tv U.S. Senate Takes Up NLRB Nomination CSPAN August 2, 2017 9:59am-12:00pm EDT
thank you again for attending. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel into consider marvin kaplan for the relations board with the vote to advance his nomination at 11:00 eastern. the national labor relations board has five members on the
currently two democrats and mr. b. the secular public and member with one vacancy that the president or would fill with someone from his party. live coverage now the senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black , will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. holy god, you make the clouds your chariot and walk upon the wind.
you illuminate the darkness with your presence and provide for the salvation of our souls. great is your faithfulness. today make our lawmakers heirs of peace, demonstrating that they are your children as they striv to stay within the circle of your loving providence for their lives. may they take pleasure in doing your will knowing that by so doing, they are fulfilling your purposes in our world. lord, you are never far from us but often we are far from you.
so show us your ways and teach us your paths. thank you that your mercy is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who come to you with reverence. may your glory endure forever. we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our 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.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: as i said yesterday, the senate has more work ahead this legislative period, including passing the f.d.a. user fee legislation and confirming a number
of nominees. we've made important progress already and just last night we passed the critical veterans choice legislation. that bill which is now on its way to the president's desk will allow many veterans to bypass long wait and travel times at v.a. facilities by assessing private care. we also confirmed several
nominees. we confirmed eight officials who will be critical to advancing administration policy in the defense department. it's a good start but we have other nominees to confirm for many other positions, both security and nonsecurity related across many different agencies and departments. in the national security realm, for instance, we much confirm nominees for the department of homeland security, the department of state, and the intelligence community. the senate also came together to confirm a well qualified judicial nominee for the 11th circuit court of appeals as well as the director of the federal bureau of investigation christopher wray. the position of f.b.i. director is one of great importance when it comes to protecting the american people, especially at a time when we face a range of threats both at home and abroad. wray's impressive credentials,
demeanor and commitment to the rule of law make clear he's the right person to lead the bureau in its efforts to keep our communities safe. the work of an f.b.i. director is difficult but i'm confident wray is capable of shouldering this important responsibility and that he'll lead the f.b.i. with the strength and professionalism the position demands. so our work on nominees continues today. we will, for instance, take a procedural vote on the nomination for the national labor relations board later this morning but there's more to do. i was pleased to hear the democratic leader reaffirm his interest in working with us now to clear more nominees before the conclusion of this work period. many of these nominees have been held up far too long leaving the administration without a number of key officials at various agencies. i look forward to our democratic colleagues working with us to
finish up the f.d.a. user fees legislation that i mentioned earlier as well. we'll work on other issues in the meantime like tax reform which is one of the things the senate led by the finance committee will turn its collective attention toward after the state work period. during the eight years of the obama administration, our economy failed to live up to its full potential. meager growth rates, wages that failed to keep pace, a decline in opportunities, middle-class families were hurting, and they needed policies that would allow the economy to begin to grow again. unfortunately, the last administration often gave them exactly the opposite. some -- like making things worse with an aggressive regulatory rampage. others were signs of omission like failing to address an outdated tax code that has made
american companies increasingly uncompetitive in a global economy. and as a result, has moved investment and jobs offshore. then in november american chose to go in a different direction. they elected a pro-growth president who would sign legislation from a pro growth congress. ever since we've been working to turn the tide back in favor of the middle class. we've undertaken what has been described as the most ambitious regulatory rollback since reagan. we've pursued policies that can once again encourage job growth and american investment. and just last week the administration and congressional leaders and most importantly the chairman of the senate finance and house, ways, and means committees issued a joint statement outlining shared principles for unleashing the american economy through comprehensive tax reform. comprehensive tax reform represents the single most
important action we can take now to grow the economy and to help middle-class families finally get ahead. it's no secret that the current tax code is overly complex, highly punitive, and makes it harder for individuals and small businesses to succeed. fortunately we now have a once in a generation opportunity to fundamentally rethink it. it's been over three decades since that last happened. in the years since, the international economy has grown much more competitive. american workers and american businesses have only found it harder to keep up with foreign contenders. the rest of the world is running circles around us in this area making it more difficult for american firms to higher, invest, and compete. the time has come to fix this so we can help our economy grow and help the individuals and families we represent realize their true potential. for families we want to make
their taxes simpler, fairer, and lower. for small businesses we want to provide the conditions they need to form, invest, and grow. for all american businesses and their employees, we want to ensure they have the best chance to compete with foreign companies and succeed. and we want a tax system that encourages american companies to bring jobs home again. these are some of the key goals of tax reform. they are goals we should all share regardless of party. for years the tax writing committees have focused on this particular subject holding hearings, soliciting input from stakeholders, considering the views and priorities of members of both on and off these committees. they're eager now to begin the process of developing tax reform legislation that achieves the shared goals i outlined above.
as the administration and congressional leaders stated, we have always been in agreement that tax relief for american families should be at the heart of our plan, and we're now confident that there is a viable approach for ensuring a level playing field between american and foreign companies and workers while protecting american jobs and the u.s. tax base. our expectation is for this legislation to move through the committees this fall under regular order followed by consideration on both the house and senate floor. there's a great deal of bipartisan consensus about what ails our tax code and my hope is that our friends on the other side of the aisle will join us in a serious way to address it. because the american people deserve a tax system that works for them instead of against them. they deserve a tax code that encourages companies to bring jobs home instead of encouraging just the opposite. americans deserve true comprehensive tax reform.
i appreciate the good work of our colleagues and the administration and by members in both chambers already to get us there, particularly finance committee chairman orrin hatch. chairman hatch has been working hard with his fellow finance committee members, senators from both sides of the aisle, literally for years on this issue. and he continues to lead the way today. under his leadership and the leadership of chairman brady and the house, congress tax writing committees will advance these principles through regular order so that members on both sides of the aisle will have an opportunity to participate in this historic effort. if that's what they choose to do. this won't be an easy process, but the people we represent are depending on us for help. now is
the time to deliver tax reform, and i look forward to working with my colleagues to accomplish it.
the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: good morning, and i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. first on the topic of health care, i was very happy to hear
the statement from chairman alexander and ranking member murray yesterday in which they pledged the help committee to the task of destabilizing and strengthening the markets. particularly by guaranteeing the cost-sharing reduction program. as chairman alexander said,
quote, without the payment of these cost-sharing reductions, americans will be hurt, unquote. that is clear. everyone has said it, even the insurance industry. and yet, president trump continues to treat this critical program as if it's some kind of political hostage. the president treats the critical program as if it's some kind of hostage. insurers in three states -- north carolina, pennsylvania, iowa -- have each released separate rates for 2018. one, if the payments are made, and one that's 20% higher if they're not. in these three states, the premiums will be 20% higher if president trump refuses to carry out the law. every american will see that increase in their monthly bill and know that it is a trump
premium tax. insurers from coast to coast have said that uncertainty surrounding the cost-sharing reductions are the number-one threat to the stability of our markets. state insurance commissioners, many of them republican, are announcing higher rates for next year and directly blaming the president's failure to guarantee these payments as the insurance commissioner of idaho did yesterday. we have enough problems in the world right now without president trump creating entirely new ones out of political spite and a petty vindictiveness. when you lose politically, you don't take it out on the american people. that's not presidential. that's just small. so we would say to the president stop holding this critical program as if it's some kind of political hostage. stop the sabotage.
make the payments this month so that chairman alexander and ranking member murray can get to work in a bipartisan way on the longer stabilization package. and let me salute a large number of my republican colleagues who agree that we have to do cost-sharing. they have realized that just sticking with president trump, particularly when his motivations are not presidential but are sort of nasty, vindictive, is a bad idea. i salute them, because for the good of america, we have to work together. now on taxes, another matter, mr. president, yesterday, my friend, the majority leader, brought down the curtain on bipartisan tax reform before a discussion between our two parties could even start. dismissing the prospect of democratic input, promising the republicans would again use reconciliation to lock us out of
the process, repeating the same mistake they did with health care. leader mcconnell's announcement just came a few hours after 45 members of the democratic caucus sent him a letter, saying we were open to bipartisan discussions on tax reform. we had three simple straightforward principles. let me read the principles, democratic principles on tax reform. first, don't cut taxes for the 1%, the top 1%. they're doing fine, god bless them. second, don't increase the debt and deficit, something many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been talking about for a long time. and third, negotiate in a fair and open process. not reconciliation, but hearings, amendments, the things that have made america great and have brought this senate the
acclaim over the decades that it has had. now, i'd like to know which of these principles the majority leader does not agree with. i'd like to know is he closing the door on bipartisanship because he so dearly wants to cut taxes on the top 1%? the wealthy are doing great right now, god bless them, but they don't need another tax break while middle-class families and working americans are struggling just to make ends meet. and many of us on this side of the aisle suspect that to some, that's the number-one motivation. not tax reform, not closed loopholes, not clean up the system, but give that top 1% a huge tax break. to please so many like the koch brothers. so, again, i'd ask the leader are you closing the door on bipartisanship simply because you want to cut taxes on the top
1% or maybe the leader is closing the door on bipartisanship because he has a fervent desire to blow up the deficit. that sure doesn't sound like something my -- that republicans have been interested in over the years. they have been spending lots of time, with good reason. deficit scolding and debt scolding. or is my friend from kentucky, our majority leader, closing the door on bipartisanship because he thinks reconciliation, which means you exclude the democrats from the get-go, is a good process? because he doesn't want to have hearings, because he doesn't want amendments? and maybe it's the same reason on health care. maybe they are ashamed of their proposal. i'd like to see somebody on the floor get up and say we believe in tax cuts on the republican side, get up on the floor and say we believe in tax cuts for the top 1%.
that's why we want to do this. but no, they want to hide it, cloak it, give a crumb to the middle class and say, see, we're helping you. and we all know that what happens after we have a big deficit, they come back and say now let's cut social security, now let's cut medicare because we don't have the money, we don't have the money because they cut taxes on the rich, the very wealthy. so i don't know which of these three principles the majority leader is against, but when he closed the door on democrats, when we sent him this letter which simply outlined our principles, that's all we wanted to do. notice we agree on these three things, at least on our side. which one or all of them made him close the door? we democrats hoped that we could work together on tax reform, but
the majority leader has drawn down the curtain before the play has even begun. republicans will spend the entire first year of this congress trying to pass their agenda on reconciliation, a process that deliberately excludes democrats, excludes hearings, excludes amendments, with no shred of bipartisan input. just like with health care, i believe it will be another dead-end road for republicans. and i tell my friend, the majority leader, i quote his speech in 2014 restoring the senate. and i truly believe, i truly believe that leader mcconnell believes in the institution of the senate. he has shown examples of that most recently when he said we don't want to change the rules despite president trump prushing to do that. here is what he said in 2014. quote, when the senate is
allowed to work the way it is designed to, it arises to people all along the political spectrum. but if it's an assembly line for one party's legislative agenda, it creates instability and strife rather than good, stable law. that is the majority leader's words. well, if you believe that, my dear friend from kentucky, then why are you instituting reconciliation, the exclusionary process before we even begin the debate? and why might the american people ask haven't you learned the lesson of health care, that that process doesn't work? the american people want to see us work together. we may not always succeed. it may not be easy. it's hard work. we ought to try. this assembly line of partisan legislation, no democratic input, no hearings, no amendments is not what any of us want to see. it's not what the american people are calling out for, and it won't produce good, stable
law. again, i'd ask the majority leader to reconsider these three principles are probably supported by 80% of the american people. why aren't our republicans supporting them? why are they running away from them? finally, mr. president, on the issue of trade, according to reports, the trump administration is preparing an open investigation into china's trade practices, focusing on economic espionage and the theft of intellectual property. i certainly applaud this sentiment. i have been decrying for years how the chinese have been taking advantage of us in a way that has sent trillions of dollars of american wealth to china and millions of jobs to china. so we should certainly go after them. the problem is we don't need another investigation to know what china's up to. that's what the president called
for. let's investigate. another investigation. it's clear what china's up to. by dumping counterfeit and artificially cheap goods into our markets, denying u.s. companies fair access to its markets and relentlessly stealing and extorting intellectual property of u.s. companies, china, as i said, has robbed the u.s. economy of trillions of dollars and caused the loss of millions of good-paying u.s. jobs. estimates by our own governments, already made estimates. we don't need a study, mr. mr. president trump. in the cause of cyber espionage alone, $400 billion a year to the u.s. economy. $400 billion a year. and 90% of it comes from china's government. this is not a benign process. this is not some rogue company. this is the chinese government. here's what our four-star
general keith alexander, former national director of national security agency and commander of the u.s. cyber command said. he called the loss of industrial information in i.p. through cyber threat, quote, the greatest transfer of wealth in history. the greatest transfer of wealth in history. mr. president, that pains me. this country with its entrepreneurial vigor, with her acceptance of people from all corners of the globe for centuries, to go work hard and create good things, china's stealing it. they're not doing it on their own. every american, when they hear that statement, it should make them cringe. it makes me cringe almost every day. those are the facts. so i would say to president trump we don't need another study that takes months and months to complete while no action is taken and we don't
know what will happen. we need a plan of action now. and unfortunately, this is what the trump administration is doing on all issues of trade. they really talk touch on the issue of steel and aluminum dumping. somebody who has aluminum plants up there in his state in alcoa, along lake ontario, now called novelus, i know the issue of aluminum dumping. it hurts jobs in my state. soest president early on talked tough. he tweets tough on illegal aluminum dutching. but it is seven months that this administration and we are still reviewing the effects on our economy. the administration failed to secure any deal with china in a number of forums, and they continue to delay on action that was promised in june. tough talk and tweets are cheap, but strong and decisive action on trade is required. american workers have waited too
long for our country to crack down on abusive trade practices that have robbed our country of millions of good-paying jobs. so today, mr. president, i am proud to announce that the democratic party will be laying out our new policy on trade, which includes, among other things, an independent trade prosecutor to combat trade cheating, not one of these endless w.t.o. processes which china takes advantage of over and over again. a new american job security council that would be able to review and stop foreign aqui decisions -- acquisitions of u.s. companies if it is likely to have a detrimental effect on u.s. jobs. penalties on contractors who outsource jobs, stronger buy america rules and an outsourcing tax on companies that leave the u.s. and on the issue of nafta renegotiation, we're going to be laying out a set of tough principles that must be a bottom
line for any new nafta text. i voted against nafta in 1994. that was 23 years ago. we've seen how it has hurt us in so many ways. there have been some benefits, but overall the loss of jobs is painful. more jobs and higher wages have to be our guiding principle, and it needs full transparency with workers and the public at the table, not just corporations. so i hope our -- the administration -- and i've always said, when i heard donald trump complain -- donald trump campaign, that i'm closer to his views than i was to president obama or president bush -- to work with us. these are good things we can do. we're save jobs, good-paying jobs. but i say to the president, we don't need another investigation, another study that languishes for months and
maybe even years. we need strong, bold action on trade, and democrats will offer those strong, bold ideas later this morning. thank you, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business
close is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, national labor relations board, marvin kaplan of kansas to be a member. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 11:00 a.m. will be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, many times over the last six months i've come to the floor to speak out on issues and to disagree with president trump. it is clear that we have very profound political differences when it comes to the issues that face us, but i come to the floor
this morning in an unusual position, to express my gratitude to president trump and for a position which he has taken, which i think is the right position for america. let me explain. five years ago president barack obama created the deferred action for childhood arrivals program known as daca. it enabled approximately 790,000 talented young people to contribute more fully to this country. they're teachers, they're nurses, engineers, small business owners and more. didaca,this executive order by president obama, provides temporary -- temporary -- legal status to immigrant students who arrived in the united states as infants and toddlers and children. they have to come forward under this executive order and register with our government. they have to pay a substantial fee for processing, and then
they have to submit themselves to a criminal and national security background check. if they are successful, they are given two years of temporary relief from deportation. this program is based on the dream act. it's a bill that i first introduced in the united states senate 16 years ago, 2001. that bill would give undocumented students who grew up in this country a chance to become legal. to earn their way to citizenship. these young people have come to be known as dreamers. they came to the united states under the age of 16, some of them a year or two old. they grew up in the united states, going to our public schools, singin singing "the str spangled banner," pledging
allegiance to the only flag they've ever known, the american flag. they're american in every way -- except for their immigration status is. we've already invested in them, as you can tell. invested in their education and bringing them up in american schools. i can't believe it makes any sense for the future of our country to squander their talents by deporting hem to countries that many of -- by deporting them to countries that many of them have never known. a recent study finds that ending daca, the president obama executive order, would cost our economy at least $433 billion in production over the next ten years. the institute on taxation and economic policy estimates that the 1.3 million young people eligible for daca are going to pay $2 billion every year in state and local taxes. now, i've said at the beginning, i've had many differences with president trump, particularly on
the issue of immigration and some of the speeches and statements he's made. but i do appreciate -- personally appreciate -- that this president has kept the daca program in place. i've only spoken directly to president trump two times -- three times perhaps. and the first two times -- one on his day of inauguration -- i thanked him for the kind words he had said about dreamers and the daca students and those protected by the president's executive order. president trump said to me, don't worry about those kids. well, mr. president, i continue to worry about those kids. i worry about them now more than ever, not because i've heard any change of heart or reversal from you but because of other circumstances which are bringing this issue to a head. texas attorney general ken paxton and nine other states
have threatened to sue you, mr. president, unless by september 5 you rescind the member dull that established -- the memorandum that established daca by president obama and announce that your administration will not renew or issue any new daca permits. this direct, specific threat to the daca program has left hundreds of thousands of these dreamers anxious, concerned, and worried about their future. last week i was joined by senator chuck schumer, our democratic leader, and 40 other senate democratic colleagues in writing a letter to president trump asking him to order his attorney general jeff sessions to use all legal options to defend daca so that these young people can continue to contribute to the country that they love so, my friends on the other side of the aisle -- some of my friends on the other side of the aisle opposed the daca program. to them, i say, if you don't
support daca, then let's immediately pass the bipartisan dream act. if you think president obama went beyond his presidential authority with this executive order, then let's take up this matter where it should be taken up: here in the legislative branch of our government, here in the united states senate. i recently reintroduced the dream act with my friend and colleague, lindsey graham of south carolina. now that i'm in the mood of thanking republican leaders, including president trump, let me thank president -- senator lindsey graham as well as senator jeff flank and senator lisa murkowski. they have stepped forward and joined in cosponsoring this dream act. our government should give these young people a chance, a chance to earn their way to citizenship. they were brought to this country as children. they didn't make the family decision to cross the border. they've been raised in this
country. they've created no problems in terms of criminal background. they've gone through our schools. all they're asking for is a chance. when we introduced the dream act a week or so ago, senator graham said that the young people who have received daca should be treated fairly and not have the rug pulled out from under them. lindsey graham is right. over the years i've come to the floor over 100 times to tell the stories of these dreamers, to make it personal so that you come to know who they are and why i've taken the time to make this a major part -- a major part of my service in the senate. these stories put a human face on the daca program and on the dream act and they show what immigration actually means to our country in real terms. this is juan martinez. juan when he was less than two years old was brought to america
from mexico. less than two. he grew up in dallas, texas, with his parents and brothers. he was an honor student in high school. he graduated as valedictorian of his class with over 3.9 gpa. he was an active member of the debate team and student government. he was also a very active community volunteer. juan helped organize food drives. he cared for children at recreation centers while their parents worked, and he volunteered in soup kitchens. in his senior year of high school he applied to his dream school, once my dream school, georgetown university, and he was accepted. as a college student, juan has been studying international politics, concentrating on security, mine northrop grumman in -- minoring in the arabic
language. he was elected as a student senator. he mentors disadvantaged high school students so that they can apply successfully for college. his dream one day is to work for our government, to help our country, a country that he calls home, and to make the world a safer place. qualifjuan sent me letter. this is what he said. thanks to daca, i can focus on my studies without worrying that it may all be taken away from my any second. i have always thought of myself as an american, juan says. but it's thanks to daca that i can begin to truly feel like one, too. that feeling is something i'm thankful for every day. juan and other dreamers have so much to contribute to this country. but without daca, without similar protection, juan could be deported back to mexico, a country where he hasn't been since he was two years old.
would we be a stronger nation if we lost juan martinez, if he was deported? i don't think so. i think the answer is clearly no. senator lindsey graham when we introduced the dream act last week said, the moment of reckoning is coming. i would say to the president, first -- again -- thank you. thank you for allowing daca to continue under your administration. thank you for keeping your word to me and so many others when you said these young people don't have to worry. but we're reaching a moment, mr. president, when we have to come together and do something. we need you, and you need us, so that we can pass important legislation and you can sign it, legislation that will give these young people the protection that they deserve, the opportunity that they seek, the chance to make america a greater nation. i know the reality of this
issue. i know it from both political sides. i've witnessed it for over a decade. i know that it's not popular, mr. president, that you've taken this position, to stand behind the dreamers and those protected by daca. but you told me you thought it was the right thing to do, and i'm sure you feel feel -- you still feel that way. your new chief of staff general kelly and i have had many conversations about this and i believe that he, too, thinks legislation is necessary to protect these young people. i hope we can come together. i stand ready, senator graham stands ready. we have a bipartisan coalition prepared to work with you. let's not let this decision be made in a courtroom somewhere far from washington. let's take on our responsibility, yours as president, ours in the senate, to address this critical issue that really crisis out for justice. this is the time to do it. the concern and indict and stress is -- the concern and anxiety and stress is higher than ever among these
populations affected by the dream act and their families as well. i hope you'll join us in creating a legal option that will defend the daca program and will work with us in congress to make the dream act the law of the land. so that we can say to young people like juan martinez and hundreds of thousands of others, yes, we will give you your chance, give you your chance to prove that you can be a valuable part of america's future. give you your chance to make america a stronger nation. that is all they've asked for and that is something that we on a bipartisan basis with the president should give them. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i note in this morning's news that insurance companies that provide health insurance policies on the obamacare exchanges are projecting that insurance
premiums will go up about 30% next year. 30%. since 2013 we've seen the nationwide average of premiums go up 105%. that's before this latest announcement. we know that in 2017 the national average increase in premiums was 25% and in arizona, for example, it was 145%. so why, why did all of the senate democrats vote against getting a -- making progress on a solution toward these runaway premiums? i've talked about add nause yum here on the -- ad nauseum here
on the senate floor. we've almost become numb to the pain the people are experiencing because of the skyrocketing rate of their insurance premiums and we know that 28 million roughly have dropped out and are uninsured in my state alone because of the individual mandate, the penalty that the government imposes for failing to buy a government-approved health insurance plan. as the presiding officer knows because i got the figures from him, more than 400,000 texans who earn less than $25,000 a year paid the penalty because they couldn't afford to buy the insurance. all in all, about a million texans paid the penalty because of the individual mandate. so when we tried to do something about that last week working
with our house colleagues, what was the response from the other side? it was crickets, silence. unfortunately, the people that were hurt by obamacare are still being hurt by obamacare. and now here's the narrative. here's the narrative. i've already seen it on social media and read about it in the paper and elsewhere. some people are saying, well, the reason why insurance companies are saying premiums are going to go up 30% next year is because president trump won't commit to the subsidies for insurance companies, the so-called c.s.r.'s. well, that is utterly false because how do they explain the 105% increase from 2013 to currently? how do they explain last year's increase in insurance premiums,
25% on average, 145% in places like arizona before president trump even took office? so it's a demmons -- demonstratively false narrative. i can't tell you how disappointed i am that we weren't able to make some progress toward a solution on behalf of the people that i represent in my state but also the people we all represent across the united states. but i dare say that as we search for a path forward, that we ought to get our facts straight. and the idea that premiums are going to go up 30% next year unless something changes is a product of the failure of obamacare. it's nothing that this administration has done or will do that has caused that. so let's get our facts straight because starting with the correct facts is absolutely
essential to coming up with real solutions. mr. president, we sometimes are our own worst enemy here. we do something really important, really good, and bipartisan and then we don't tell anybody about it. we leave it to them to discover for themselves. last night, for example, we passed major bipartisan, bicameral legislation to continue the veterans choice program. at a time when so much is polarized in washington, when people are hungry for bipartisanship and solution-oriented leadership, when they get it on something like the veterans choice program, we don't talk about it. but this is really, really important to our veterans, people for whom i believe we
have a solemn commitment as a result of their service to our country. over the last few years, we've heard how the veterans administration has been plagued by inefficiency, unaccountability, and poor quality of care. the v.a. has been hindered too long by unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles which have been incredibly frustrating and deadly, i'm afraid, in some cases for our veterans. we've heard stories about veterans having to travel hours to get medical care, sometimes causing them to accept lower quality care or to forego that care entirely. and sadly, in some cases, veterans turn to copying mechanisms, self self-destructie activity, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol because they simply can't get access to genuinely helpful medical care. so the veterans choice program was designed to help address
that by ensuring veterans could receive timely appointments close to where they live. if they had to drive too far or had to wait too long for an appointment at a veterans facility, we said you can show up at your local health care provider and we'll pay for it through the veterans choice program. well, the v.a. choice and quality employment act of 2017 continues that important program and guarantees veterans that they'll have access to care without interruption. this bill also strengthens the v.a.'s ability to recruit, train, and retain its valuable workforce which will help v.a. continue to improve veterans care. so i'm glad we were able to pass this legislation last night to ensure this program can continue serving veterans. in moving forward, both chambers should continue to work with the v.a. to get the agency back on track and right the years of
poor quality of care and of service to our veterans for whom i believe we have a sacred obligation, a solemn commitment based on their service to our country. next we will focus on another important piece of legislation. this is authorizing the food and drug administration user fee program. this is how the food and drug administration actually considers and approves new drugs that can save lives and improve quality of lives. these partnerships between the public and private sector ensure that patients will have access to safe and effective drugs and medical devices while also maintaining the position -- our position as americans, as a global leader in medical innovation. faster approvals mean treatments and cures reach patients sooner and increase competition -- increased competition leads to lower costs and that in turn means more lives saved.
this is another example of what i believe will be a bipartisan accomplishment of the current senate and current congress. i heard one of our colleagues last week stand in front of the nation and say, nothing ever gets done. well, we're doing some important things. the veterans choice program, the f.d.a. reauthorization bill. these are important life-saving bills that are being passed on a bipartisan basis. and then, of course, there is the backlog of the president's nominees. i have never seen anything quite like it. we had an election on november 8, but for many of our colleagues, the election remains undecided. they don't accept the verdict of the american people, the electoral college that president trump won the election. hillary clinton lost. and that's how they somehow
justify their consistent foot dragging and obstruction when it comes to the president's nominees for important offices, including his cabinet. it's the president's prerogative to nominate who he wants to serve in the executive branch, but it's our duty, our responsibility to carefully consider their qualifications before coming together to confirm them. now, we've had people who have been waiting months for their nomination to be confirmed, who get confirmed by almost a unanimous vote of the senate which tells me that we are delaying those votes unnecessarily. if they were truly controversial, i think it would be reflected in the vote for their confirmation, but they're not. well, let me just name one. our former colleague kay bailey hutchison who has been nominated to serve as the ambassador to nato. i can't think of a more
qualified person than my good friend, the former senator from texas. our country needs leadership in brussels at nato to help counter russian aggression and threats and intimidation against our allies in the region. but that's just one example. last night the senate confirmed the f.b.i. director. i'm grateful for that. they also confirmed again in the dead of night when nobody was paying attention eight other department of defense nominees. now, for our democrat -- if our democratic colleagues had a good reason not -- or to delay those confirmations because they felt like they were controversial, well, that's their right but evidently they were willing to let those people nominated to the department of defense be confirmed basically by consent after months and months of delay.
so, mr. president, we've got a lot of other nominations backlogged due to the unfortunate obstruction and foot dragging of our democratic colleagues. and i for one don't think we ought to leave in august, this month, without a big, robust package of confirmations of these noncontroversial nominees. it's time to get over the election. that was november 8. we used to see a difference between elections and then the responsibility of governing regardless of who won the election. we still have the responsibility to govern. some people seem to have forgotten that. so again, i hope we have a big robust package of noncontroversial nominations approved before we leave for the rest of the month of august. i think it's too important to leave town without that.
we need our president to succeed so the country can succeed. this is what every american who voted for president trump hope for and they trusted him to choose men and women to lead and guide our country in his cabinet. and i have to say he's done a remarkably good job in the people he has chosen for his cabinet. so let's come together and confirm these appointees so the administration can better serve our nation and all americans. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, thank you. i come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to vote no on the nomination that we will vote on shortly. on the campaign trail, president trump promised to put workers first, but instead president trump's administration has rolled back worker protections
and prioritized corporate interests at the expense of workers. so it is critical, now more than ever, that the nlrb remains independent and is committed to advocating for workers and their right to organize. but i'm deeply concerned that president trump's nominee, mr. kaplan, does not have a record of supporting the rights of workers and unions. and at his nomination hearing, mr. kaplan confused basic labor issues and decision further proving he lacks the knowledge and experience to serve on this important board. nlrb members should be committed to standing up for workers, and it is clear mr. kaplan does not make the cut. i urge my colleagues to join me in doing what president trump has failed to do, and that's to put workers first and vote against this nomination. thank you. i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of marvin kaplan to be a member of the national labor relations board, signed by 16 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of marvin kaplan of kansas to be a member of the national labor relations board shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory
mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor today to stand up for the workers that president trump is failing. as a candidate running for president, mr. trump promised workers he would put them first and bring back jobs to their communities. but since day one president trump has done the exact opposite. he has rolled back worker protections and made it harder for families to become more financially secure.
now this doesn't come as a surprise to me, especially when i look at president trump's record as a businessman. i have to say he's refused even to allow his own hotel workers to organize or join a union, preventing them from having the opportunity to better advocate for safer working conditions and better pay. mr. president, we all know that strong unions have helped create our middle class, and for many working families in the 20th century a good union job or the right to collective bargaining helped them move up the economic ladder. but over the past few decades, we have seen a decline in unions and union membership across the country. as a result of that, our economy has started to favor corporations and those at the top. this paved the way for president trump and billionaires like him to take advantage of their workers with little recourse for everyday people who are the backbone of our country. but, mr. president, the
national labor relations board gives workers the opportunity to file charges against corporations when they are illegally fired or retaliate against workers for exercising their rights. president trump should be familiar with the nlrb, as his own businesses have had complaints filed numerous times. that is precisely why it is so important that the board is independent and is committed to advocating for workers and their right to organize. mr. president, the preamble of the national labor relations act clearly states it is the policy of the united states to encourage collective bargaining, to give workers a voice, allowing them to speak up for fair wages and safe working conditions. and it is the responsibility of the nlrb to ensure workers are being treated fairly and to resolve disputes between corporate management and workers. so it's clear to me that board members should believe in the core mission that i just stated
of the nlrb and should be committed to standing up for workers and their right to collective bargaining, which is exactly why i have very serious concerns about mr. marvin kaplan's record which has largely been in opposition to the work and mission of the nlrb as a labor staffer in the house of representatives, mr. kaplan prepared and staffed hearings where republicans consistently attacked the nlrb. in fact, i would be hard pressed to name a single example of mr. kaplan supporting the rights of workers and unions. in addition to mr. kaplan's opposition to the core mission of the board, i also have deep reservations about mr. kaplan's lack of legal experience, practicing before the nlrb. when i asked mr. kaplan about his lack of practical qualifications, his responses were telling. have you ever represented a party, employer or a union in an unfair labor practice case or
representation case before the board? no. have you ever represented a worker in an employment matter? no. and what's more, when asked to speak on the pressing questions facing the board at his confirmation hearing, he actually confused basic labor issues and decisions, further calling into question whether he has the experience and knowledge to serve on this critically important board. this is not a difficult concept for workers across the country to grasp. if you're not qualified for a job that is this important or if you want to undermine the basic goals of the law, you shouldn't get the job. so, mr. president, i will be voting no on mr. kaplan's confirmation. i urge my colleagues to do the same. and i know my colleagues on both sides of the aisle want to strengthen our economy and rebuild our middle class. so i hope we can stand with working families across the country who are simply asking today for a fair shot. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the
senator from hawaii. mr. schatz: thank you, mr. president. there are two reasons why every member of the senate should vote against confirming marvin kaplan to the nlrb, and the first is he's just not qualified. the nlrb is the federal agency that enforces our labor laws. it protects the rights of workers in the private sector to organize for better wages and better working conditions. it's up to them to make sure that their implores follow the law -- employers follow the law and when there is an issue between employers and employees, that everyone act reasonably. democrats and republicans who served on the nlrb have been the top labor employees in their fleeldz. they have had long careers as lawyers or law professors. many of them have spent time as staffers on the nlrb board. in other words, they understand the labor issues better than anyone. they may have a unique perspective on it one way or the
other, sort of promanagement or prolabor, but there is no question that previous nominees and previous members of the board know labor law. marvin kaplan doesn't fit this profile. he's not a lawyer with any relevant labor experience. he has no record, no public positions on relevant labor law. what he is is a well-connected capitol hill staffer. his only qualification that i can find is that he's drafted some legislation for a committee in the house of representatives, and that does not stack up against the resumes of any other member who has served on the board, democrat or republican. and this lack of experience is dangerous. it means he won't know the intricacies and historical development of labor law. he'll simply be a rubber stamp who brings a political agenda to the board because he has no on-the-record opinions on these
issues of his own. and that was clear from the beginning -- from the hearing on his nomination when he would not properly commit to recuse himself from any issues that he worked on and to approach issues with an open mind, which brings me to the second reason. if somehow senators can make an excuse for his lack of experience, we can't deny that this is the opposite of the message that congress should have received during the 2016 election. in november, americans made clear that washington had failed working families, that we have not done enough to stand up for american workers. and now here we are about to confirm a nominee to the nlrb, and the only experience he has is that he's drafted legislation to hurt american workers. the board is about to face some important decisions that could reverse a decision that holds big companies accountable for how their contractors treat workers. the future of american workers and their ability to organize
will be influenced by this board, which includes any members confirmed by the senate. if mr. kaplan is appointed, it will further silence workers who already feel that they aren't being heard in washington, d.c. a vote for mr. kaplan is a vote that ignores the voices of american workers. it's a vote that further politicizes the nlrb at a time when we need to shore up our institutions against blind, corrosive ideology. i urge my colleagues to vote no on this nominee. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: