tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN July 16, 2019 10:00am-12:42pm EDT
gavel in on this tuesday. senators will continue work on judicial nominations this week and work a number of tax treaties. later today, they'll be voting on peter phipps to be on judge on the 3rd circuit court of appeals and work on a tax treaty with spain. live coverage of the u.s. senate now here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. black, will open the senate with prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. answer us when we call, o god,
and have mercy upon our nation. may our lawmakers work to do your will, remembering that you have set apart the godly for yourself. provide our senators a refuge in you, enabling them to shout for joy, blessed by your righteousness and favor. continue to supply their needs, teaching them how to abound and abase. lord, keep us all from slipping, presenting us one day before your throne with great joy. we pray in your majestic name.
amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in the pledge of allegiance. 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. mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the
senator from iowa. mr. grassley: july 20 marks the 50 years since neil armstrong took one small step for man and for the first time in human history walked on the moon. the apollo missions should be remembered for generations to come as a triumph for innovation, for hard work, and for the american spirit. as we commemorate the mission to the moon that captured the world 50 years ago, we should look with anticipation to the next giant leap for mankind. and thus work to ensure that the united states remains at the forefront of innovation and technology. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: economic data continued to confirm what we've been hearing from american workers and job creators for two years now. this is a pro worker,
pro-family, pro-opportunity economic moment. hardly a day goes by without new headlines highlighting the new prosperity in communities the last administration's policies overlooked and the red hot market for american workers. since january 2017, republican policies have focused on letting the american people control more of their own money and letting american businesses create jobs more easily. so what are the results? on our watch unemployment has fallen to near 50-year lows and stayed there. underemployment has fallen too. wages are growing. month after month we've had more job openings nationwide than americans looking for work. specifically there are currently about 1.6 million more job openings than americans looking for work, the widest margin ever recorded. now these aren't washington accomplishments. they're the american people's accomplishments but public
policy can certainly change the conditions. government can either create the conditions that will help lead to success or to stagnation. for example, bad public policies under the obama administration helped explain why the insufficient and unfair economic recovery left so many places behind. high taxes, heavy regulation, a hostile climate for business. these things all add up. they took a real toll in many places. take my home state of kentucky, for example, kentucky is proud of our diverse economy. we're proud of our great health care and aviation sectors. we're proud that we're a tourist destination. it turns out bourbon and horse races are a winning combination and we also take huge pride in the kinds of industries that liberal policies tend to either forget about or actively work against. i'm talking about manufacturing and agriculture and mining and
coal-fired electricity, the things that keep the lights on in america's heartland. we could not be prouder of the huge role these sectors play in our commonwealth. so it's not surprising that left-wing policies dreamt up in places like new york and san francisco for places like new york and san francisco were not too kind to kentucky. growth that was should slow, jobs hard to come from. so-called experts said it was just the new normal. but we knew better. we knew kentucky could get back on track if we could only get a fair shot and fewer hurdles from washington. we needed the government to stop greating -- creating headwinds and maybe create a few tailwinds and that's exactly what happened over the last two yaf nears. since january 2017 republicans in the congress have partnered with the trump administration to get our nation's opportunity economy going and growing again for everyone. we passed the first comprehensive overhaul of the federal tax code in more than a
generation. we cut regulations that had reduced liberty and stifled our competitiveness. we helped american workers and entrepreneurs hang up a bright, neon sign saying open for business. and no surprise here, working americans have taken the ball and they have run with it. i've already read the national statistics. i'm even prouder about this. instead of being left behind, kentucky is help leading the charge. the state's unemployment rate has hit and sustained its lowest level on record. again that's record breaking low unemployment. last year governor bevin helped kentucky welcome more than 5.3 billion dollars of planned business investment and this new growth isn't just concentrated in urban areas. rural communities in the bluegrass are seeing more jobs, investment, and expansion as well. but of course it takes more than two years to unwind the mistakes of the past. parts of kentucky are still struggling from the effects of liberal policies.
and this republican senate, the administration, and leaders are laser focused on continuing to invest in and fight for recovery. in many communities, particularly in rural kentucky, the lingering pain has been hard to shake. the damage to the coal industry, the devastation caused by opioid and substance abuse. so more work is certainly needed and i'm honored to lead the charge in washington to help kentuckians confront these challenges through programs like the appalachian regional commission and the pilot program. we're investing hundreds of millions of dollars in struggling areas and out of work americans. in eastern kentucky congressman hall rogers and i have partnered to secure resources from everything to skills training to water infrastructure improvements. i've helped secure tens of millions of dollars to aid the retraining efforts of eastern kentucky concentrated employment program and job creating programs like the kentucky highlands community development
corporation. we've also secured grants to bolster good jobs, support the environment to attract tourism and promote healthy lifestyles. these are just a few examples from just one state, madam president. there are stories like this all over our country. while the previous administration left these men and women behind, republicans recognize their skills and their drive. we're investing in their futures. now on a related matter, speaking of economic growth and development, the senate will soon turn our attention to a number of bilateral tax treaties with important u.s. trading partners. we have these kinds of agreements in place to reduce tax evasion, tax avoidance, and unfair double taxation of u.s. citizens and businesses who conduct business overseas. the four will consider this week are agreements with spain, switzerland, japan, and luxembourg. the u.s. government in each of these foreign governments have painstakingly negotiated updates
to existing agreements about how certain kinds of commerce will be taxed and which country will tax them. in short senate ratification of these protocols would mean less confusion, more certainty, and often fewer taxes for u.s. job creators and by the way, a simpler rule book for overseas investors who want to invest their money here. fairer treatment for our own american job creators and more enticement for foreign investment to head to our country. that's what we would call a win-win. we're talking about a serious economic impact in addition to the four countries we're tackling this week, there are three more nations with tax treaties pending which i know the administration has continued to work on with the foreign relations and finance committees to finalize work on these remaining agreements. combined these seven foreign countries invest more than $1.2 trillion in the united states. more than a trillion dollars in
foreign investment and by some estimates hundreds of thousands of u.s. jobs are tied up directly or indirectly in trade with these countries. these trading relationships touch all 50 states. every one of my colleagues is familiar with communities that benefit from foreign investment. for my part that includes thousands of workers in kentucky. one major manufacturer with ties to spain employs 1,500 people in my state. it accounts for more than a third of all the stains will steel produced in the united states every year. over the three decades it's operated in caroll county, the surrounding communities that benefited for more than $60 million in tax revenue. that's just one of many job creators in my home state and it's far from the only one with a serious interest in seeing these measures get across the finish line. from consumer goods makers to industrial suppliers, kentucky
continues to welcome job creating investment from around the world. i think practically every american is familiar with hot pockets, a culinary staple of busy family workers and college students everywhere but not everyone knows that as of several years ago, every single hot pocket is cooked in mount sterling, kentucky. the facility employs more than 1,000 kentuckians. the parent company is nestle based in switzerland so they're not only hardworking kentuckians but also lots of hungry consumers across the country who can understand why we need to keep our international trade insync. passing these agreements will help every state keep up the economic momentum. it will reenforce the international trade that is so essential to our economic success and help stave off further trade disruptions. so i would urge all of our colleagues to join me in voting for these this week.
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 and resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, peter joseph phipps of pennsylvania to be united states circuit judge for the third circuit. mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: madam president, i listened as the republican leader came to the floor -- i listened as the republican leader came to the floor and announced the business of the united states senate for this week. highlight of the business will be tax treaties. tax treaties with spain and switzerland and japan and luxembourg. according to the republican leader, these are critical to economic development in the united states. i don't question their importance but i will tell you that routinely these are down by voice vote. we don't spend the time in the senate to come to the floor and talk about our relationship with
luxembourg. when you look at the issues that most american families expect us to address, i would say the tax treaty with luxembourg would be low on the list. what might be high on the list and should be considered in the senate this week is the number one concern of families across america. democrats and republicans, the highest concern, the number one issue which asked about the economy of the united states is the cost of prescription drugs. the united states senate has the authority to do something about the cost of prescription drugs. we won't be doing it this week. we'll be dealing with a tax treaty with luxembourg. what kind of issues when it comes to the cost of prescription drugs might be important? well, let's start with one that i've started focusing on back home. did you know that there are 30 million americans who suffer from diabetes, type 1, type 2 diabetes some did you know that
6.5 million americans use insulin every single day to stay alive? four of them were in my office last week from illinois. they were between the ages of 10 and 17. talk about amazing young people, three young women and a young boy talked about their lives, what had happened to them since it was discovered that they had this juvenile diabetes. their lives have been changed a lot. each one of them was hooked up to a c.g.m., i believe is the proper term, a continuous glucose monitor that measures whether or not they need additional insulin which was pumped in another device on their arm, and they talked about how this was a commitment around the clock to make sure that their insulin levels were appropriate. one little girl talked about what it meant to her family for her to be a type one diabetic. this beautiful young lady
started talking about it, and then she got to the point where she said it's changed our family. my diabetes has changed our family. and then she started crying because she said we can't do things in our family that others do. we can't take the same vacations that my cousins take. we can't rent that house out on the lake because of the cost of my drugs, the cost of my insulin. i turned to her mother, and i said so tell me, what does it come down to? her mom said we're lucky, we have health insurance. our health insurance covers prescription drugs. however, there is an $8,000 co-pay. so we start each year buying the insulin for our daughter until we have spent $8,000 out of our savings. then the health insurance kicks in. usually it's about three months. so she is paying -- or she is
being charged about $3,000 a month for insulin. well, let's look into this for a minute as we consider why the united states senate thinks a tax treaty with luxembourg is more important than this issue. let's look into the fact that insulin was discovered almost 100 years ago in canada, and that the researchers who discovered it came to the united states and said we have the patent rights to this lifesaving drug for diabetics. we never want to see anybody make a profit at the expense of this lifesaving drug, and so the canadian researchers surrendered their patent rights to insulin for a dollar. gave it up. i might recall that when it came to the vaccine for polio, he said the same thing. he said no one should make a profit op the drug that eliminated polio. these two canadian researchers felt the same about insulin. what happened then? insulin was produced in the earliest stages, in a rather
crude way but an effective way to save the lives of people with diabetes. over the years that process has improved. there is no question about that. today there are three major pharmaceutical companies that make insulin products for the united states -- eli lilly of indianapolis, indiana, is one of them. i know a little bit about the eli lilly product. it's called humalog. humalog was introduced in the american market in 1999. an insulin product. and the charge was about $20 to $30 for a dosage -- a vial, i should say, which is used as a dosage for those with type one diabetes, type two diabetes. about $31. so here we are 20 years later. how much is that same vial? $329. remember, this was a drug discovered almost 100 years ago. remember those who could have capitalized and made a fortune off of it surrendered their patent rights. how did we reach this point
where this drug in 20 years is ten times more than it cost when it was introduced? it's the same drug from the same company. why has it gone up so much in price? because they can do it. because these pharmaceutical companies have the power to raise their prices, and people like that little girl in my office from jerseyville, illinois, who broke down in tears can't control how much that price will be. and they need this to survive. so now you must ask yourself what are other companies paying for exactly the same drug made by the same american pharmaceutical company eli lilly? we don't have to go very far to find out. all we go to is canada. canada. the $329 humalog vial in canada costs $39.
why? exactly the same drug is a fraction of the cost in canada, because the canadian government stands up for the people of that country and says you cannot gouge, you cannot overprice these drugs. you're going to be paid a reasonable amount so that you make a profit, but you aren't going to do it at the expense of our families in canada. they care. they have done something about it. we care about a tax treaty with luxembourg. i'm sorry. as important as that may may ben that small part of the world, it's more important for us to deal with this issue of prescription drugs and to ask yourself why this united states senate, this empty chamber is not filled with senators of both political parties doing something about the cost of prescription drugs. there is one traffic cop in this chamber. he just spoke. the republican leader decides what comes to the floor of the senate, and he has decided we're not going to consider prescription drugs. maybe he'll change his mind, but i think he'll need some
persuading to reach that point. what i'm hoping is that the 30 million americans and their families will speak up when it comes to the costs of life lifesaving inches -- lifesaving insulin for diabetes. i hope they will do the same when it comes to other drugs, so many of them. senator grassley of iowa, a republican, was on the floor just a new finishes ago -- just a few minutes ago. he and i are working on a bill that is a first step and not the answer to the problem, but it comes down to this. you can't turn on the television these days without seeing a drug ad. if you haven't seen drug ads on television, you must not own a television. they are on all the time. all the information we are given about drugs with long names that are hard to pronounce and remember, all that information is given to us over and over and over again. so that we know much more than we ever dreamed we would know about xarelto and we can even spell it. we know what different drugs are
supposed to do to improve the lives of individuals, and those ads are being thrown at us so that eventually we have got that name in our head and take it into the doctor's office and ask for that expensive drug as opposed to a generic drug. that's running up the cost of health care. well, senator grassley and i put in a bill, and the bill's pretty basic. all the things they tell you on television about the drugs, it wasn't until just two weeks ago for the first time ever i've seen it, one of these companies disclosed the cost of the drug. and you say to yourself maybe that's an important part of speaking to consumers across america. senator grassley and i have a bill that will require price disclosure on these pharmaceutical companies advertising. it is not the total answer, but i am hoping it will in some way at least slow down, if not
embarrass, these companies from the runup of costs that these drugs are going through. that's part of the anticipate, but it's not the total answer by any means. there is a long list of things we can do and should do a lot more important than a tax treaty with luxembourg, which should pass by a voice vote without taking the time of the senate. madam president, i ask that the statement i have related to the texas versus united states case involving the affordable care act be placed in the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you. madam president, i'd like to ask that the next statement i am about to make be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i wept to -- went to chicago on friday and i went up to the northwest side of the city. i met with group called communities united. it was a meeting i'm not going to soon forget. there were about 20 people in the room. most of them were women with their children. and a couple of us politicians.
and they talked about the fear that is running through their community with president trump's threat of mass arrests and mass deportations. each one of them had an important thing to say, but the one this stuck with me was a young lady -- i will just give her first name. guadalupe was her first name. she is a high school student in that section of chicago. she started to read a little piece of paper that she had written down the feelings of her family about what was happening with the threats of these raids. you see, one of her parents is undocumented. she is a citizen of the united states, having been born here, but her mother's not so lucky. and guadalupe said i'm tired of living in fear. i'm tired of being afraid that that next knock on the door means our family will be torn apart. my mother has been here almost
20 years and will be forced to leave. she has never committed a crime. she has worked hard every single day for the family to bring a little money home, taken jobs that most of us don't want to take, being paid low wages, in the hopes that her daughter, guadalupe, and others would have a better life in the years ahead. i remember that meeting because that was just the beginning of a weekend filled with meetings just like that. all across that great city of chicago, particularly among the hispanic population, a genuine fear that i.c.e. would start knocking on doors. people are being told their rights, their legal rights if i.c.e. comes to the door, and most of them are being told don't open the door unless there is a real search warrant from a real judge, not an i.c.e. administrative warrant. these people, i'm sure, would find it hard to make that distinction, but it really is a question of whether or not they may be able to stay in the united states or cannot.
now, keep in mind that we're not talking about people who have been convicted of a serious crime. as far as i'm concerned, if you come to this country and you're undocumented and you commit a serious crime, you have forfeited your right to stay here. i'm not making any defense of those people. but they are a tiny, small percentage of those who are here undocumented. the vast majority came to this country and overstayed a visitor's visa, overstayed a work visa or student visa and started a life and started a family. these are the people that have become a major part of our economy. of the 11 million undocumented in this country, 8.5 million actually work, they are employed. they pay taxes. but they are not officially or legally part of our economy, yet they are all subject to the mass arrests and deportation which president trump has threatened. as a presidential candidate, donald trump regularly used
inflammatory anti-immigrant language. you will remember most of these quotes because they were said over and over again. donald trump said the mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the united states. they are in many cases criminals, drug dealers, and rapists. donald trump said a federal judge was biased against him because the judge was, quote, a mexican. he called for, quote, total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states. he attacked the family i have come to know, gazir and gazala kahn, the parents of a soldier died in the line of duty. this gold star family gave their son to this country in defense of it and were ridiculed because they disagreed with president trump. for the last two and a half years, president donald trump has tipped to use divisive language. on january 11, 2018, i heard it
personally. in a meeting in the oval office that i will never forget. the president used a crude term to refer to haiti and african countries. this weekend, president trump sunk to a new low. his tweets saying four democratic congresswomen should, quote, go back to their countries, were racist and reprehensible comments. the elected officials of both parties should condemn the president's statement. it is important to understand that the president's hateful language is also reflected in his policies. the trump administration has shown unprecedented cruelty on the issue of immigration, especially, especially to children and families. the muslim travel ban created chaos at airports across the country and continues to separate thousands of american families. the cruel repeal of daca threatens 800,000 young
immigrants with deportation to countries they barely remember. the termination of temporary protected status puts more than 300,000 immigrants at risk of deportation to dangerous conditions. imagine this for a moment. we have a travel advisory that says to american families do not, do not go to the country of venezuela. it is too dangerous. but for those venezuelans who were in the united states on temporary protected status, this president has said we're returning you to venezuela. really? too dangerous for americans, but venezuelans, we're going to force you to go back to the horrible situation in that country. the disaster separation of thousands of families at the border has done permanent damage to these families and especially to their children. under what was known as the zero tolerance policy announced by then-attorney general jeff sessions, over 2,880 infants, toddlers, and children were separated from their families at
the border. what was even worse, they were cast into this bureaucratic no man's land, and they couldn't be located to be reunited with their parents until a federal judge demanded it. and we still have some that have not been reunited with their parents over a year later. the inhumane overcrowding in migrant detention facilities that the d.h.s. inspector general found was an immediate risk to the health and safety of detainees and d.h.s. employees was so bad that after i personally witnessed it, i joined with 20 other democratic senators in writing to the international red cross asking for them to send in a team to investigate american detention facilities. i never thought i would do that. this president is threatening now mass arrests and deportation of millions of immigrants who have committed no crime and pose no threat -- no threat -- to the security and safety of of this
country. that has created rampant fear across the nation. now the trump administration has put in place a new rule which have block nearly all asylum claims at the southern border of nationals of any country except mexico, including families and children fleeing persecution. the unhcr, the refugee organization for the united nations, said this rule proposed by the trump administration, quote, will endanger vulnerable people in need of international protection from violence or persecution. how did we reach this point? well, during world war ii, we made a fateful decision in the united states to turn away hundreds who were fleeing europe. many of them were people of the jewish religion who believed the holocaust, which hitler had initiated, would eventually reach their families and take their lives. 700 or 800 of them were on a ship that came to the united
states and asked for refuge here, sigh almost here -- asylum here to escape the national sis. sadly, our government turned them away. they went back to europe. 200 died in the holocaust. and after that, after that horrible experience, we said we're going to do this differently from this point forward. since world war i, the united states has led the -- since world war ii, the united states has led the world in accepting refugees and asylees. we have tried to be a leader among developed countries in accepting refugees and ally lease and we've -- and asylees, and we've dodge it. when you look at -- and we've done it. when you look at all the cubans who have come to the united states, we have cubans who serve in the united states senate who were part of that. we have jews who fleed
persecution in the soviet union. we did it when the vietnamese that stood by american soldiers and risked their lives were given refuge in the united states. the list goes on and on, and it reflects who we are as a nation. we screen those who come in, but we say that our doors are open, to give them a second chance in life and the protection of the united states. that was what we did from world war ii until the election of donald trump as president of the united states. now he has turned back the clock. ware back in the s.s. st. louis era. america is better than this. we can keep our nation safe and respect our heritage as a nation of immigrants. we can have a secure border and abide by our international obligations to protect refugees fleeing persecution, as we have done on a bipartisan basis for decades. the reality is that president trump's cruel and ineffective policies on immigration have made our southern border much
less secure than when he took office. the president's obsession with his almighty border wall, to be paid by by the mexicans, as he suggested, led to the longest government shutdown in the history of the united states -- 35 days, paralyzing agencies of government; ironically, paralyzing immigration courts that were supposed to process people presenting themselves at the 0 border. more refugees have been driven to the border because the president has blocked all efforts to stabilize the countries of honduras, el salvador, and guatemala. in less thank two and a half years -- in less than two and a half years, there have already been four different people he had hadding this department.
the white house has not even submitted nominations to fill these positions. the republicans have tried to blame democrats for the president's failure to secure the border. but democrats have tried to work on a bipartisan basis to solve this crisis. in february, after the president finally agreed to end the longest government shutdown in history, congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill that included $414 million for humanitarian assistance at the border. when i hear vice president pence and others saying we're begging the democrats to give us money for the border, we did. $400 million in february. then last month, congress passed an emergency supplemental appropriations bill with $4.6 billion of additional funding to alleviate overcrowding at detention facilities and provide the basics -- food, supplies, and medical care. last year before the border crisis began, senate democrats supported a bipartisan agreement
-- bipartisan agreement -- from centrists in both caucuses that included robust border security funding, dozens of provisions to strengthen border security. we put this together last year. it was a compromise. i didn't like parts of it, but it's the nature of this senate that you can't get everything you want. you've got to do the best you can to solve a problem. we had a bipartisan solution. this was a chance last year for the president to step up and accept a bipartisan approach. the president rejected it, threatened to veto it. said he wanted to push for his hard-line immigration report instead. the president rejected the president's bill, his proposal, with a strong bipartisan supermajority. it was that unpopular and unworkable. six years ago in 1230, i was part of a gang of eight senators who wrote comprehensive immigration reform legislation. it passed the senate 68-32.
unfortunately, the republicans who controlled the house of representatives refused to even consider the bill. the acting d.h.s. secretary recently said that if our 201 bill had been enacted into law, quote, we would have a very different situation. we would be a lot more secure at our border. that's what he says now about a bill that we passed six years ago. republican senator lamar alexander of tennessee, who supported the 2013 bill, said, quote, if that bill became law, most of the problems we're having today we'd not be having. there are ways to deal with this in a sensible, bipartisan way. our comprehensive bill did that. getting tough, threatening a wall, cutting off foreign aid has backfired on this president. it has created failure when this comes to immigration. the democrats have introduced the central american reformer
and enhance -- reform and enhancement act. it reduces root causes in the northern triangle countries that causes migrants to flee. it cuts down on traffickers. it provides for in-country processing and expands third-country without making that dangerous expensive trip to our border. it eliminates court backlogs so asylum claims can be processed quickly. family case management so that immigrants know their rights and show up for court. democrats stand read to work on smart, effective, and humane border security policies but we need our republican colleagues to condemn president trump's cruel campaign against families and children and to work with us on a bipartisan basis. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mr. roberts: i ask that the quorum call be vittered. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: i'm pleased to speak about the tax conventions between the united states and spain, switzerland, japan, and luxembourg. i have long been a strong supporter and proponent of these tax protocols and worked to advance them across multiple congresses. in the senate foreign relations committee, i voted to advance the japan and spain protocols three times and voted four times to advance the protocols with luxembourg and the swiss confederation. i am pleased that after too many years of waiting, the majority leader has finally decided to
take up these protocols. i am a strong believer this the benefits these treaties provide our country. they provide a critical role in relieving united states citizens and companies of double taxation, encouraging foreign investment in the united states, and in enforcing u.s. tax law on those who seek to evade it. there are no down sides to these treaties. as i conveyed directly to secretary mnuchin, the treasury department's initial inaction on these treaties without consulting the foreign relations committee was completely inadequate. this botched effort resulted in a completely avoidable delay in taking up these four protocols. however, i am pleased that treasury responded quickly to my concerns, including providing a written commitment on behalf of the administration that the foreign reels committee chair and ranking member would be consulted on any changes to the model tax treaty prior to negotiations based on a new
model or a new model provisions. so therefore i support moving the treaties as expeditiously as possible and urge my colleagues to support it. thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield the floor and observe the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. alexander: mr. president. the presiding officer: the distinguished senator from tennessee is recognized. mr. alexander: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, last month during national nurses week, valid health, a health care system in east tennessee, announced it would be giving several thousand nurses a raise. ahead of that, it an announced
a pay increase for nurses. he said, quote, our nurses and those who work with them in the provision of health patient care are heroes. however it's also true that we face a significant national shortage of these critical health care providers. allen, the held of ballad said his investment was in part because of a new rule proposed by the trump administration in april. this new rule will update the formula that determines how much medicare will reimburse -- of how much medicare will reimburse hospitals for patient care. the formula takes into account, among other things, the cost of labor in that geographic area called the area wage index. this new rule attempts to level the playing field between hospitals in areas that have higher wages and, therefore, are reimbursed at a higher rate than hospitals in areas with
lower wages. the centers for medicare and medicaid services administrator verma wrote in a recent op-ed in the tennessean in nashville, many stake holders raised concern that the medicare hospital payment system disadvantages many rural hospitals. our proposed rule brings payments to rural and other low-wage hospitals closer to their urban neighbors. i say this standing in the senate chamber where we have the chairman and the ranking democratic member of the agriculture committee, two experts on rural areas and rural hospitals in our country. in recent years too many rural americans have seen their local hospital close and their doctors leave town. since 2010, 107 rural hospitals have closed across 28 states, another 637, about a third of all rural hospitals, are at
risk of closing. in tennessee alone, mr. president, 12 hospitals, rural hospitals have closed since 2010. a recent survey by the robert wood johnson foundation, the harvard school of public health found that one of four americans in rural areas couldn't access health care that they need. this new rule will help rural hospitals keep up with the cost of providing care and keep those hospitals open. allen for ballad health said, quote, this proposed change indicates that washington finally understands that rural health systems like ours have been historically unable to keep up with the real cost growth of nursing and other direct care providers, unquote. craig becker, who leads the tennessee hospital association, wrote in the tennesseean earlier this month, this rule is good
news, craig becker said, for our state hospitals. it will provide much-needed relief to many of them, especially of those in rural areas and the rule finally will address the significant inequities in the medicare area wage index, the first meaningful effort by any administration to address this system. this new ruled from c.m.s. will help ensure americans can access health care close by to their homes by leveling the playing field between urban and rural hospitals that rely on the medicare hospital payment system. last month the senate health committee which i chair and senator murray of washington state is the ranking democrat, our committee approved by a vote of 20-3 a bipartisan package of 5 proposals from 65 senators to lower health care costs that will help rural americans. for example, the legislation would ban anticompetitive terms
that large hospital chains sometimes use in contracts with employers, such as the so-called all-or-nothing clauses. these clauses increase prices for employers and patients and can block health care plans from choosing hospitals based on the care quality, the patient experience, or one hospital's competitive pricing. banning all or nothing clauses will help level the playing field for smaller independent hospitals who are not part of a large corporate chain. another provision in the lower health care cost act of 2019 will expand technology based health care to help americans in rural areas have access to specialty care. mr. president, i hope the trump administration and c.m.s. administrator verma will quickly finish this rule and give
americans better health care choices and outcomes at lower costs, especially in our rural areas. i thank the president. i yield the floor. ms. stabenow: mr. president. the presiding officer: the distinguished senator from michigan is recognized. ms. stabenow: thank you very much, mr. president. before our distinguished leader and chairman of the committee leaves, i want to thank him for his hard work. having grown up in a small rural community in northern michigan, i can expect directly to how important health care services are. my mother was director of nursing at the small hospital. i know since that time they've gone through many changes, barely holding on to the hospital. and we've had a number of hospital closings and consolidations. and sos it -- so it is important
work that happened in the health community. i want to congratulate the distinguished chairman and also indicate that the presiding officer and i, as we were doing the farm bill -- and it's my honor and privilege to work with the presiding officer, mr. president -- also were part of the solution, including language on telehealth in rural development to actually help expand services. and i think telehealth is an important way to do that as well. so, thank you, mr. chairman. mr. president, two weeks ago people in michigan and across the country were getting ready to celebrate the fourth of july. families were deciding what to take picnics and planning a day on the water, particularly if you're in michigan, on the great lakes or finding the very best possible place to watch the community fireworks display. and we have many great fireworks displays.
so what were drug companies doing to celebrate? well, nothing so wholesome, i'm afraid. instead, they were raising prices on prescription medications, prices that are already the highest in the world. people in the united states have the highest prices in the world that we pay. happy independence day. on july 1 alone, just one day, 20 companies ratcheted up the price of 40 of their prescription drugs by an average of more than 13%. just in one day. and those companies aren't alone. already this year prices have gone up for more than 3,400 different medications. the average price hike was five times the rate of inflation. and i know that families in michigan, seniors in michigan would love to have their incomes, their wages go up five
times the rate of inflation, but that certainly didn't happen. it's getting harder and harder for the average michigan family to afford the medications they need to get and stay healthy. and i know that that's true all across the country. and i know because i hear about it every day. i know we hear these stories every day. i hear this from friends and family and certainly people as i am moving and traveling throughout michigan. some folks skimp on groceries; still happening today, or put off paying their electric bill or their gas bill. other people take their heart medication every other day instead of every day, which, by the way, is dangerous to do. still others cut back on insulin, putting their lives at risk. and we have actually seen, we have testimony before the finance committee from a mom whose son did that and lost his life.
perhaps nobody has been hurt more than our seniors. seniors tend to live on fixed incomes, as we know, pensions, social security. they also tend to have more medications than younger people and costs quickly add up. in 2017 alone, the average price of brand-number drugs that seniors often take rose at four times the rate of inflation, according to the aarp. four times the rate of inflation in one year for the average medication that a senior citizen is using. that's one of the reasons why 72% of seniors in a recent poll said they're very concerned about the costs of their medications. it's absolutely shameful that people in america, one of the richest countries in the world, are going without the medicine they need to survive.
and we can fix that. thisdoes not have to happen. i've always believed that health care is a basic human right and that it includes medicine, and over and over again i say on the senate floor, health care is not political for a senior, for a family, for a child. it is personal. it is personal. sand we need to do -- and we need to do something about it. and the number-one way we know we can bring the prices down is to let medicare negotiate. let medicare negotiate for prescription drugs. harness the full power of tens of millions of seniors and people with disabilities across the country who are on medicare to bring down the prices. we know negotiation can work because it works for the v.a. we know that. the v.a., veterans administration, is allowed to negotiate the price of
prescription drugs, and on average saves 40%, 40% compared to medicare. in fact, if medicare paid the same prices as the v.a., it could have saved $14.4 billion on just 50 most commonly used drugs in 2016 alone. in one year, $14.4 billion on just 50 commonly used medications. this is according, again, to the aarp. so what's stopping us? well, we have the biggest lobby in the world. it's called the pharmaceutical lobby, here in d.c. and the fact is in 2018 there were 1,451 lobbyists for the pharmaceutical and health product industry. it's almost 15 for every one of us as senators.
their job, and they do it extremely well, is to stop competition and to keep prices high. back in 2003, when compare part-b was signed into law, and i had worked very hard as a new member of the senate to have medicare cover prescription drugs, but then in the end they blocked medicare from harnessing the bargaining power of 43 million americans in order to bring down prices. and unfortunately our republican colleagues supported that. 16 years later the pharmaceutical companies are still doing everything they can to put profits before people. one of those people is jack, who lives in constantine, michigan, and told he has cancer. imagine you're told you have
cancer and the drug you need to treat it costs $15,000 the first month -- $15,000. jack was lucky. a generic drug became available, however that drug costs $4,000 the first month and $400 every month after that. that's about $8,000 a year. in jack's words, it's an extreme hardship, $8,000 a year trying to figure out how to do that to be able to have your cancer comaition so that -- cancer medication so you can continue to live. jack added, i hope and pray that your colleagues on both sides of the aisle can did get something done. we can get something done and we can do it quickly. the best thing is to let medicare negotiate and harness
the bargaining power of 43 million people. now, there are various proposals that are good proposals being talked about. we can cap increases, but that doesn't cut prescription drug costs right now. and if we're going to seriously talk about making medicine affordable and do it the right way -- do it the right way, the way we know that will work, it's about letting medicare negotiate. let medicare negotiate. so i think it's time to take jack's advice. we need to work together. we need to put people above profits, and we need to very simply, rather than moving the decks around on the titanic, we need to very simply harness the bargaining power of 43 million americans and get the best price
mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the distinguished senator from texas is recognized. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. kosh. mr. cornyn: -- mr. cornyn: mr. president, i joined the vice president and a number of colleagues with a trip to the rio grande valley.
the rio grande valley headquarter is ground zero for the humanitarian crisis on our southern border. i know some of our colleagues refuse to acknowledge this is a humanitarian crisis on our border, but that seems to have waned in recent days in light of the overwhelming evidence. in fact, president obama, himself, in 2014 called it a humanitarian crisis in 2014. of all sectors that's head and shoulders above the rest of apprehensions trying to enter the country illegally, 26% of all apprehensions along the southern border occur in the rio grande valley sector. across the border, 68% of those apprehended in june were unaccompanied children or part of a family unit. in the rio grande valley, that
figure shot up to a whopping 79%. people may be asking themselves, well, why are unaccompanied children, and families, that is an adult with a child, why are they the ones predominately coming across the border? it's because the human smugglers know our laws better than we do and they are exploiting the vulnerabilities in our asylum laws to charge a lot of money, they charge $5,000 to $10,000 to deliver somebody from central america or anywhere from the world. the border patrol us on friday when we were mcallen, they detained people from 60 different countries coming from across the border at the rio grande valley sector. that's because the human smuggling networks are really worldwide. if you want to come from
bangladesh or syria or iran or russia, all you have to do to make your way to central america, hire one of these human smuggling networks, and they will work you up across the border and into the united states. this is a national security as well as humanitarian crisis. as of july 1, the rio grande valley sector had 8,000 migrants in custody. they are overwhelmed to be sure. this is placing a huge strain on our resources. our border patrol stations were never designed tole hold that many people -- to hold it that many people. the men and women who apprehend and care for these migrants have been unfairly criticized and mischaracterized as bad guys. but last week i got to see once again that they aren't the real villain in this scenario. in fact, they are the heroes.
the border patrol agents in the rio grande valley and those along the entire border are pulling double duty as law enforcement officers and caregivers. they are hired to be law enforcement officers, but they had to basically end up handing out juice boxes and diapers to unaccompanied children or family units because that's what we were seeing flood across our borders. one minute are they are stopping -- one minute they are stopping heroin, fentanyl from coming into our country and deigningure criminals from coming into our country and next they are comforting crying babies and providing sustenance to children. balancing an overcrowded facility and growing list of responsibilities is no easy task. but it's not their fault. it's congress's fault because only congress has the authority to provide the change in the
laws to stop this endless flood of humanity and the overwhelming need for resources. but they handle these demands with professionalism an compassion. my colleagues and i had the opportunity to hear from several agents including the chief patrol agent rudy kerish. he talked about the work his agents do to provide quality care to those in custody, particularly medical care. in his sector alone, that equates to an average of 32 hospital runs each day. 32 hospital runs each day to ensure that migrants receive the care that they need. as these agents know too well, many of the people who cross the border do so because they're deeply familiar with the loopholes in our immigration laws and they're eager to exploit them as i described a moment ago. now one of those loopholes is something called the flores
settlement agreement which was created as a way to ensure that unaccompanied children don't remain in border patrol custody for long periods of time. but it was expanded, and i believe in an unintended and unnecessary sort of way to effectively expand this protection to unaccompanied children to families as well. as a result we can't detain those families for more than 20 days, the adults in particular. as a result, we see the dramatic increase in the number of families arriving at the border. why not? what's to discourage them or dissuade them? but as we learned during our visit, many of these migrants come here across the border are not families at all. tim tubbs is a deputy special agent in charge of customs enforcement homeland security investigations, hsi and described the rise in fraudulent
families. by that i mean adults claiming to be the parent or family member of a child when in fact they are not related at all. in april, i.c.e. it-h.s.i. sent employees to the southern border to investigate fraudulent claims of family units. and roughly 90 days since more than 352 fraudulent families were discovered across the southern border. he described one case of a honduran man that illustrates why leaving these loopholes untouched is so dangerous. and again, only congress can change that. he mentioned the fact that a 51-year-old man negotiated with a pregnant honduran woman to purchase, to buy her baby when it was born for the equivalent of about $80, this man purchased her child and traveled
with human smugglers into the united states because if you have a child with you, it is a ticket to entering the united states and exploiting those gaps in our immigration laws. deputy agent tubbs said h.s.i. also uncovered an organization that recycled, recycled approximately 69 children in order to smuggle people into the united states. in other words, once you successfully get to the united states, these children are sent back and used over and over and over again in an endless loop to smuggle more adults into the united states under the guise of being a family. now we can point the finger of blame at the border patrol for being overwhelmed for not having facilities that were designed to handle the influx of this number of people, but that would be a terrible miscarriage of justice, because the fact is
congress needs to look in the mirror. the only people who can change the law under our constitution is the united states congress and the president. and the president has called time and time again for congress to fix these loopholes in our immigration laws to begin to stem the tide of this humanity that's coming across our border. our broken laws are fueling this behavior. unless we take action to close those loopholes that invite more people to illegally enter into our country, the problem will only continue to grow. amid calls from many of the so-called progressive democrats running for president to do things that make illegally crossing the border legal -- in other words, rather than protecting the sovereignty of our country, securing our borders, they want to actually make entry into the united states legal.
but the work being done by our boarp -- border patrol and health and human services and other nongovernmental organizations at the border to keep our country safe and care for the minors cannot be overstated. the key to solving this crisis isn't opening the door to more illegal immigration. it's removing the pull factors that encourage people to come here in the first place. of course you can imagine if the door was wide open how many people would come from other countries into the united states at will. they would flood our country. that's part of what's happening now, because they don't see any limits or any order or any rules being applied to who enters our country. we are a proud nation of immigrants. we naturalize almost a million people a year. this isn't about being
anti-immigrant. immigrants have made our country stronger. but legal immigration is the key distinction. our friends across the aisle seem to be the champions of illegal immigration. we want our legal, orderly, lawful, rules-based immigration system to work so that it can be fair to everybody rather than let people who have been waiting in line for years to come into the country legally see people jump in line ahead of them and enter the country illegally. that's not fair to them and that's not a rules-based and lawful and orderly system of immigration. well, i've tried to introduce legislation -- i have introduced legislation which would take major steps to achieve filling those gaps, plugging those holes in our asylum and immigration laws. it's called the humane act. this bill would close the flores loophole, streamline the
processing of migrants, improve standards of care which we all want to do for individuals in our custody, and require additional training of customs and border patrol and immigration and customs enforcement employees who work with children. this bill is, to my knowledge, the only bipartisan, bicameral solution that's been offered. it is bicameral. my friend and colleague in the house, henry cuellar from lore lore -- laredo, texas, and i have sponsored this bill, bipartisan, bicameral. as we consider this and other proposals, i hope our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will finally get serious about taking the required action. chairman graham of the judiciary committee tried to organize a bipartisan trip to the border, believing that that would be an important step in helping us witness together the facts on the ground and then hopefully
work together to try to solve the problem. i'm disappointed that none of our democratic colleagues accepted his invitation, and i hope this is not an indication of what our immigration reform discussions will look like moving forward. no desire to help, no desire to solve the problem, no desire to work together in a bipartisan basis. i hope that's not where we are, but i'm fearful that that is exactly where we are. i appreciate the vice president taking the time to visit texas once again and getting a chance to see the front line challenges our officers and agents are facing. i'd say mrs. pence as well, thank her for accompanying the vice president. despite the challenges this humanitarian crisis has brought, the rio grande valley remains a wonderful region characterized by a thriving economy and a vibrant culture.
and you'd be hard pressed to find more generous people. they have been troarld -- extraordinarily generous to the migrants who found their way to our front doorstep and trying to take care of them in a compassionate sort of way. but frankly, they are overwhelmed too. i want to thank the men and women of the broarm as well arer patrol as well as members of the local communities who continue to assist with this humanitarian crisis. it would be nice if congress on a bipartisan basis would lift a finger to help. mr. president, on another matter, this morning the energy and natural resources committee held a hearing to consider numerous bills introduced to promote energy innovation in the united states. breakneck changes in technology have fueled our economy, propelled our communications
sector and completely transformed each of our daily lives. just this alone has done that. but it's time to harness this ingenuity to revolutionize our energy sector. smart policies can't prioritize only conservation, productivey or economic power. we obviously need to strike the proper balance. you're not going to achieve that balance by imposing heavy-handed regulations and driving up costs for consumers. to put it another way, the green new deal will bankrupt our country and crush our innovation economy. instead we've got to harness the power of the private sector and build partnerships that create real solutions. the net power plant in la porte, texas, is a shine knee example of how -- shiny example of how public-private partnerships can drive energy solutions. net power has developed the
first of its kind power system that generates affordable zero emissions electricity from natural gas using their unique carbon captured technology, they have taken natural gas and made it emission-free. this technology is relatively young and it's not ready to be scaled up yet at the national level. but by investing in this type of research, i believe we can take serious strides to decreasing our carbon emissions. and while renewable energy sources like wind and solar, hydropower and biomass have come a long way in recent years, they are not alone sufficient to fuel our economy. as one witness said, the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow, and so you need a baseload of electricity that has to be provided by other sources like natural gas power plants like
the one i saw. last year renewables accounted for 17% of our total energy sources. in texas, as the presiding officer knows, we produce more electricity from wind turbines than any other state in the nation. and, yes, we are an oil and gas state, but we truly believe in the all-of-the-above approach. some people say that and doanlt really mean it -- don't really mean it but we do it every day in texas. while renewables account for 17% of total energy sources, natural gas alone accounts for double that. so imagine if we could take natural gas, a plentiful energy source, inexpensive, and bring more projects like net power online. that's precisely why i introduced the leading act with my colleagues, senator coons, cassidy, and sinema. this bill would incentivize
research and development of carbon-captured technology of natural gas and support energy innovation. this legislation was crafted with the understanding that reliable, affordable and environmentally sound energy supplies are not mutually exclusive. you wouldn't know that sometimes by the rhetoric here in washington. by incentivizing research and the development of new technologies, we can keep costs low for taxpayers, for seniors, for people on fixed income, while securing our place as a global leader in energy innovation. the goal of this legislation is to accelerate development and commercial application of natural gas carbon-capture technologies. we'll do this by requiring the department of energy to establish a program to develop cost-effective carbon-capture technologies for natural gas power facilities. this legislation would also encourage partnerships with the national laboratories as well as
universities and other research facilities to improve and strengthen our efforts. i'm proud that the leading act passed the energy and natural resources committee this morning, and i hope we'll have the opportunity to vote on this and other similar and related bills before the full senate soon. we need smart energy policies that will strengthen our economy without bankrupting american families. or turning the keys over to the central government to regulate our lives, to micromanage our lives. we don't need the federal government to tell us what to do. we need to follow the private sector and innovate our way to solve these problems, and that's exactly what the leading act would do. when you implement policies that get government out of the way and let the experts do their job, you can be pro-energy,
pro-innovation, pro-growth and pro-environment. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. jones: thank you, mr. president. you know, mr. president, today i rise in absolute awe, remaining awe, of what happened in this country and this world 50 years ago this week. i'm still inspired by the events of our space program 50 years ago. 50 years ago today americans of all ages in every corner of this great nation, and, in fact, all over the world, stopped what they were doing to watch in complete awe as apollo 11 launched from cape kennedy headed toward the moon. it's unbelievable what we saw, what we witnessed that earn tire
week -- entire week. it would be the first time that humans would set foot on another celestial body than the earth. we set foot on the moon. that which had captured the imagination of the world since time began, of trying to reach that big, round object in the sky. it was a remarkable feat made possible by the sheer determination and grit of the american space program and all of those who participated in it. you know, i was just a kid growing up in alabama at the time. i lived just a few hours, just two or three hours south of what was known as rocket city, still known as rocket city because of all the work at nasa and our space program today. it's huntsville, alabama. it was a thriving city then and
even more so today. that's where all the rockets were built. that's where the powerful engines were belt, they were tested in huntsville, alabama. some of those stands, most of them are still there today. some of them are about to be used again. the saturn 5, the most powerful rocket engines ever created were built in huntsville, alabama, and they were the engines that would propel man to the moon. i was absolutely mesmerized by all things involving the space program. i still am. i can remember so manile times -- so many times my grandfather, my maternal grandfather, oliver west, papa, we would listen for hours and listen to the commentaries, we watched the liftoff and the splashdowns. some of my best memories as a kid was sitting in front of the
television watching the heroes that i wanted to be, the heroes that america wrapped their arms around. there was nothing -- nothing at the time, and maybe to some extent today, nothing more than i wanted to be than to be an astronaut, than to go into space. it sounds corny for an old man like me to say that, but it is absolutely true. those astronauts, the original mercury 7 astronauts were heroes in every sense of the word. their courage, not having a clue whether or not when they blasted off from florida whether they were return safely, and we did lose astronauts along the way. you know, i did so many things. i read, i studied, i watched. i read papers -- a lot of papers in grammar school and high school were all written about the space program. i'm a memorabilia collector,
including autographed baseballs, i have a few autographed baseballs by some of the astronauts. but i loved reading the newspapers. from the time that apollo 11 took off and the news said man sets foot on the moon, i collected every one of those newspapers. they are still at home. they are a prized collection. we knew every name of every astronaut. we stood there with intense mesmerizing attention to every moment of those launches. it was something that captivated this entire country. it was a unifying time. it was a unifying force at a time when america needed it. the 1960's, 1969 for apollo 11. it was a time when we needed that sense of collective pride.
we needed that sense of unification. we had gone through tough times during the civil rights era. we had gone through and we're still in the midst of the vietnam war and all that it tore our country asunder. we saw all that happened in 1968. we saw the deaths of john kennedy, robert kennedy, and martin luther king. but the space program was that one sense of pride. it didn't take a tragedy to unify america at that time. it took success. it took a build of what we do, it took our determination, it took knowing that we were the most patriotic and we were going to beat those russians to the moon. it sounds so corny these days, but it was absolutely the case. we were going to do it. it was going to be the united states of america, and doing gone, we -- doggone, we did it. a lot has changed, but we're
still building on this legacy in space in huntsville, alabama, and with nasa and we're going to inspire a new generation and more generations to come of alabamans and americans, people all across this country to reach even loftier heights. yes, a lot has changed since 1969, 50 years ago, but there's a reason that space flight and exploration of other worlds continue to capture our attention and continue to capture our imagination. it's because at the end of the day, we're all dreamers many we dream to those loftier heights. we always dream, we always want to make this country great -- consistently make this country great. we always want to reach for the stars, whether it's in our personal lives or whether it is collectively as a country, that's what we do. we are dreamers. so today, 50 years after the launch of apollo, and on
saturday we will celebrate 50 years of the actual steps on the lunar surface. today we celebrate the achievement of a dream five decades ago, but a dream that started long, long before that. long before president kennedy challenged america to put a man on the moon. but looking back, it was really just the beginning 50 years ago. it showed us that a true moon shot was possible and quite literally opened our world to new possibilities. today we are reaching for human space flight back to the moon, to mars, and it's not just us. other countries are doing the same. we're looking for a return flight to the moon for deeper exploration. we're receiving pictures from the furthest reaches of the galaxy, things we have never seen before. we have seen the surface, we have landed rovers on the moon's
surface and seen the pictures and done the tests. it's unbelievable. who would have thought it some 50, 60 years ago when i was a kid. today we have a greater understanding of the universe around us and how we can apply that knowledge to our own lives and we continue to reach for the stars. yes, mr. president, a lot has changed but a lot hasn't. we still have the divisions -- we still have divisions in this country and we still need that unifying voice. we still have that sense of pride that we can all, everybody can wrap their arms around. today we seem to be divided more than we were during the height of the vietnam war. we seem to be divided over the very issues that my friend, senator cornyn, was talking about a moment ago with immigration. we're divided over politics and the partisan divide.
we're divided over gun violence. you name it, and we are divided. so we need that unifying voice. we need that unifying -- something positive that we can all wrap our arms around. it's not just -- it's not just a holiday. and even sometimes now in today's world, unfortunately, even our holidays get divided. even our holidays are -- people go to their corners for political reasons on both sides of the aisle, make no mistake, folks. i'm not casting a stone one way or another, i'm casting it across this land. people are divided and we have to honor the visionaries of long ago as well as the visionaries of today who think big and dream big and give our nation a collective sense of purpose and unity, a collective sense of unity and purpose, not a
divisive sense of purpose or for their own benefit but a collective sense of unity and purpose. we can honor those folks by setting aside all of the differences we see. we can honor those folks every time a hot but button message is said on the floor or in a tweet or in a facebook post or in the national news. we can set aside our differences, we honor folks by setting aside our differences today. we can honor those folks by remembering our collective pride and who we are as americans, by making sure that all men and women are created equal and living up to the creed that we so proudly point to in the declaration of independence and the constitution. we can do that again and we can honor these visionaries by coming together, reaching across
the aisle, but also reaching within our aisle to bring people together to talk about those things that we can do together and point with a sense of pride. we can do it by once again being the leader of the world and not to go by everything alone and asking our friends and allies to join us in these collective efforts to make us stronger. yes, mr. president, we owe those folks a great debt of gratitude for making america a leader in space, a leader in the world, and giving us all something to dream about. let us now meet that challenge in a different way. let us continue to explore space, let us continue to reach for the stars, but let us dedicate ourselves from becoming that unit -- for becoming that unified voice so that something we can dream about is one america -- one america, not a
house divided but one america for everyone. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: first i have a unanimous consent request for the leadership, and that request is for nine requests of committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of both the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. grassley: then also, mr. president, since it's getting close to shutting down time, i ask permission to speak through the entire of my remarks and i promise the president it won't be too long. mr. cruz: without objection. mr. grassley: okay. i come to talk to my colleagues today about the deeply flawed
eb-5 green card program. several weeks ago we learned that the office of office of management and budget at the white house had completed its review of the new rules to update reform of the eb-5 program. and i've been an advocate for reforming this program for a long, long period of time. i even talked several times to the white house about moving had these regulations along. now that they've been reviewed by o.m.b., for the rule to come into effect, it must now be published in the federal register. the rule was first proposed january 2017. we've been waiting for it to be finished for two and a half years. i hope that president trump now makes that happen as soon as
possible. the proposed rule would raise the minimum investment amounts required under the program. it also makes sure investments are directed to rural areas and truly high employment areas as congress intended when eb-5 was created in 1990. considering those points of where eb-5 ought to be concentrated, and now looking at how they've been diverted from the original intent from congress, is the very best reason for these rules to be put in place. get us back to square one, the original intent of the law. since 1990's, rampant and abusive gerrymandering of the
eb-5's program targeted areas has undermined that congressional intent which was to direct it toward high unemployment areas and rural areas. instead of channeling investment to rural and high unemployment areas, eb-5 has become a source of foreign capital for big-city, big moneyed interests. the targeted area reforms in the proposed rule would take a first step towards refocusing eb-5 investment in the way that congress originally intended in that 1990's legislation. in addition to channeling investment away from the areas of our country that need it the most, this is what has happened. the eb-5 program has been plagued with other forms of
fraud and abuse, and this has been going on for years and years. there are examples of e.b. fraud from all over the country, and i'm going to give you just a few examples as a reminder to the president why these rules need to be put out into the federal register right away. in chicago, a businessman defrauded 290 investors of $150 million in funds that were supposed to be used for construction of a hotel and conference center near o'hare airport. in palm beach, florida, a real estate developer and real estate attorney teamed up to defraud 60 chinese and iranian eb-5 investors of $50 million.
instead of that money being used to fund the construction of a proposed hotel, it was instead used to pay personal taxes and purchase a 151-foot yacht. in wisconsin now, a businessman used over half of the seven and six-tenths million-dollar in funds that he solicited from investors to pay for personal expenses including green bay packers tickets and the purchase of a cadillac escalade. i could go on all day. in may of 2017, the u.s. citizenship and immigration services conducted an internal fraud assessment and found 19 cases of national security concerns within the eb-5 program. now those are national security concerns. the number-one responsibility of the federal government is to
protect the american people, and that involves national security. these cases related to terrorism, espionage, and information and technology transfer. unfortunately, multiple bipartisan efforts in the congress to reform the eb-5 program have been consistently stymied by powerful special interest groups and big moneyed interests. and because i've been in the middle of those battles and they're bipartisan battles over the years, i know exactly where these big-moneyed interests are coming from and the special interest groups that keep this program from being reformed. and now we have an opportunity for one person, the president of the united states, through regulation to reform this program in a way that's very helpful. so that makes a publication of the eb-5 rules even more
important. i applaud president trump and the administration for getting the proposed rule to this point. but now it's time for the president and his team to finish the process and make sure the final rule goes into effect as soon as possible. iowans and all americans who live in rural high unemployment areas deserve to have the investment that congress intended when the eb-5 program was created almost 30 years ago. president trump and his administration now have a chance to finally address some of the very serious flaws in this program that have hurt rural america. we've been waiting for these reforms for over two years. it's time for this final rule to be published, and it needs to happen right now, if not sooner. i rise also today for the purpose of expressing my support
for the passage of the resolution of advice and consent that the senate is considering this week with respect to the protocols to our tax treaties with spain, switzerland, japan and luxembourg. tax treaties are a very integral part of the architecture of our tax system. for example, these treaties would help define the rules of the road for cross-border investment and trade for u.s. individuals and companies doing business in one of our trading partners' countries, like spain, as an example, and for individuals and companies in those countries doing business in the united states. the protocols provide us today today -- the protocols before us today provide important updates to the tax treaties with these four countries. in general, several of them lower withholding taxes and
include provisions to prevent double taxation. several provide mechanisms for resolving disputes in a timely manner through mandatory binding arbitration. in addition, they provide important updates through the exchange of information provisions in the underlying treaties. now i'm aware of the concerns that have been raised regarding the standard used to provide for such exchange of information. the standard provided for in these protocols is that relevant information shall be changed between the united states and its treaty partners. that relevant standard has been used throughout our treaty network for decades and is also the standard used in the u.s. domestic tax laws.
this issue was raised last month in the foreign relations committee, and an amendment was offered to the resolution regarding the protocol with spain that would have required a narrower standard. that amendment was appropriately defeated. if the issue is raised again as an amendment here on the floor, i would urge my colleagues to vote no on the amendment. these four protocols have been awaiting action by the senate for many years. in some cases it has been nearly a decade. it is important that the senate fulfill its constitutional duty to provide its advice and consent on tax treaties and protocols. it's also important that our treaty partners know that the united states really values these agreements and negotiates these treaties and protocols in good faith with the expectation that they will be implemented
without lengthy delays. our actions on these protocols are also timely given international effort to address the effects of digital ization on the international tax system. for the past several months representatives from the treasury department have been actively engaged in negotiations at the organization of economic cooperation and development. these talks are focused on finding a multilateral agreement to these issues and avoiding the regrettable unilateral approach that some countries have taken, most notably, france. ultimately if these negotiations are successful, there could be a need for the united states to update its bilateral income tax treaties. it's important that the senate take action on the pending protocols and send a strong
signal to our treaty partners that the international tax agreements are a priority for our country. in addition to moving forward on these four protocols, we have three new income tax treaties with chile, hungary, and poland that are awaiting action by the foreign relations committee. i urge chairman risch and ranking member menendez to use the wave of momentum that is building this week to move forward on those three new treaties and send them to the floor of the united states senate as fully -- as soon as possible. and i thank the chairman and ranking member for moving these protocols to the floor. these leaders of that committee were -- these treaties were reported favorably by the
committee by voice vote without amendment, and their consideration is long overdue. i also thank leader mcconnell, minority leader schumer for their efforts to bring these protocols up for consideration on the floor this week. i urge all of my colleagues to vote yes on these resolutions of advice and consent. and, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate previous order, the senate >> the u.s. senate gaveling out for the weekly party caucus meetings. this afternoon lawmakers will vote on a judge on the third circuit court of appeals. they will also vote to move forward on a tax treaty with spain. follow live senate coverage here on c-span2. today marks the 50th anniversary of the apollo 11 launch. michael collins is at the kennedy space center launch
complex today to mark the occasion. the smithsonian air and space museum in washington, d.c. is holding several anniversary events. 50 years ago apollo astronauts neil armstrong and buzz aldrin took the historic first steps on the moon on july 20. the rocket launch itself took place on july 16, 1969. >> former special counsel robert mueller is on capitol hill next week testifying and back to back earrings and a possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by president trump and russian interference in the 2016 president election. our live all-day coverage on wednesday, july 24 start at 8:30 a.m. eastern. watch live on c-span3, online c-span.org, , or listen with the free c-span radio app. the u.s. house is taking up resolution condemning president trump's recent tweets directed at new