to investigate this reckless move and now an independent investigation has been launched into this disspickible incident. the president has more tools at his disposal to undercut the affordable care act all by
himself. the president can redefine what insurance companies have to cover, stripping out critical benefits like birth control coverage, the president can limit payments that insurers rely on to keep insurance affordable, the president can put conditions on medicaid, such as taking away health care coverage if a woman doesn't get back to work soon enough after giving birth. if the president decides to launch an all-out effort to sabotage american health care so that he can manufacture a crisis to score political points, he could hurt a lot of people, but there is a better way. if republicans want to work on ideas to actually improve health care in america, so expand coverage, to expand access or to reduce premiums and out-of-pocket costs, i'm eager to roll up my sleeves and go to work. for years massachusetts has led the nation in bipartisan health
reform. we have lots to contribute on this and lots of other democrats are ready to get to work too. but the american people aren't stupid. they know the difference between a bill that kicks 24 million people off of their health insurance and a bill that actually improves care. they know the difference between a president who fights to make health care better and a president who plans to sabotage health care. they know the difference between a fireman and an arsonist, and if this president and this congress continues to play politics with the lives of millions of people, i promise you the american people will see it, they will know it, and they will rise up once again to fight it. thank you, mr. president. i yield. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask to be -- never mind.
mr. president, i take the floor to urge an aye vote on the ending of cloture on the issue of montenegro's admittance to nato. i would point out that 25 of the 28 nations in nato have already voted to -- in favor of montenegro's accession to nato, only the united states and netherlands have yet toway in. -- yet to weigh in. mr. president, i don't ask my colleagues to take my word for it, i would just like to point out that our supreme ally in europe, general curtis kaparati declared last week that montenegro's accession to nato is critical. they have had this desire, they met the map and they have the
ability to bring in those who want to determine their own means of government and become part of nato. if we were to lose this, it would be a setback that many of the other nations and people, particularly in eastern europe who are looking forward to and have their eyes on the west and becoming part of nato. i would point out to my colleagues that the russians attach some importance to nato because the russians tried a coup to overthrow the government of this small and strategically important nation. rex tillerson wrote a letter urging montenegro's membership to be ratified saying, quote, strongly in the have it -- interest of the united states. he emphasized montenegro's accession would increase trade trade and security and stability
in the entire balkans region. i won't take too much time in the senate except to say i think this is more than the accession or not accession of a small 650,000-person nation. it is a test in this -- in this contest that we are now engaged in with vladimir putin who is committed to extending the reach and influence of the russian government to the point -- the russian influence to the point where he attempted a coup to overthrow the freely elected government of montenegro. that coup failed, but i can assure my colleagues that if we turned down montenegro, it will not remain the democracy that it is today. general bridlov, who was our former commander in europe, said montenegro is a very strategic
place. i urge my colleagues for a resounding aye vote and bringing cloture to an end and bringing montenegro into the community of nato which is needed more now than at any time since the end of the wold war. i -- cold war. i also, by the way, recommend my colleagues a visit to really one of the more beautiful countries on earth. mr. president, i yield to the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina is recognized. mr. graham: one, i want the people of montenegro know that this day has been a congress time coming and we would not be here if p it were -- if it were not for senator mccain's constant and passionate voice that this day arrived in the senate. senator mcconnell, i want to
thank him for making floor time. i regret we have to do it this way, but when one senator objects, it puts pressure on the rest of us. one senator can stop legislation like this and it was one senator and he has every right to do so. but i want to thank senator mcconnell for putting aside some floor time so we can vote in the united states senate on allowing montenegro to integrate into nato. senator mccain has traveled as much as anybody i know. i have been to montenegro at least once, maybe twice, with him. it is a beautiful place. they share our values. they want to move forward in terms of their democracy. they want to be part of nato. they want to be part of free markets, they want the rule of law to replace the rule of gun. montenegro is trying to do everything that putin hates. where you can actually vote for our enleaders, where you can have a judicial system that works, where people can walk the
streets without fear, where the leadership doesn't steal the country blind. i just want the people of russia know, to those who went into the streets yesterday or the day before to protest corruption of the putin regime, you have my undying respect and admiration because i can only imagine how hard that was. to the people of montenegro, i know you have waited a long time for this day to come. russia has tried to overthrow this government. to those who claim they are for freedom and liberty in this body, here is what i suggest, if you're not for other people's liberty and freedom, you will eventually lose yours. this idea that we can be safe and free and not engage the world and sit on the sidelines and watch putin turn the world upside down is naive. it is worse than naive, but i want to be nice, and will say it
is just naive. what putin is trying to break the backs of world order. he is trying to drive a wedge wheen nato countries and -- between nato countries and break the back of the european union. alliances of democracy are his worst nightmare. this is a huge step in the right direction. i thank senator mccain for being the most consistent voice in this body, senators mcconnell and schumer for allowing this vote. but our work is not done. it is one thing to be -- to vote in favor of montenegro entering nato over russia's objections. that's not enough. senator mccain and myself, senators cardin, rubio, democrats and republicans have crafted legislation to punish russia for interfering in our election and they did, for trying to break the backs of montenegro and the baltic nations. and i hope the next thing we do
in this body in short order on russia is to punish them for interfering and to change and destable arize american democracy. i don't think they changed the outcome. but it was the russians who did it to the democratic party. i hope we can find time on the floor starting in the committee to pass a russian sanctions bill that i believe will get 80 votes. this is a great step in the right direction for the people of montenegro. a rebuke of putin but it's not enough. i want to thank senator mccain for his leadership. the people of montenegro, i know you've been worried about what's happening in america. i hope you find some comfort in what we're doing here today, and i hope the rest of the world, particularly europe who's in the crosshairs of putin will understand that america is coming back and we're coming back stronger. with that i yield. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i would like to
thank the senator from south carolina, particularly on the issue of russian sanctions. yesterday we saw in the streets of cities and towns throughout russia the people of russia, particularly younger people, demonstrating peacefully in order to protest the corruption and dictatorship of vladimir putin. at the time the leader of the opposition was jailed. he was in the process of putting together a study showing that me d.o.d. av who is a puppet of putin, one of the wealthiest people on earth. and so i was heartened by the willingness and courage of the people of russia to stand up and protest a corrupt dictatorial and brutal government that unfortunately they're saddled with. mr. president, i yield the
mr. corker: mr. president, one of my chief responsibilities as chairman of the senate foreign relations committee is to help protect the men, women, and institutions that keep america safe, including not only the state department but the north atlantic treaty alliance. nato was founded in 1949 as an alliance committed to collective defense of its members. that an attack on one of -- on one constitutes an attack on all. the alliance self-defense clause has only been invoked once after 9/11 when our allies deployed with us to afghanistan. our military's working together allows nato to function. nato members have committed to spending 2% of their g.d.p. on their militaries but only united kingdom, ease tone ya -- atone ya, greece currently hit that
goal. while the other members are working on growing their defense budgets, i've long held the belief that they must do so faster. regardless, part of what makes nato great is its open door. states that are interested in becoming allies are encouraged to join the partnership for peace. when those states then meet the criteria for membership, they are welcomed into the alliance. this process is exactly what occurred with montenegro. just after beginning -- just after becoming an independent country in june of 2006, montenegro joined the partnership for peace in december 2006. exactly three years later, montenegro obtained its membership action plan. six years after that, nato recognized that montenegro had met all the necessary standards for membership and invited the country to begin talks to become part of the alliance.
then in may of 2016, nato foreign minister signed the protocol to formally open the way for montenegro to join. as of today every other nato member has already ratified this treaty and montenegro's inclusion. beyond such procedural steps, montenegro has long been contributing to shared security challenges. for example, montenegro actively supported the nato-led operation in afghanistan from 2010 until its end in 2014, and now is supporting the follow-on mission to train, advise and assist afghan security forces. it is important to note that montenegro has taken these steps despite russia's best efforts to undermine their progress every step of the way. i want to thank senator ben cardin, europe's subcommittee chairman ron johnson, and my other colleagues on the senate
foreign relations committee for their support in constructive work in this process. we have moved this treaty ratification twice now. once in the last congress and again in january to demonstrate our commitment to nato and to montenegro. i also want to thank senator mccain both as a former member of our committee as well as the chair of the armed services committee for his unwavering support for bringing montenegro into the alliance. lastly, on behalf of the committee, i urge all of my colleagues to support this treaty amendment that serves the american security interests for a strong nato. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ken ken. mr. paul: president trump said in his inaugural address that we defended other nation's borders
while refusing to defend our own. i think he was right. today the question is will we add another commitment to defend yet another foreign country? for decades nato has been an organization where the u.s. disproportionately spends our blood and our treasure. the other nato countries have largely hitched a ride on a u.s. train that subsidizes their defenses and allows them to direct their revenues to their own domestic concerns. in short, uncle sam is the uncle patsy for the rest of the word. the question today is adding another country with less than 2000 soldiers is that adding them to nato, will that be in our self-interest? less than 2,000 soldiers, small country in a distant part of the world, will they make you sleep safer at night? the answer is an emphatic no. there is no national security interest that an alliance with
montenegro will advance. if we invite montenegro into nato, it will be a oneway street with the u.s. committing to defend yet another country and you, the taxpayer, being stuck with the bill. even the advocates of montenegro joining nato admit as much. the senate hearing on admitting montenegro to nato was really just a punching session about russia. not one word was said about allowing montenegro into nato or how it would advance our own national security. we were going to send a message to russia. even the citizens of montenegro are divided on this. about half of them want to be in nato and the other half don't want to be in nato. but it isn't really about them. it's about us. is admitting montenegro to nato good for us? our national security is our national security. is montenegro going to defend the united states? are they of any importance to
our national security? or perhaps will they entangle us in local historic regional conflicts in the area? we must ask is montenegro an asset to the defense of the united states? that is the question at hand. the answer is a simple one. admitting montenegro to nato will do nothing to advance our national security and will do everything to simply add another small country to the welfare wagon of nato. advocates for expanding nato believe that unless the whole world joins nato, russia will conquer the world. but the truth is more nuanced. during the cold war the myth of russian might was endlessly circulated here at home and the effect was the production of endless munitions and ever expanding debt. you're still paying the tab for that. the cold war ended and the soviet union failed not because our military might overcame them
but because our economic system outlasted them. they were defeated. capitalism defeated socialism. if there is one message that americans should get, capitalism is stronger than socialism. we should not flirt with political leaders in our country promoting what caused the soviet union to fail. but now we are told we must fear russia again, fear the russian bear. but if you look closely, you will see that russian aggression around the world and particularly among the former soviet satellites is an attempt to mask a weak economy that runs the same risk of overextension that caused the soviet empire to collapse. russia is weak. russia is weak because of corruption, al gar can i, human rights abuses. if russia continues on this pass, they may well encounter the same cataclysm that brought down the soviet empire. without question russia is an adversary, a country that
ignores international norms, does not respect the territorial integrity of their neighbors, and yet someone must ask is it in our national interest to insist that countries of the former soviet union be in nato. because the debate today is not just about montenegro. the same cheerleaders for montenegro being in nato want ukraine in nato. they want georgia in nato. this is about nato expansion in general and this is a chance to have a real debate. in ukraine and georgia, if both ukraine and georgia were in nato today, we would be involved in a world war with russia. shouldn't someone speak up? shouldn't we have some sort of national debate before we commit our sons and daughters to a war in a far away land? one thing is for certain. russia will always care more about those lands than we will. does that make russian
aggression right? absolutely not but our decision, the decision at hand, is are we willing to send our sons and daughters to fight in border disputes over montenegro? most americans couldn't find montenegro on the map. are you willing to send your kids there to fight? that's what this is about. and this is left over. they're going to forbid amendments. i forced this debate. nobody wanted to have this debate. they want to rubber stamp. they want no debates and they want to send your kids to war with no debate. today they will pass this at my objection -- they will allow no amendments. when i finish the speech, i will ask for an amendment and it will be denied because they do not want a debate whether your sons or daughters go to war. i find that appalling. i am ashamed of a senate that will not have a debate and will not have a vote. from the very beginning our republic was founded on a deep suspicion of entangling
alliances. our founders wanted to do everything possible to avoid the endless chronic wars in europe. in europe for centuries kings from one nation fought their brothers and their cousins in other nations. this meaningless fractureide continued even into the 20th century. the founds fathers were emphatic to avoid endless war. washington wrote that our true policy is to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world. jefferson echoed this when he famously wrote that peace, dmers and honest friendship with all nations entangling alliances with none. even in modern times such military heroes as president eisenhower opposed intervention in hungary. even when the naked aggression of the soviets was appalling. eisenhower likely may have had no real opportunity, though, because the soviet union had rolled in with 200,000 troops
and 4,000 tanks, but at least part of the decision not to go into hungary in the 1950's was not for lack of sympathy for freedom, not for lack of sympathy for self-determination of a country but it was the real politic decision of a nuclear confrontation with a nuclear russia. fast forward to today. for 16 years we have been at war in the middle east. 16 years. our justified response if i had been here i would have voted for going after the people who attacked us on 9/11. our justified response, though, has drug on and on. there are people fighting in the war who were not born on 9/11. the congress voted after 9/11 to go to war. they voted to go after the people who planned and plotted the attacks on the trade center. that vote from 15 years ago is used to justify all war everywhere on the planet. there has been no meaningful
debate on the wars we are currently involved in the middle east. we currently fight illegally and unconstitutionally in the middle east because your representatives are afraid to have a public debate. they will stifle debate at all cost and they will broker no amendments. they will allow no amendments to occur. our unrestricked, unvoted upon involvement in war everywhere informs my opposition to expanding nato. everyone likes to talk about nato's article 5 obstacles -- obligation to come to the defense of any nato nation that is attacked. but my concern is that many in congress believe that article 5, saying that we have to defend montenegro, that this farms out this power to declare washington to an international bold body and they don't think they have to vote again. they haven't voted for 15 war
and we're still at war. you think that montenegro won't be attacked and there won't be a war without a vote? this is their history. their history is one of not obeying the constitution. david frahmkin puts it this way: if it is now agreed by treaty that an attack on nato lie is deemed an tac on the united states, then it can be argued that the president is empowered without congressional authorization to send us to war. don't believe me? we've been at war for 15 years. we've been at war with dozens of new tribes, dozens of new countries, with no vote on war. the most important vote a legislator will ever take is whether or not to go to war. and yet today we will vote for an automatic war if somebody invades montenegro. and mark my words, they won't obey the constitution. they'll say, we voted to put them in nato. article 5 says we have to defend them.
that's not the law of the land, and you should have to vote in congress but nobody o. base the law. so if you're worried whether your kids will be sent to the balkans or your kids will be sent to ukraine or georgia, call your representative and tell them, stop. this is the crux of the debate. congress has abdicated its role in declaring war. for 16 years we've been at war in the middle east dozens of different tribes in dozens of countries and yet no vote. people sigh we should fight isis. well, let's vote on t let's declare war or not. but you can't tell me that isis has anything to do with 9/11. they don't. many of their fighters weren't even born then. the authorization for war in iraq was specific to a specific enemy in a specific place. so was the authorization after 9/11. the authorization for war in afghanistan was specific and it says, directed against necessary and appropriate force against
those who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the september 11 attacks, actually put in authorization thor force that it was about 9/11. none of what's going on is about 9/11 anymore. they're not saying, people -- some of the people we're fighting now didn't like those people. there is a whole confusing set of religious wars that have been going on a thousand years in the middle east and yet your representatives will say, send me your sons, send me your daughter. but we don't have time to vote on whether it should be a declared war or not. this vote is now used to justify war around the world. it is a lie, and it is a disservice to our young men and women. to have them fight under false pretenses where the senators don't seem to have time to have a debate. no active war anywhere around the globe that the u.s. is involved with has been authorized by congress. we're -- we drop more bombs the other day in pakistan.
we send a man raid into yemen. raise your hand if you know what the hell is going on in yemen and should fighting whom and who is ouren mi? the one we killed the other day was al qaeda. probably a bad guy. he was actually fighting against the houthis who werelso fighting against -- who are the good guys? should we have a debate, shouldn't we decide whether we're going to war in yemen? should we be giving the saudis bombs? they killed a funeral procession. they killed 150 civilians and 500 people. we just let it go on. we keep keeping them weapons. i tried to stop selling bombs to the saudi arabians. the majority keep giving them to them. so nato, should we expand it? perhaps. what we should do is make 2 clear that the nato treaty is not an open-ended treaty to go to war anywhere anytime. before we go to final passage, i will offer one amendment.
this amendment will be blocked because they do not want debate and because they will be embarrassed if they have to vote against this amendment. but realize what this amendment asks. my amendment states that nothing in the nato treaty particularly the article 5 promise to come to the rescue of anyone attacked, none of of this can happen without an official vote to declare war. so what does my amendment stating? the constitution, article 1, section 8, says we don't go to war without a vote and debate. you know what they'll do to get around it? i think you can assume this is what they're against the constitution because they're not going a how the amendment. how long would it take? it takes 15 minutes to vote around here. i'm about done speaking. we could have one 15-minute vote on an amendment. i. but they don't want to debate it because they're embarrassed that they're sending your sons and daughters to war without
ever debating or voting on it. this to me is a tragedy. it's sad to me. it makes me ashamed of the body that we will do this. probably what's worse is then they clamor to the floor, their mouths agape, ajar, calling other people traitors, acting as if i care less about your sons and daughters because i want to have a debate on war before we go to war. preventingan amendment from happening and then having the gall to come to the floor and accuse their philosophic opponents of being traitors and being allies with the russians. is this what we've come to? is this where we are as america? that you can't take a principled stand gunshot war? that you can't stand up on principle and say, we we'llly going doing to war over montenegro, over ukraine, over
georgia? and you're accused of not being patriotic to your country? you know, i care as much as anybody about our soldiers, and when i talked talk to our young men and women who serve, you know what they tell me? they want someone to stand up and have a debate. our soldiers are brave and they will go where told and they will obey orders. but the people who are these mouthpieces for war, who thinks every soldier wants to go to war, go out and meet the soldiers. ask them if they want the civilian senators to debate and have a formal declaration of war. that's all i'm asking for. 15 minutes and an amendment that says, we will obey the constitution. if article 5 says we need to go to war and montenegro is attacked, we will do the proper thing. welcome to the floor of the senate. we are not sending troops to montenegro without a vote. is that too much to ask for? we'll see see. with that, mr. president, aid like to call up my amendment that says we should obey the
constitution and we should declare war before we go to war. this would be amendment number 199. mr. corker: reserving the right to object? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: i work very closelloy with my friend from kentucky and there were some awfully strong things that were just said. i don't think those were direc directed necessarily at myself. i think there's been a little bit of an evolution here. i know that the reason we're having to go through this process of filibustering is treaty was the fact that the senator from kentucky wanted a vote on an unrelated amendment relative to surveillance near our own country. when he was unable to get that agreement, he decided to filibuster a treaty. and so that's what's happening here. and i'm interested to hear
evolution of why we're having this debate. having dealt with this issue firsthand, my friend -- and i know he knows this -- this filibuster is about something totally unrelated to the amendment that's being offered right now. i know the senator from kentucky, my friend, knows that i've authored authorizations for the use of force, did so against syria, and i'm glad to have a debate on authorizations for the use of force and think that we should. and the administration i know who's coming in is developing a strategy around isis right now. when they complete that, it's my hope that we will in fact update the 2001 aumf i think it has been stated by the past administration, i believe them to be correct. i will say that i agree that we ought to have another debate on the issue of authorizing the fight against isis and i hope we
will do so as soon as this administration completes the process of laying out what their plan is and we can debate that and then hopefully update that authorization. i don't know what that has to do with a treaty, with montenegro. there's been a lot that's been said. and it's -- i don't know how it necessarily ties together, but the fact is, when you enter into a treaty, an article 5 treaty, which is, by the way, been passed out of our committee on two occasions, you are in fact saying under article 5 that a war against one is a war against all. and that welcome to their defense. and soy the amendment itself, if we were to vote on it, would basically negate that. i think the senator from kentucky could have had thisvestment but the fact is that 98 senators wanted to have thisvestment have wanted to have this vote for months i might add and we've had to come to this
point of filing cloture. with that, with good will towards the senator, good will towards the other 97 senators in here that would like to pass this posthaste, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. paul: mr. president, how much time do i have remaining? the presiding officer: is noter from kentucky. mr. paul: it is important to know what just happened. we closed off the debate and as far as a filibuster goes, we're having a debate and a vote. what they wanted was a rubber stamp and an easy passage without debate. we're having a bit of a debate and that's good. unfortunately, we will not be allowed to amend the bill. my amendment is germane to the bill. it has to do with what does article 5 mean in the treaty that we're signing? what it says is that we will not necessarily take article 5 to mean that we're going to war, that we would do the constitutional duty and that is to vote whether we go to war. so amendment is very clear that
we would obey the constitution. by blocking the vote, you have to realize that those blocking the vote have decided that really it should be automatic, that your sons and daughters will be sent to war automatically without a vote, without a declaration of war. you say, maybe they don't mean that? maybe they would obey the constitution. they don't now. so everything in evidence shows you that in the future the chance they will obey the constitution, about zero. but so ashamed are they about the fact that we will fight more wars without a declaration, without a vote, they won't allow a vote on the amendment because they would be voting against the constitution. so instead they will block the amendment. but that's essentially what this debate is about. are we automaticcably obligated to go to war without a vote by congress? what's that the vote is about. it is incredibly germane, goes to the heart of the bill, goes to the heart of the nato terrorism does article 5 mean you automatically go to war or
would you go through the normal process of going to war? some say we would never go to war. might not be so bad. but it would be difficult. but you know when we have gone to war we've gone unanimously. when we were attacked on 9/11, you know what the vote was? unanimous. we're not about letting people atalks as a country. when we were attacked in heller par lower, what did f.d.r. do? the thing that great leaders would do. he did the right thing he came to congress the next day. i think on december 8 cyber threated unanimously to go to war. that's the way it was once upon a time done. when you were attacked, people do rally to the countries and they rally to the flag but we shouldn't have an automatic stamp that says, we're going to war anywhere without any restraint without any control or separation of power. so i object strenuously to this and wish this we were more open in this body and in our country to debate about whether we go to
war. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: before i notice the absence of a quorum, i would like to shea that the constitution calls for treaties to be enacted by this body, which is what we're doing today. everything understands what nato is and has understood it since the late 1940's. this is the kind of treaty that we would like for other people to be a member of and today montenegro, which has gone through the full process of ascension, hopefully will be passed through this body. this is the last country, by the way -- every other country that's a member of nato has voted to cause montenegro to ascend. i know that my friend from maryland, ranking member senator cardin, has just arrived. i know he has a few words to say, strong supporter of
montenegro's asession, as is the -- ascension, as is the vast majority of this senate. i just want to say, i'll just let the comments from the senator from kentucky -- i'll let them lay. we are doing our constitutional duty by passing a treaty that we all understood, that's been debated full in committee, passed out twice, and i'm glad we're doing so. and the fact is this has been blocked by one senator who wanted to vote on something totally unrelated to this and was using this as leverage. that's what occurring here. we finally through cloture have something the majority of people want to pass. mr. cardin: mr. president, i would ask to speak for seven minutes prior to the vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the senator from maryland is recognized.
mr. cardin: i want to thank the senator for the manner in which this resolution or ratification has been handled in the senate foreign relations committee. it's been handled in a nonpartisan way. we've had hearings. we've had votes. we've had a lot of conversation about it. and at last we're going to get a chance to vote on the ratification. i come to the floor to speak in support of the resolution of ratification regarding the protocols to the north atlantic treaty of 1947 and the accession of montenegro. it will enhance our security. it will strengthen the alliance and it will send a strong message of resolve to russia as it invades its neighbors and the international order. montenegro's inclusion in nato will have positive repercussions across the government and will send hope to other aspirant countries. last week i met with the montenegro's foreign minister and he described russia's
efforts to weaken support for nato membership. last october russia interfered in the montenegro elections. there was a plot to as sass national the former prime minister of montenegro and take over montenegro's parliament. the suspect in that case scurried back to moscow and russian authorities refused to turn them over to the montenegro government and make them available for questioning in moscow. to this day support for n.g.o.'s appropriate began did a continue to rail against the russian government. we need to send a strong message of resolve. mr. president, this is not an isolated circumstance with russia. we've seen how they interfered in our elections. we see what they're doing in europe today. we see all of these different activities by russia, and we've got to protect ourselves. one way we can protect ourselves is by making our own decisions as to who should be admitted
into nato. another is that we should have an independent commission take a look at what russia was doing in their interference with our elections and what they're doing in trying to compromise our democratic system of government. i think the events of what's occurred in recent weeks of additional contacts that russia made with members of the trump administration just underscore the importance for that independent commission to take a look at what happened. i stand here today in support of nato enlargement. the senate foreign relations committee recently voted by voice vote in support of this bid. unanimously. democrats and republicans. this is not a partisan issue. we've had a request from the president to take this issue up. nearly all nato members have approved montenegro's bid. we're among the last to ratify. we must get the job be done. tonight we can take a major step forward in that regard. so what's the case for montenegro's membership? admission to montenegro would
mark another important step forward fully integrating the balkans into the international institutions which have helped to contribute to peace and stabt over the years in europe. croatia and albania joined the alliance in 2009 and have been valuable contributors to accomplishing nato's objective. i hope that montenegro's admission will help motivate reforms necessary in other balkan countries to join. montenegro has made outsized contributions to nato missions despite not being a full member. i understand that in afghanistan, montenegro has rotated 20% of its armed forces through the isaf and the resolute support missions. 20% of their force. that's a substantial contribution. it also contributes to the peacekeeping missions in kosovo and other nato missions. no country outside the alliance gets a veto over who gets to
join, especially russia. so we must send a strong signal. i urge my colleagues to pass this resolution, get it to the president so the president can deposit the instrument of ratification on nato in support of montenegro's bid. i urge my colleagues to support this motion and i yield back the balance of my time. mr. corker: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: thank you, sir. i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators in 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 treaty calendar number 1, treaty document number 114-12, protocol to the north atlantic treaty of 1949, on the accession of montenegro, signed
by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the protocol to the north atlantic treaty of 1949 on the accession of montenegro shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
ms. collins: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: mr. president, i ask that the proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: mr. president, i rise today in favor of the resolution of ratification for montenegro's ascension to the north atlantic treaty organization, better known as nato. mr. president, many of my colleagues are unaware of the fact that the state of maine has a special relationship with montenegro. it is through the national guards state partnership.
i want to thank the leader, senator mcconnell, chairman corker, senator mccain, the democratic leadership, senator johnson, senator murphy, all of those who were instrumental in bringing this resolution to the floor for consideration today. montenegro's ascension to nato will serve the strategic interests of the united states. it will help to promote stability in the balkans and it will make us safer. montenegro has already proven its support for america's national interests, having sent troops to afghanistan in support of nato and u.s.-led operations there. although not yet a member the european union, montenegro also
voluntarily joined the u.n. sanctions regime against russia in response to moscow's illegal annexation of crimea and destabilizing action in eastern ukraine. most important, i have great confidence that montenegro will meet the collective defense obligations of nato membership. for the past ten years, mr. president, with the assistance of the maine national guard, through the state partnership program, montenegro has worked hard to reform its military and to strengthen the rule of law to come in compliance with nato requirements as defined in nato's membership action plan. even today maine national guards members are deployed to
montenegro to assist its ministry of defense in furthering its integration into nato standards and proces proce. i want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all of the members of the maine national guard who have participated in this operation, including former and current general bill liberty and general doug furman as well as army captain nicholas philips of. all of them have worked very hard during the past ten years to help montenegro to get ready for this highly significant moment. mr. president, we must be clear eyed about the fact that the russian federation has
undertaken an extensive overt and covert campaign to derail montenegro's bid to join nato. these separates include a brazen plot to disrupt montenegro's selections last october and to turn the public against the pro-nato ruling government there. according to montenegro's special prosecutor assigned to the investigation, at least two russian intelligence officers actively participated in this plot which fortunately was disrupted. ratifying montenegro's nato membership demonstrates our firm resolve against russia's efforts to deny other countries the opportunity to participate in nato free from outside interference.
that is why the supreme allied commander for europe and nato testified just last week before the senate armed services committee that it is, quote, absolutely critical, end quote, that montenegro join nato. as president trump prepares to travel to the nato leaders summit in brussels at the end of may, i can think of no better action for the senate to have taken ahead of his visit than our action tonight to finally ratify montenegro's membership in nato. in the meantime, i also look forward to the continued special relationship between montenegro and the great state of maine. thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i would suggest
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. 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 each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session for the consideration of calendar 25
through 30, the nominations be confirmed, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. that no further motions be in order, that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i have one request for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: dua duly noted. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the moiment at -- appointment at the desk appear separately in the report as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask the rules committee be discharged from further consideration and the senate now proceed to s.j. res. 30. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate joint resolution 30 providing for the reappointment of steve case and so forth. the presiding officer: without
objection the committee is discharged. the senate will proceed. 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. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now i ask unanimous consent the rules committee be discharged from further consideration and the senate now proceed to s.j. res. 35. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate joint resolution 35 providing for the appointment of michael govin and so forth. the presiding officer: without objection the committee is discharged. the senate will proceed to the measure. 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. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now i ask unanimous consent the rules committee be discharged from further consideration and the senate now proceed to s.j. res. 36. the clerk: senate joint resolution 36 providing for the appointment of roger w. ferguson and so forth. the presiding officer: without objection the committee is
discharged. the senate will proceed to the measure. 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. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn till 10al tuesday, march 28 -- 10 a.m. tuesday, march 238. following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. and morning business be closed. further, that following leader remarkings the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of executive calendar number 1, the montenegro treaty postcloture. finally, that all time during leader remarks morning business, recess, and adjournment of the senate count postcloture. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there's no nurt business to come before the senate -- no further business to come before the senate, i ask
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candidates talk about president god negative like tim to lower the rate matter, lt week supreme court nominee judge neil gorsuch came before the senate judiciary committee for his confirmation hearing. his confirmation hearing. . >> last tweak supreme courty nominee judge gorsuch beforeut the confirmation hearing the testimony reaffirms what we already know about judge gorsuch. he is fair, impartial, and outstanding medieval man and humble. and well-respected. and also a record to build consensus here is where hed