tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN July 30, 2019 10:00am-12:56pm EDT
after the votes the senate will recess for the weekly party caucus meetings. later in the week, the senate will take up the federal budget and kelly craft to be the next ambassador to the u.n. now to live coverage of the senate 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. eternal god, who provides us with strength for life's journey. today, empower our senators with an extraordinary measure of grace to accomplish your purposes.
as they work under the duress of time and pressures from diverse interests, inspire them to strive to live with integrity, making ethical decisions that honor you. lord, be with their staff members who run the office and provide the data needed for responsible decisions. be also with those who process the mountains of business in and out of the cloakrooms. lord, sustain those who transcribe the debates for the congressional record. bless those who monitor parliamentary order, schedules, and voting records.
protect those who provide security at the doors, on the floor, and on the street. and, lord, bless our pages. strengthen all who are a part of the senate's support system, surrounding them with your protection and favor. we pray in your strong name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting 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.
the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask permission to address the senate one minute in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i want to take our nation and my colleagues back to the revolutionary war. more than 240 years ago sailors aboard the warship warren disclosed significant misconduct by the commander of the continental navy. the congress then recognized these brave whistle-blowers' valuable contribution to our brand-new republic because on this day, today, 1778, congress passed this resolution saying, quote, it is the duty of all persons in the service of the united states to give the
earliest information to congress or others proper authorities of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states. that's the beginning of the government recognizing whistle-blowers as a -- as valuable patriots. following in their footsteps, this senate has manies unanimously agreed to designate today as national whistle-blowers appreciation day. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senate has a lot of important business to attend to before we adjourn for the august state work period. as a reminder to all our colleagues, here's our considerable to-do list for this week. later this morning we'll vote to confirm two more of president trump's impressive nominees for district court. michael t. liburdi of the district of arizona, and peter
welte for the district of north dakota. they are the first two of a significant list of judges, 19 in all, that the senate needs to process that the -- before we wrap up the week. we can't head home before making a significant dent in the backlog. in addition, the senate is not going anywhere until we confirm two impressive nominees to executive branch positions that play a vital role in u.s. foreign policy and national security. ambassador kelly craft is president trump's excellent choice to serve as our ambassador to the united nations. david l. norquist is his pick for deputy secretary of defense. needless to say, madam president, these are troubling times in a troubled world. we need to give both of these highly capable public servants on the job this week.
finally, we must also pass the bipartisan government funding agreement that president trump's negotiating team worked out with speaker pelosi. in the the realties of divided government, it is a strong deal that achieves our number-one priority to invest seriously in rebuilding the readiness of our armed forces and modernizing them to meet challenges of today. the trump administration negotiated their way to a major win on defense. the house passed a compromise legislation as the president is ready and waiting to sign it. once the senate passes it later this week, he can sign it into law, taking funding crisis and long-term continuing resolutions off the table and pave congress' path toward a regular appropriations process that will provide the resources our military commanders and our service commanders need to keep us safe.
so i would urge all my colleagues to join president trump in support of this legislation when we vote on it later this week. now one final matter, as senate majority leader, it is my honor this morning to acknowledge a truly remarkable legacy of service to the senate and really to the nation. next month the senate page school will say goodbye to its beloved principal. after 26 years heading up this unique institution, our very own ms. katherine weeden is starting a new chapter as a very deserving retiree. for more than a quarter century, principal weeden has been a constant anchor in a place where rotation and change are par for the course. the page school, as we know, welcomes a new class of high-achieving young people from all across the country every semester. these students' experience is
most famous for the fast paced hands on is exposure to the inner workings of the government that it involves. in the early mornings and late evenings when they are not delivering bill texts around the capitol, assisting members on the floor or engaging in any other tasks that help this place actually run, they are also dealing with the academic rigors of the 11th grade. 30 teenagers at a time living, studying, and working full time on capitol hill. needless to say, keeping this unique arrangement running smoothly is less than an ordinary job. even a full-time one, and more like a life's mission. and by all accounts, it's a mission principal weeden has executed with constant competence, total professionalism and the utmost great. if i had to guess, a large share of that grace was spent in 5:00 a.m. meetings most
mornings. that's typically when she would first encounter what i'm sure were the most chipper and alert 16- and 17-year olds around. but while the hundreds of pages who have worked, studied and grown under principal weeden's watch may not miss their early morning math class, they sure will miss her. they left with lasting memories of her compassion. among recent graduates of the page program, some of whom i've been proud to sponsor through my own office, the conclusion is clear, principal weeden is simply the best. they remember the way she would make time for weekly one-on-one meetings to check up on their progress and talk about their future goals. they remember the way she radiated excitement, leading the school in assembling care packages for service members deployed overseas. they remember her reassuring words and for helping them put the daily stresses of high
school in perspective. inevitably, after 26 years, principal weeden's legacy is counted in the flood of letters sharing stories like these following the news of her retirement. but it's also measured in her commitment to transform the page scool as a top-notch academic institution. thanks to her no-nonsense leadership its rigors earned the respect of prestigious universities and that it continues to attract talented and passionate educators to carry on in her example. unsurprisingly the colleagues and faculty whom ms. weeden has mentored and supervised is no less enthusiastic in her praise than her former students. talking to them about their departing boss, you hear words like discipline, nurturing,
and patriotic. you're painted a picture that looks something like a mother superior, a no-nonsense administrator, an exacting leader, and a true friend all in one. being entrusted with the care, feeding, education, and maturation of so many young men and women over so many years would be an accomplishment no matter where principal weeden had worked. but to do all that at the senate page school means something even more. to a special degree, her legacy will have helped form and saipped -- shaped america's civic future for the better. because she gave of herself so generously to a special class of young people, those who are so interested in our american government, they just had to come see it firsthand, so today the senate celebrates this outstanding legacy and warmly congratulates principal weeden on such a tremendous
mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: we are. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now, madam president, the senate has just a few more days this week to pass legislation who lift the budget caps and extend the debt ceiling before the summer state work period. as the minority leader, i don't have control over the schedule here on the floor, much to my dismay. so i'm left to ask my friend, the majority leader, who does control the floor schedule why don't we vote on the caps deal today?
the four congressional leaders and the white house reached an agreement two weeks ago. the president supports it. the house has already passed it. secretary mnuchin has said we needed this legislation urgently, before the state work period, because he can't guarantee we won't hit the debt ceiling before congress reconvenes. the majority leader spoke about the importance of moving the budget agreement back in mid may. now the clock is ticking. so i'd like to make clear to the leader and all of my friends on the other side of the aisle, as well as all americans, democrats are ready to vote on the house bill today so it can get to the president's desk and we can avoid even a glimmer of default. on another matter, last week, former special counsel mueller testified that russian interference in our democracy, quote, wasn't a single attempt. they're doing it as we sit here,
and they expect to do it in the next campaign. the russians, he said, interfered in the last election and are trying to interfere again. quote, he said much more needs to be done, said mueller, in order to protect against these intrusions, not just by the russians but by others as well. and it was not just mueller who said these things or agreed with these ideas and sentiments. f.b.i. director wray, appointed by president trump, has shared similar sentiments. departing d.n.i. director coats, lifelong republican, former member of this body, well respected by all, and appointed by president trump, has repeatedly warned about the threat posed by russia. the senate intelligence committee, chaired by a republican, senator burr, did the same. it is with these facts as the backdrop, the testimony of prominent republicans, allies of president trump, friends and
allies of our colleagues here that democrats have been pushing for election security. so far, to little avail. leader mcconnell and the republican majority have not allowed a single election security bill to reach the floor of the senate. we haven't had a single bill open for amendment all year, so last week, understandably frustrated at the lack of progress, democrats asked unanimous consent to pass house legislation to safeguard our elections. leader mcconnell blocked that request, saying yesterday, quote, i'm not going to let democrats and their water carriers in the media use russia's attack on our democracy as a trojan horse for a partisan wish list of items. partisan wish list of items? really. what are these items on our partisan wish list, you might ask? using paper ballots, that's
partisan? using paper ballots is widely agreed upon as a reform to protection our elections from manipulation. does leader mcconnell object to paper ballots? does leader mcconnell believe paper ballots are partisan? they're part of our elections, whoever wins. how about this one? we wanted post-election audits to make sure the russians or any other foreign power didn't interfere. does leader mcconnell object to auditing our elections to make sure the outcomes are accurate? are election audits partisan? making sure the states and localities have adequate resources to update and maintain election infrastructure. does leader mcconnell oppose that? 21 attorneys general have said they don't have enough money now to guard their election processes and machines from manipulation by russia or
others. so that's, quote, our partisan wish list -- paper ballots, election audits, money to protect us from the russians. if leader mcconnell opposes these policies, fine, but let him say so. these are not, i repeat, protecting our election from russian interference is not a democratic issue, a republican issue, an independent issue. it's not a liberal issue. it's not a conservative issue. it's not a moderate issue. it's an issue that goes to the wellspring of our democracy, something the founding fathers warned about. foreign interference. james madison, thomas jefferson, george washington, benjamin franklin, all were worried about foreign interference in our elections, and now leader mcconnell calls that partisan to worry about it?
please. if leader mcconnell wants to have other legislation than we proposed and that that passed the house, legislation like the fire act or the duty to report act or the prevention of foreign interference with elections act, bring it on, let's do it. if leader mcconnell wants to address election security in the appropriations process, we would welcome his support on an amendment to send more funding to the states. we want to get something done on election security because this is not, is not about party. this is a matter of national security. this is about the sanctity of elections, something americans have died for for generations. it's not partisan at all. it's the wellspring of our democracy. but so long as the senate republicans prevent legislation from reaching the floor, so long as they oppose additional
appropriations to the states, so long as they malign election security provisions as, quote, partisan wish lists, the critics are ripe to say leader mcconnell and republican senators are blocking election security, because at the moment, that's true. one last subject. after i conclude my remarks, i'll yield to my friend, colleague, former roommate from illinois, who will ask this body to take up and pass what i believe is a very important measure -- temporary protected status for venezuelans currently residing in the united states. last week, the house passed bipartisan legislation that would grant these protections, a lifeline to families who are facing a forced return to unstable and dangerous situations in their country. few nations outside wartime have endured the economic, humanitarian, and political devastation that venezuela
endures today. hospitals and pharmacies lack basic medicines. the rate of violent crime has risen sharply. 300,000 children are at risk of dying from malnutrition. venezuela clearly needs the standard for temporary protected status. the situation is too dire, too dangerous for venezuelan nationals to return to the country. so i'm glad the house has taken action to pass these temporary protections on a bipartisan basis, and the senate should do the following. the president could have acted on his own to help venezuelans live in america, but he has repeatedly denied congressional requests to extend t.p.s. relief for them during this critical time of transition from the despotic regime of nicolas maduro. president trump's inaction has compelled congress to act. so i salute my friend, senator durbin, as well as senator menendez, our two leaders on
this issue. as they ask the senate to take up the house-passed t.p.s. bill. i hope earnestly that our friends on the other side will let it go through. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum for a moment so i might confer with my friend from illinois. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection.
under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, michael t. liburdi of arizona to be united states district judge for the district of arizona. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: thank you, madam president. i want to thank the leader, senator schumer, from new york for his introduction of the remarks i am about to make, but before i do, let me preface it by saying i couldn't agree with him more. when you take a look at this empty senate chamber and realize we are in session this week, with the possibility of bringing important legislation to the floor, you have to ask the obvious question -- where is everybody? why aren't we acting like a senate? why are we meeting and having speeches instead of debate on important legislation? and what could be more important than the security of an election? we have a lot of young people
across america, we say to them register to vote. your vote makes a difference. you get to choose the leaders for this country's future. be sure and vote. but we've got to be honest with them. your vote is under attack, first by apathy, people don't register and they don't vote, but second by outside foreign influence and forces. we know what happened four years ago in the presidential election. the russians tried to invade the united states electoral process and change it. i know that first hand because it happened first in the state of illinois. it turns out someone put together a computer program that had a little opening in it, a little hole, and that's all they needed. sitting out in moscow, these folks in front of computers are searching day in and day out searching for ways to get in the voter list in illinois. they were successful.
successful in invading the voter lists of the people in our state of people eligible to vote. they could have done some mischievous things. they could have disrupted our election. thank goodness they didn't. it's as simple as changing one digit in the address of a voter, so when that person came to vote, the i.d. card wouldn't match up in terms of your address with the official record, and that meant that you would vote with a provisional ballot and those ballots would stack up with the thousands of people who could have been victimized by the russians in my state of illinois. we said it very publicly, we were the first state to say publicly, the russians have done this to us. we didn't see any changes in the voter file. we knew they had the capacity and ability to do it, but they didn't. we know every since they have been attacking the electoral
process. why didn't we hear about it in the most recent election in 2018, because we were fighting them. our intelligence agencies were fighting them. so this is a valid issue, an important issue, and it's one that i hope leader schumer made clear to those listening to this debate. why won't senator -- why won't senator mitch mcconnell bring to the floor of the united states election security legislation -- bipartisan legislation -- that will in the course of passing it make us safer when it comes to our electoral process? what is it this kind of bromance between the president and vladimir putin, i don't understand it, but now it seems that senator mcconnell is joining in this effort, keep our hands off of russia, don't confront russia. i don't understand why the senator from kentucky is taking that position. he should be pushing forward on
a bipartisan basis to protect our election security. now, i see my friend and colleague, republican colleague from utah is here, and i know the purpose of his attendance, but i'm about to make a statement about t.p.s. status for venezuelans in the united states. i'll preface it briefly, make my request and allow the senator from utah, if he doesn't want to stay to respond, and then i will continue. last year i went to venezuela. it was my first time. and i met with president nicholas miew did mu du jouro -- muduro, and i said if you have the election you plan to have it will not be durable and you will find many will reject the outcome. have a real election, a free election. venezuela needs it not just from a constitutional viewpoint but your economy is in shambles and if you want the world to join you in building the venezuelan
economy, you have to be the credible leader and you can't be if you go through this election as planned. that was my speech. it didn't work. he had the election as he had planned it. he made sure that his opponents were under house arrest or in jail. he fixed the vote and declared himself a winner and no one accepted it. and so across the world you find this resistance to his leadership. there are some 70,000 people from venezuela in the united states. they are here on visitors' visas, work visas, student visas, similar capacities. they are being asked now to return to venezuela. but listen to the circumstances. in venezuela we know that it's not safe for americans to visit. senator menendez has spoken on this issue. he's joining me in this effort today. we are warning americans, it is unsafe to visit venezuela, but we're telling the venezuelans
who are in the united states they have to go back. what we're asking for is temporary protected status for these venezuelans to stay in the united states during the pendency of this contest going on about the future of that nation. people are literally starving to death in venezuela. they have no medicine. it's in the worst possible situation. how can we, in good conscience, say to these venezuelans who are in the united states, you have to return. so the purpose of my effort today on the floor is to say that we should discharge from the judiciary committee legislation that allows these venezuelans to stay here while we have declared it so dangerous in their home country. it is a rational and thoughtful thing to do. though, sadly, the trump administration has sent me a letter saying they don't approve of it. it's time for congress to act. it's time for the senate to act. i will make my formal motion at this point because senator lee
has come to the floor. madam president, as if in legislative session, i ask unanimous consent that the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 549, and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration, further, that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. lee: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: madam president, reserving the right to object. i have to raise a couple of observations here. it's important to note that this bill was passed by the house of representatives thursday night. we just received the paperwork from the house of representatives yesterday. this was a bill that did not pass unanimously in the house of representatives, far from it. there were at least 158 republicans who voted against it. there are a number of my colleagues here in the senate who, like me, would like to see
this, and many other bills considered, but we'd like also the opportunity to adequately review the legislation as passed and propose amendments and have those amendments voted on it. so passing this bill right now without that opportunity to review it, to propose amendments, to have those considered and just passing this unanimously is not the way we ought to pass this legislation. i'm happy to work with my distinguished colleague and my revered friend from illinois in moving in that direction, but we're not ready to pass this by unanimous consent. we have amendments to propose so on that basis, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. durbin: i thank my colleague from utah though i'm sorry he objected to my request. why are we moving so quickly on this? because it's a meter of life and death, that's why. why have we determined this is
an emergency nature, this process, that the house has moved on this already? because literally people who are forced to return to venezuela may face death, and that's why we're moving on this as quickly as we are. i want to thank the house of representatives for passing this measure. it's time for the senate to act, and we certainly from the -- have the time on the floor to achieve that. as i mentioned, if you go to venezuela, as i did last year, you can see literally on the streets the impact of this disintegration of their economy and the problems that they are facing. i visited the children's hospital in caracas, and it was heartbreaking for the medical staff to sit down at the table and to tell me that they didn't have the basic medicines that we find in our medicine chests at home or in the clinics of america when it comes to treating these children. they didn't have antibiotics, they didn't have cancer drugs. the economy is disintegrating before our eyes in venezuela.
and these people, venezuelans in the united states, students and others, are saying they would like to remain in the united states and stay here until it's more stable in their country. historically there were no questions asked. we did that. we've done it over and over again. but under this administration whenever the word immigrant comes into the conversation, they freeze. the same trump administration that has told us the maduro regime is unacceptable and we have to get rid of it because of the terrible things that are happening that the venezuelan people should have a free election to decide their leader, this same administration will not help the venezuelans who say they are fearful to head home to a country that is so dangerous. let me read what this says about people who may want to visit from the united states to venezuela. to me it tells a whole story. here's what the trump state department says about venezuela
today. advisory to american citizens, do not travel to venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure and arbitrary arrest and detention of u.s. citizens. violent crimes such as homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping and carjacking are common. there are shortages of food, electricity, water, medicine, and medical supplies throughout venezuela. those are the words from the trump administration about the country of venezuela. when i ask those who are venezuelan who are in our country not to be forced to return to this condition, there's an objection, not only from my friend, the republican senator from utah, but also from the trump administration. now, make no mistake, if temporary protected status is granted, that does not mean we won't ask any questions of the venezuelans here. they will have to go through a criminal background check. if there's a dangerous person,
they are gone, no questions. they are gone. that's the way it should be. but for those in my state who are university students who have their visas coming to an end, they said to me, senator durbin, will you allow me to stay in the united states until it's safe in my country? is that an unusual request? if there were americans in a similar plight around the world, wouldn't we say, give them a break, give them a chance to stay in a safe place. i want to close and i will defer to my friend from new jersey, senator menendez, on this issue. when i went to venezuela last year in caracas, i had a dinner meeting, and it was an unusual one because it was with six members of their general assembly who were opponents of president maduro, who is the president of that country. these opposition leaders opposed him and their lives are at stake
because of it. we had a dinner in a restaurant. it was an unusual dinner. it was in a backroom and the door was closed so no one could see us. there were six of them, and they said to me, if you come back next year, senator, two of us will have been deported, two of us will be in prison, and two of us will have disappeared. that's what happens in venezuela if you oppose president m aduro. one of those six was a man named juan guido. i met him there for the first time. little did i know he would put his life and his family's life on the line to say i think venezuela needs new leadership. exceptional courage. i met him then and met his wife since they are literally risking their lives for their country. they understand how dangerous it is. all i ask on the floor is for
those venezuelans to stay here in safety until the political scenario plays out. if they are allowed to stay here, that's all i was asking for, temporary protected status. i'm sorry senator lee objected, he did note though, in some period of time, i hope soon, he will reconsider that position and give us a chance to provide the safety for the people, venezuelans visiting here in the united states. because he's here and been such a great ally of mine and has made such a great effort, i would like to yield the floor to senator menendez. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: let me thank my colleague from illinois who has been a clarion voice in this regard, a strong proponent of human rights and democracy in venezuela and in other parts of the world, but in this case venezuela, who's traveled there at a time in which people could not travel, certainly from the congress, in an effort to see if there is a pathway forward and
to see the plight of the venezuelan people. and i really appreciate his cosponsorship with me on temporary protected status for venezuelans. his leadership is critically important not only as the democratic whip but also as a senior member of the judiciary committee, that i hope can take us this legislation. i will say this, i regret our colleague from utah, one, objected, and, two, left. i would make two observations on his comments. number one is there was a wrong bipartisan vote in the house of representatives so, no, there was not unanimity, but there was a strong bipartisan vote in the house of representatives. and, secondly, this legislation has been over here in the senate for some time. we offered it for some time so it's not new. and, thirdly, i would just say as to whether or not we get to legitimate in this chamber, that depends upon the majority leader
and his side of the aisle that controls the floor. we would like to see legislating take place. we'd be happy to have a debate on the fierce urgency of now as it relates to this issue of t.p.s. temporary -- underline -- temporary protected status. you know, i fear that my colleague was unaware of what he objected to. this is urgently needed legislation that would have granted that temporary -- underline temporary protected. this is a class of people who need to be protected to approximately 200,000 venezuelans currently residing in the united states. as we all know, the maduro regime has created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in venezuela that has now forced more than four million
venezuelans and migrants to flee their homeland. more than four million. think about it. this is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophe and refugee situations we have in the world and that's something considering what happened in syria and other places in the world, right here in our own hemisphere. in response to this humanitarian tragedy, last december -- so this has been around several months, senator durbin offered the first bipartisan bill to provide t.p.s. for venezuelans which we reintroduced in february. last week the house passed their own bipartisan version of the legislation which supported dozens of republican members. it's an unconscionable moral failing for the senate not to approve this legislation. earlier this month, as the senior member of the senate foreign relations committee, i traveled to the venezuelan border to see the crisis
firsthand. i returned convinced that we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines any longer. my colleague, i think, would not have objected to t.p.s. for venezuelans if he saw what i saw. during my trip on the colombian side of the simon bolivar national bridge between colombia and venezuela, a midst of thousands of venezuelans refugees, 30,000 crossed each and every day, and migrants that cross into colombia each and every day. i joined thousands of venezuelans who were fleeing hunger as they sought food at the divine providence soup kitchen. i visited patients seeking medical care that is no longer available in venezuela. by the way, venezuela should be one of the wealthiest countries in the western hemisphere. it has huge oil and natural gas reserves. but despite that, they can't
get medical care in venezuela because the hospital system has completely collapsed. and when i was there in colombia at the border, the united nations high commissioner for human rights issued a report decrying that the maduro regime security forces had murdered, murdered nearly 7,000 venezuelans in the last two years. 7,000. my colleague cannot possibly want to return venezuelans to the cruel conditions that they're fleeing. that's what temporary protected status is all about. now i have applauded, i don't find too many times which i'm in agreement with the trump administration, but i supported their efforts on sanctions and other efforts around those around the maduro regime so that we can restore democracy and human rights. but how can you say and do all the things that you are doing in venezuela and then have a deportation force that wants to
round up these people that have done nothing wrong and then send them back to the country where 7,000 have been killed by maduro? these extraordinary conditions have scattered millions of venezuelans in countries across the americas. today 1.3 million reside in colombia, 750,000 in peru, 250,000 in ecuador, and the numbers keep growing. colombia and its neighbors have largely welcomed venezuelans as they flee a devastating humanitarian catastrophe. but not approving this bill today, the u.s., the united states, is failing to match their efforts and failing to approve temporary protected status for the vulnerable venezuelans already living in our country. for those who doubt whether t.p.s. would make a difference for these venezuelan families, let me just share with you a few stories provided to my office by the respected venezuelan human rights group.
bomas is the mother of luis david, a four-year-old who has a delicate heart condition. in venezuela, yuli asked for help from everyone she could but all she received was prescription for painkillers, and in a closed door meeting she was told privately, wait for the inevitable death of her child. four years old. just imagine being told to wait for a son or daughter to succomb to a treatable illness. no parent would do that. and so after great personal sacrifice, yuli made it to the united states and admitted her son into boston children's hospital. three years later david is thriving, but he requires frequent checkups and treatments that remain unavailable in venezuela to this day. then there's lela who resides in my home state of new jersey. her nephew who once lived with
her in caracas is a pilot in the venezuelan armed forces. he was wrongly arrested for plotting to overthrow maduro. in the absence of evidence he was released from jail but on his way home received a call warning him that military counter intelligence agents were waiting for him. when he tried to hide, security forces arbitrarily arrested his mother, his girlfriend, and his father-in-law. the following day he was detained and charged once more, again with no evidence. he remains in prison today. even lela who has publicly advocated for his release, has been labeled as a terrorist on national television by the regime thug. finally let me share the story of acosta. his brother raphael was detained on june 1, 2019 by members of the venezuelan military counter intelligence. after being forcibly imprisoned for a week on june 28 of 2019, captain acosta was rolled into
an arraignment hearing in a wheelchair, visibly affected by torture. he died the following day. the kind of torture that took captain accosta's life is one of the many dangers that venezuelans in the united states would need to fear if we don't approve t.p.s. the maduro regime's unthinkable abuses have created a full-blown refugee crisis in our own hemisphere. these extraordinary and what we pray are temporary conditions prevent millions of venezuelans from safely returning home, including nearly 200,000 in our own country. madam president, there has been a broad bipartisan support for the trump administration's effort to confront the maduro regime. however, as we confront maduro, we cannot turn our back on the venezuelan people. unfortunately, today the senate has chosen not to act.
we could have sent legislation to the president's desk that ensures that vulnerable venezuelans in the united states are not sent back into a harm's way, into potentially death or imprisonment. instead we did nothing. this is a tragedy in its own right. this is what we could have avoided today. and i just hope, and i'm sure that senator durbin and i will continue to push forward, will challenge both the leadership here to allow us either to have this passed or give us a vote. i think the community should know who stands on their side and whether or not they're willing to protect them temporarily from the enormous humanitarian catastrophe, the great risks of the loss of life or liberty that exists for venezuelans here in the united states who have fled to freedom.
we're going to go out of session at the end of this week, so that means all of these people will languish for the summer not knowing whether in fact they can be deported back to a country for which they may very well lose their life or their liberty. that is pretty outrageous. if we cannot get it done this week, then i hope to god we can get it done in september. because if not, i worry about a continuing crisis that will create only a greater uncertainty, that will create greater risk to those who are simply fleeing freedom and who are being, by the way, very productive citizens here while they are temporarily in our country. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i want to thank my colleague from new jersey for his statement and his leadership on this issue. it is timely. and when you think about the circumstances, i'm reminded when i was in caracas last year, it was 11:00 at night after i finished this dinner
with the opposition leaders. as i was headed back to the hotel, i saw long lines of people standing by a.t.m. machines at 11:00 at night and i asked what that was all about. they're facing hyperinflation in venezuela, a million percent, whatever it may be. these people every day have to stand in line to withdraw the maximum amount from their savings accounts so that the next morning they have enough money to take the bus to work. that's the circumstance. it is -- it has just collapsed. the economy of this country has cole latopsed. the -- collapsed. the medical care is virtually nonexistent. diseases are returning. children are dying from diseases which will long ago we believed were gone. now they're back because there is no vaccine, nothing to treat these children. when we asked the trump administration, which told us they want to get rid of maduro,
they want to give the venezuelans a chance at a free election, when we asked would you show sympathy for venezuelans here in the united states who don't want to return, who want temporary protection until this political mess is over, will you give them that protection, we get a letter from mr. criewch nellie, who is -- cuccinelli, saying we're not going to do that. how can you have it both ways? how can you say you care for the people of venezuela, yet when it comes to those in the united states, force them to return to this circumstance? as you've just described for many of them, you're forcing them to return to a circumstance which is threatening, if not deadly. 7,000 already killed by their secret police and who knows how many have not been reported that could have been victims as well. so today we made this request on the floor. a republican senator objected. the next time i come to the floor, i'm going to ask our republican cosponsors to join us.
this is a bipartisan effort to try to protect these venezuelan people. and if they'll come join us, perhaps, perhaps the leadership on the republican side will have second thoughts and give these people of venezuela a chance to be protected here until their country is safe. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. -- the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: one final comment to my colleague. the 7,000 have been killed by maduro's secret police is reflective of the fact that those who are here are some of the earliest opponents of maduro. those who tried to create change but fled, they have a heightened reason why in fact going back, in addition to the chaos, in addition to the danger, they are particularly threatened at the end of the day. they are the ones who are trying to create change and then found a situation in which the threat of their life was at risk, so
mr. thune: madam president. the presiding officer: majority whip. mr. thune: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. thune: i would ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: i always find that at the end of the july work period here in washington, d.c. is a good time to take stock of the year so far. i'm looking forward to getting
out of d.c. in the next few days and heading home to south dakota. i'm lucky enough to get to meet with south dakotans most weekends, but congressional recesses provide unbroken blocks of time to spend in the state and to hear about south dakotans' needs and priorities. it's been a busy year here in washington, d.c. so far. the last seven months, the senate has worked to confirm nearly 50 well-qualified judges, provided funding to address the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, give our military the resources it needs to defend the country, and much more. i'm proud that in may, the senate passed my bill to address illegal and abusive robocalls by an overwhelming bipartisan margin. my legislation would increase the financial penalties for making illegal robocalls and it would give law enforcement more tools to go after these scammers who prey on vulnerable populations. the traced act, which is my bill
to address illegal robocalls is one of more than 80 pieces of legislation that i have introduced or cosponsored this year. my robocall bill grew out of the work that i did on the commerce committee which i have served on now for 11 years, including four as chairman. serving on the commerce committee has given me an up-close look at the issue of consumer privacy. last year as chairman of that committee, i convened hearings into consumer data privacy and the accessing of millions of facebook users' personal data by the political intelligence firm, cambridge analytica. i also led a hearing to discuss the european union general data protection regulation and california's new privacy-related law. and i continued to focus on consumer privacy this year as chairman of the commerce subcommittee on communications, technology, innovation, and the internet. i repeatedly convened a hearing to look at the use of persuasive technology on internet platforms like facebook and youtube and how these technologies can be
and have been abused. i believe that developing bipartisan consumer privacy legislation needs to be a priority, and it's an issue i will continue to focus on here in congress. another thing i have focused on at the commerce committee is paving the way for fiej technology, the -- for 5g technology, the next phase of the wireless revolution, ensuring that rural communities have the same access to broadband technology residents of more urban areas enjoy. last year, the president signed my bipartisan mobile now act into law, which i introduced to help secure adequate spectrum for 5g technology. and in june, i reintroduced my streamlined small cell deployment act to address the other part of the 5g equation, and that's infrastructure. among other things, the streamline act will make it more affordable to bring 5g to rural areas by addressing the costs of small cell deployment. mr. president, i am privileged to represent south dakota's
farmers and ranchers here in the united states senate, and year after year, one of my major priorities is making sure that the needs of our nation's farmers and ranchers are addressed. one of my priorities right now is pushing for passage of the united states-mexico-canada free trade agreement here in the congress. farmers and ranchers have been through a few tough years. and one of the things they tell me that they need the most is market access for their products around the globe. the united states-mexico-canada agreement will provide farmers' access to two of our nation's most significant agricultural export markets, canada and mexico, and substantially, substancely expand market access for u.s. dairy products in canada. it will also expand market access for u.s. poultry and egg producers, and it will make it easier for u.s. producers to export wheat to canada. senate republicans, mr. president, are ready to pass this agreement as soon as the president formally submits it to congress. we're just waiting for democrats in the house who have still not
indicated that they're ready to take up the agreement, despite the significant steps taken to address their priorities. i will continue to urge them to take up this agreement so that our nation's farmers and ranchers can experience the benefits. i will also continue to push for a swift conclusion to the other trade agreements the administration is negotiating. mr. president, being a member of congress doesn't just allow you to push for legislation. it also gives you an important platform to advocate on your constituents' behalf with the president and his administration. this year, i was able to help persuade the department of agriculture to move the haying and grazing date to september 1 for this year for cover crops on prevent plant acres. this will allow farmers and ranchers in northern states like south dakota to sow cover crops without worrying that they won't be able to harvest or graze them before winter weather sets in. i have been vaicting for higher blends of ethanol for more than
a decade, both here in congress and multiple presidential administrations. i was very pleased that this year the trump administration moved to lift the ban on the year-round sale of e-15, which is 15% ethanol-blended fuel. this is a big win for american consumers, for our growing energy independence, and especially for u.s. corn producers, including those back home in south dakota. corn producers are thankful that the president delivered on his commitment to year-round sales of e-15, but, mr. president, it's still a tough environment for agriculture. that's why we need to update the e.p.a.'s emissions modeling to reflect ethanol's 40% reduction in life cycle greenhouse gases which will boost its export potential, and most pressing, the administration needs to curb the issuance of small refinery waivers which are in part forcing ethanol plants to slow down, idle, or shutter across america's heartland. this is critical to seeing through the president's
commitment to farmers. mr. president, throughout my time in the senate, i have been proud to advocate for elsworth air force base near rapid city, south dakota. i spent years working with the other members of the south dakota delegation in elsworth and community leaders to build up elsworth. among other things, our efforts resulted in the expansion of the powder river training complex into the largest training airspace in the continental united states, and it's undoubtedly partly thanks to this airspace that this may, elsworth was chosen as the first home for the future b-21 bomber, hosting both training and operational squadrons. i'm very proud of elsworth for receiving these exciting new missions, and i look forward to more great developments for elsworth in the future. mr. president, i have worked on a lot of other bills this year to make life better for south dakotans and for the american people. i have introduced tax reform bills to help small businesses, to update the tax code for the 21st century economy, to encourage charitable giving, and
to permanently protect family farms from the death tax. i've introduced legislation to strengthen the agricultural economy, support the second amendment, help states like south dakota with low unemployment rates address workforce shortages, and much more. and there is a lot more to come. this fall, i look forward to working with my colleagues to continue building on the economic progress that we've made, to tackle our nation's infrastructure needs, and to lower health care costs, among other things. mr. president, i'm proud to represent the people of south dakota here in the united states senate, and i will continue to do everything that i can to address south dakota's priorities and to expand opportunities for south dakotans and for all americans. mr. president, i yield the floor.
ms. collins: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to highlight the bipartisan work under way in the senate to help americans struggling with the high cost of prescription drugs. this problem particularly affects our seniors, 90% of whom take at least one prescription drug. it is critical that we continue to build on the momentum on this important pocketbook issue that i believe prestigious the partisan divide. since 2015, i have chaired eight hearings on drug pricing as the
chairman of the senate aging committee. mr. president, we have heard so many heart breaking stories from people who are struggling to afford the medication that they need. i will never forget standing in line at the pharmacy counter in bangor, maine, where i live and the couple ahead of me received their prescription drug, and the unwelcome news that their co-pay was going to be $111. the husband turned to his wife and said honey, we simply cannot afford this. and they walked away, leaving that needed prescription on the drugstore counter. i asked the farm sifts and told him i didn't mean to overhear, i just happened to be next in
line, but i asked him how often does this happen, and he gave me the terrible news that it happens every single day. at a hearing on the skyrocketing price of insulin, we heard compelling testimony from paul grant, a father of four who lives in new gloucester, maine, who discovered one day that the cost of a 90-day supply of insulin for his 13-year-old son who has type 1 diabetes had tripled to more than $900. he had to resort to paying out of pocket for much lower cost insulin from canada without any credit toward his insurance deductible. at our hearing on the cost of treating rheumatoid arthritis, patty bernard from falmouth,
maine, testified that her out-of-pocket costs had soared from $10 to 3,800 per month for enthrel when she transitioned from employer-sponsored insurance to medicare. she simply could not afford this expense and had to switch to a different drug which was not self-administered. this switch required her to go to her doctor's office once a month for a two and a half-hour infusion, and it did not work nearly as well for her. at another hearing, we heard from pam "hotlist" who was diagnosed -- pam holte who was diagnosed with multiple melanoma. miss holtessments is among the issue beneficiaries with
out-of-pocket drug costs exceeding $5,100, placing her in the catastrophic part of medicare part d. seniors still pay 5% of the drug's cost above that threshold, and miss holte had to refinance her home to afford her treatment. the price of her medication is staggering at more than $250,000 per year. this is not an optional cost, mr. president. these are costs that are necessary to preserve the life and well-being of our seniors in particular. these supports of americans like paul, patty, pam, and millions of others who are finding it extremely difficult to afford the exorbitant costs of the medication they need to maintain
their health or the health of their loved ones is motivating congress to act on a bipartisan, bicameral basis. the senate help committee, health, education, labor, and pensions, for example, recently approved the lower health care cost act which incorporates more than 14 measures to increase drug price competition, using market forces to do so. it includes major provisions from the biologic patent transparency act, a bipartisan bill that i co-authored with senator kaine, which is also cosponsored by senators braun, hawley, portman, shaheen, stabenow, paul, and murkowski. it is intended to prevent drug
manufacturers from gaming our patent system. now, patents play a key role in encouraging what can be billions of dollars in investment to bring new drugs from the lab table to the bedside of a patient. but the patent system should not be misused to prevent lower priced generic drugs from coming to market once the initial patent has expired. our bill requires earlier and greater disclosure of the web of patents held by biologic manufacturers, thus making it easier for their competitors which are known as biosimilar companies to develop more
affordable alternatives without being stymied by the filing of last-minute new patents that are intended simply to keep competition out of the marketplace. and it's -- and it's particularly important that we look at biologics. they have been miracle drugs for many americans, but they are also the most expensive category of drugs, accounting for approximately 40% of total drug costs. according to the former f.d.a. commissioner scott gottlieb, if all of the biosimilars that have been approved by the f.d.a. were successfully marketed in the united states in a timely fashion, americans would have
saved more than $4.5 billion in 2017. this is an expert calculation from the former f.d.a. commissioner. instead what happens in too many cases is the biosimilar competitor is available now in europe or in canada, but not in the united states. the help committee package also includes the creates act which addresses anticompetitive practices of companies that delay or even block access to a sufficient quantity of the brand-named drug to conduct the bioequivalency test required by the f.d.a. as part of the generic drug approval process. this addresses one of the
problems identified by a major investigation that the aging committee undertook in 2016 examining the explosion in prices of off-patent prescription dwrution of which there is -- drug of which there is still no generic equivalent. what we found in some cases is that the brand-name manufacturer was making it extremely difficult for the generic competitor to buy up a sufficient quantity of the drug to do these bioequivalency tests that are required as part of the generic approval process. that's just plain wrong. due to the provisions in the bill to spur competition, the c.b.o., the congressional budget office, estimates that, quote, the entry of certain generic or
bio -- bioslar protects could be accelerated by one or two years oj average. this would make a tremendous difference and would reduce consumer as well as federal and private insurance spending for prescription drugs. and, mr. president, the point i want to make is this is just allowing the market to operate as it should with competition and transparency and an end to the obstacles and gaming of the system that prevents lower-priced pharmaceuticals. in addition, the lower health care costs act contains several important provisions to shed light on what is currently a complex and opaque system.
in fact, mr. president, i cannot think of any other product that we buy where the price is so opaque and lacking in transparency and in which there are such variations in what the costs may be, from plan to this plan, to pharmacy to pharmacy, from manufacturer to manufacturer, and that is due to a very complex system that i'm going to refer to. at the aging committee's hearing on the high cost of insulin, the american diabetes association spoke about the lack of transparency when you trace insulin from the manufacturer to the pharmacy counter. and keep in mind that insulin was first isolated nearly a
century ago in 1921 in canada, and it was provided -- the discoverers provided it for only $1 because they wanted to make it widely available. the a.d.a. chart illustrating the complexity and -- illustrated the complexity and the perverse incentives in the supply chain for prescription drugs. and what was clear was that rebates are a key problem in driving up the cost of insulin. there is a system here that is rife with conflicts of interest. if the manufacturer has a high list price, then the pharmacy
benefit manager who is negotiating on behalf of the insurer has an incentive to choose that manufacturer's version of insulin rather than another manufacturer's because the pharmacy benefit manager is usually compensated by getting a percentage of the list price. well, obviously the manufacturer wants to have its version of insulin chosen to be offered by the insurer to its customers. so here we have this very -- this system, which is rife with conflicts of interest and incentives that encourage higher prices because then the middle man is going to make more money,
and that discount that the middle man, the pharmacy benefit manager is negotiating, almost never makes it to the pharmacy counter to the patient who is purchasing the prescription drug. now, sometimes part of that does, indeed, go to the insurer who can use it to lower overall premiums slightly, but we're talking about trying to help the person who desperately needs the drug and who is buying it at the pharmacy counter. as cochairs of the senate caucus, senator jeanne shaheen and i, as well as senator
carper, have addressed the flaws in the system and hold p.b.m.'s and manufacturers accountable. we have come up with a bill that would help to reduce the price of insulin, and what a benefit that would be for the parents of children who have type 1 diabetes for wham insulin is -- for whom insulin is literally a matter of survival. it would also help those older americans with type 2 diabetes, some of whom are insulin dependent. another significant change included in the lower health care costs act requires significantly more disclosure on the costs, the fees, and the recent information associated with b.p.m. contracts.
it also includes an amendment that was offered by senator baldwin, which i supported, to require more reporting of drug prices to the department of health and human services and a justification for why prices have increased. these provisions all build on a law that i authorized -- authored last year to block pharmacy gag clauses. i told the story about the pharmacist who was so frustrated because so many people day after day were unable to afford the cosponsors or the deductibles on -- copays or deductibles on their needed prescription drugs. well, i met with a group of community pharmacists who told me how the system worked. and they told me that there were actually gag clauses in their
contracts where they were prohibited from sharing with a consumer whether it was cheaper to pay out of october rather -- pay out of pocket rather than through insurance. i'm pleased to say after working with former senator claire mccaskill, debbie stabenow, and others, that we were able to get gag clause prohibitions enacted into law last year. and according to one study, banning these gag clauses could help americans save money in nearly one out of four prescription transactions. so this is significant legislation, and i talked recently to a pharmacist in maine who said what a relief it was to her to now be able to volunteer to her patients that
there may be a less expensive way for the patient to purchase needed prescription drugs. one out of four -- nearly one out of four prescription transactions should benefit from the laws that we wrote last year. another bill that i authored in 2017 will promote more competition from lower-priced, but equally effective generic drugs, and it is already showing promise. to date, the f.d.a. has granted nearly 200 application requests under the new expedited pathway that my law provides and ten have been approved. that is a much faster pace than in the past. as cochair of both the senate
diabetes caucus and the congressional task force on alzheimer's disease, i know all too well from listening to families in maine and across the country that the path toward finding new discoveries and treatments is often long and difficult and that success can be elusive. but we must continue our efforts. and when pharmaceutical companies start twisting around the incentives that were designed to encourage innovation, and instead distorting them into obstacles to competition, congress simply must act, and that is exactly what we are doing. i want to applaud the work of
the help committee, all of us contributed to the bill, and we were ably led by lamar alexander and ranking member murray. and i also want to recognize the hard work of senator graham and senator feinstein on the judiciary committee for the bipartisan package of reforms that they produced last month. and, finally, mr. president, i want to salute the finance committee chairman, chuck grassley, and the ranking member wyden, for taking bipartisan action just last week in passing significant prescription drug -- the prescription drug pricing reduction act. that has many important
provisions in it that will require more disclosure. it includes a bill that senator casey and i have authored as well as many other important provisions, including putting an inflation -- a medical inflation cap on certain pharmaceuticals. mr. president, i know how much you personally care about this issue and have contributed greatly to this work as well. my hope is that we can build upon this momentum, that we can seize the moment where three different committees of the senate have all been successful in reporting to the full senate three bipartisan bills. our help committee bill was reported by a vote of 20-3.
that is remarkable consensus. let us bring all of these bills to the senate floor this fall, or certainly by the end of the year, so that we can deliver real results to the american people by lowering the price of prescription drugs. we could then be very proud of listening to our constituents and addressing a problem that affects millions of americans. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 68, the nays are 22. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motions to reconsider and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the clerk will report the motion
to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of james wesley hendrix of texas to be a united states district judge for the northern district of texas, signed by 17 senators. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that if cloture is invoked on the hendrix nomination, all postcloture time on the nomination expire at 2:45 today and the senate vote on confirmation of the nomination. further, if confirmed, the the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i have 11 requests for committees to meet. they have the approval of the jrlt and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of james wesley hendrix of texas to be united states district judge for the
under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m. >> more work is expected this afternoon on further executive and judicial appointments. for live coverage of the senate when lawmakers return at 2:15 p.m. eastern here on c-span2. >> if you want more information on members of congress, order c-span's congressional directory available online at c-span store.org.
>> i live in a country where there is no public transportation, where there's no way to walk. and women to leave the house, to do anything she needs a car. and to function or to drive this car she needs a man. >> sunday night on q&a, a saudi women's awakening about her decision to challenge the saudi government ban on women drivers. >> for us the right to drive is more active civil disobedience because women is not supposed to drive. we show that we are able, we're capable of driving and being in the driver's seat for our own destiny by doing this act of civil disobedience. >> watch sunday night on a eastern on c-span's q&a. >> in c-span's three
presidential leadership surveys, taken between 2000-2017, grover cleveland dropped from 17th to 23rd pl. ulysses s. grant grant makes the most dramatic rise from all the president's going from the 33rd of the 22nd spot. where does your favorite president rank? learned that and more about the lives and leadership skills of 44 chief executives in c-span's the president's. it's great vacation reading, available wherever books are sold or at c-span.org/the president's. >> earlier today arkansas republican senator tom cotton discussed immigration and national security issues. he appeared at an event hosted by the center for immigration studies here in washington, d.c. this is about 40