tv U.S. Senate Confirms Court of Appeals Nominee CSPAN July 20, 2017 2:11pm-4:12pm EDT
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 56, the nays are 39. the motion is approved. the senator from utah. mr. hatch: is if appropriate to make a -- is it aappropriate make a speech at this time? the presiding officer: it is. mr. hatch: thank you, mr. president. president ronald reagan used to say that people are policy. attacking a new president's policies therefore often includes undermining his ability to appoint his or her -- his or her ability a month men and women to lead his
administration. the constitution gives to the president the power to appoint executive branch officials. the senate has the power of advice and consent, as a check on that appointment power. in the early months of the obama administration, senate democrats were clear about how we should carry out our role in the appointment process. less than two weeks after president obama took office, the judiciary committee chairman said he wished that the senate could have put the new justice department leadership in place even more quickly. just three months into president obama's first term, the chairman argued that, quote, at the beginning of a presidential term, it makes sense to have the president's nominees in place earlier rather than engage in needless delay. unquote. actions speak much louder than words. with a republican in the white house, senate democrats have turned our role of advice and
consent into the most aggressive campaign in history. this chart gives you an illustration. democrats complained about obstruction when during the first six months of the obama administration the senate confirmed 69% of his nominations. today marks six months since president trump took the oath of office and the senate has been able to confirm only 23% of his nominations. i ask my democratic colleagues, if 69% is too low, what do you call a confirmation pace that is two-thirds lower? democrats do not have the votes to defeat nominees outright. that's why the centerpiece of their obstruction campaign is a strategy to make confirming president trump's nominees as difficult and time consuming as possible. here's how they do it. the senate is designed for deliberation as well as for action. as a result, the senate must end debate on a nomination
before it can confirm that nomination. doing so informally is fast. doing it formally is slow. in the past the majority and minority informally glead on -- agreed on a nomination as well as when a confirmation vote would occur. the first step in the democrats' obstruction campaign, therefore, is to refuse any cooperation on scheduling debates and votes on nominations. the other option is to use the formal process of ending debate by invoking cloture under senate rule 22. the motion to end debate is filed but the vote cannot occur for two calendar days. if cloture is invoked, there can be then up to 30 hours of debate before a confirmation vote can occur. the democrats obstruction playbook calls for stretching
this process out as long as possible. while informal confirmation can take a few hours, the formal cloture process can take up to several days. the late senator daniel patrick moynihan once said that you're entitled to your opinion but not to your own set of facts. i have to say, so let the confirmation facts do the talking. president trump and his three predecessors were each elected with a senate controlled by his own political party. this is another illustration right here. at this point in the clinton and george w. bush administrations, the senate had taken no cloture votes. none. none whatsoever, as you can easily see. on nominations. we took just four nomination cloture votes at this point during the obama administration.
so far -- so far the trump administration, in the trump administration, the senate has taken 33 cloture votes on nominations. 33. think about that. if that isn't obstruction, i don't know what is. it's not even close. there's one very important difference between cloture votes taken at the beginning of the clinton, bush and obama administrations and those taken this year. in november 2013 democrats effectively abolished nomination filibusters by lowering the vote necessary to end debate from a supermajority of 60 to a simple majority. it now takes no more votes to end debate than it does to confirm a nomination. in other words, the senate did not take cloture votes during previous administrations, even though doing so could have
prevented confirmation. today democrats are forcing the senate to take dozens of cloture votes, even though doing so cannot prevent confirmation. at least half of these useless cloture votes taken so far would have passed even under the higher 60-vote threshold. earlier this week 88 senators, including 41 -- including 41 democrats voted to end debate on president trump's nominee to be deputy secretary of defense. we've seen tallies of 67, 81, 89, and even 92 votes for ending debate. meanwhile, these needless delays are creating critical gaps in the executive branch. a clear example is the
nomination of makan delrahim, a former senate staffer that everybody on both sides knows, a wonderful guy. and everybody knows he's honest. but this clear example is the nomination of makan delrahim to head the antitrust division at the department of justice. antitrust enforcement is a critical element of national economic policy. it protects consumers and businesses alike. and without filling these important posts, uncertainty in the market reigns. this is a particular problem at a type of common mergers and acquisition. and yet, mr. delrahim like dozens of others has been caught in the maelstrom of delays. mr. delrahim was reported out of the judiciary committee on a 19-1 vote. everybody there knows how good he is. how decent he is, how honorable
he is and how bipartisan he is. he is supremely qualified and enjoys broad support in the is senate as a whole yet his nomination like so many others languishes in the senate because of democratic obstruction. it has taken longer to get mr. delrahim confirmed than any antitrust division leader since the carter administration. keep in mind this is a former staffer of ours who served both democrats and republicans. mr. president, regarding the delay of mr. delrahim's confirmation, i ask unanimous consent to enter two news articles into the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: thank you, mr. president. of course mr. delrahim's appointment is just one example among many. this particular example serves an important case in point. democrats are deliberately slow-walking dozens of confirmations in a cynical effort to stall the president's
agenda and hurt the president. but they're hurting the country. they're hurting the senate. they're hurting both sides. i don't want to see republicans respond in kind when democrats become the majority. and when they may have the presidency. and it probably won't surprise anyone to hear they're not limiting their obstruction campaign to executive branch nominees. in fact, looking at the judicial branch shows this is part of a long-term obstruction strategy. in february 2001, just days after the previous republican president took office, the senate democratic leader said they would use, quote, any means necessary, unquote, to obstruct the president's nominees. a few months later democrats were in florida to plot how, as "the new york times" described it, to, quote, change the ground rules, unquote, of the
confirmation process. and change the ground rules is exactly what they did. for two centuries the confirmation ground rules called for reserving time-consuming roll call votes for controversial nominees so that senators could record their opposition. a nomination with little or no opposition was confirmed more efficiently by vois vote or unanimous consent. democrats have literally turned the confirmation process inside out. before 2001 the senate used a roll call vote to confirm 4%, 4% of judicial nominees and only 20% of those roll call votes were on unopposed nominees. during the bush administration, after democrats changed the ground rules, the senate confirmed more than 60% of judicial nominees by roll call vote and more than 85% of those roll call votes were on
unopposed nominees. today, with a republican president again in office, democrats are still trying to change the confirmation ground rules. the confirmation last week of david nye to be a u.s. district judge is a prime example. the vote to end debate on the nye nomination was 97-0. in other words, every senator, including every democrat, voted to end the debate. most people with common sense would be asking why the cloture vote was held at all. why the delay? the democrats did not stop there. even after a unanimous consent cloture vote, they insisted on the full 30 hours of postcloture debate time provided for under senate rules. and to top it off, the vote to confirm the nomination was 100-0. i don't want anyone to miss
this. democrats demanded a vote on ending the debate, none of them wanted and then they refused to end the debate they just voted to terminate. all of this on a nomination that every democrat supported. now that's changing the confirmation ground rules. only four of the previous 275 cloture votes on nominations had been unanimous. in every previous case, whatever the reason for the cloture vote in the first place, the senate proceeded promptly to a confirmation vote. in 2010, for example, the senate confirmed president obama's nomination of barbara keenan to the fourth circuit. two hours after unanimously voting to end debate. in 2006 the senate confirmed the nomination of ken jordan after
three hours of unanimously ending debate. in 2002 the senate confirmed by voice vote the nomination of richard carmona to be surgeon general less than one hour after unanimously ending debate. the nye nomination was the first time the senate unanimously invoked cloture on a u.s. district court nominee. this was the first time forming a unanimous vote to end debate on any nomination that the minority refused to allow a prompt confirmation vote. here's another chart that gives illustration. the percent confirmed by roll call vote. during the clinton administration, as you can see. george w. bush administration. the obama administration. here we are in the trump administration, and they are not confirming his nominees,
i-though they're qualified and the democrats admit it. no matter how my friends across the aisle want to spin it, no matter how they want to change the subject, these facts are facts. while the senate used time-consuming roll call votes to confirm less than 10% of the previous three presidents executive branch nominees, under president trump it is nearly 90%. i bet the democrats are bitter about the trump win. i understand that. everybody on their side expected hillary clinton to win. and many on our side expected her to win as well. but she didn't. and president trump is now president, and he did win. and he's doing a good job of moving these people up here to the senate for confirmation. mr. president, this is not how the confirmation process is supposed to work. the constitution makes senate confirmation a condition for
presidential appointments. this campaign of obstruction is exactly what the senate democrats once condemned. further poisoning and politicizing the confirmation process only damages the senate, distorts the separation of powers doctrine and undermines the ability of the president to do what he was elected to do. mr. president, i hope our colleagues on the other side will wise up and realize that what they're doing is destructive to the united states senate, harmful to the united states senate, and it's a prelude to what could happen when they get the presidency. and i don't want to see that happen on the republican side. to change the subject, mr. president, i'd like to speak about the effort to reform our nation's tax code. last week i came to the floor to give what i promised to be the
first in an ongoing series of statements about tax reform. today i'd like to give a second speech on this subject in that series. as i've said before, while there are tax reform discussions ongoing between congressional leaders and the administration, i expect there to be a robust and substantive tax reform process here in the senate. one that will give interested members, hopefully from both parties, an opportunity to contribute to the final product. i anticipate that at the very least, the members of the finance committee will want to engage fully in this effort. i have been working to make the case for tax reform the last six years ever since i became the lead republican on the senate finance committee. this current run of floor statements is a continuation of that effort. last week i spoke on the need to reduce the u.s. corporate tax rate in order to grow our
economy, create jobs, and make american businesses more competitive. today's topic is closely related to that one. today i want to talk about the need to reform our international tax system. over the last couple of decades we've enjoyed rapid advancement in technology and communication which has been a great benefit to everyone and has improved the quality of life for people all over the world. unfortunately, our tax system has failed to evolve, along with everything else. for example in the modern world business assets have become increasingly mobile, assets like capital, intellectual property, and even labor can be moved from one community or to another country with ease. assets that cannot be easily moved are becoming increasingly rare. the tax code needs to change to reflect these facts. our current corporate tax system
imposes a heavy burden on business' assets which creates an overwhelming incentive for companies to move their more mobile assets offshore where income drived from use of the asset is taxed at lower rates. there is no shortage of lower taxle alternatives in the world for companies incorporated in the united states. it doesn't take a rocket scientist, mr. president, to understand this concept. all other things being equal, if there are two countries that tax businesses at substantially different rates, countries with higher tax rates will have an incentive to move to a country with lower rates. that only moves in one direction. there are not many who look to move to higher tax countries like the united states from lower tax jurisdictions. this isn't just a theory, mr. president. this has been happening for
years. an inversion, if you will -- if you will recall, is a transaction where two companies merge and the resulting company entity is incorporated offshore. let me repeat some numbers i cited last week. in the 20 years between 1983 and 2003 there were just 29 corporate inversions in the united states. in the 11 years between 2003 and 2014 there were 47 inversions, nearly double the number in half the time. that number includes companies that are household names in the united states. this is happening in large part because of the perverse incentives embedded in our corporate tax system and the stupidity of us in the congress to not solve this problem. keep in mind i'm only talking about inversions. there are also foreign takeovers of u.s. corporations and u.s.
companies, not to mention arrangements that include earnings stripping and profit shifting. this has resulted in a massive erosion of the u.s. tax base and perhaps more importantly decreased activity here at home. make no mistake, mr. president, our foreign competitors are fully aware of these incentives. they recognize that lowering corporate tax rates can help them lure economic activity into their locations. yet, in the face of this competition, the u.s. tax system has remained virtually froz ern. re -- frozen. reducing the corporate tax rate would help alleviate these problems, but more will be required including reforms to the tax system. the u.s. uses what is generally referred to as a worldwide tax system for international tax, by
means that u.s. multinaicialts pay the u.s. -- multinationals pay for earnings acquired abroad. those taxes are generally deferred so long as earnings are kept offshore and they are only taxed upon repatriation to the united states after accounting for foreign tax credits and the like. put simply, mr. president, this type of system is antiquated. the vast majority of our foreign counterparts have already done away with worldwide taxation and have converted to a territorial system. generally speaking, a territorial system is one in which multinational companies pay tax only on the earnings drived from domestic sources. by clinging to its worldwide tax system and a punitively high corporate tax rate, the u.s. has severely diminished the ability of its multinational companies to compete in the world
marketplace. because u.s.-based companies are subject to worldwide taxation while their global competitors are subject to territorial taxation systems. u.s. companies all too often end up having to pay more taxes than their foreign competitors, putting them at a distinct competitive disadvantage. generally speaking, foreign-based companies pay taxes only once at the tax rate of the country from which they derived a specific income. a u.s. multinational, on the other hand, generally pays taxes on offshore income at the rate set by the source country, but then gets hit again and a punitively high rate when it repatriates its earnings back to america. this is stupidity at its highest sense. this needs to change. it's not only republicans who are saying that, many democrats have recognized this issue as well. for example, i'll cite the finance committee's bipartisan
working group on international tax, cochaired by senators portman and schumer, our ranking minority leader. they produced a report in 2015. in that report after noting that most industrialized countries have lower corporate rates and territorial systems. this bipartisan group of senators said, quote, this means that no matter what jurisdiction a u.s. multinational is competing in, it is at a competitive disadvantage. unquote. the reports by senators portman and schumer and members of their working group also referred to something called the, quote, lockout effect, unquote. the lockout effect refers to the incentives u.s. companies have to hold foreign earnings and make investments offshore in order to avoid the punitive u.s. corporate tax.
this is not a dodge or a tax hustle on the part of these companies. they are simply doing what the tax code tells them to do. the tax code essentially tells u.s. companies, you can have $100 in ireland, say, or $65 in the u.s. well, it's no surprise here that companies hope to have $100 in ireland. currently a huge amount of capital, as much as $2.5 trillion, or even more, are held by u.s. multinational companies is effectively locked out of the united states and unavailable for investment here at home. however, as senators schumer and portman and colleagues on the international tax working group noted, that could be used grow those foreign countries that have kept their tax codes up-to-date. these are mass ich problem, --
massive problems, mr. president. if we are going to put together a tax reform package and be competitive we will have to tackle these issues. we should have a combination of having the tax rates and ensuring protection of the u.s. tax base from things like earnings stripping and profit shifting. that approach, as it turns out, has bipartisan support. these matters represent a significant portion of our tax reform efforts and we already know it is one where republicans and democrats can agree, at least in concept. in other words, there is ample reason for our democratic colleagues to join -- for republicans to join democrats in the tax reform discussions. these issues aren't just important for faceless corporations or tax planners. they are important for american workers up and down the income
scale. anyone hoping to have a job and opportunities here in the united states and not somewhere else has an interest in reforming our international tax system. if we pass up this current opportunity to address these issues, people should expect to see more and more economic activity and the headquarters and supporting staff of morehouse hold-named companies moved outside the united states. bipartisan recognition for the need for reform and agreement on international concepts already having been displayed, we owe it to the american people to work together and fix this problem. as i have said multiple times, i hope my friends on the other side of the aisle will be willing to work with us on tax reform, but if they decline, and sadly we have seen some indication that they will, republicans will need to be ready to take steps to fix these problems. i think we will be ready. indeed, i think we are more than
ready. we're more than up to the challenge. mr. president, i hope that we do something about these important issues and i yield the floor. mr. murphy: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: i thank the senator from georgia for the recognition. colleagues, the new c.b.o. score is out on, i guess, version 4.5 or 5.5, it's hard to keep track of the bill to repeal the affordable care act, and nothing has changed. this proposal, which was a moral and intellectual dumbser -- dumpster fire is still a disaster. here is what c.b.o. says about
the bill that is currently being reworked behind closed doors by my republican colleagues. c.b.o. says, that immediately 15 million people will lose coverage by next year. that's a humanitarian catastrophe. it's something that this country has never witnessed before, that number of people losing coverage in that short a period of time. our emergency rooms would be overwhelmed. they would be unable to deal with the scope of that kind of humanitarian need. ultimately the number rises to 22 million at the end of the ten-year window. we know it will be far bigger than that in the second ten years becauses that when the worst of the medicaid -- that's when the worst of the medicaid cuts happen. it's no different from the previous version which was 23 million or the house version that somehow got a majority vote
despite 24 million people losing health insurance according to c.b.o. today the 90% of americans are covered by health insurance, c.b.o. says that number will go down to 82%. i heard senator cornyn year after year complaining that the a.c.a. still leaves millions of americans uncovered. well, this would make it even worse. when you get down to look at what happens to individual americans, it gets even more frightening. so let me give you an example of how this bill would dramatically increase premiums on individuals who are currently insured through the private market. a lot of the coverage losses happened because of this assault on medicaid. but lots of folks who have private coverage wouldn't able to afford it any longer. if you're a 64-year-old making, let's say $55,000, that is over three times the federal poverty
level. so in a lot of places you can -- you can -- you did live on $56,000. that individual today is paying about a $6,700 premium. under the republican health care bill, that individual would pay $18,000 in premiums. s that an increase of -- that's an increase of 170%. and that's just one individual. the bottom line is if you are older and you are less wealthy, you are going to be paying a whole lot more under this proposal. despite all of the guarantees made by republicans and this president that under their plan costs would go down, deductibles would go down, premiums would go down. c.b.o. says the opposite. they say especially if you are middle income and 50 or older,
your premiums will go dramatically up. this is a terrible bill. this is a terrible bill. it doesn't solve a single problem that republicans said they were trying to fix. more people lose insurance. costs go up. quality doesn't get better. this is a terrible piece of legislation. and, mr. president, we're at this really frightening time in the negotiations where changes are being made to this bill not to improve policy, but to try to win individual votes. that's what's happening as we speak. behind closed doors, small changes are being made to this bill to try to win the votes of
individual senators, giving them specific amounts of money for their state and their state alone in order to win their vote. that is shameful. and it is no way to reorder one-fifth of the american economy. we're talking about 20% of the u.s. economy. and changes are being made to this bill right now that have nothing to do with good health care. have only to do with winning individual votes to try to get to 50. because republicans refuse to work with democrats. refuse to work with us. and so instead of building a product that could get big bipartisan support, republicans
are now down to a handful of their members and are trying to find ways to deliver amounts of money to those members' states in order to win their vote. there is a special fund in the latest version of the bill for insurance companies in alaska that was not in the previous version of the bill. now all of these provisions get written in a way that if you are an average, ordinary american who decides to take a couple hours of your time to read the bill, you'd never know that it was a specific fund for alaska because it doesn't say alaska. it sets up a whole bunch of requirements that a state has to fulfill in order to get this special fund for insurance companies, and only one state fits that description, and it's alaska. there is a change in this bill from previous law that addresses
states that were late medicaid expanders, states that expanded into the new medicaid population allowed for under the affordable care act but did it late in the process. the previous version didn't give those states credit when establishing the baseline for the new medicaid reductions. but miraculously this new bill has a specific provision to allow for two states that were late medicaid expanders to be able to get billions of additional dollars sent to their state. those states are alaska and louisiana. two states. there is a new provision in the latest version of the bill that makes a very curious change to the way in which disproportionate share hospital
program payments are sent to states that helps hospitals pay for the cost of people without insurance. not coincidentally it's a change that was advocated by one senator from one state: florida. the change will disproportionately benefit the state of florida and it's now in the new version. these are not changes that help the american health care system. they are not changes that benefit my state or the state of the majority of members here. some of these changes don't benefit 98 of us. they only benefit two of us. and they are in this version of the bill in order to win votes, not to make good policy. and we hear word this morning of a new fund that was invented in the middle of the night last
evening that would supposedly help states who are medicaid expansion states transition their citizens who are currently on medicaid to the private market. now there are reports that that's a $200 billion fund, and that is a lot of money. it sounds like a lot of money, and it is a lot of money. but it would represent 17% of the funds that are being cut to states, and it would only be a temporary band-aid on a much bigger problem. why? because c.b.o. says definitively that the subsidies in this bill for people who want to buy private insurance are so meager that virtually no one who is kicked off of medicaid will be able to afford those new premiums. that's why the numbers are so sweeping in their scale. 22 million people losing health care insurance.
and so even if you get a little bit of money to help a group of individuals in a handful of states transition, when that money runs out -- and it will -- they are back in the same place. all you are doing is temporarily postponing the enormity of the pain that gets delivered. and once again this provision being delivered only to states with medicaid expansion populations is being targeted in order to win votes, not in order to improve the entirety of the health care system. senator corker called out his colleagues today. he said that he was willing to vote for the motion to proceed, but he was growing increasingly uncomfortable with a bill that was increasingly -- i think his word was incoherent. that's what happens when you get
to this point where you have a deeply unpopular bill that everybody in the country hates, and you need to put amounts of money in it to get a handful of additional votes. it becomes incoherent. and this was an incoherent bill to begin with. it's hard to make this bill more incoherent, but that's what's happening as these individual funds are being set up for alaska, for louisiana, for florida. we could solve all this if republicans decided to work with democrats. if we set aside the big tax cuts for the wealthy and the pilfering of the medicaid program, if we tried to fix the real problems that americans face today, we could do it in a bipartisan way. and wouldn't that be great?
i get it that there's enormous political advantage to democrats to sit on the sidelines and watch republicans voted for a bill that has a 15% approval rating just like there was political advantage to republicans to sit on the sidelines and not do anything to help democrats provide insurance to 20 million more americans. health care is a really thorny political issue. but it doesn't have to be that way. we could sit down together and own this problem and the solution together. and we could end health care being a permanent political cudgel that just gets used every five to ten years by one side to beat the other side over the head. we're senators too. we got elected just like our republican friends did. why won't republicans let democrats into the room, especially after this bill has
failed over and over again, to get 50 votes from republicans? we don't have a communicable disease. we aren't going to physically hurt you if you let us into that room. we're not lying when we say that we have a desire to compromise. democrats aren't going to walk into a negotiating room and demand a single payer health care system. we understand that we're going to have to give republicans some of what they want. maybe that's flexibility in the benefit design that's offered on these exchanges. but republicans are going to have to give democrats some of what we want, which is an end to this madness, an administration that is trying to sabotage our health care system and destroy the health care that our citizens get. but that could be a compromise. it's not illegal to meet with
us. there's 48 of us. there's not 12 of us. my constituents in connecticut deserve to have a voice in how one-fifth of the american economy is going to be transformed. and i know a lot of my republican friends want to do this. i've talked with republican senators who say, well, when this process falls apart, we want to work with you. it's falling apart. because the only way that republicans are going to get to 50 votes is by making these shameful changes, specific funding streams for specific states in order to get a handful of votes. that's not how this place should work. maybe this is how things happened here 100 years ago. it's not how things should
happen today. and so once again i will beg my republican colleagues to stop this partisan closed-door exercise and come to work with democrats. we can do this together. we can own it together. we'll have plenty of other stuff left to fight about if we find a way to agree on a path forward for america's health care system. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, before he leaves the floor, i just want to commend my colleague from connecticut for a very thoughtful speech, and i think he has made the case that the challenge ahead is really a two-part drill. first, to stop something that is especially ill-advised. and second, to then move to a better way which really focuses
on sunlight and bipartisanship. so i want to thank my colleague for a very thoughtful comment. mr. president, i am here to talk about health care. but before i turn to that subject, i want to spend a few minutes talking about our wonderful colleague, john mccain. some of the most satisfying moments i've had in public life have been serving with john mccain. when i came to the united states senate, oregon's first new united states senator in almost 30 years, i had the honor of being chosen to serve on the senate commerce committee, which was medicare part -- whicf chaired by john mccain. and what an exhilarating way to begin serving in the united
states senate. we tackled big, meaty, important issues of the future. questioned multiple and discriminatory taxes on internet commerce. we focused, for example, on enron and what went wrong there when so many consumers were ripped off. we dug into consumer rights. john mccain, an early advocate for saying if you rode on an airplane didn't mean you ought to sacrifice basic consumer rights, and some of those same issues are still getting more attention today. and then of course we built on this floor the y-2-k measure, when everybody was so concerned about what would happen at that time, senator mccain gave me the honor of being his
democratic partner and putting together a bill. and with incredible work from the private sector and first responders and smarter federal policies, we all know that some of the calamitous predictions about y-2-k didn't come to pass and to a great extent john mccain did some extraordinary work at that time. and as a young united states senator, what a thrill to be able to be involved with a real american hero on some of those first experiences i had in the united states senate. so as we begin to absorb the news last night, mr. president, what struck me is now we are counting on john mccain's legendary strength to
give cancer its toughest fight ever. toughest fight ever. and i just wanted to come to the floor today and say we're rooting for you, dear friend. we're rooting for you and cindy and your wonderful family and we are thinking about you this afternoon. mr. president, on the health care issue, my sense is that if you thought the trumpcare debate met its end on tuesday, it's pretty obvious you ought to be thinking again.
the zombie stirs once more. the latest attempt by the majority to cobble together 50 votes, according to reports, comes down to waiving a $200 billion slush fund in front of senators that expanded medicaid under the affordable care act. so, as the ranking democrat on the finance committee, i'm very pleased that the president of the senate joined the committee this year, we have studied this one-time slush fund and the theory, of course, is it is supposed to be enticing enough for a member -- a senator -- to vote for a bill that still slashes medicaid to the bone. and let's be realistic about what the slush fund represents in the context of the overall plan.
senate republicans are steering tens of millions of americans toward a cliff and are offering the world's smallest pillow to break the fall. now, before i go further on the specifics of what the majority has on offer, i want to step back and take a look at what the american people have been subjected to over the course of this debate. the reason i want to do it is even by beltway standards here in washington, this is the absolute worst of this city. in the crusade to repeal the affordable care act,s that called the a.c.a. -- that's called the a.c.a., there is the h.c.a., that's the house
trumpcare bill. that's the one that earned the big victory ceremony with the president of the united states in the rose garden. next we had the bcra, the senate trumpcare bill. then there was a second version of the bcra, and then along came something called the orra, the bill that i've called repeal and ruin, and that got its start back in 2015. then this morning the public got a look at a third version of the bcra. now, my sense is, mr. president, if you're having coffee in
roseburg, oregon, over lunch or something like that, your head's going to be spinning, and as you hear this news, i also want to make sure that folks know about the strategys that come out of -- strategy that's come out of the white house over the last few days. the president first endorsed the senate trumpcare bill, but then it was repeal only, then while the country watched the administration sabotage the affordable care act, the president said everybody ought to just sit back and watch what happens. then it was back to calling for the senate majority to pass trumpcare. nobody in this chamber, with the possible exception of the senate
majority leader, mitch mcconnell, can claim to really know what's coming down the pike on american health care. so with the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of americans at stake, this shadowy, garbled and wretched process really just leaves your jaw on the floor. now, senate republicans do seem to be speeding towards a vote on something, and as i mentioned, there is the prospect of this $200 billion slush fund being dangled out there to help round up votes. my sense is this slush fund is of zero constellation to the millions of americans --
constellation of millions of americans, it's -- this will not help middle-class families who will have their tax cuts for health care ripped away and see their premiums skyrocket. it will be zero concilation to middle-class families when they have to take care of their parents and grandparents when long-term medicaid is cut. make no mistake about what this slush fund really does. it delays a little bit of the pain for a short time in states that expanded medicaid. but the slush fund is going to run dry. that's a fact. state budgets are going to get hit like a wrecking ball.
mr. president, that's the reason so many governors are so unhappy with what is on offer. there is no escaping the consequences of whatever the senate passes. if you had objections to trumpcare or a repeal-only bill yesterday, this doesn't change a thing. now, a few hours ago the nonpartisan congressional budget office, for those who don't follow the lingo in c.b.o., those are our nonpartisan umpires. they put out an analysis of the third version of the senate republican health care bill. if you were hoping that that was the charm, the news doesn't exactly help your cause. the c.b.o. found that it is still going to send premiums through the roof. the new version is going to kick 22 million americans off their
health care. it's still going to make health care unaffordable to millions of americans with preexisting conditions, and that's especially troubling to me, mr. president. and i know the president of the senate is very interested in the policy foundations of these big issues. before the president of the senate came to this body, i worked with one of mur former colleagues -- with one of our former colleagues and we put together what is still the only comprehensive bipartisan health reform bill -- seven democrats, seven republicans --s that been introduce -- that's been introduced in this body. and one of the priorities that those senators and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are still here, they were cosponsors of this bill, and many of the democratic
cosponsors are still here. there was a bipartisan agreement that there should be an airtight, loophole free commitment to protecting people with preexisting conditions. as i say, seven democrats, seven republicans signed off on that bill, a number of them from both sides still serve in the united states senate today and now what is being discussed is an approach that would make health care unaffordable to millions of persons with preexisting conditions. really taking a big step -- and i heard my colleague speak about this, commenting on tv shows and the like -- taking a big step back towards the days when health care in america was for the healthy and the wealthy. that's what you get if you don't
have airtight protections for those with preexisting conditions. if you don't have what we had in our original bill, seven democrats, seven republicans, airtight protections, loophole free protections for those with preexisting conditions -- if you don't have it, you are marching back to the days when health care was for the healthy and wealthy, when you could not move to another job if you got a great opportunity because you had a preexisting condition. you were immobilized. that is where this is going with the proposal to make health care unaffordable for millions of people with preexisting conditions, turning back the clock, moving away from what has strong bipartisan in this chamber with senators on both sides who are still here. and for those who care about the
affordability of health coverage, there's a statistic that really leaves you without words. under the senate republican bill in 2026 a middle-aged american who brings home $25,600 annually will face a deductible of $13,000 -- $13,000. if you're watching this, remember that figure. the next time they hear that the senate republican bill lowers costs or puts the patient at the center of care -- if this bill becomes law, that individual with a $13,000 deductible is one bad injury or diagnosis away from personal bankruptcy. and how that figure compared to the system on the books you ask under the affordable care act, that same individual's
deductible is $800. now, the other option being put forward by senate republican leaders is a repeal-only strategy and they claim it would have a two-year transition. but the numbers from the budget office make it clear that the idea of a transition after a repeal bill passes is a fantasy. repeal and run means 17 million americans lose coverage in the first year, 32 million americans lose coverage within a decade, premiums in private market plans double. and it's easy to see why, mr. president, because my colleague in the chair, the president of the senate, knows so well about the signals that are sent to the private marketplace. we're talking about the marketplace. and if you're pouring gasoline
on the fires of uncertainty, then the private insurance sector -- people can't plan, they can't calculate what will happen during this two-year transition, there will be bed lam in the marketplace. and premiums in private market plans, as i said, will double. now, the numbers i'm talking about, they are real lives. i was director of the gray panthers, a senior citizens group for almost seven years before i was elected to the congress, so this is my background. and i came as i started to see government reports and the like to realize that those reports -- all those facts an figures on -- and figures on pieces of paper, long sheets of paper, figure
after figure, they are not really what this debate is all about. this is a debate about people, about their hopes and aspirations and what they want for the future -- families worried, for example, about how they are going to pay for the care of an older parent. and i think about those seniors i met as director of the gray panthers. they did nothing wrong. they scrimped and they saved and they didn't go on a special vacation, they didn't buy the boat. they did everything right. they educated their kids and tried to sock away a little money. but what we know is growing old in america is expensive.
and in spite of being careful about costs all their lives when a spouse needed, you know, extra care or they had early onset of health care problems, they went through all the money they saved and then they needed medicaid. and medicaid now picks up the costs of two out of three nursing home beds in america. and what is not known is very often seniors need not just that care but they need home and community-base care. they need a continuum of services so they get the right kind of care at the right time. and they're looking at this bill, and they're saying this is going to make my prospects for
being able to afford care, whether it's nursing homes, home and community-base services, an awful lot harder to figure out in the days ahead. and then we've got young people who have been through cancer scares. we've got single parents who work multiple jobs to put food on the table. this is what i'm hearing about at home, mr. president. i made a pledge when i had the good fortune of being chosen as oregon's first new senator in almost 30 years. i made a pledge that i would have an open meeting, open to everybody in every one of our counties. we have 36 counties in oregon. this year so far i have had 54 open to all town meetings.
each one of them lasts 90 minutes. no speeches. people say what they want, ask a question, but it is kind of the way the founding fathers wanted it to be. they're educating me and i'm trying to respond and i'm trying to take back to washington, d.c. which often strikes them as a logic-free zone, i'm trying to take their thoughts back to washington, d.c., and, frankly, my highest priority since my colleague, the president of the senate is on the committee, has been to find common ground with people of common sense on the finance committee, especially in the health care area because long ago i decided if you and your loved ones dofntle have their -- don't have their
health, nothing else really matters. so at those 54 town meetings, they've been in counties where donald trump won by large numbers or hillary clinton won by large numbers, each one of those meetings has been dominated by the fears of americans of all walks of life, of all political philosophies worried about what's going to happen to their health care. and, frankly, their worry seems to be just as great in rural communities that president trump won by large majorities because medicaid expansion in my state has been enormously helpful. so many oregon communities, under 10,000 in population, they've been able to use
medicaid expansion at a hospital to maybe hire another person. it's really been a lifeline. they've got an awful lot of people between 55 and 64. they're going to be charged five times as much as young people here, and they're going to get fewer tax credits to deal with it. so in all of these counties, counties won by donald trump, counties won by hillary clinton, fear about leek has been front and -- health care has been front and center. so people are fearful and obviously would like some clarity, some sense of what is coming next. now, one of our colleagues that i do a lot of work with, senator thune, a member of the finance committee and party's leadership, spoke to a reporter a little bit ago.
he couldn't say what the senate would take up if the first procedural vote passes next week, whether it would be trumpcare or a straight repeal bill. so my sense is everybody is being asked to walk into this abyss on health care, but particularly colleagues on the other side of the aisle to be in the dark about what is on offer a few days before a vote that affects hundreds of millions of americans, one-sixth of the american economy, for them to be in the dark, in the dark as someone like myself, the ranking democrat on the senate finance committee that has jurisdiction over medicare and medicaid and tax credits, strikes me as again very odd even by the standards
of the beltway. so the american people are left guessing about what comes next. the only guarantee should the first procedural vote succeed is that both options, both of the options senate republican leaders put on the table are going to raise premiums, make care unaffordable for those with preexisting conditions, and leave tens of millions of americans without health coverage. so i want to repeat a message that i and other democratic senators have been delivering for days. the choice between trumpcare and straight repeal of the affordable care act is false. nobody is being forced to choose between calamity and disaster. democrats and republicans absolutely can work together on the health care challenges
facing the country and as soon as there is a willingness to drop this our way or the highway approach, this partisan approach known as reconciliation, there will be a good-faith effort on our side to find common ground. i heard enough of the back and forth in this debate to know that there is a bipartisan interest. for example, inflexibility for states. now, i know the president of the senate is especially interested in this issue. flexibility for the states. he's given it a lot of thought. and i want him to know i am always open to talking to him about this issue. in the bill that i described earlier, seven democrat, seven republicans, we had a special
section which became law in the affordable care act that in effect provided for what are called innovation waivers. and the theory -- and i'm sure my colleague in the chair has been thinking about these issues as well -- is based on the idea that we both have heard for years, conservatives have said if those folks in washington will just give us the freedom, we can find better ways to cover people, hold down the costs, and make what works in louisiana work for us, and folks in oregon can pursue what works for folks in oregon. and so i said at the time that every single bill that i would
be part of in this debate about fixing american health care, we would have a provision that would respond to this argument that the states are the laboratories of democracy. we'd have a provision that would allow considerable flexibility for states to take their own approaches. and i continue to feel very strongly about it. i wrote an entire section of my comprehensive bill to give states flexibility, and fortunately, it was included in the affordable care act. there ought to be room to work on these kinds of issues. state flexibility. they ought to be room to work on a bipartisan basis with respect to bringing down prescription drug costs. i've indicated to the president
of the senate, i think the lack of transparency in the pharmaceutical market has really been a major factor in the reason that our people get hammered by escalating drug prices. we have heard for so long that some of the middle men, they're called pharmaceutical benefit managers, they came into being a few years ago. they said, we'll negotiate for businesses or states or labor unions. we'll negotiate a better deal for the consumer. and so consumers said hey, we'll see that in our pocketbook. a pharmacy, a fred meyer or right aide or wall -- rite aide or walgreen's, these are all big pharmacies around the country. but right now as of this
afternoon, we don't know what these middlemen put in their pocket and what they put in our pocket. so there ought to be an opportunity to find common ground. i think there ought to be a chance for democrats and republicans to work together on approaches like my spike bill, which says that when a big pharmaceutical company wants to drive up the prices, they should have to publicly justify why they are doing so. so there ought to be ways for democrats and republicans to work together in bringing down prescription drug costs. and there certainly is bipartisan interest in getting more competition and more consumers into the insurance markets. that means more predictability and certainty. and my view is if you're serious about really helping to make the
private insurance market robust, you've got to stop this crusade to repeal the a.c.a. insurers are making decisions right now. all eyes are on this body to bring certainty back to the marketplace. mr. president, reality is there's only a very short time with respect to 2018 premiums. i know there are republican senators who would like to tackle challenges on a bipartisan basis, and the message that my colleagues and i are sending on this side of the aisle, there's a lot of open arms here. instead of taking the partisan route and causing devastation in our health care system, let's work together to make health care better and more affordable for all americans.
that kind of bipartisan cooperation, mr. president, i consider to be the premiere challenge of my time in public service, to work with colleagu colleagues, common sense, looking for common ground. and i have heard one after another of my colleagues on this side of the aisle state that in just the last knew da -- last fw days. so let us set aside this partisan our way or the high way approach, opt for the alternative which is more sunshine and more bipartisanship. i will pledge to do everything in my power on the senate finance committee to bring that about. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor, and i note the