Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate Debates Judicial Nomination  CSPAN  May 25, 2017 10:29am-12:30pm EDT

10:29 am
question who then was type like a candidate going up scrutiny t the floor. there is lots of incidents where he candidate clearly does notes like the question closely and he walks away or sent to him. he didn't bodyslam any of them. >> david weigel, with the "washington post," thank you for joining us. >> that morning conversation, gianforte has canceled his appearance at fox news this afternoon. several montana newspapers also revoking their endorsement of the republican. results from that race obviously much later today. the house is in session today. their last legislative day of the week. you can follow that on c-span. the senate will gavel and momentarily for the u.s. circuit court judge for the sixth circuit. a vote on his nomination could take place at 1:30 p.m. eastern.
10:30 am
now live to the floor on c-span2 . the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. gracious father, fill our government's legislative branch with your truth. where it is in need of purging, cleanse it.
10:31 am
where it is in error, direct it. where anything is amiss, reform it. where it is right, strengthen and confirm it. where it is in want, furnish it. where it is divided unite it. today, use our lawmakers for your purposes. as they have the opportunities may they strive to do good for your glory. guide and strengthen them as you provide for their needs. lord, remind them that they are
10:32 am
laborers together with you. we pray in your sacred name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, may 25, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable luther strange, a senator from the state of alabama, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g.hatch, president pro tempore.
10:33 am
mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: what's happened in the year since democrats forced obamacare on our country? health choices plummeted downward year after year after year. health costs skyrocketed higher year after year. and what have democrats who promised the opposite done all these years since as republicans warned we have to do something before obamacare hurt more americans on its path to collapse? they've done basically nothing. they said we were exaggerating. they were wrong. they said things would get better. they got even worse.
10:34 am
rather than work with us to fix health care, they pretended things were fine while more americans got hurt. so you can imagine my surprise when democrats recently sent a letter that essentially concedet the status quo of obamacare is unsustainable. was it because they actually wanted to work together on reform? i sure wish that was the case, but so far it seems part of a new strategy to -- get this -- blame someone other than themselves for the failures of obamacare. did they actually think anyone is going to buy this? come on, just the other day a bombshell report came out that reminded us exactly where the blame for obamacare's failures has always belonged. the blame belongs with obamacare. the official report says that since obamacare's full enactment
10:35 am
in 2013, premiums had on average doubled in the vast majority of states that use obamacare's federal exchange. and premiums even tripled in a hand full of others. so think about that. premiums doubled in the vast majority of these states. premiums tripled in a handful of others. there's just no serious way to now try to spin away these years and years of obamacare's failures on cost. by the same token, there's no serious way to try to spin away or ignore the years and years of obamacare's failures on choice. just take a look at the chart behind me. 49% of the counties in my state have only one -- just one -- insurer. half of the counties.
10:36 am
one choice. and when you have one choice, you have no choice at all. and it's the latest in a long-term trend we've seen under obamacare. to add insult to injury, predictions show that next year could be even worse for families when it comes to their choices under this law. unfortunately, my state is not alone either. this year there are 26 states -- 26 states -- with at least one county where residents have just one insurance option under obamacare. that means millions of americans living in more than 1,000 counties across our country really have no choice at all. no choice at all. and thanks to obamacare, things could again get even worse next year. just yesterday tens of thousands of missourians across 25 counties from small towns to kansas city learned that they may join the ranks of americans
10:37 am
without a single insurance option to choose from next year. not one. thanks to obamacare and its years' long trend of fewer and fewer choices. does any of that sound like what americans were promised? a mother in louisville wrote to my office begging for members of congress to address the failures here's what she said. middle-class kentuckians are hurting because of obamacare. she said residents have little choice for health plans, and our family is not the only one suffering from the high cost of health insurance. i hope she concluded, that you'll push hard to fix our health care system. i know many of my colleagues have received letters like this one from their constituents as well. obamacare has caused so much pain for families across our country, and it's not going to just magically, magically somehow get better on its own. i know that, like so many families across the country, i'm not satisfied with the
10:38 am
obamacare status quo, and i don't think it's acceptable for its failures to be considered the new normal. as the people of kentucky have shown in election after election, they don't either. senate republicans are working together to move past the problems of obamacare and to help those who have been hurt by it. we'd love for democrats to join us. democrats have already effectively conceded, effectively conceded that obamacare has failed. now the question is will they work with us to actually fix this mess? or will they waste more time in some futile appointment to now redirect blame -- futile attempt to redirect blame. the obamacare quo is unsustainable and indefensible and we have to move beyond it before americans get hurt. on another matter, later today senators will vote to confirm judge amul r. thapar to be u.s.
10:39 am
court of appeals court for the sixth circuit. he has a reputation as a qualified judge. he will fairly apply the judge for all who enter the courtroom because in judge thapar's own word, it is important to be open-minded, and research the law and hear from the parties. in 2007, president bush nominated him to be united states district judge for the eastern district of kentucky. at that time the senate confirmed his nomination on a voice vote. and judge th apar became the first south asian federal judge in the history of our cunning. when we confirm him -- history of our country. when we confirm him today he will be the second south asian ever to serve on a federal court. judge thapar has been recognized
10:40 am
for his work on the bench and the most recent edition of the almanac of the federal judiciary quoted attorneys who, quote, agree that thapar has excellent legal ability. the american bar association which has been called the gold standard for evaluating judges awarded him its highest rating, unanimously well qualified. in other words, mr. president, the people involved in rating, and they couldn't find anybody who didn't say he was well qualified. that's the highest rating one can achieve. judge thapar has the necessary credentials, integrity and respect from his colleagues to join the sixth circuit. i'm proud to support him and i urge all senators to vote to confirm judge thapar's nomination later today. on another matter, as we approach the memorial day weekend, we're reminded of the great sacrifices so many men and
10:41 am
women in uniform have made on our behalf throughout the years. the service members whose memory we honor paid the ultimate price in defending our nation, our families and our freedom. and we are forever indebted to them. but as we reflect upon the fallen soldiers, sailors, air men and marines, we're also alsoreminded of the responsibility we have to the heroes who return home. our veterans. i don't have to tell colleagues how important keeping our commitment to our veterans is. we have an all-volunteer force, and we cannot break faith with the americans who bravely and willingly fight on our behalf. one way we can honor them is by working to ensure that they receive the quality, timely care they need through the department of veterans affairs. that's why after the state work period, we'll be taking up a bipartisan bill reported out of committee just yesterday that
10:42 am
will enhance accountability at the v.a., improve the care veterans receive and empower the v.a. with the tools necessary to remove employees who are failing to perform at the high-quality level our nation's heroes richly deserve. importantly, this bill, the department of veterans affairs accountability and whistle-blower protection act, will build on progress we made already with the 2014 veterans access choice and accountability act. we know many challenges remain in ensuring that veterans have access to the care they need at the v.a. but this legislation will further improve our ability to meet our commitment to them. i appreciate chairman isakson for his continued advocacy on behalf of our veterans as well as senator rubio for his leadership on this critical legislation. i look forward to full senate -- to the full senate taking up the bill and passing it soon.
10:43 am
one final matter, mr. president. next week on june 1 the commonwealth of kentucky will celebrate its 225th anniversary of its admittance as a state into the union. originally part of virginia, known as the kentucky county, it became the 15th state of this nation in 1792. so today i rise to celebrate my home state of kentucky, the commonwealth of kentucky, a place that native american wineda nation called, quote, the land of tomorrow. when you think about my home state, many things follow as distinctly kentuckian. blessed with fertile land and an abundance of coal, kentucky's cultural heritage has developed in both fields and the mines. the proud tradition of the commonwealth includes not only bourbon and basketball, but also statesmen, artists and
10:44 am
athletes. i've been proud to represent kentucky in the united states senate, and i am forever grateful to the people of my home state for giving me the opportunity to do just that. kentucky has a distinguished history, and i'm confident that trail blazers and pioneers from across the bluegrass state will continue to make it the land of tomorrow. it's my honor to call the commonwealth home, and i look forward to celebrating this 225th anniversary next week. there are so many great things about kentucky, and i ask unanimous consent that the full tribute -- my full tribute be included after my remarks. 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 thapar nomination, which the clerk will report.
10:45 am
the clerk: nomination, the judiciary. amul r. thapar of kentucky to be united states circuit judge. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: mr. president, i'd like to submit a statement for the record on the pending nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr├▒ -- mr. durbin: mr. president, i'd like to address the comments made by the republican majority leader about the issue of health care. mr. durbin: what he said today, i have never heard him say before. he said it was the fault of the democrats for refusing to work with the republicans to change the affordable care act. i had not heard that before, and i find it an interesting suggestion, because what happened after the house of representatives passed a measure three weeks ago to change the health care system in america, the issue then came to the senate but didn't go through the regular order of business. it's my understanding and it has been reported widely in the
10:46 am
press that senator mcconnell, the republican leader, assembled a group of 13 republican senators who are meeting in private over the last three weeks to discuss an alternative to the health care bill that passed in the house of representatives. there are no democrats in that room, none have been invited, and incidentally there are no women in that room from the republican side. 13 male senators meeting in private. and so to hear the suggestion from the republican leader that the real problem they're running into is that the democrats aren't helping, we weren't invited to this party. they are meeting privately to come up with something, and i don't know what it might be. but i've got an idea of how we can achieve a bipartisan real effort when it comes to health care in america. i would suggest that we create a committee in the united states senate. i have a name for it. the health, education, labor and
10:47 am
pensions committee. i suggest that we have 12 republicans and 11 democrats on that committee. and i would suggest that they sit down, take the bill sent by the house, and improve it, make it better. now, this suggestion is such a good one that the committee already exists. it is under the chairmanship of lamar alexander, whom i respect personally very much, and ranking member patty murray of the state of washington, a democrat. i know, having spoken to senator murray, she's ready to roll up her sleeves and go to work and to write a revision to the health care bill, the health care system in america. but there have been no hearings, none, on the measure passed by the house of representatives, so when the republican leader says he wishes the democrats would join in the effort, this committee is ready and willing to work, and i'm sure if he picked up the phone and called
10:48 am
senator alexander and senator murray, they could get to work on doing a much better job than what the house of representatives did. why am i so critical of the house of representatives? not because of the traditional rivalry between the chambers but because yesterday the congressional budget office took a look at the bill that passed the u.s. house of representatives three weeks ago by two votes. it was all republicans voting for and passed by two. a number of republicans refused to support it. it had no support from the democratic side. it was an unusual bill because it went out of the regular order of business. the regular order of business suggests that when you're going to do something that might have an impact, a large impact on america, you should go to an agency that is nonpartisan, expert in the field that will analyze your bill and tell you what impact it will have. most of us think we have pretty good ideas for making america a better place to live and good ideas for legislation, but
10:49 am
luckily we have something called the congressional budget office which sometimes brings us back down to earth and says it might not work exactly as you thought it would work. and so traditionally, bills, significant bills that affect a lot of americans and families and things important like health care are submitted to the congressional budget office so they can analyze them and decide the impact that they will have. well, three weeks ago, speaker paul ryan and republicans in the house said something i had not heard before in my service in congress. they said we're not going to wait for this analysis. we're going to vote on this bill even before the congressional budget office has a chance to analyze its impact. remember, we're talking about changing the health care system in america, and that literally impacts every single american. it's one-sixth of our nation's economy. and you would think before anyone was bold enough to suggest they wanted to change
10:50 am
the system, they would at least send their proposal to the congressional budget office for an analysis. republicans in the house failed to do so, refused to do so, passed the measure by two votes and sent it to the senate. so yesterday, the congressional budget office completed its analysis, and now that we have an analysis of what's known as trumpcare or the republican health care approach, it's pretty clear why they didn't want the congressional budget office to take a look at it. this is what the congressional budget office reported publicly last night. next year, under the republican proposal for health care reform, 14 million americans will lose their health insurance. over the next ten years, 23 million americans will lose their health insurance. do you remember when we started this conversation? the goal was to make sure we changed the laws in america so more americans would have the protection of health insurance. just the opposite occurs if the
10:51 am
republican plan goes forward. the second thing we were looking for as a goal in health care reform was to reduce the growth, the rate of growth in health insurance premiums. every one of us knows what that's all about. health insurance premiums costs have been going up way too high for way too long. so the republicans have been critical of the current system, saying the costs of health insurance going up too fast and so they put in their reform proposal which passed the house of representatives. here's what the congressional budget office has to say about the republican approach. next year, premiums for health insurance will increase by 20% in the individual market. that is the market where we have seen this dramatic growth in costs already, and the republican plan makes it worse. the third thing we find is this argument by the republicans that somehow the current health care
10:52 am
system in america, the affordable care act, is in a death spiral. listen to what the congressional budget office says about the health insurance market in america today. the c.b.o. affirms that under current law, marketplaces, health insurance marketplaces are stable. however, under the republican repeal bill, one out of every six americans will be living in part of this country where the individual market would become unstable as a result of the republican bill. so instead of stabilizing the market and ending the so-called death spiral, the republican bill makes it worse. it turns out that when you take a close look at this so-called death spiral, you find the republicans have their hands around the throat of the health care system of america, choking it and claiming this patient is not looking good, doctor.
10:53 am
if they would stop their efforts to sabotage the current system and work to improve it and make it stronger, then we can save health insurance for a lot of americans and bring stability to the system. the republican bill at its heart is not about health care, though. it's about tax cuts. the republican proposal for health care reform starts with eliminateing almost $900 billion in taxes paid by the wealthiest people in america. by taking $900 billion out of the health care system, they're unable to keep health insurance alive for so many americans. the republican approach eliminates $834 billion in the federal medicaid program. what is the federal medicaid program? let me give you three examples of what it is. in illinois today, half of the babies that are born are paid
10:54 am
for, their medicare is paid for by the medicaid system. prenatal care for mom so the baby's healthy, the delivery of the baby and postnatal care afterwards. these are lower income individuals. half of them were paid for by medicaid. but that's not the most expensive part of medicaid. the most expensive part of medicaid is for your mom and dad and your grandmother and grandfather who were in a nursing home and have no savings left, all they have is social security, medicare and medicaid. that's the most expensive part of medicaid. and those who are disabled, living in my state, in alabama, in new york and other states, disabled people and low income need medical care and they rely on medicaid. so when the health reform and repeal cuts $800 billion out of medicaid at the expense of the groups i just mentioned, babies and moms, elderly people in nursing homes and the disabled, those are the ones who will see
10:55 am
a cutback in medical services so that we can give a $900 billion tax cut to the wealthiest people in america. i know that the democratic leader's here. i want to yield the floor when he arrives, but i want to close by telling you a story. yesterday, i had four -- three moms and a dad who brought their children to a press conference. it was a great press conference, if i may say so. these kids stole the show, as they should. each one of them, each one of them had a compelling story about having survived a terrible illness. many of them were cancer victims. moms told stories. one mom said i was changing my little girl and i noticed a lump on her abdomen. it turned out to be a neuroblastoma cancer tumor. it was removed, and my little girl spent weeks, months in the
10:56 am
hospital, and she is still going back. each one of them told the story. and as you looked at these kids, smiling, happy, bouncing around, you thought to yourself, thank goodness, thank goodness for america with its great medical care and thank goodness these families had health insurance, because they were there concerned about what the republicans are doing when it comes to preexisting conditions. because these kids have survived cancer, they are risky, from an insurance viewpoint. we decided six years ago to put an end to that worry for these families. you cannot discriminate against a person or a family in america based on a preexisting condition, and thank goodness because one out of three of us have a preexisting condition. the republican approach takes away that protection and says that governors can ask for a waiver so that health insurance in their state can discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. so three moms and a dad came yesterday and said please stop
10:57 am
this republican plan. what will our family do? our kids have preexisting conditions. we can't afford to see our premiums go through the roof because the republicans withdraw this protection. that's the real-life consequences of this debate. this isn't just about a lot of politicians on capitol hill blowing hot air. it's about families, real families with real kids and real challenges and whether they're going to have real protection when they need it. the congressional budget office yesterday came out with a report and said the measure that passed the house, the republican measure, is a disaster for families across america. we've got to stop it. we've got to do everything we have in our power to do it. and i might say to my friend from new york, the democratic leader, that when the republican leader comes to the floor this morning and says why won't the democrats join us in repairing the affordable care act, i would say to the republican leader
10:58 am
open the door of that room where you have 13 male republican senators sitting down and debating the future of health care, open the door, open the windows and let's have an honest, open, bipartisan conversation, not about repealing our health care system but making it stronger, protecting the very families that showed up yesterday at a press conference i'm going to remember for a long time. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the minority leader. mr. schumer: first, let me thank my good friend from illinois for, as usual, his articulate, compassionate, and outstanding words, and for the great job he and others did yesterday when they invited the people here. and i reiterate just what the senator from illinois stated. that is, once they take repeal off the table -- they're having real trouble with repeal -- we want to sit down and make our health care system better. it's not perfect. no one thought it was. it's better than it was.
10:59 am
many more people covered, preexisting conditions, college kids, kids get out of college and they get health care. all of that's better. we don't want to get rid of everything. but we want to improve it. we're working. and 48 senators, as my colleague from illinois knows, every democrat signed a letter to leader mcconnell saying we want to work with you to improve the system. not to sabotage the existing system, not to repeal the good things we have, but to improve it. and we've gotten no answer in that regard. so, mr. president, just a few words first about bill dowster, someone who has labored long and hard and well in this body. you know, we depend on our hardworking staff. i am so blessed to have such a dedicated, hardworking, smart staff. one of their best traits is they are not afraid to tell me when they think i'm off base, and it helps keep things going right.
11:00 am
well, bill dowster was one of the great staffers i have met in all the years i have been here in the senate. he worked, of course, for harry reid, my dear friend. he's now working for senator van hollen, but he will be retiring tomorrow. bill was leader reid's dependency secretary staff for many years, before he worked for the budget committee, the finance committee and senator feingold of wisconsin. the list of legislation that bill has worked on is long and illustrious. he was known as a great friend and mentor to his colleagues wherever he went. in reid's office, he was jokingly called "the butler" because he was constantly trying to help other members of the staff. senator reid's staffers fondly remember him during the final days of the debt ceiling negotiations running out of -- running in and out of senator reid's office to younger staff
11:01 am
members. even on his busiest days, bill made time for others. in an industry in which many rubbed shoulders and networked after work, bill was a different kind of guy. he'd say, i love you, but i love my family more, and i need to be home with them. he was so dedicated to his family. he'd regale us with many stories about them. he came up with great ideas. avenues great sounding board for me, and so i want to thank, i think on behalf of all of us in the senate, we want to thank bill for his long service to the united states senate, for his role in crafting legislation over three decades, and for his mentorship to other senate aides, old and young. he's real estate tiring, but -- he's retired, but his influence in this body will last long after he has left. we all wish him well in his next phase of life, where hopefully he'll be able to spend time --
11:02 am
more time where he enjoys it the most, at home with his family. and now, mr. president, another matter: health care. yesterday the congressional budget office, led by a director who was handpicked by current h.h.s. secretary tom price, donald trump's appointee, released its analysis of the house republican health care bill, trumpcare. the bill makes clear that trumpcare would be a cancer on the american health care system. causing costs to skyrocket, making coverage unaffordable for many seniors and those with preexisting conditions, all the while leaving 23 million americans with health insurance -- fewer americans with health insurance. now, when people hear this they say, why would the republicans want to do it? that just seems mean-spirited.
11:03 am
with i'll tell you why, because they are number-one goal to give a tax break for the wealthiest of americans, people making above $250,000 pay an additional charge to help everyone else with health care on their unearned income -- not on the -- not on what they do when they're working but on stocks and bonds and investment investments. and the number-one goal of our colleagues across the aisle, sadly, is to help those very rich people get even richer. now, to do that, they got to take away people's health care. to get the money for those tax breaks, they take away people's health care. so the bottom line is very simple: unless you are a healthy millionaire, trumpcare is a nightmare. and i think that's why our republican colleagues are having such trouble putting together their own bill, because as senator durbin has noted, they've excluded us from their negotiations. well, the c.b.o. report ought to
11:04 am
be a final nail in the coffin of the republican effort to sabotage our health care system. republicans in washington and the president should read the report cover to cover, throw their bill in the trash can, and begin working with democrats on a real plan to lower costs and improve care. there's a lot to unpack in this report. came out late yesterday. so i want to focus on a couple of provisions this morning. first on health insurance costs. the c.b.o. report makes clear that premiums under this bill are headed up in the next several years. consumers would see their premiums increase by 20% for next year's plans. now, republicans will crow about premiums going down in the outer years, years away, but the decrease in premiums only occurs for one reason: the quality of the insurance will plummet.
11:05 am
if you have a bare-bones plan that hardly helps you where you have to pay huge deductibles, huge co-payments, huge premiums, huge co-payments and premiums, and it covers next to nothing, of course the costs will eventually go down. what good is that? why even talk about that kind of health care? people don't need it and don't want it. cheaper insurance isn't going to help anyone if it doesn't actually lead to the health care people need. listen to this: older americans, everyone in america 50 to 64, trumpcare is going to force you to pinch pennies just to be able to afford health insurance. the c.b.o. report says that some seniors could see their premiums going up a whopping 800% under this bill. in one of the newspaper regardless i saw -- i think the senior citizen was in his early
11:06 am
60's, they were making about $25,000, $30,000 a year, not unusual for a senior of that a age -- and their premiums went up from $1,700 to $13,000. are you going vote to for that, my friends? telling these people who've worked hard all their lives so that -- that they have to pay a lot more and a lot of that money is going to wealthy people for a a tax cut? what about out-of-pocket expenses? according to the c.b.o. report -- by the way, out-of-pocket expenses really bother people. how many of us have heard over and over again, i have health care. when i went to the doctor, they said, you first got to lay out $5,000. how many of us have heard that? everybody? the republican bill makes it worse. according to the c.b.o. report, out-of-pocket costs could balloon for vital services in states where they decline to
11:07 am
cover essential health benefits. americans could be paying thousands of dollars more every year if they need maternity care or programs that treat substance abuse or mental health services. listen to this one: according to reports in states that elect not to include maternity care -- which every state could elect to do under the republican bill, and many will -- insurers would most likely selma terrent benefits as an -- would most likely sell maternity benefits as aned a-on at $17,000 more in total. under trumpcare, women may well have to pay more, much more, insurance just because they are a woman because of pregnancy. second -- so costs go up, up, up. and if, god forbid, this bill becomes law and costs go up, any
11:08 am
citizen of this country should go to their senators who vote for this and say, what the heck did you do? you made it worse. now, uncertainty in the markets, second issue. the c.b.o. report confirms that the republican attempts to repeal the affordable care act and the trump administration's refusal to guarantee continuing to make cost-sharing payments is causing instability in the market. this is the report put out by the republican-appointed head of c.b.o. this is not some democratic propaganda-type document. these are just the facts, ma'am, as mr. friday said. quote -- here's what the report says -- substantial uncertainty about the enforcement of the individual mandate and about future payments of the cost-sharing subsidies --
11:09 am
unquote -- have led insurers to withdraw from the current marketplace. ahip -- the biggest market of our nation's insurers, the insurance companies, they're nonpartisan. they said the same thing. why, if our colleagues want more people to stay in the market and are complaining that people are leaving the market, don't we come together -- hopefully with the president, who's got this -- he could do this on his own -- and say, we're going to make this cost-sharing permanent? we all know insurers want certainty in the future or they pull out. that's what insurance business is all about. and yet, grudgingly, one little step at a time, they don't take away the cost-sharing because they know the damage it would do -- as does president trump -- but they are prayed to make it permanent -- but they are afraid to make it permanent. and that causes problems. so, there's only one word for what the president is doing and
11:10 am
our republican colleagues are doing when it comes to the present health care system: sabotage. if our republican friends continue to allow the president to play coy about these cost-sharing payments, which bring premiums down, which bring costs for average citizens down, if they continue to allow the president to play coy about these payments, as a potential threat, if we don't make cost-sharing permanent, the system will deteriorate and, again, it'll be on the president's back on the one hand our colleagues' -- on the president's back and our colleagues' back. i hate to say that but those are the facts. we tried to make it put it in the budget, in the appropriations bill to make it permanent. which would have kept costs lower, kept people in the exchanges. our colleagues said no. okay, finally, preexisting conditions. the c.b.o. report states -- this is a direct quote -- people who are less healthy would
11:11 am
ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive, non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under present law, if they could purchase it at all. let me repeat the last part of the c.b.o. report, written by an appointee of our republican head of h.h.s. if they could purchase it at all. think about that for a minute. under trumpcare, if you have a preexisting condition, if you're sick, your health insurance costs could go up so high you can't afford insurance. how many of us are for the new health care law passed under -- how many of us, before the health care law passed under president obama, how many of us heard, my daughter has cancer, but the health insurance company won't cover me or i got kicked off, and i have to watch her
11:12 am
suffer because i can't afford the payments. going back to those days under this bill, unfortunately. the report ought to be the -- this report ought to be the final nail in the coffin of the republican effort to sabotage our health care system. it'll make sure -- it'll make much more certain that sick people prices out of insurance company, the most vulnerable, are left high and dry when they need care the most. when there is an illness in the family. is that the sort of health care system our colleagues envision for this country, when you're sick, when one of your family members is sick, that's when they're allowed to give you
11:13 am
health care? what the heck do you have health care for? certainly that's noted idea on the other side of the." but this bill that the house pass wood do it. so, in conclusion, mr. president, the nonpartisan scorekeepers have spoken loudly and clearly, no ambiguity. trumpcare means higher costs and less care for the average american. let's not lose sight of what's at stake here: the health and well-being of the mehr is on the line. -- the health and well-being of the american people is on the line. there are life-and-death consequences for so many millions of people. they are relying on us to get this right. so for the good of the country, president trump and our republican colleagues should abandon trumpcare, stop sabotaging the health care system, and work with democrats. we are waiting to fix our health care system, not pull the plug
11:14 am
on it. finally, one more note, mr. president. it's memorial day. i want to take a moment to express my deep and abiding gratitude for the men and women in our armed services who gave their last full measure of devotion in defense of our nation and our liberty. in big cities and small towns throughout america and in my home state of new york, we will honor our fallen veterans and pay tribute to them. we'll give a hug to the gold star moms who have made the ultimate sacrifice. may we never forget their sacrifice so that we may enjoy the blessings of freedom. mr. president, since the founding of this country, since the farmers on bunker hill put down their plows and took up muskets, americans have been willing to make that ultimate sacrifice for our great way of life. our freedom. may we never forget them.
11:15 am
i yield the floor. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i join my colleague from new york in expressing the special respect and passion that we all feel in honoring this great holiday which remembers the service and sacrifice of great americans to make sure that we sustain and preserve and enhance our democracy. part of that democracy is indeed the rule of law, and protecting the institutions that make us great as a nation, including our election system and its integrity. so today also should be a time
11:16 am
to observe and commemorate the continued respect for the law that makes us great. part of that respect was demonstrated recently when the deputy attorney general appointed a special counsel to investigate possible coordination between the trump administration and presidential campaign with the russians as they interfere with those democratic institutions. make no mistake, there is consensus and unanimity in the intelligence community and more broadly among us in this body that the russians purposefully and relentlessly interfered in the 2016 election through a cyber attack on this nation. in my view, it was an act of cyber warfare. the questions now are who and
11:17 am
how in the trump team may have colluded with the russians in that illegal, outrageous activity and indeed whether there has been obstruction of justice since then. mounting evidence indicates that there has been. and i have joined many of my colleagues in praising the appointment of a special prosecutor because it is vitally necessary for a fair and impartial as well as aggressive investigation. the special prosecutor must follow the evidence wherever it leads, and i have confidence that bob mueller is the right person for this assignment. he has the grit and backbone to stand up to pressure. etch has the -- he has the
11:18 am
prosecutorial experience and expertise to conduct a truly professional investigation. i called for a special prosecutor back in february. i was one of the first, if not the first among our colleagues to do so because the conflicts of interest raised by the recusal of the attorney general and the potential involvement of the deputy led me to think that such an appointment was absolutely necessary. i now call on the president to support this investigation, with the utmost respect to the office of the president, it should be unnecessary to call for that cooperation and support. my hope was that the president would say as soon as the appointment occurred, indeed
11:19 am
that he would cooperate. but instead he has continued to characterize this investigation as a witch hunt and a charade. he has demeaned and disrespected it and indicated that if anything, there will be less than full cooperation. that would be a grave disservice to our democracy and to the american people. the integrity of our electoral system is bigger and more important than any single electoral contest or even occupant of the white house. it's about freedom and independence of this nation, something we cherish and we celebrate on this memorial day weekend. so i urge president trump to demonstrate his adherence to the rule of law by cooperating and articulating fully his cooperation with this
11:20 am
investigation. i hope that not only president trump but all of his associates will do so and that they will provide whatever testimony and documents are necessary to complete this investigation as quickly and effectively as possible. and i also believe that the attorney general of the united states owes the american people his adherence to the rule of law by committing himself to follow the guidelines that respect the press. indeed, we would know very little, if anything, about many of the events that have prompted the appointment of special prosecutor without the free press reporting development after event after development that has led to this day.
11:21 am
there are guidelines and regulations that protect the press against any kind of compulsory process or punishment. if there is punishment to be accorded to lawbreakers, the press should be recognized for the special role that they have in our democracy and the special protection, a constitutional guarantee they enjoy under the first amendment. and there are guidelines under 28 cfr-5010 that provide legal guidance and regulation that should be observed, and i hope that the attorney general will demonstrate in deed and word his adherence to those guidelines rather than threatening to lock up reporters, as the president has unfortunately done
11:22 am
apparently in conversations with director comey, or punishing them, whatever the violations of government officials will be, may be, there should be an articulate and clear and explicit adherence to those regulations by the attorney general. let's take a moment to go through where we are right now. last july after a disturbing series of reports suggesting the attempt by a foreign power to influence an american election, the federal government began to investigate russian government interference in the presidential election. we learned just yesterday from a published report that this activity included conversations among russian officials regarding how best to sway individual trump officials, and
11:23 am
that the f.b.i.'s early handling of this matter may have been influenced by an unreliable document traceable to russian intelligence. a form of interference in our justice system that is stunning. in december of 2016, united states intelligence officials concluded that russians had orchestrated the theft of electronic materials from the democratic national committee and john podesta in an attempt to undermine hillary clinton's presidential campaign. the obama administration responded by implementing sanctions on the russian government. and shortly before president trump took office, attorney general sally yates warned the white house that national security advisor michael flynn had lied to officials about discussing sanctions with russia and was vulnerable to russian
11:24 am
blackmail. the white house waited two and a half weeks to take action and did so only after a march 9 "washington post" report. and in fact days after sally yates' warning fired her. we also know that director comey was warned or asked -- in fact demanded by president trump that he pledge his loyalty and that he would be in jeopardy of losing his job if he did not. shortly there after, the president clearly expressed to director comey his sense of that warning when he asked director comey to shut down in effect the flynn investigation. as we all know, director comey
11:25 am
resisted both of the president's requests. in early march, following sharp criticism about his failure to disclose meetings with russian officials under oath, attorney general jeff sessions recused himself from the department of justice investigation. and later that month president trump's son-in-law jared kushner became the third-high ranking trump official caught misrepresenting potentially his ties to russia, having admitted meetings with russian officials from his security clearance application. on may 9, president trump fired director james comey, a stunning event, even in the midst of all of these unprecedented revelation. after clumsily, in
11:26 am
contradictory explanations seeking to advance a narrative, a false narrative that the firing was the result of director comey's handling of the hillary clinton e-mail matter, the white house essentially abandoned that conflicting series of stories, president trump admitted publicly that he was thinking about the f.b.i.'s russia investigation when he decided to fire comey. and he boasted the next day in his meeting with the russian foreign minister that he felt greatly relieved of pressure resulting from that investigation. "the new york times" has reported that comey was seeking increased funding and resources to expand the russia probe, and
11:27 am
the "times" also subsequently revealed that director comey discussed with others and wrote memos detailing how president trump asked him to pledge his loyalty and shut down the federal investigation into mr. flynn. we must wait for all the facts to emerge. but even if only some of these reports are accurate, the conclusion is almost inescapable that the president of the united states fire the f.b.i. director in an attempt to shut down the investigation into ties between his associates, including michael flynn, and the russian government. the names of these associates have been well documented. paul manafort, wrong jer stone -- roger stone carter page as well as michael flynn. there is unfortunately more. in the past few days additional
11:28 am
disturbing facts and press reports have surfaced, including testimony by former c.i.a. director john brennan before the house intelligence committee. he said, before he left office, he became deeply concerned that russian intelligence services were attempting to manipulate trump associates to influence the presidential campaign. he noted that many russian contacts of individuals linked to the trump campaign emerged in those reports, and "the washington post" reported that comey informed congress about the f.b.i.'s russia investigation in late march and that trump asked the director of intelligence and national security director michael rogers to push back on that investigation, in fact to clear the president and deny trump campaign collusion with the russians. both officials, to their
11:29 am
credit, according to this report, refused to do so. in the armed services committee, i asked director coats whether he discussed with director rogers any attempts by the administration to interfere with the investigation. he refused to answer. a pause and silence that spoke volumes. revelation after revelation shake our confidence in this administration's truthfulness and competence. this investigation by the special prosecutor is vitally necessary. but we must not lose sight of the damage that's already been done. these reports paint a deeply disturbing picture of possible obstruction, a mosaic pieced together by facts that show not
11:30 am
only events and conversations, but also motive. because after a series of these events and conversations, they can no longer be seen as isolated or accidental or inadvertent. the cumulative effect like threads in a fabric are to establish a picture of motive, intent, and criminal activity. special counsel mueller must have the mandate and all the funding and resources he needs to follow the facts wherever they may lead. resources, independent, but also support. that is why, again, i call on
11:31 am
the administration to express its support and its intention to cooperate. this kind of investigation can mean the difference between the upholding of our democratic institutions or placing them in jeopardy and i therefore urge in closing that we as a body remain vaj illegal immigrant, that we -- remain vigilant. that we continue as a judiciary committee oversight inquiry and investigative activity so as to assure we know the reasons why then-f.b.i. director comey was fired. he had that responsibility as a matter of oversight. and that we continue that kind of scrutiny to assure the independence and resources that the special prosecutor needs. likewise, the activities of the intelligence committee are
11:32 am
absolutely necessary. a special prosecutor almost certainly will produce no report or elaborate public explanation. he will bring criminal charges if they are warranted by the evidence. he will seek convictions in court if those prosecutions are justified under his finding. a report with recommendations and finding as to how we can avoid this kind of interference with our democratic institutions in the future must be the work of the intelligence committee and of an independent commission which i have supported. an incident bipartisan commission and do the kind of public, transparent, vigorous and independent work that is necessary, just as we have done in the wake of other crises. i urge that we proceed on all of
11:33 am
these fronts. they are vital to our democracy. they are an essential, inextricable part of the freedom and the rule of law and freedom of the press. i hope the press will continue its unfettered use of first amendment freedom to give us the truth and to continue those reports that have brought us to this day, because the truth will be uncovered in the course of the criminal process. it will be uncovered by the intelligence committee and hopefully by an independent commission, but the essential roll of the free press in fostering government accountability is recognized by existing regulations and the attorney general of the united states should leave no confusion
11:34 am
that the department of justice will adhere to those regulations. indeed, 28 c.f.r. 50.10 recognizes, quote, the essential role of the free press in fostering government accountability, end quote, and therefore sets parameters and procedures for approval by the attorney general of the united states under standards that are set forth for any government action that may in any way inhibit or impede the press. we will probably never know the real impact of russian intervention on the outcome of the 2016 election. these investigations are not about assessing the impact. they are about determining who participated criminally with the russians in that interference.
11:35 am
the american people deserve a thorough and impartial investigation into the trump team's ties to that meddling and the efforts of president trump and others to cover up. in the wake of the watergate, the saying arose that the cover-up was worse than the crime. it was then and it would be worse or at least as heinous as the crime here, but make no mistake, here the crime is actually an interference in our democratic institutions by the russians, which they will repeat if we do not make them pay a price, and likewise if we do not make americans who cooperated with them pay a price as well. this principle is central to our democracy and our rule of law, and i urge my colleagues to join
11:36 am
me in calling for cooperation by the trump administration as well as by recognizing the importance of the investigation, its independence and resources, and the free press and the rule of law. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. ms. klobuchar: thank you,
11:37 am
mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to join my colleagues in speaking about the opioid crisis as it's devastated families in states across the country. i want to thank my colleague, senator manchin, for organizing the speeches today. in my state, deaths from prescription drug abuse now claims the lives of more minnesotans than homicides or car crashes. we lost our beloved prince because of an opioid overdose. that's still being investigated. but just as importantly, we have lost a student in duluth and a mom in rochester, minnesota. over 400 people in just the last year. and we continue to see dangerous synthetic opioids shipped across our borders in increasing amounts, a trend that u.s. customs and border protection expects to continue as we heard in the judiciary committee last week, and today i join senator portman in his subcommittee on
11:38 am
homeland security, and we talked about what's going on from that perspective as well. so while there is more work to do to combat this epidemic, i want to recognize first that we have made some meaningful progress on a bipartisan basis. we passed the cara act, something that was led by senators portman, whitehouse and senator ayotte and myself. we have set a framework for the nation. but then we also know -- and i look at this in three ways. the first way is that we have to do everything we can to prevent addiction. that means changing some of our prescription practices across the country. do you really need 30 pills when you get your wisdom teeth out? asking those questions, changing those practices. the second thing would be to look at prescription drug monitoring. senator portman and i have a bill that would make it much more mandatory that states share their data across state borders. i found a guy in morehead,
11:39 am
minnesota, through his rehab, a counselor who had 108 different prescriptions for opioids from something like 80 different doctors in 50 different cities, as he went from north dakota, south dakota, minnesota, wisconsin. so that's why sharing that data would reduce greatly that doctor shopping. and then i see the senator from texas, senator cornyn here, and senator cornyn and i led a bill years ago to make it easier for people to throw away their leftover prescription drugs so they don't get in the hands of those that shouldn't be taking them. so those are ideas for reducing that demand. and then you go to the next area which, of course, is trying to reduce the illegal drugs from coming in, and that's everything like the stop act which senator portman and i have introduced to make it harder to put these drugs in through the postal service to doing more with law enforcement and then passing the salts act, which is a bill that senator graham and i have introduced to make it easier for
11:40 am
prosecutors -- the president being a former prosecutor -- for prosecutors to prove up cases with analogue drugs, where perpetrators basically take a substance, change it a little and then say hey, it's a new drug and then it makes it harder for the feds to go after and you have to prove it up in court. so making some changes to our law to make it easier, especially in rural areas where they're not going to be able to get a medical doctor in to prove up what the substance is, to make it easier to prove these cases. so these are all very good ideas, but what we're getting here today to talk about is the issue of the funding and what will happen if we don't have funding for treatment. we did a good job in the cures act last december where we made $1 billion over two years available, and as well as the work that was done on a bipartisan basis in the budget for the rest of the year. i consider those good signs.
11:41 am
but unfortunately, the budget and the c.b.o. score of the health care repeal bill released this week, the bill that came over from the house show us that we're at risk of moving backwards on this issue. according to the nonpartisan congressional budget office, mental health and substance abuse benefits would be cut under the health care bill, increasing out-of-pocket costs by thousands of dollars for those who need these vital services. this is on top of $839 billion in cuts to medicaid under the bill and additional cuts in the president's budget of more than $600 billion to medicaid and the children's health insurance program, even though these programs cover three out of every ten people with an opioid addiction. three out of ten people. this would be devastating for so many if these budget cuts took effect. i would like to do more. i would actually like to pass the lifeboat act that senator manchin has introduced -- i'm a
11:42 am
cosponsor -- that would simply put an extra fee on some of these opioids so the people who have been reaping the profits from these drugs would be helping to pay for the treatment. i think that's a great idea, but unfortunately this budget takes us the other way and also eliminates programs that help rural communities build hospitals and get access to vital telemedicine services, and it cuts critical medical research happening at the n.i.h., just when at the end of the last year we added that money to the n.i.h. funding and just in the last month with the budget for the rest of the year we continued that positive trend. the budget also doubles down on other cuts that would hurt small towns and rural communities, impacting jobs and opportunities. it eliminates rural business programs that have helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs. it cuts rural housing programs and infrastructure grant and loan programs. all together, these cuts not only threaten the progress we've made to fight against the opioid crisis, but they also threaten
11:43 am
the prosperity of the rural communities that have been hardest hit. we need a budget that helps and not hurts rural america, so we have a lot of work to do. i appreciate again the work of our democratic and republican colleagues in this senate. as we have shown with the budget from the last month, for the rest of this year, we put some common sense in there and did a good job and got a lot of bipartisan support, and my hope is we will do the same thing here and make a smart budget, reject the one that has been proposed by this administration and come up with something much better that helps and not hurts the people of our states. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
11:44 am
mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i want to spend a little bit of time here today talking about how badly obamacare is failing the american people and how my republican colleagues and i wert and replace it with health care that works. i wish i could be saying that democrats and republicans are working together to replace it with health care that works, but unfortunately our democratic colleagues have taken a walk on this particular topic and apparently are not interested in participating. even though 30 million americans remain uninsured under obamacare. the individual market where people buy their health insurance if they don't have employer-provided coverage or government-provided coverage is
11:45 am
in a death spiral. this was confirmed by a study by the department of health and human services, but it was also the subject of a "wall street journal" article today that makes the point that average premiums in the individual market have increased 1005% since -- 105% since 2013 in the 39 states where the obamacare exchanges are federally run. this translates into $3,000 more out of pocket for middle-class, hardworking families. 105% increase in premiums since 2013. i dare anybody to say that obamacare is workin working as s intended. and all you have to do is look back to president obama's very words, when he said, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; if you like your policy,
11:46 am
your health insurance policy, you can keep that. and he said, oh, by the way, we're going to save you money, too. a family of four will save $2,500 a year. contrast that to the $3,000-a-year increase since 2013 in the individual market. 105% increase. work as i said earlier this week, the department of health and human services released a report that underscores the negative impact obamacare is having on families across the country. the report highlights the incredible increase in annual premium prices since obamacare took effect, and i mentioned that in the aggregate. but let's just look at places like -- well, like texas. in texas, the average monthly premium jumped from $222 in 2013 to $404, about an 82% increase. if you are a young person and
11:47 am
buying health insurance or a young family or anybody, for that matter, spending $222 a month and it jumps 82% to $404, that's a big bite out of your disposable income. so that's pretty bad. there's no question about it. but texas wasn't closest to being the hardest hit. for example, in wisconsin, premiums have almost doubled -- almost doubled. in montana, they've gone up 133% -- 133%. in some states, the premiums have actually tripled. and, as i said, the average individual premium has more than doubled in the 39 states that health care -- using, an increase of 105% since 20136789 but that's not the only problem with
11:48 am
obamacare. this year one in three counties across the united states has just one insurer on the obamacare exchanges. in other words, obamacare has got it so wrong that it risk pools are mainly people who are older and who need health care more, and many younger people -- young, healthy people, which are important to get in the risk pool to help bring premiums down for everybody, are simply taking a walk. this isn't the mark of a health care law that is working for the american people or helping our country grow healthier. it's the mark of a law that actually is hurting -- hurting families by giving them less options and a higher cost. and failing to deliver on any promises. you wonder why people are cynical about their own government? well, it's because of promises made and promises not kept, and obamacare -- i've said it before, and i'll say it again --
11:49 am
is one of the biggest actions of consumer fraud that i've ever seen in my lifetime. we're talking about real-world consequences here. my colleagues on the other side of the aisle like to talk about how many people would be potentially hurt by repealing and replacing obamacare. of course, that's purely speculative. it makes -- they're making it harder because they refuse to participate in this process. but we're determined to make sure that we bring premiums down and we make health insurance more affordable for those who want to buy it. so let me talk about concrete examples of people terribly affected by the obamacare health care law. one of my constituents wrote me a few weeksing a. she said -- a few weeks ago. she said she and her husband got their health insurance from her husband's job. but since obamacare came in effect, their premiums have tripled and she estimates their
11:50 am
deductibles have almost doubled. their prescriptions have skyrocketed, too. an inhale -- an inhaler that previously cost her $35 now costs well over $3 00. give the outrageous cost, this texan decided to see if she could get a better deal on the exchanges since her insurance costs kept going up and up and up. she said the deductible she would have gotten was $6,000 a year. add that to higher premiums, she said that obamacare was too high to even think about changing to. obamacare has had so many negative ripple effects throughout our entire economy -- restricts the number of hours people can work because of the employer mandate, it raises taxes depressing economic activity. the medical device tax -- the medical device industry is one of the most innovative medical
11:51 am
industries in our country and literally in the world. yet obamacare imposed a medical device tax that chased those jobs and the innovation that goes along with it offshore. i remember one of my constituents from dallas, texas, said they had a location in costa rica, and as long as the medical device tax applied to things they did in texas and in the united states, they were going to take their business and build it in costa rica for one reason and one reason alone, and that is to avoid this crushing tax. so the result is not -- has not been good for the economy, and it's not been good for health care. many folks can't find any reasonable insurance that will actually pay for what they want. they can't afford what insurance they do have, and they feel hopeless and helpless as the rates keep climbing. so you would think -- because i know these stories apply not only in alaska or texas, they
11:52 am
apply all across the country. you would think you would have senators on both sides of the aisle clamoring and working together to try to come up with some solutions. but, once again, it's stony silence from our colleagues across the aisle. as my constituent rightly pointed out, so many so much of their income -- so much of their income is now going towards premiums and other health care costs, she said she and her husband feel like they're being robbed. that's why we believe on this side of the aisle -- i wish i could say on both sides of the aisle, but certainly on this side. aisle, that we need to find a solution that works for our country. here is an open invitation to our colleagues in either house of congress: please come work with us, not for our benefit, not for any political gain or advantage, but because it is the right thing to do. that's why we got elected. that's why we serve.
11:53 am
not to engage in petty politics but to actually do things that help our constituents. this isn't just a red state problem. i pointed out that earlier with wisconsin and montana. but this is a problem that confronts our entire country. so, mr. president, we're going to continue to keep working on a bill that repeals this obamacare disaster and replaces it with patient-centered, accessible health care that makes sense for the american people, and i hope our colleagues on the other side of the aisle come around to join us, because we do intend to get this done. mr. president, i just want to read a couple of other excerpts from this "wall street journal" editorial today. they talk a little bit about how to read the c.b.o. report. now, the congressional budget office, as the presiding officer
11:54 am
knows, has the final word really on interpreting from an official standpoint what the impact of proposed legislation would be. but i have to say, this is far from holy writ. it's -- here's a good example in this article. they point out obamacare coverage estimates. c.b.o. estimates for obamacare coverage by year in the million of enrollees. for example, in 2013, they projected that seven million enrollees would enroll in obamacare and it was six million. well, that's not too far off. but let's look at 2015. 2015, they said 13 million would enroll, and 11 million enrolled. again, that's balancepark. but then you go to 2016. they predicted that 21 million people would enroll in obamacare. you know how many enrolled? 12 million. they missed it by almost 50%.
11:55 am
that's not close. and then 2017 they projected it would be 15 million, and it was 10 million. so i say that not to disparage the congressional budget office, because i know they're doing the best they can, but it's hard to predict the future, and it's also hard to predict how markets will work and how people will respond to the incentive of more choices and lower cost. as i mentioned, this is not a red state or a blue state issue because, as i mentioned in missouri alone, h.h.s. has said that premiums have increased 145%. so wouldn't you think we'd have both senators from missouri down here on the floor working with us to try to solve the problem? well, i know senator blunt is working with us to try to solve the problem. but we benefit from having a bipartisan effort to address the problem. they also point out that there
11:56 am
are other things that the c.b.o. report talks about, which is significant, particularly in terms of getting our economy growing again. they said, for example, that the house bill cut taxes by $992 billion, spending by $1.1 trillion, and reduced the deficit by $119 billion. now, i know that's not the primary effort here when it comes to health care. but if we want to get our economy growing again, if we want to make it possible for more people to buy health care coverage at a price they can afford, it helps if they have a job and it helps if the economy is growing. and here's the thing that, to me, is perhaps the most cynical argument by the critics of what we are trying to do in repealing and replacing obamacare. despite the fact that there are 30 million people uninsured no
11:57 am
now -- hardly a success, hardly the gold standard for providing access to health care coverage -- the congressional budget office points out what i think is pretty obvious: if you take the gun away from people's heads, and you don't force them to buy a product that they really don't want, fewer people are actually going to buy it because it doesn't suit their needs and i.t. not available to -- and i.t. not available at -- and it's not available hat a price they can afford. as "the wall street journal" points out, without the threat of government to buy insurance or else pay a penalty, some people will conclude that obamacare coverage isn't worth the price, even with the subsidies. so sometimes i wish that we would hav have honest and open debates about the problems that confront our country, certainly health care is something near and dear to all of our hearts. too often i feel like we're ships passing in the night or
11:58 am
reverting to our talking points rather than having an open and honest discussion. this is an area where we could benefit from an open and honest discussion. and an acknowledgment that the status quo is unsustainable. if hillary clinton were president of the united states today, we'd be revisiting obamacare because the individual market is, as i described earlier, it's failing. it's fating. -- it's failing. and i'm confident our colleagues across the aisle would be eager to try to step forward to address that. but because the candidate they did not choose won the presidency, then they're in full-blown resistance offering not to even lift a finger to help us solve this problem, and it is a chicago. but it is not too late, mr. president. -- and it is a shame. but it is not too late, mr. president. and we invite them again to join us as we repeal and replace
11:59 am
obamacare, providing people with more choice at a price they can afford, not because they are going to hold a gun to their head and say, you have to buy a product that you don't want at a price you can't afford. we're going to give people the right to choose. that's a good thing. that's what america is all about. not having government force you to make decisions that are not -- that you don't view in your own economic self-interest. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. murphy: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, madam president. i rise to speak on the same subject as my friend from texas. listen, democrats are ready to talk to republicans about improving our health care system, but we aren't going to engage in a debate that presupposes that the end result is going to be millions of
12:00 pm
people losing care, rates going up for everybody in order to fund a tax cut for the wealthy. that's the plan that donald trump and republicans are pushing. and so my republican friend is right, democrats are not interested in having a discussion about how many people are going to lose coverage. we're not interested in having a discussion about how high the rate increase is going to be. we're not interested in having a discussion about big tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires, insurance companies, and drug companies. and let's be honest. if republicans were serious about working with democrats, you wouldn't be using an arcane senate rule that allows you to push through a bill with 50 votes. if republicans really wanted to work with democrats on health care reform, then would you do it through normal business. if republicans were really serious about working with democrats and health care reform, you would be going through regular order and going
12:01 pm
through the committee process. whatever you want to think about the affordable care act, it went through the committee process. 160, i think, republican amendments were accepted in the health, education, labor and pensions committee in 2009. the finance committee held multiple meetings. the bill was on the floor of the united states senate for a mon month. republicans are jamming this bill through. no committee process. no committee meetings. no committee markups. no open floor process. even senator corker called out his own party and said this is no way to rewrite one-sixth of the american economy with 13 male republican senators behind closed doors in secret. democrats are desperate to work with republicans on fixing what's wrong with our health care system. not every problem has been
12:02 pm
fixed, but we're not going to start with 17 million people losing health care orates going up by 20% -- or rates going up by 20%. and we want to do it in a way that is transparent to the american public where everybody can see. and on a second point that my friend from texas raised, the idea that the c.b.o. got the numbers wrong when they estimated how many people would be insured by the affordable care act in 2009. well, as he mentioned, they weren't off by that much but to the extent they were off, there's a pretty simple reason for it. c.b.o. did not take into account that republican states would seek to undermine the affordable care act in every conceivable way possible. c.b.o. gave republican governors and state legislators the benefit of the doubt. once this law was passed, once it was presenting an avenue to insurance for millions of people across the country, that both parties would seek to implement
12:03 pm
it. that's not what happened. republican states refused to set up state-based exchanges. republicans brought lawsuit after lawsuit to try to stop the affordable care act from going forward. republicans in control of the house and the senate jammed through legislation that reduced the risk insurance provided to insurance companies. c.b.o. did not estimate that republicans would wage a six--year long campaign to undermine and undo the affordable care act. in states that implemented the act like connecticut, numbers met or beat expectations. in states that didn't implement the affordable care act sought to undermine it, numbers didn't meet the expectations. and then comes president trump who openly telegraphs his desire to undermine the affordable care act, cuts off all of the
12:04 pm
advertising, tells the i.r.s. to stop enforcing the law, bleeds out payments to insurance companies one month at a time teasing that this will be the last month that you get your money. and finally on this question of a gun to the head of consumers, i guess that's a reference to the provision of the affordable care act that says if you don't buy insurance, then you'll pay a tax penalty. that's absolutely part of the affordable care act. why? because if you want protection for people with preexisting conditions, then you have to have a mandate that people buy insurance or else people just won't buy insurance until they're really sick knowing they can't be charged more. actuarially the protection for people with preexisting conditions only works with the individual mandate. and i remember senator cruz during his marathon filibuster admitting that. republicans know that as well as democrats know that. that's why the american health care act that just came out of
12:05 pm
the house of representatives includes an individual mandate. so let's not pretend like this is a partisan issue. the right wing american health care act that came out of the house of representatives two weeks ago includes an individual mandate. it's in there. because they know the same thing. if they want to preserve any modicum of protection for people with preexisting conditions, you have to require people to buy insurance. they just put the mandate in a different place. in the affordable care act the penalty kicks in if you don't buy insurance. in the house bill, the penalty kicks in after you've lost insurance and you try to sign up again. same mandate, same penalty, just slightly different timetable for payment. here's what trumpcare does. higher costs, less care, tax cuts for the rich. i want to talk about the c.b.o. score that came out last night. not major adjustments from the
12:06 pm
first c.b.o. score, but there are some important amendments that they make. but the bottom line is that if you care about costs, you're going to get higher costs. that's what c.b.o. says. 20% increase in costs the first year. 5% in the next year for good measure. less care. i mean, just significantly less care. 23 million people. big improvement. 24 million people lost care in the first house bill. 23 million people lose care in the second bill. and all this has done in order to pass along tax cuts for the wealthy. talking about $663 billion of tax cuts for the wealthy. here's what c.b.o. says. premiums are projected to rise 20% in 2018. so our republican friends who came down to this floor to six years and said we need to repeal the affordable care act because costs are too high just passed a bill in the house of representatives that c.b.o.
12:07 pm
guarantees you will raise premiums by 20% in 2018. and it gets a lot worse. the c.b.o. says that if you are an individual with a preexisting condition and you live in a state that takes advantage of one of these waivers, the premiums, frankly, don't even matter to you because you won't be able to afford the catastrophic high costs associated with your illness. and if you're an older american, especially an older american who's living on social security, then you are too -- you are tard by the american health care act. a 64-year-old making $26,000, and i've got a lot of 64-year-olds in connecticut making $26,000. i bet my -- a lot of my colleagues here who live in lower costs and lower income states have even more of this population. today you're paying about $1,700 a year for health care.
12:08 pm
that's what your premium is after tax credits. under the american health care act, your premium would go up to $21,000 a year. you're making $26,000 and your premium goes up to $21,000. now, you'd receive about $5,000 in tax credits, but in the end you would be paying $16,000 in health care premiums. now, obviously you wouldn't be paying $16,000 in insurance premiums because you couldn't afford health care. if you still wanted to pay your rent and you still wanted to pay your gas bill and you still wanted a few groceries. so the reason why massive numbers of people lose insurance is because 20% is just the average. for some people premiums will go up700% to 800%, especially if you are older or if you are lower income.
12:09 pm
here's what c.b.o. says will happen if the affordable care act stays. the number of uninsured will go up a little bit. it will tick up to about 28 million. but for all my colleagues on the republican side who have been claiming that the affordable care act is in a, quote, unquote, death spiral, c.b.o. tells you that you are wrong. you are wrong. they state clearly that the marketplaces will remain stable. now, again they may not be counting on the kind of sta saam that president trump is engaged in if he continues to destabilize the markets, maybe this number will be wrong, but if you have an administration that was attempting to enforce and implement the affordable care act, you get about the same number of people who are uninsured. here's what happens if you pass the american health care act. the number goes immediately up to over 40 million uninsured and peaks after ten years at 51 million people.
12:10 pm
so senator cornyn said hey, listen, we still have 30 million people who don't have insurance. let's try and solve that problem. but c.b.o. says that the house bill doesn't solve the problem. it turns a problem of 28 million americans without health insurance into a humanitarian catastrophe. more people uninsured at the end of this than were uninsured before the affordable care act passed. i guess what senator cornyn is saying, he's saying whatever product emerges from these secret meetings will insure more people and that c.b.o. will verify that. well, that's something we can work together on. let me guarantee you that won't be the case. just to give you a sense of how many people 23 million is because i know that's kind of a hard number to get your head wrapped around. this is the number of people who will lose insurance under the house bill, according to c.b.o.
12:11 pm
this is c.b.o.'s new numbers, just came out last night. that's the equivalent population of hawaii, montana, nebraska, nevada, north dakota, rhode island, south dakota and west virginia. now, when we put up it chart a couple months ago, i think there was one additional state. so by moving from 24 million people losing insurance to 23 million people, one state came off this list. but that's the equivalent population of how many folks lose health care in this country. that's why i call this a humanitarian catastrophe. and then let's just think about what c.b.o. says about who benefits. here's your 23 million people who lose insurance and it's a pretty simple formula here. the bill takes insurance from 23 million people in order to pass along a $173 billion tax break for the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance industry and a
12:12 pm
$230 billion tax break for very rich people. some of that will go to people making above $200,000 a year. but most of that will go to people making over a million dollars or a billion dollars a year. and the numbers actually work out pretty squarely. the cuts to health care in the bill roughly work out to be about the same amount in tax cuts for the wealthy. by the way, there's another chart here. it's a great one. there's another chart here that shows who benefits when you look at the tax breaks. if you make under $200,000 a year, you get zero benefit from the american health care act. every single dime of the tax cut for individuals and families goes to those making over $200 tow a year. how about -- $200,000 a year. how about that? how about that?
12:13 pm
$230 billion tax break and not a dime of it goes to people making under $200,000 a year. so this bill was a nightmare before the c.b.o. score and it's even more of a nightmare today. let me just point out one more important thing that c.b.o. says about this bill. inside this bill in a new amendment that passed out of house of representatives is a provision that allows for states to get waivers from the essential health care benefits requirement. the insurance actually provide you coverage for health care. and the community rating requirement, that you spread out the costs of health care across the entire population of people that are insured. what c.b.o. says is that about one-sixth of the population,
12:14 pm
that's equivalent to about 25 states in washington, d.c., who might obtain waivers, including both the essential benefits requirement and the community rating benefit, would result in insurance markets coming apart at the beginning of 2020. c.b.o. states less healthy people would face extremely high premiums despite the additional funding that would be available under the bill to reduce premiums. c.b.o. says specifically in particular out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year for the nongroup enrollees who would use those services. so let me put a finer point on this. the legislative je action that y
12:15 pm
did in the house that involves lism naturing the requirement, that people with preexisting conditions westbound protected from premium increases combined with a high risk pool that would have a bunch of money in it to help reduce proposal yums for those people. c.b.o. tells you essentially that those high-risk pools are a fraud. c.b.o. says there is not enough money in the high-risk pools to provide meaningful benefits for people with preexisting conditions. particularly they say women going through pregnancy, families going through pregnancy and individuals with mental health and substance abuse will face thousands of dollars in additional costs because the money in the risk pools cannot cover the cost of that care. so we have an copied raging throughout this country and the house passed a bill that will
12:16 pm
increase costs for those suffering from substance abuse by thousands of dollars. we can do better. republicans can emerge from the secret meetings, set aside their plan to ram through this vote with no committee process and we can start to talk about what we can preserve in the affordable care act and what we need to change. that's what americans want us to do. the majority of americans do not want this bill repealed. the majority of americans today support the affordable care act, and, yeah, that number is different than what it was a few years ago. and maybe that is because faced with this benefit and faced with the insurance benefits being eliminated, americans are rallying to the defense of the afford for. but that doesn't mean that democrats don't want to make commonsense amendments, but we don't want to presuppose that
12:17 pm
costs will get higher in order to finance tax breaks for the very wealthy and for insurance companies an drug companies. republicans should come out from behind closed doors, work with democrats. c.b.o. tells you a humanitarian catastrophe is coming if you don't. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. madam president.
12:18 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: is the quorum call in existence? the presiding officer: it is not. mr. moran: madam president, i am here to visit about the topic of health care. i'll be spending time in kansas this week, and there probably will be no topic of conversation that will be greater than people's concerns about health care. and i will tell you as i indicated to many of my colleagues, this is like no other issue i dealt with as a
12:19 pm
politician in terms of the consequences that we make here. while there is partisanship and too much back and forth that resolves around health care, what i do know that people who visit with me in so many instances, my friends, neighbors, kids' teachers, and people i go to church with, and in many instances as they have a conversation with me as to what we will do with regard to health care, tears stream down their cheeks as they worry about themselves, but more importantly, as they worry about their daughters, wives, in-laws and parents. what we might do is sincere and real. i also know the affordable care act, the laws that in existence today, is failing many americans as well.
12:20 pm
and, in fact, just this week, yesterday, we learned that the company blue cross and blueshield of kansas city is exiting the market and will no longer provide the product in kansas city, which means that in most instances individuals will no longer have more options with regard to the affordable care act. what we have in place will not work. i also know what we have coming from the house is not a solution to this problem either. the work that we have to do, you and i, madam president, and our colleagues is serious and will have real consequences to every american and we must take our responsibilities serious. i've indicated to my colleagues that neither the affordable care act, which i voted against nor what the house has passed is anything i would vote for. i really wish we were doing something different than either one of those things. as i thought about my remarks
12:21 pm
today, i was about to say i suppose i come too late to get my ideas adopted by congress, but really i came to this issue early. and i think it was twowr, maybe -- 2004, maybe 2006, where i penned on paper and worked on drafting legislation what i called a ten-point plan for the affordability of health care. my ideas, which predate president obama, were nothing like the affordable care act and they were really nothing like the conversation that we're having today. i wish we would address the underlying reasons that health care costs so much rather than focusing so much attention on the issue of health insurance and its premiums. if we can drive the things out of health care that unnecessarily raise the price, the cost of access to health care, we could make a tremendous
12:22 pm
difference in health care premiums and the affordability of health care for all americans, not just trying to figure out what kind of plan we can develop, what kind of insurance program, what kind of subsidy or tax credit we can provide. but we would be treating the underlying problem, not just the symptoms. i -- i suppose that -- to give a little understanding of what i'm talking about, the things that we ought to consider, in my view, is allow more competition in the market, more free enterprise opportunities, allowing people to purchase insurance from coast to coast, expanding the support for community health centers, places that people -- that these centers are already in existence. they need to be more available in more places. we're a very rural state and it is hard it to find those services but it provides health care services for people who have no ability to pay and no insurance. we should be more supportive to
12:23 pm
community health centers especially for those who provide health care for those in difficult circumstances. we should help them to create larger pools so they can negotiate for better premiums. we need to utilize health savings accounts. we need to support medical research. if we can find the cure for cancer, the delay of onset of alzheimer's, we can save billions of dollars in the health care system as well as saving lives and improving the quality of life for those who are suffer from those diseases. we need to address prescription drug costs. how do we make certain that no drug company corners the market or utilize our current laws to extend the life of the patent and stop generic prescriptions from coming in. we need to look at wellness and
12:24 pm
diet probably give us the biggest bang for our buck and don't need to be a government program, but people need to work at living healthier -- healthier lives and prevent diseases from occurring in the first place. we need additional physicians and other health care providers, nurses and others, and we have not put the attention into developing programs to educate and train the next generation of medical providers. we need to make sure that medicare and medicaid actually pay for the cost of the services that they promise to pay for on behalf of citizens at low income as well as citizens who are seniors instead of the cost shifting that we have today. medicare and medicaid doesn't have sufficient money to pay for what a patient receives under either one of those programs. i think that would be beneficial to every american and it wouldn't be spending our time to
12:25 pm
figure out how to modify the insurance system, how we find out about subsidies or tax credits for people within the system. again, i don't come late to this. >> i but it -- this issue, but it doesn't seem to be the direction we are going. one thing i wanted to particularly highlight is the value of medical research. i'm proud that this congress passed an appropriations bill that includes an additional $2 billion for use in medical research for the national institute of health. and perhaps something that we can even be additionally proud of is that we did that without spending more money. we simply -- i shouldn't say simply, nothing's easy about it. i'm on the appropriations subcommittee that is responsible for the funding of nih. we reallocated money being spent somewhere else for research. if we find the cure for karns and reduce the onset and the
12:26 pm
time people suffer from alzheimer's, if we can find a cure for diabetes and other diseases, the lifesaving changes that are being made and the costs that will accrue through our health care delivery system are hugely important. i want to particularly commend the director of the national nal institute of health for working so close with congress and the medical people in medical research. dr. collins is the one who does the medical research. i do not do medical research. i'm a longshot from that. one thing that dr. collins has been able to explain to me and my colleagues and to others across the country, the value of medical research without getting me lost in the details of the actual science, someone who can talk to a lay person about medical research and science in a way that captures me --
12:27 pm
captures my attention, but i don't get lost in the medical, technical, or scientific words or jargon that scientists use in having the conversations. dr. collins has been so bipartisan in his approach. i smiled when i read the story. he indicated when he was being chosen to be the director of the national institute of health, he called his mother back home and indicated to her -- mom, i'm going to become the director of the national institute of health, and she said, but we're republicans. i don't want you working for government. here is a man who as used his time, not working for government, perhaps working in government, but working for the american people and really for worldwide solutions for problems we all face in our families. there is no one in america or this chamber whose family has not been affected by the diseases i described and the other long list of afflictions
12:28 pm
that we have as human beings that nih is not working to make a difference in their lives. we need to continue that support for the national institute of health as we pursue appropriations bills into the future and our ability to do that together is important and a source of -- of satisfaction that can come. i've indicated from time to time that sometimes difficult to find the things in the job -- in the jobs this we have as united states senators in which you get the sense of accomplishment. there's a lot of challenges in getting things done, but the idea that we've come together to support medical research and find lifesaving cures, that gives us something to take great satisfaction in and gives us hope that what we've been able to accomplish in this regard as republicans and democrats, but really as americans, can be a role model as we try to find solutions to other problems. i hope that would be the case when we try to find solutions of how do we care for the american
12:29 pm
people when it comes to the affordability of health care. you and i, madam president, come from states very rural and in kind of health care that we find, we need to increase the chances that hospital doors remain open in rural communities across our state. we need to make sure there are more health care providers and that nursing homes and health care services are more available and that pharmacy remain on main street. in the cases of our states, you could find ways, i suppose, that reduce the cost of health care only to discover that you no longer have a provider, no longer have a hospital, physician, or a pharmacy in your hometown and so sometimes when you talk about the afford ability you must couple that with availability, whatever its price is. if it's not in your community, your county, your region of the state, it doesn't necessarily matter what it costs. our work is serious and i look forward to working with you and


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on