tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN September 12, 2019 1:59pm-4:00pm EDT
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 85, the nays are 1. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. mr. kennedy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator for louisiana. mr. kennedy: mr. president, i have three requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have thate approval of the majority and -- of the -- they have the approval of the majority and minority leader leaders. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to legislative session and be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes
each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. president. i'm not going to speak for ten minutes about, but i do want to call attention to an example of breathtaking hypocrisy that i'm not proud of. you know, we all understand in a social contract that the price of living in an organized society is giving up some of our hard-earned money. that's why we pay taxes. nobody likes paying taxes, but we understand that taxes are necessary to pay our teachers, build our roads, defend our country, help those who are less fortunate than us. and we've set up a pretty good
apparatus to go after you if you don't pay your taxes. i mean, if you don't pay your taxes or you don't pay them in the right amount and you don't pay them on time, they got people trained in the i.r.s. -- i'm not criticizing them, they're just doing their job -- but they will chase you like a hound from hades until you pay. and that's the law, and we're all supposed to abide by it. but what happens when the department in which the i.r.s. is centered won't follow the same rule? i'm talking about the department of treasury. the i.r.s. is under the department of treasury. now, what's good for the goose is supposed to be good for the gander.
the united states department of treasury is sitting on $26 billion -- not million, billion dollars -- that's nine zeros -- of matured, unclaimed savings bonds that belong to the people of this country, and they have the names and they have the addresses. and you know what they're doing to try to contact these americans? nothing. zero. nada. zilch. they just sit there holding onto the money. now, you know what a savings bond is, mr. president. we couldn't have won world war
ii without savings bonds. a lot of americans took their hardpersonned money and they bought savings bonds. you go buy a savings bond, you give the federal government -- you own the federal government $100. you don't get an interest check every month. you don't get anything every month. you've given up $100. and in two years you go back and you retomb year bond and it's now -- redeem your bond and it's now worth $200. in the meantime, the federal government gets this loan, they use your money. but when that 20 years is up, the bond matures. it doesn't pay interest anymore. now, some people lose their bonds. some people forget about their bonds. some people pass on and their kids inherit their bond. they're lost. but you can always count on the department of treasury to keep a list of who owns bonds and which
ones have been redeemed and which ones haven't. and the u.s. department of treasury has that list, and there are millions of americans whose names are on that list. they got names and addresses. and they don't do anything to give the money back. they just stand over there sucking on their teenage. i mean, let me give you some examples. we're talking real money. i'll just pick a couple out. um, new jersey. $695 million belongs to the people of new jersey -- not the politicians in new jersey, not the government. the people -- the treasury is holding. let me see if i can find -- washington state. $560 million that belongs to the
people of washington state. not the big dogs, not the mayors, not the politicians -- the real people who get up every day and go to work and pay their taxes. hawaii, $113 million. and my state, louisiana, $337 million. here's -- $3 billion in california. but we're going to get up in the morning and the i.r.s., they're just doing their job, you better pay your taxes, they'll take your first born. but when they got $26 billion of the american people's money, you can't find them with a search party. and it's not right. it's not right. now, i sued them when he was state treasurer, and i got a bunch of other state treasurers to sue them, too.
i don't like suing people. but the department of treasury has spent tens of millions of dollars fighting the american people. they just don't want to give the money back. and you wonder why people hate government? i've got a bill to try to do something about it it. i think the world of our treasury secretary. i think a whole -- i'd think a whole lot better of him if he'd start writing checks to the american people. and i'm not going to give up on this issue. because it's -- all we're asking is that the treasury department share the names with the states. every state has an unclaimed property program. they got a great one in washington, great one in hawaii. usually it is the state treasurer. they know how to get money back to people. they don't charge a fee. right is right. and this is wrong. the department of treasury needs to give the money back. thank you, mr. chairman. i suggest the absence of a quorum.
the presiding officer: will the senator withhold his request? mr. kennedy: i will, sir. mr. schatz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator for hawaii. mr. schatz: thank you, mr. president. it's not a rhetorical flourish to say that senate republicans are being fully obedient to the president of the united states, and the evidence of the last few days has confirmed that republicans are not standing up for american institutions when they are tested, and they will
not defend the american people when it counts the most. and through their silence, through the legislative sacks and through their -- legislative actions and through their votes, republicans are allowing funds appropriated to the department of defense, funds that address critical military needs in their own home states, to be stolen in order to pay for the president's wall. now, let me explain. the way we do milcon -- military construction -- is nonpartisan. it's not bipartisan. it's nonpartisan. that means that there is zero politics involved when selecting military construction projects for funding. the process goes like this. base commanders decide what projects they need in order to support their missions and military communities. these projects are sent up through the chain of command from the base commander to the installation command, and if the installation command says that the project meets the cut, is important for military readiness, it is sent to the
service chief, the marine corps commandant the secretary of the navy, and so on. from there, each service chief decides which projects to present the office of the secretary of defense. then the office of the secretary of defense racks and stacks these projects. it is a rigorous process and not a single member of the united states senate gets to intervene during this process. they figure out which ones get addressed in the fiscal year and some projects make the cut and others don't. the only thing we get to decide, once the matrix is sent to us, is how much money we have to deal with all of our military construction needs. again, zero political involvement, no politicians, no side deals, no partisan uniforms. so by the time the congress receives the final list of projects from d.o.d., every project has been thoroughly vetted. we recognize that at that point every project is essential for the safety and security of the
nation and every secretary of defense and every secretary of the army and every secretary of the navy and so on looks us in the eye in the senate armed services committee and in the defense appropriations subcommittee and says, this is essential. there's not a pen think out of place. and we need it there's not a penny out of place, and we need this and we need this badly. and shame on the republicans for allowing this argument over whether or not to build a border wall, to do two things. first, to infect the department of defense with politics and to start to undermine the credibility of the department and its interactions with the legislative branch. and, second, more importantly, to diminish funding for critical military projects. now, what kinds of projects are we talking about? so there are 127 projects that are being raided that we funded, we enacted a law and then the president declared an emergency, the republicans upheld that emergency, and now these
projects are being defunded. let meet give you a couple of examples -- let me give you a couple of examples out of these 127. this is the form that comes in. these are the department of defense's words. first project, fort bragg north carolina, butner elementary school, replacement. and there's a section that's called impact if not provided. in other words, well, what happens if we don't provide this funding? this is what the department of defense says. the continued use of deficient, inadequate and undersized facilities that do not accommodate the current student population will continue to impair the overall education program for students. if a new facility is not provided, the substandard environment will continue to ham per the educational process and the school will not be able to support the curriculum and provide for a safe facility. let me take marine corps air station buford, laurel bay, south carolina. impact if funding not provided
-- fire and emergency service personnel assigned to laurel bay will continue to work from a significantly undersized and unsafe facility because the structure does not meet seismic requirements, complete structural collapse is probable during a seismic event, causing death or major injury and preventing timely response from the marine corps housing community following the event. finally -- this is going to be three out of 127 projects raided -- fort greely, alaska, missile field one expansion. these are the ground-based interceptors designed to enhance our missile defense in the case of an attack from north korea. impact if not provided -- and this one is succinct and scary -- planned enhancement and exams will not be available for our nation's homeland defense.
three projects out of 127 i just want to ask my republican colleagues, where do you draw the line? i understand you can't stand up to the president every time or even most of the time, but my goodness when they take funding from military families, from bases and installations, from missile defense, from military schools, can't you draw the line there? there's got to be a point at which you say enough is enough. there's got to be a point at which you decide that agreeing with the president under any and all circumstances, and in this case the most extreme of circumstances is not how you're going to lead and govern on behalf of your home state. let me say this in closing, i still hold out hope for a bipartisan solution to this issue. democrats and republicans may have very different goals and we have different ideas about how
to reach them, but there's got to be a better way forward than raiding military funds for the wall. and if there's anything that can bring the senate together, it should be ensuring the safety, security, and well-being of our nation's service members and their families. i yield the floor. mr. cardin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, let me just thank senator schatz for his comments here. the points that he's making i hope that every senator will follow because i think they're critically important. first and foremost, we're talking about the appropriate power of the legislative branch of government. we have the power to appropriate. we're the article 1 branch of government. we have appropriated money for border security. we have appropriated money for military construction. congress clearly intended the moneys that we proposed for military construction to go to our military installations and
our military families. we made that conscientious decision. now the president is transferring funds from military construction to help our service personnel to the border wall. and i say that because it is an unconstitutional grasp of power. it compromises the checks and balances that are in our constitution. it's an abuse of power. but it's also affecting the quality of life of the men and women who have voluntarily agreed to join our military to protect our country. now we can give you many examples. we're talking about $3.6 billion of funds that was taken from military construction that is now being used by the president to fund the border wall. so it's not mexico that's paying for this wall.
it's the men and women who are serving our nation who are going to pay for this wall and our military service. that's outrageous, and every member of the senate should be concerned about that. let me talk about my own state of maryland and the military construction projects in maryland that will be directly affected. there's a road project at fort mead for $16.5 million. fort mead is a few miles away from the nation's capital. any of you who have had the opportunity to travel between baltimore and washington, it's about halfway there, you'll come to fort mead and you'll notice the challenges of trying to get on to fort mead's base. it's a national security priority for this country, the mission being done at fort mead, and these roads are critically important for our national security. it's been backed up for a long time. now, thanks to the president, if this goes forward, it will
be backed up a lot longer. the second cut is to the joint base andrews, $37 million for a hazmat cargo pad. this is a matter of safety for the men and women who work at joint base andrews. i hope all of you are familiar with joint base andrews located just a few miles from here. the air force is there. many of us go through that facility. it is critical that they have the facilities to protect our nation's capital, protect the nation's personnel that use that facility. here the president is taking away from the safety of the mission at joint base andrews. but the one issue i want to talk about which really highlights the hypocrisy of this transfer is the cut of $13 million to a child development center at joint base andrews. a child development center. i want to read for my colleagues
the justification given by the air force for this request. and i'm quoting, the existing child development center was originally constructed as a medical clinic in 1943. renovated to serve many purposes over the last 74 years and is inadequate for current needs. presently base child development center has over 37 children on a waiting list for enrollment. the existing facility has suffered from sewage backups, a leaking roof, hvac failures along with mold and management issues. work orders continue to pile up despite heavy focus from engineers making it more difficult to ensure accreditation each year. the bathrooms are constantly flooding and drainage issues in the kitchen result in monthly backups. the justification continues to say that the child development center either needs to be
recapitalized to condition or taken out of service. then they put the impact of not providing. not providing this facility forces members to use more expensive, less convenient, and potentially lower quality off-base programs. these off-base child development centers typically cost $9,400 more than on-base, creating a severe financial strain on military personnel. quality of life will be severely degraded resulting in impacts to retention and readiness because airmen and their families will not have a safe and nurturing environment for child care. this is the air force justification for this project. as they point out, it will cost military families an additional $10,000 a year. who's paying for the wall? our military families are paying for the wall. not the government of mexico. that's what's involved here. we cannot let this go forward,
mr. president. every member of this body should be aware of what is happening. i just mentioned three of the projects that are on that list of $3.7 billion that are being transferred to fund a wall that congress intentionally provided the money for military families. that is wrong. we should stand up for our military families. i enjoy the fact that we all say we support our military. we're very proud of them stepping forward to defend us. and now we're telling them we're going to have to pay an extra $10,000 for child care. that's what's involved here. i hope every member of this body will voice their opposition to what the president is attempting to do. with that, i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the senate floor this afternoon with my democratic colleagues to voice my strong opposition to
this administration's move to take money away from our military to fund president trump's wasteful border wall. now, i often say we make a promise as a nation to take care of our service members and their families, sacrificing to defend our freedoms. but the pentagon's announcement this week that it plans to move billions, billions of dollars away from critical military construction projects across our country is more than a broken promise to our troops. it is an egregious abuse of power that undercuts congress' constitutional obligation to set our nation's budget, and it compromises critical national security priorities. so earlier today democrats on our appropriations committee and i support offed an amendment to -- supported an amendment to the defense appropriations bill
that would prevent the president from undermining congress' authority. and i was very disappointed to vote against that bill because our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would not join us to pass that necessary amendment and stand up against this outrages plunder. -- outrageous plunder. mr. president, this executive overreach is deeply disturbing and is particularly relevant to my home state of washington, one of the states most impacted by the pentagon's reckless decision this week. where we learned that efforts to update the pier and maintenance facility at naval base kitsap, a project essential to ensuring the safety and readiness of our military's nuclear submarines, are now deferred indefinitely because the nearly $89 million that congress appropriated
specifically for that priority is now being moved to build trump's wall. as a reminder, mr. president, this is a wall that the majority of the american people did not ask for and do not want and that president trump originally claimed that mexico was going to pay for it, and that congress has time and again decided not to fund it on a bipartisan basis, to the point that president trump decided to make a bogus national emergency declaration and sidestep congress to raid the federal coffers for his reckless vanity project. and it's not just naval base kitsap. we also learned that president trump and the pentagon are more than happy to fund this wall by slashing other military priorities, strengthening access to military child care, repairing vital military assets
that were damaged by recent natural disasters and more that enable our troops and their families to serve our country as we ask them to do. so here's the bottom line. i and senate democrats will not stand by while this president steps over congress to build his wall on the backs of our troops and their families because they deserve a lot better from this country, and i won't let up until this is made right. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. duckworth: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. ms. duckworth: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, in this day and age it would be easy to grow simply and simply tune out the noise of a 24-hour cable news cycle that feeds off the latest
trump tweet. from donald trump's recent decision to invite the taliban to join him for retreat at camp david on the week of the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to his statements caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, i fear that too many, including members of this chamber, have become numb to this repeated debasing of the presidency. numb to a president who lacks even a hint of remorse or shame as he spews lies to the people he was elected to serve. but we cannot afford to be numb. we cannot, cannot let this become normal. no. we must hold donald trump accountable for his false promises and for his lies. we must ask what happened to mexico paying for the wall. trump promised every american over and over again that they wouldn't have to spend a dime on his wall, pledging that mexico would pick up the tab 100%. he even said it's an easy decision for mexico to make a onetime payment of $5 billion to
$10 billion. but of course it wasn't so easy. and now trump has done a 180. falsely claiming that he never said mexico could write that check, trying to gaslight us all with every lie that he tells. we simply can't let him get away with it. the truth is that donald trump already revealed who he really wants to pay for his wall. he discloses it every time his administration begs congress to spend billions of your tax dollars building it. he doesn't care that many who live on the border believe building a wall from sea to shining sea is the least effective and most expensive way to secure the border. trump may not care, but that helps explain trump's failure to convince congress to fund his vanity project, even when republicans controlled both chambers for two years and his outrageous response for his
failure is another sad truth, the presidency hasn't changed donald trump one bit. president donald trump is the very same old donald trump whose true character was revealed on the leaked access hollywood tapes. in trump's mind, when you're the president, you can do anything. congress did not appropriate funds for your ineffective wall. well, just grab funds congress authorized for more important programs. tired of failing to convince congress to spend american tax dollars on your wall? well, just declare a fake emergency. senate republicans will let you do it. listen, trump's decision to build his vanity walls with funds stolen from military construction projects and homeland security initiatives isn't really about border security. it's about politics. if he actually wanted to secure our nation's border, he wouldn't be stripping away funding from the dedicated men and women who are responsible for defending it. the united states coast guard.
yet that's exactly what he's done ripping tens of millions of dollars away from coast guard programs, ignoring that his actions could endanger our national security, ignoring that we're right in the middle of hurricane season. as if that weren't bad enough, he's also defunded facilities dedicated to cyber bar wear operations. he's slashing funds for schools for our children, too. donald trump told us over and over again that mexico would pay for his wall. well, that was a lie. mexico isn't paying for his wall. our service members and their families are. the families at fort campbell are, as their children will now have to keep eating lump in their school's library because donald trump decided that revving up his political base was more important than upgrading an aging military school. my blood boils when i hear that
children are being forced to learn in makeshift classes within classrooms. no child should have to learn in that kind of environment. in my view, that is a true national emergency. let me tell you about three other cases where the president is stealing money to go pay for his wall. one is at channel islands air national guard station in california. the project that is losing funds is this. this project will supply the colorado air national guard with an adequately sized and properly configured space to support a space control squadron function in accordance with force structure changes. the facility must provide adequate space to support the operations, maintenance, security, and command and administration and storage facilities. the facility must have an unobstructed view of the southern horizon. the current situation is that this space control squadron does
not currently exist and there are no facilities located at either peterson or buckley air force bases. the only solution that meets all mission requirements is to construct a new facility at peterson air force base. if this facility is not provided, the squadron will be unable to bed down the space control mission and equipment with strategic mission impacts doo inadequate facilities this is what he's stealing money from in order to build his vanity wall. a section -- a second project is at fort greely, alaska. the impact of taking the money from this project will mean that fort greely alaska will not have the enhancement capabilities for the ballistic missile defense system. the mission of the agency is to develop an integrated missile defense system to defend the
united states. the deployed forces allies and friends against all range of enemy ballistic missiles and all phases of flight. this expansion project will provide the bmds with ground-based interceptor capabilities to allow operational capabilities. what happens if the funds are not provided? the plan enhancements and capabilities of the ballistic missile defense system to meet emerging threats will not be available for our nation's homeland defense. he is stealing money away from our nation's homeland defense to build his vanity wall. finally, at fort huachuca, arizona, the current situation is that the facilities do not meet the current mandatory criteria specified for vehicle testing and maintenance facilities. if the current facilities date back to the 1930's and 1940's and have surpassed their estimated life expectancy. the facilities violate current
antiterrorism force protection standards, existing utility systems such as water, sewer, electric and gas require replacement. there are no other suitable buildings on the installation available in support of this mission. if they were to lose this -- the funding for this project, personnel will continue to work in substandard and unsafe facilities. the facilities do not comply with current life, safety, building codes. the current hvac fire suppression, the existing infrastructure deficiencies jeopardize personnel health, security, and safety. this is what he's taking money from to build this wall. the senate could put a stop to this. it is up to us, our actions in this very chamber will determine whether children at fort campbell, whether personnel at for the waugh chew can a,
whether the staff at fort greely can do their job. we can defend the power of the purse or be complicit in its destruction. look, i am ape not naive. i know that some don't share my outrage. some believe overcrowded military schools, a dress in our national military defense, our ability to defend against hostile ballistic missiles is is not a crisis. these trump loyalists cower to his bullying tactics and in the coming days they'll try to reward his abuse of power. they won't stop trump and return the stolen taxpayer dollars. rather, they'll argue that we should dig even deeper into the nation's funds to spend more of your tax dollars to replace the money that trump stole. this is wrong. the constitution entrusts congress to authorize and appropriate funds, not the president. i urge all my colleagues to join me in condemning this raid of taxpayer funds. we must block these outrageous cuts that will harm military
aheadness, weaken our border security and hurt families of that's who are brave enough to serve. and with this, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senate having received the papers with respect to s. 1790, notwithstanding the passage of the bill, amendment number 938 is agreed to and the measure will be returned to the house. mr. van hollen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator for maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, mr. president. i want to start by thanking my friend and colleague, the senator from illinois, senator duckworth, for her service to our country many years ago in the military, serving in iraq, and now severing our country in a different capacity and standing up here in the united states senate to defend the constitution and to defend this institution against what is clearly an unconstitutional
power grab by the president of the united states. when i took my oath of office, when we took our oaths of office, we all swore to support and defend the constitution of the united states. back in march of this year, 59 senators kept that promise when we stood together on a bipartisan basis to say no -- to say no to a gross abuse of executive power, to an unconstitutional power grab. when we said no, mr. president, you may not ignore the will of the congress, you may not ignore the appropriations that were passed by both houses of congress and signed by you. you may not ignore them and rob critical military projects across the country to fund an
unnecessary wall. now, mr. president, we can all debate -- we've debated many times the merits of this wall. but there really should be no debate about the fact that the way the president has gone about it undermines the constitution and undermines the powers given in that constitution to the senate and to the house. so, we made that statement on a bipartisan basis back in march, 59 senators. mr. president, don't go robbing military construction accounts and defense accounts to finance the wall. and yet here we are six months later where the president is attempting to do exactly that, diverting important investments in our military, in places
across maryland and around the country. and as has been pointed out, as has been pointed out, the president said repeatedly -- repeatedly -- that mexico was going to pay for this wall. instead, taxpayers are having to pay for this wall and service men and women and the families of servicemen and women are bearing the brunt of the president's latest raid. i see the majority leader is on floor, and just yesterday the majority leader said that he was going to fight the president's effort to take money away from a middle school in kentucky to build the wall. i have a question for the majority leader and all my colleagues who want to fight to protect the projects in their states. are they willing to stand up for projects in every state that hurt military families?
here's what the air force wrote about the a maryland project, one that's not very far away from here at andrews air force base. an air force base that i dare say every member of this senate has had the occasion and honor to visit from time to time. i'm -- i've got in my hand the budget request from the air force for a project at andrews to help the servicemen and women who work there, and their analysis says -- and i quote -- not providing this facility forces members to use more expensive, less convenient, and potentially lower-quality off-base programs. these off-base child development centers typically cost $9,400
more than on-base, creating a severe financial strain on military personnel. that's what the air force says. an additional $9,400 a year for militarymen and -- military men and women who we now are not getting pig paychecks. but that's not all the air force said. they went on to say in their justification for this investment, quote, quality of life will be severely degraded, resulting in impacts to retention and readiness because airmens and their families will not have a safe and nurturing environment for child care. that's from the united states air force. and i would invite all of our colleagues to come visit that base and look at the current conditions there because here
are the current conditions at the current child care center which the air force is seeking to remedy with this investment. and, again, this is a quote right from the air force. quote, the existing facility has suffered from the sewage backups, a leaking roof, hvac failures, along with mold and pest management issues, work orders continue to pile up, making it more difficult to ensure accreditation each year. the bathrooms are constantly flooding and drainage issues in the kitchen results in monthly backups. that's from the air force. those are the conditions that our men and women at andrews are currently facing in the child care center. that's why the air force asked for this money that the president is now trying to take away. and it turns out that when you do the math and you look at the cost, the money being taken away from this child center to
address these awful conditions that exist would build about a half a mile of a wall. a wall that is unnecessary but even if you believe we need to build this long wall, you should agree that we should not be robbing moneys out of the accounts that help the families of our service men and women. that's one of the projects in maryland the president raided. he also raided two others, including one to address traffic congestion at fort meade, which is home to many facilities, including of course the national security agency. in all, $66 million were robbed from service men and women in the state of maryland. mr. president, that's just maryland. we've heard about other states. we've also heard about cuts around the world, cuts from a
program that was originally known as the european reassurance initiative, funds that we were investing along with our allies to deter russian aggression in places like the ukraine. we called it the reassurance initiative. i don't know what's reassuring, mr. president, about now robbing those accounts. that will have a direct negative impact on our national security and the readiness of u.s. forces and those of our allies. so we're going to have a lot of opportunities in the coming weeks to address this issue. and i hope we will address it on a bipartisan basis. hope we will address it as united states senators who recognize that the president's actions here are a direct assault on article i. 1. they are a direct assault on the spending powers given to congress under article 1.
we have our differences. we had a markup in the appropriations committee today. members had a chance to offer their amendments. some were accepted. some were rejected. it was the democratic process at work. and that's the same democratic process we used to put these investments for our military families in place in the first place. the senate acted. the house acted. in fact, the president signed the bill. and now he comes back to grab that money through this unconstitutional power grab. i will end with this because i think all of us recognize the danger and the precedent that will be set here. we may agree or disagree with the president's decision to build a wall, but beware, beware, everybody, of a future president, republican or democratic president or some other party using the same mechanism to undermine the
constitution and to undermine article 1. let's unite as united states senators to stop that from happening. and i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 399. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. opposed no. the ayes appear to have it the. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of state, john rakolta jr. of michigan to be
ambassador of the united states of america to the united arab emirates. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. 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 john rakolta jr. of michigan to be ambassador of the united states of america to the united arab emirates signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is great for. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 288. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye.
all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is greed to the report will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of state, kenneth a. howery of texas to be ambassador of the united states of america to the kingdom of sweden. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. 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 kenneth a. howery of texas to be ambassador of the united states of america to the kingdom of sweden signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed no.
the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 223. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of state, robert a. destro of virginia to be assistant secretary of state for democracy. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. 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 robert a. destro of virginia to be assistant secretary of state for democracy signed by 17 senators. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the reading of the names be
waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 419. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of treasury, brent james mcintosh of michigan to be an under secretary. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. 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 brent james mcintosh of michigan to be an
under secretary of the treasury signed by 17 senators. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to have proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 418. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of treasury, brian callanan of new jersey to be general counsel. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. 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 brian callanan of new jersey to be general counsel for the department of the treasury signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the mandatory quorum calls be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 310 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak
therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: repeat the motion? yes. i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 310 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 310 recognizing the king centennial of the community of wheeling, west virginia. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mrs. capito: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and that the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: thank you, mr. president. i'm really pleased to be here with my fellow senator from the state of west virginia to talk about a really great city and very historic city in our state of west virginia, and that is to
recognize the 250th birthday anniversary of the city of wheeling, west virginia. in september of 1769, ebenezer zang set out into the brave unknown as many of the earlier settlers did. he found a place at the mouth of the river and grouped trees together and carved his family name into them claiming his tomahawk right as was the custom of the time. that clearing that zane created where he built his home and raised his family would develop into the city of wheeling. it's the same city i grew up just ten miles south of wheeling, west virginia. wheeling is a city of industry, good people, and growth. and yes, there have been ups and downs over the years but today it is as vibrant as ever. as west virginians, we all take pride in our state's progress through the years. but wheeling has made a particularly special mark on our
state. during the wheeling convention of 1861, western virginians voted to is a creed from virginia so we could remain loyal to the union. they declared officials had abandoned their post and established a provisional government with francis peer month as the governor. then in 1863, something we're very proud of, president lincoln issued a proclamation admitting the state of west virginia into the union and instituting wheeling, west virginia as our first state capitol. the bold actions opened the gait for the creation of the state i know, we know and love, the state that we're so proud to call home and to serve here in the senate. and as a matter of fact, we have a statue to honor our first governor, governor francis pierpont. the statue still stands in statutory hall today.
west virginia sought to submit its place in the recovering union. and wheeling became an early transportation epicenter. with the presence of the national road, including the wheeling suspension bridge which is still there today, the city connected the ohio river with the potomac river and offered further expansion to the west. as a result, wheeling, west virginia was able to become a powerhouse in the steel industry. we've all heard of wheeling steel. in the latest -- in the late 19th century, wheeling was producing nearly half of the nation's nails earning it the nickname nail city. today wheeling has revived its downtown winning the 2019 great american mainstream award. in the past three years they've opened 37 new small businesses, the backbone of our state, and the city has opened tourism to
the ohio river valley. from the victorian capital theater and the shops and eateries of center market to one of the best, and i will say not one of the best but the best holiday light show in the country at ogilvie park, their winter festival of lights. it's historic, beautiful, and it's booming all thanks to the creative men and women who have called it home over the years. one of my favorite stories, historic stories about wheeling involves one of those brave men, major samuel mccullough. back in the september of 1777, during the civil war, there was a siege on fort henry which today is wheeling. as the fort came under attack by a group of native americans, major mccullough arrived at the fort with 40 mounted men. they all made it safely inside the gate except for the major who was then forced to flee to a nearby hill. if you know anything about west
virginia or wheeling, west virginia, we've got plenty of hills. so when he got to the top, he found himself surrounded and his only hope of escaping was by leaping off of the edge which was about a 300-foot drop. well, being the bold leader that he was, major mccullough took the jump. he and his horse survived this leap. and they galloped away. today that spot is marked by a historic marker and it's called mccullough's leap. and i can remember my parents as a young girl when we would go to wheeling, my parents stopping and explaining this incredible story about the leap of major mccullough with his horse down the 300 feet. you ought to go see it because when you look at it, you go that's a long way. of course, we cannot forget the women who also helped shape wheeling's history. there was another siege on fort henry that took place in september of 1782. it is often known as the last
battle of the revolutionary war. native americans and british rangers had laid seeds to the fort with some 40 men defending it and protecting and guarding the women and children inside. as the battle raged on, the settlers knew that they would soon deplete their ammunition. but they knew of a stockpile at the nearby zane homestead. so one volunteer, betsy zane, ebenezer's sister and one of the original settlers of wheeling stepped up. she ran to her brother's cabin at her own peril, gathered up the gunpowder and a table cloth and returned through enemy fire. betty was successful and unharmed. and with the replenished resources, the forces were forced to retire resulting in a victory for wheeling and a very young united states of america. and so as we gather today, senator manchin and i, to honor
wheeling's 215th birthday, i also honor the individuals who built the city from the first settlers to those who walk down market street today. together they have secured an important place in our nation's history and made it a successful and incredible city that it remains today. so i was just in wheeling last weekend where we had a parade celebrating the 250th birthday of wheeling. the amount of young people and music and great feeling that exuded all throughout the city, restaurants full, bands playing patriotic music. it was a wonderful day for the entire community to celebrate that birthday. so sometimes in west virginia, we talk -- we have little names for little cities and how we feel and what it feels about us, and wheeling is a place i have frequented many, many times in my life. i can say that day, celebrating the birthday on saturday of the 250th birthday, i definitely had the wheeling feeling.
i had the opportunity to see so many of those in the northern panhandle that celebrate wheeling as a vibrant city. i look forward to continuing to celebrate wheeling as a vibrant city and everyone who calls it home for years to come. i yield the floor and welcome senator manchin. the presiding officer: mr. president. the other senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: i want to thank my colleague, senator capito. we are very proud west virginians. born and raised in west virginia. you can tell by our presentations. it is a special day that we can say happy birthday to wheeling. wheeling is an unbelievable historical city, when you think about it. when you think about the state of west virginia, we're the only state before the civil war. abraham lincoln's hand print is all over our state. basically, he was involved for us to become a state in 1863. but the significant formation of our state, and wheeling being a major whik stronghold because of
the river, because of the gateway, can you believe in 1949 when the suspension bridge was built, it was called the gateway to the west? the gateway to the west. not that far from here, maybe four hours' drive. so you can see how our country has expanded and how quickly it expanded. the lessons during the construction of the bridge was later used to build the brooklyn bridge. i want to tell senator schumer we helped. i'm sure he would be pleased with that. in 1933, the wheeling jamboree. the wheeling jamboree was the longest. people would tell you, during world war ii, they could hear -- because it was 50,000 watts. they could hear it on the battleships. it was unbelievable. the music, the talent, the country music that came out of there and some of the most famous artists of the time and still yet to this day pass through wheeling. these points in time showcase the importance of the city of
wheeling in the state of west virginia throughout american history. i keep thinking about marsh wheeling stogies. maybe anybody who would like to smoke a cigar now and then, that was 1840. 1840 and still in operation. it's unbelievable. and then of course senator capito talked about wheeling steel. it has a tremendous industrial might for many, many years. talked also about the zane brothers. they started a settlement in 1769, as has been said, and continue to join the zane brothers. people came from all over, a small settlement to keep growing and growing like the country was at that time. wheeling's fort henry, fort henry played a role in what was considered the last battle of the revolutionary war, but it was a significant strategic point for us. restored government of -- of virginia at that time.
virginia seceded in 1861. 1861, there was no virginia, as we know virginia today, so they moved over to western virginia, which is where wheeling, and that was the restored government, that's where the capitol was. that was all through arthur borman. then in 1863 -- we have a statue in the capitol that has abraham lincoln walking at midnight. deciding is he going to sign this proclamation? the country's already divided. now he's going to divide a state. that has not been done because basically up until that, the constitution is very clear, you had to have permission from the territory you were in for from another state to succeed. but abraham lincoln took it upon himself. and if you see the beautiful, unusual shape of our state, there is a very few straight lines. especially when you see this eastern panhandle that's only an hour, hour and ten-minute drive from here, the reason for that, you have harper's ferry, john
brown's raid, 1859, kicked off the civil war, and then you have the railroads, the confluence of the shenandoah and the potomac. it's just unbelievable what all. he knew he needed that arsenal. the folklore is this. i don't know if it's true or not, but it's a good story. the three counties we have over there is morgan, berkeley, and jefferson. it was said that after the war they were supposed to have a referendum and vote to see if it would go back to the state of virginia. well, i'm understanding that ulysses s. grant was then the president, and it's said that he stationed quite a few troops that had voting rights, and the rest is history because it is still west virginia. so there are some really good anecdotes about that. william became the provisional capital for the split in western virginia during the civil war. there are so many parts of
wheeling that i have become so fond of. the wheeling feeling is a saying that they have. they have a wheeling jamboree. they have a wheeling italian festival, because the ethnicity of that community is unbelievable. it is bringing everybody together, it has brought everybody together. but being raised in farmington, i'm -- shelly was raised about two hours north of me, an hour and a half. it was a good two-hour drive. so i'm a little bit further in the north central part of the state, closer to fairmont o'morganton, but knowing about that, wheeling was the hub, the place to go. it was the gateway and also at that time into pittsburgh. it's still kind of considered a distant suburb of pittsburgh to a certain extent. the economy, the history, the people, some famous people, some productive people. a lot of our leaders come from that area. wheeling became the first
capital. we couldn't decide where the capital of west virginia should be, so they floated up and down the ohio river, back to charleston, back to wheeling, charleston, wheeling, until it settled in charleston, west virginia. but i'm just proud to be standing here with my colleague today for those that live in wheeling today and those who have lived in wheeling at some time in their life and their family, because all the good-quality jobs were there, a lot of the good union jobs, well-paying jobs, benefits, to all of them, there is a special place in our heart for wheeling, west virginia. a special place in american history for wheeling, west virginia. and a special place in all of our hearts for the state of west virginia. so i say thank you, happy birthday to a great, great city of ours, and to the great state of west virginia and we want to make sure that we're proud that this becomes a resolution that has been entered and accepted, and with that, i yield the floor.
mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, some summer while american families enjoyed time away from work and from school, the big pharmaceutical companies revved up their influence machine to dismantle bipartisan legislation aimed at bringing down prescription drug costs. in july the senate finance committee where i am the ranking
democrat passed legislation that constitutes the most serious and the most significant bipartisan effort in recent memory to lower drug prices. it's the result of months and months of work by members on both sides, and with respect to chairman grassley, he and i literally worked every single day for six months with our colleague to try to bring together this bipartisan package. now the big pharmaceutical companies want to shred the bipartisan finance committee bill into confetti. the bill has two particularly important proposals. first, it has an out-of-pocket cap in medicare that's going to
save senior citizens $27 billion in the next decade. it will end the era when prescription drugs forced senior citizens into bankruptcy. the second key proposal is the one that really has big pharma mobilizing their lobbyist army. it is a provision that stipulates that if big pharmaceutical companies are engaged in price gouging, engaged in price gouging, they're going to face consequences. they are going to be able to set their prices, but if they price gouge, the taxpayer is not going to funnel up unlimited subsidies any longer. that's what that provision that
the big pharmaceutical companies are finding does, and it is literally a requirement that drug companies, big drug manufacturers when they price gouge make a payment to medicare penalty. one might call it that's going to save the medicare program $50 billion. if the drug companies raise prices faster than inflation, they've got to pay the difference back to medicare. no march unjustifiable price hikes to please the shareholders at everybody else's expense. and particularly no more taxpayer subsidies for price gouging on pharmaceuticals in america. soar literally years, i had been
hearing the big drug companies saying they didn't want price controls. price controls would be bad for innovation. nobody, nobody wants to freeze innovation. so we went back to the drawing board, and we said okay. you set your price. but if you do price gouge, if you do, patients and families and consumers in an unfair way, the taxpayer is not just going to ladle out unlimited subsidies. that's what that provision of our bill does. unfortunately, the big pharmaceutical companies will do just about anything to protect the status quo, keep the prices climbing up and up and the profits rolling in. their lobbyists -- there are lobbyists walking the halls here on capitol hill. the pharmaceutical company executives are pulling out all
the stops from their political headquarters to generate support. their fearmongering messages and op edz attacking our legislatiog our legislation, that somehow this bill, a bipartisan bill written by senator grassley, the senior member of the republican caucus, is somehow a socialist price control. i already talked -- it's pretty hard to call it a price control if the company gets to set prices, but it certainly does limit subsidies, and apparently the pharmaceutical companies won't accept any limits there as well. basically, the pharmaceutical lobby is calling it inhumane to try to fix a broken system and bring down pharmaceutical prices. they basically say any effort,
any effort to hold down prices is socialism. one op-ed said that the medicare drug program would cease, quote, to function as a market, function as a market entirely if drug companies lost their constitutional right to limitless, limitless price increases. others have even claimed that drug prices are falling nationwide, which millions of seniors can tell you is fiction based on the trips they take to the pharmacy window. so i've got a bottom line now that the senate has come back after the summer break. the big pharmaceutical companies have had just about the longest winning streak in washington. it seems like they have got a couple lobbyists for practically every member of congress, and yet the finance committee voted
on a bipartisan basis to actually act in the face of price gouging and protect american patients and families. we cannot let the big pharmaceutical companies win this time. we cannot let them win on that price-gouging penalty in particular. they want it gone. they know that this is going to ripple through the american economy, because people are going to see, hey, this is a pretty fair approach. the companies can set their prices, but they don't have a right to unlimited subsidies. and i personally believe, and the head of the congressional budget office touched on this before our committee, that i think this has the potential to be copied in the private sector as well, and i think that's a good thing also.
so the question for the senate is going to be are we going to hand pharma essentially the power of a line-item veto where they can go in and strike one provision, one provision. the provision that does the most to stop drug company price gouging. whether pharma gets to comb over our proposals and strike down anything that might curtail their price increases or cut into their profits. that's really what they are seeking to do. if pharma can prevent the senate from taking even the first basic steps to bringing down drug prices, then the question is what's going to come next? is the drug company and the drug lobbyists going to get their own desks here on the floor of the united states senate?
at least then their influence wouldn't just be in the shadow of the nation's capitol. mr. president, the prices of prescription drugs in america are out of control. all this summer, i have had town meetings at home. i went to small pharmacies across my state, urban and rural, and usually in these meetings, i would ask how often somebody in the audience knew somebody who had been affected by high insulin prices. everybody's hand went up. i said how many of you have neighbors that have been affected by eye insulin prices? everybody's hand goes up. the fact is insulin prices have gone up 13-fold in the last few
years, and that drug is not 13 times better. it's basically the same drug, basically the same insulin that has been around for decades. the reason those prices go up and up and up constantly is because the big pharmaceutical companies can get away with it. now the senate finance committee is saying you aren't going to get away with it any longer. the days when everybody in the congress would just look the other way and they could charge anything they want will be over. there was one particularly interesting article written over the course of the summer, mr. president, with the author using aarp data who basically said if what senator grassley
and i and bipartisan members of the finance committee had done ten years ago, there wouldn't be a crisis with drug prices. this argument -- he went through aarp data, was essentially drugs had gone up $5,000 over a few years, would have gone up something like $500. something much more manageable for american families and patients. so the senate finance committee is moving to actually stop this price gouging, and i don't believe the pharmaceutical industry ought to be able to overrule 19 senators on the finance committee, democrats and republicans. pharma shouldn't be able to gobble up 50 billion medicare dollars that our legislation
would otherwise save as part of the effort to stop the price gouging. our legislation gets to the heart of how drug companies have managed to manipulate and abuse the broken health care system for far too long. they've done it with a pretty simple formula. just make sure that the united states senate lets them do anything they want. no constraints on companies at all. keep the seniors on the hook for huge costs when they are prescribed expensive drugs. and it is not just a prices in medicare. the recent studies showed nearly a third of american adults said at some point in the last year they chose not to take medication, medication that was prescribed because of the costs, and in particular insulin is cited again and again as a prime
example with tragic stories about people who have died after self-rationing the insulin they needed to manage their diabetes. rising drug costs forces the people of this country into impossible choices. you're robbed of your savings if you get your prescription filled and you're robbed of your help if you don't. obviously, that's unacceptable, mr. president. it ought to be unacceptable to every member of this body, just the way it was unacceptable to the senate finance committee on a bipartisan basis. now, i did make it clear in the finance committee that this was just a beginning. i believe, for example, that it's long overdue for medicare to have the bargain -- the power to bargain with drugmakers directly for lower drug prices. something like 90% of the
american people, 90% of the american people believe that it is time to lift the restriction on medicare so that medicare could bargain to hold down the costs of medicine. weren't able to get that into the bill, but at a minimum, the bipartisan legislation the finance committee approved cannot be picked apart by pharma lobbyists, should not be picked apart by pharma lobbyists, particularly on the key question of whether or not we're going to stop pharmaceutical price gouging. on this side, my colleagues and i are going to continue to fight to get this legislation passed by the full senate. for now, it is up to leader mcconnell to bring our bill to the floor. my message to every member of this body is the americans were battling illnesses and struggling to pay for their
medications cannot wait. these are people, mr. president, who are walking an economic tightrope. every month they balance their food bill against their fuel bill and their fuel bill against their medicine bill. these are americans who cannot afford to be shunted aside while the senate favors business as usual for the drugmakers. mr. president, every one of us knows what this crisis is all about, how big it is. senators were home for weeks this summer. they heard from those in their communities, in grocery stores and gas stations and restaurants and dairy queens. everywhere you go, when a senator is home, folks come up and tell them a story about how they feel when they get their prescription drug bills