Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate 12192017  CSPAN  December 19, 2017 9:59am-12:54pm EST

9:59 am
cable television companies, and is brought to you today by your able or satellite provider. the house administration committee is working on a bill that would require members and employees of the house to complete a workplace training program each session of congress. the committee is work to go make changes to the congressional reporting and settlement process in harassment cases. live coverage beginning at 12:15 eastern c-span 3. the later the house committee looks at funding the government past the deadline. live coverage 3 p.m. c-span 3. you can follow these on c-span.org or with the c-span radio app. >> and we head live now to the floor of the u.s. senate in the early part of the day working on a nomination for a legal advisor in the state department with a confirmation vote scheduled for 12:so this
10:00 am
afternoon eastern time and later, pending action in the house on the g.o.p. tax bill, the senate would then take up the measure. you're watching live coverage. 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. eternal god, fill us with reverence for you. help us to remember that you are the one from whom we borrow our heartbeats.
10:01 am
you continue to be the source of our peace and the center of our joy. may our reverential awe provide us with the foundation of true wisdom. empower our lawmakers to make a positive difference in our nation and world. give them generous, righteous, and compassionate hearts so that they will transform discord into harmony. as they turn to you in humble, fervent prayer, hear our prayers, forgive our sins, and heal our land.
10:02 am
lord, we thank you that you will never give us more to do than we can do with your power. we pray in your mighty 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.
10:03 am
the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved.
10:04 am
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
quote
10:05 am
majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to calendar 165, s. 1519. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: motion to proceed to the consideration of s. 1519, a bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2018 for military activities of the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: congress is standing at the doorstep of an historic opportunity. today the house will vote on the conference report on the tax cuts and jobs bill, the most significant overhaul of our nation's tax code in more than 30 years. this major tax reform legislation will provide much needed relief to middle klaas families and small -- middle-class families and small businesses and set america on a trajectory towards more opportunity and greater prosperity. after the house votes this afternoon, the senate will begin
10:06 am
debate and will proceed to a vote on passage later this evening. the final text of this bill is the product of extensive open debate. it's the result of dozens of hearings on tax reform in recent years, and an open amendment process. then the house and senate joined together in a conference committee that carefully reconciled the two chambers' bills. now the time has come to vote. when senators vote for the tax cuts and jobs act, they'll be voting for a bill that substantially cuts taxes for middle-class families and by reducing rates that will let working americans keep more of their paycheck and send less of their hard earned money to washington. in addition to lower rates middle-class families will benefit from a standard deduction that is almost double its present level and a doubling of the child tax credit.
10:07 am
they will benefit from the ability to deduct more of their medical expenses, increasing their tax savings during difficult times. and despite what opponents of the bill have claimed, the tax cuts and jobs act achieves all this while preserving the charitable deduction and the adoption tax credit. it protects the exemption for university tuition benefits, a mortgage interest deduction remains, as does a deduction for state and local taxes. the result is a comprehensive tax reform bill that does what we set out to do. and here's what we set out to do. to take money out of washington's pockets and put it back into the pockets of middle-class americans who earned it. consider a typical family of four that earns the median family income. a vote for the conference report is to vote to cut their tax bill
10:08 am
by more than $2,000 next year. after a disappointing decade of stagnant wages and shrinking opportunity under the obama administration, they are counting on congress to keep our promise and give them that much needed relief. in addition to directly cutting taxes for american families, this landmark bill will also set america on a trajectory towards higher wages and better job opportunities by making our country a better place to do business. the tax cuts and jobs act contains a number of provisions that will make it easier to run and grow a small business, to create jobs, and to invest right here in the united states.
10:09 am
this bill creates new tax relief for main street businesses. it makes it easier for american companies to bring their earnings back home instead of parking that money elsewhere. it eliminates incentives to ship jobs and manufacturing overseas and replaces them with new incentives to invest and expand operations right here at home. and to make america more competitive in the global economy, the tax cuts and jobs act cuts our corporate tax rate from 35%, one of the highest rates in the developed world, to 21%. this is good news for workers as more than a hundred economists agreed in a recent open letter, the question isn't whether american workers are hurt by our country's corporate tax rate. it's how badly are they hurt. another expert put it this way
10:10 am
in a recent op-ed. it is the consensus view of professional economists that lowering corporate income taxes would increase the wages of workers. period. perhaps that's why reforming the corporate tax rate used to be a partisan goal. during the previous administration prominent democrats said they supported bringing our rate in line with our competitors overseas. there may be a new occupant in the white house, but the need for reform has not changed. i hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support this pro-growth, pro-worker policy. now, mr. president, it's no wonder that job creators are enthusiastic about what they will be able to accomplish when tax reform becomes law. i recently received a letter from chief operating officer of a construction equipment dealer in my hometown louisville. this is a direct quote.
10:11 am
we'll hire more employees and plan investments in our company that we weren't considering prior to the tax cuts and jobs act. this bill will also help americans by repealing a punitive tax at the very heart of obamacare. for low and middle income families who are suffering under the individual mandate tax, including many in my home state of kentucky, repeal means reli relief. if the health insurance plans available under obamacare are not affordable and not desirable, the blame lies with that failing law, not with americans who are already struggling to make ends meet. it's unfair and illogical to penalize them further because obamacare is failing to meet their needs. by erasing this individual mandate tax, we will give americans both tax relief and health care flexibility, two things that obamacare failed to
10:12 am
provide. there's one more element of this bill that deserves special attention. it provides the nation and particularly the people of alaska with a tremendous opportunity to develop the sta state's bountiful, natural resources. back in 1 1980, congress set ase a particular nonwilderness area within alaska's national wildlife refuge for potential development of its oil and gas resources. this bill is our chance to finally make good on that promise. enhancing our country's energy security and creating good paying jobs in the process. unlocking the resources of this area will provide a boon to alaska's economy, but more broadly, it will also vons
10:13 am
america's -- advance america's standing as an energy super power helping to cut americans' energy costs and strengthening our national security. for too long special interests have stood in the way of responsible development. the people of alaska have shown time and time again that resource development can go hand in hand with environmental protection. and service development will be limited to just one-10000 of the total land in the reserve. it is long past time to finish what congress started almost 40 years ago and begin reaping the benefits of responsible development. so, mr. president, the tax cuts and jobs act will deliver historic tax relief to american families. it will help our country on a trajectory towards more innovation and better paying jobs. it will repeal an unfair tax at the center of obamacare and will help america achieve greater
10:14 am
energy security. so this is a once in a -- once-in-a-in a generation opportunity. i want to comment the work of chairman hatch, chairman enzi, chairman murkowski to bring it within reach and urge all of my colleagues to join me in approving the conference report and complete this victory for the american people. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:15 am
quorum call:
10:16 am
10:17 am
10:18 am
10:19 am
10:20 am
mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. cornyn: i would ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: thank you. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 12:00 noon with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, today the house will pass a bill called the jobs for our heroes
10:21 am
act which i hope will be quickly signed into law by the president. this bill streamlines a process by which active duty military, reservists, and veterans can apply for commercial driver's licenses, and as the presiding officer knows and people may know generally, there is a shortage of people who can get a commercial driver's license and fill these well-paying jobs. this bill would also allow states to permanently waive license requirements for current service members and national guardsmen if they have military experience driving a comparable vehicle. that way, members of the military don't have to go through the same old rigamarole twice. they get trained in the military, and then they get out, and then the civilian world ignores the fact that they have trained and been qualified in the military, and this bill fixes that. i'm honored to have a broad range of bipartisan support for this legislation. you would hope that something
10:22 am
like this would. and i want to thank congressman rob woodall who played a key role helping get this bill through the house. i hope with this bill signed into law, more members of our military will be able to utilize the skills they have acquired while in the military to qualify for well-paying jobs in our communities, and we continue to use our best efforts to keep faith with our veterans who have done so much for all of us. the second matter i'd like to address, mr. president, is the historic vote that the house will take today and that we will take later on this evening on the tax cuts and jobs act. this bill will dramatically reduce taxes on american families and incentivize the creation of new jobs. this bill is a major victory for all americans who want to know that washington has their best interests at heart, and it does exactly what we told voters we
10:23 am
would do in 2016, and it's important to keep our word. we're delivering tax reform in a way that is real, comprehensive, and substantial, and we're doing it through what we usually refer to as regular order here in the senate. i know ever since the affordable care act was written in then-democratic leader harry reid's conference room and then brought to the floor, there has been a lot of concern about the way that the senate conducts its activities. and senator mccain, who unfortunately won't be able to be with us today, has been a stickler for returning to regular order, and by that, introducing bills, having them marked up and debated in the relevant committee, in this case, the finance committee, and then brought to the floor where they are amended and we debate that until we finally pass it, and then we go to a conference committee with the house and reconcile the differences between the senate version and
10:24 am
the house version. that's exactly what we did with this piece of legislation. i have spoken at length about certain provisions in the bill before, but i want to make one point abundantly clear. for the american people, this represents the very best kind of christmas gift we could offer them, one that will actually make their lives better and one from which they will benefit right away. this tax reform may not bear the ribbons and bows of a christmas present, but the men and women who are trying to make ends meet will benefit from lower taxes, bigger paychecks, and a resurgent economy that will produce more jobs and better opportunities. i just would like to refer, mr. president, to an article that came out in january of this year, which cited a shocking statistic, really. that statistic is that most
10:25 am
americans remain one misstep away from a financial crisis. 57% of americans don't have enough cash on hand to cover an unexpected $500 expense. these findings, this cbs news report can shed light on how many households continue to struggle with their basic finances more than seven years after the end -- the official end of the great recession of 2007. a typical american household still earns 2.4% below what they brought home in 1999. so when people talk about less purchasing power, flat wages, that's what they're talking about. at the same time, we know costs for essentials such as housing and child care have surged faster than the rate of inflation, putting even more stress on these household budgets.
10:26 am
that's one of the reasons why we have passed in the senate and we will pass this conference report later on this evening, because we believe that these families deserve to keep more of what they earn to make sure that they don't go into debt when they suffer an unexpected financial expense of $500 like the 57% of the respondents to the poll reported in cbs news said they would. and so that's why it's a big deal, for example, a typical family of four earning the median family income of $73,000 a year will receive a tax cut of $2,058. a reduction of nearly 58%. noah, that may not seem like a big deal inside the beltway, but to those families who are living paycheck to paycheck and who can't deal with an unexpected
10:27 am
financial expense, this will help them in a real and meaningful way. or consider the single mother or father, for that matter, with one child and an annual income of $41,000. that parent, that family will receive a tax cut of 1,304.50, a reduction of nearly 73%. now, this may be shocking news to most people who are listening, because all they have heard is about what's bad in this bill. well, there is a lot of very good things in this bill, but it could have been made better if our democratic colleagues had worked with us rather than resisting us at every step along the way. i guess they are satisfied with the status quo. the fact that purchasing power for the average family is actually 2.4% below what it was in 1999.
10:28 am
the message i'd like to convey is that we aren't satisfied with the status quo. we think life can be better, and one way that will be better is to start with letting people keep more of what they earn. for a small -- for a married small business owner with an income of $100,000, they will receive a tax cut of $2,603.50, a reduction of nearly 24%. so you can see across all income, all incomes and people in very different circumstances, each of them will benefit from the bill that we will pass tonight and send to the president. this bill also does something that barack obama in 2011 argued that a bipartisan consensus had formed to cut the corporate income tax rate.
10:29 am
now, i know people aren't necessarily immediately attracted to the idea of cutting corporations' taxes, but the fact is america has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. what that means is it's cheaper for businesses to move to other countries, to invest in jobs there, and to keep the money they earn abroad overseas. by reducing it to 21% as we do in this bill, we will basically have achieved the average tax rate in the industrialized world. and we will move to a worldwide tax -- from a worldwide tax system to a territorial one. this really is a bipartisan consensus move. when our democratic friends criticize us for corporate giveaways, we are embracing the very same reforms they have advocated in the past, whether it's president obama, the democratic leader, senator schumer, or the ranking member
10:30 am
of the senate finance committee, senator wyden. all of them have advocated reducing the corporate tax rate and making our corporate business tax more competitive, because they recognize, we all recognize the facts, the status quo kills jobs, encourages businesses to move overseas, and we want to grow jobs in america along with the investment and encourage those businesses to come back home. i dare say that all americans from every walk of life will benefit from this stimulus to our economy. janet yellen, who was last appointed chairman of the federal reserve by barack obama, side that in part as a result of this tax package, the federal reserve has raised its projection on growth of the u.s. economy from 2.1% next year to
10:31 am
2.5%, .4%. that's a big deal, and it's -- every american will feel the benefit of that economic growth in terms of the wages they earn, in terms of the opportunities they have, and in terms of their ability to protect themselves against unexpected financial expense asks, as -- expenses, as i mentioned earlier. what can you do with $2,600 more in your paycheck? well, you could install concrete counter tops or laminate flooring in your house. or when it comes to a cell phone, everybody it seems like has a cell phone, you can pay for your cell phone expense for two and a half year. you could go online at a texas college and pay for your education for a full year. and you could breathe a little bit easier in dallas by having
10:32 am
enough money to pay for two months of average apartment rent. or you could drive down interstate highway 35 in texas knowing that almost five and a half months of an average car payment are taken care of. or if you need a little dental work done, you could go to your dentist for a little tuneup and be able to pay that out of the savings that you will achieve as a result of this bill. stories like these, stories of how busy hardworking and multitasking americans will benefit from our plan simply leave me with confusion at why our democratic colleagues have simply refused to participate in this process and have blocked and dragged their feet at every step along the way, trying to stop us from providing this relief from keeping our promises
10:33 am
it seems in the process, they have given up on the american dream. they've settled for the status quo, and they're even rooting for failure. but this bill's final passage won't wait for our democratic colleagues to wake up. we're determined to get this win even without them because american families need more take-home pay. they need the higher wages. they need the greater job opportunities. and they need a competitive economy and the benefits that brings. american families should not have to settle for anything less, and we'll make sure they don't. there's one more aspect of the bill i want to bring up. our tax reform plan strengthens
10:34 am
our long-term energy security by opening up an area in alaska to responsible energy development. at the invitation of senator murkowski, i traveled to the north slope of alaska about a year or so ago, and i'm just amazed at the technology that they were able to deploy in extracting oil from the north slope. they literally have ice roads that don't exist except during the coldest part of the year in order to protect the environment and to allow equipment to travel overseas -- over land. but thanks to directional drilling, they're able to occupy base itically a -- basically a very small footprint and literally drill hundreds of wells in a multitude of different directions and pump the energy from that location. it creates jobs. it creates wealth. and it helps create energy
10:35 am
security for the people of alaska and for the united states. i come from a state with a huge energy presence, and i understand the importance of developing our natural resources responsibly. limited development, modern technologies will not ruin this area, as some of the critics have charged, because a very small portion of the acreage is allowed. it will provide jobs. let's not forget why we're doing this. one reason we're increasing our domestic energy production is because we want to make ourselves less dependent on foreign energy sources. it also helps lower the price at the pump for millions of hardworking americans. so i can't wait to vote on this bill later today and i can't wait to hand deliver to the president's desk this important bill this week and for him to sign it into the law. we will all benefit from passage
10:36 am
of this tax cut and jobs act. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:37 am
10:38 am
mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be lifted. mr. durbin: i went to benito high school in chicago, in the southwest part of the city. it's a predominantly mexican american enrollment at this high school. it's one of my favorites. i've been there time and again for different events. it is full of life and full of amazing young students and some great teachers and a great principal, mr. oconn. i was there two weeks ago for a mariachi band ensemble training
10:39 am
students across the city to be musicians in mexican tradition. there's just so much life there. but yesterday was not the happiest occasion. it was sad and worrisome because i met with about 20 of the students there, all of whom have been protected by daca. daca was the executive order of president obama which was issued in 2012. that executive order said that if you were brought to the united states as a child, an infant, a toddler, a young person, and grew up in this country undocumented, if you had no problems of any serious nature with the law, if you finished your education, you go through a criminal background check, pay your fee and be protected, be able to stay in america two years at a time to go to school, to work, whatever your aspirations may be, under that executive order, president obama, 780,000 young people came forward. and the 20 i met at benito
10:40 am
juarez were among them. they got the protection they needed to get a job, legally get a job. and for a lot of these young students, that's a critical part of their lives because they don't qualify, being undocumented, for any federal assistance to go to college. if they want to go to college, they have to save up for it and they have to find the money and work for the tuition and other expenses. so getting a job is a very important part of it. and these young people as well, as they went through the daca process, knew that they were safe from being deported. that is a fear which many of us can't even understand, but it's a real fear for many people in this country who are here undocumented. so for these young people, they have that chance. on september 5, president trump announced that he was ending the daca protection program as of march 5 of next year, putting an end to the protection that these young people have. and as their daca expired, they
10:41 am
would be vulnerable to deportation. they would reach the point where they could no longer work in america. the end of daca as we know it will dramatically changes the lives of thousands of young people. it will change the lives of 900 of these daca protected young people who volunteered to serve in our military, currently serving in our military, willing to risk their lives for a country which will not give them legal status. imagine that for a moment. if they had to prove that they really cared about america, what more could they do than put their lives on the line? they've done it, 900 of them. when daca goes away march 5 of next year, they have to leave the military service. that is the end of their opportunity to serve america. and many of them are in the military because they bring special skills and special capacities to lead. so we'll lose them. and it means 20,000 of these
10:42 am
daca protected young people, when it goes away for them, will no longer be able to teach. 20,000 teachers across america. i met one of them yesterday, katherine galliano. katherine, i met before, she's a special ed teacher. family originally came from nicarauga. she told a heartbreaking story about what happened ten years ago. she was in high school taking a shower in the morning before she was to go to school. there was a knock on the bathroom door. her mother was crying and screaming, come out, come out, come out. katherine ran out to see that her father, they put handcuffs on her father and they were deporting him to nicarauga. he was gone. that was the last time he saw her and she saw him. ten years ago. she told that story and she told how her mother tried to make it as a single mom with her kids here in the united states, and finally gave up and went back to
10:43 am
nicarauga, leaving katherine to raise herself, to pay her own way through college, to get a teaching certificate and teach special ed in the city of chicago. as of march 5 next year, katherine is finished teaching. it's over. daca is gone. so when i met with these students yesterday, you can imagine what they're worried about. they're worried about themselves and their future. they're worried about their families. they're worried about turning over all this information to the government when they signed up for daca which can now be used against them and their families. that's what they're worried about. and many of them, i'm sure, reflect on the fact this could be their last christmas in the united states of america. if that seems overly dramatic, you need to meet them and talk to them and understand the reality of their lives. that's what they face. well, president trump did eliminate prospectively the daca program, but he issued a challenge to us. he said to congress, now do
10:44 am
something. if i'm going to eliminate this executive order, what are you going to do in the united states senate, in the house of representatives? will you pass a law to deal with this challenge? he said that in september, and here we are in the middle of december having done nothing. nothing. and the clock's ticking. and it's a clock that means an awful lot to thousands of young people across america, including those at benito juarez high school in the city of chicago. there are people who want to get this fixed. there are republicans and democrats who do. we need to come together and get this done. there is no excuse for delay. we know what needs to be done. we need to give these young people a chance. i introduced the dream act 16 years ago here in the senate, and the dream act said for these young people, we're going to put you on a path to legalization, a path to
10:45 am
citizenship. it won't be easy and it won't be quick, and you have to show us that you can be a productive part of america's future. but then we give you your chance. these young people who grew up in the united states of america, pledging allegiance to that flag, singing our national anthem, believing in their heart of hearts this was home, it really wasn't legally. they were undocumented and illegal in america. now the question is what will we do to make that better, to fix it, to come up with a just solution. some of my republican colleagues say well, you've got to give us more than just fixing their problem. you've got to give us some fix to our immigration system. i'm not against that. i was part of a group of eight senatosenators that spent months together, four democrats, four republicans. we crafted a comprehensive immigration bill which i am proud of. it passed on the floor of the senate, sent over to the republican house of representatives which refused to
10:46 am
even consider it, would not bring it up for a vote. it died in the republican house. i know this immigration system in america is broken. i've talked about one specific piece of it this morning but there are many aspects of it that are broken. what the republican -- but the republicans have said to us do something to make our boarders stronger. sign me up. i voted for that on the comprehensive immigration bill. does that mean more technology, more equipment, making certain that it's clear that our border is going to be a real border that you cannot cross it at will? of course. i'm prepared to do that and many democrats -- maybe all the democrats would join in that effort. there are things that we can do to fix this system, but what we cannot do is ignore it. we cannot ignore what's happening to these young people, the threat to their future, to their families, and we can't ignore the reality that this is a basic test of who we are as americans. i stand here today as the son of
10:47 am
an immigrant mother. my mom came to this country -- brought to this country when she was 2 years old. and thank goodness that my grandmother decided to put her on a boat, bring her from lithuania to the united states. i wouldn't be here otherwise. that's my story. that's my family's story. that's america's story. that's who we are. i cannot imagine my grandmother and grandfather whom i never knew making the decision to come to a country where they didn't even speak the language, giving up everything and leaving it behind in their mother country of lithuania to try in a new country called the united states of america. but that story has been repeated millions of times and thank goodness it has because they not only brought strong backs and strong minds, they brought with them a part of their d.n.a. which was a d.n.a. of culture and courage and determination. and i think that's part of who we are as americans and proud to
10:48 am
be. let me tell you the story of win of these dreamers as i call them or daca young people because all my speeches notwithstanding, these stories tell more about the situation than anything i could possibly say. this is maria roca. i told stories of dreamers on the floor. she's 101, i believe, of a list that i've given. she came to the united states at the age of 3, brought from mexico. maria grew up in a rural town called stonewall, texas. her fondest memory is growing up in the texas hill country, including haystack jumping, armadillo chasing and fishing in a lake. later in her childhood, maria's family moved to san antonio. maria was a very good student. she graduated from high school 12th in her class.
10:49 am
she played varsity soccer. she was recognized as a san antonio scholar athlete of the week during her junior year. at the same time as she was going to school and playing soccer, she was working a job to help support herself and her family. she was accepted at the university of texas at san antonio. while enrolled as a full time student, she kept right on working. in fact, she juggled three different jobs. she was a housekeeper, a baby-sitter and a personal assistant. she had to come up with $40,000 out of pocket to pay for college education because she didn't qualify for any federal assistance because of her immigration status. so these young students in college are working harder than many others just to make sure they succeed. in may of 2012 she graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. after graduation she decided to enter a program known as teach for america. most everyone knows about this program but they -- they should
10:50 am
know. this is when college graduates volunteer to teach in some of the most challenging schools across america. maria was one of those. today maria continues her career as a teacher. she teaches third grade in her hometown of san antonio, texas. at the same time she's pursuing a graduate degree in education. once again, no federal assistance, no federal loans. without daca maria would not be able to work and could be deported immediately. when asked what would happen to her without daca protection, which president trump eliminated as of march 5 next year, maria only thinks of her students and here's what she said. how am my students going to take it? what's going to happen to them? that's what scares me. nationwide there are 20,000 daca recipients just like her. with teach for america alone, 190 of these undocumented students who have gone on to get
10:51 am
degrees in college are teaching in the teach for america program. currently, they're teaching 10,000 students across 11 states, a third of them in the state of texas. in a few weeks congress is going to face the reality of this daca provision by president trump coming into full effect. as of that day, she and others like her will start the clock ticking to lose their jobs, be unemployable, legally unemployable in america. mr. president, christmas is a special time of year for every family of christian faith and those who observe. it's a special time of year for my family. the real question, though, is can we leave -- can we leave this week ignoring this issue? can we go home and enjoy our
10:52 am
christmas without thinking for a moment of how young people like maria may be facing their last christmas in the united states of america? that's the reality of what she faces. so why don't we face this issue. this is an empty senate chamber which is usually the case, unfortunately. i wish it were filled, filled with the healthy, fullsom debate on this issue. let's work on our compromises. let's do something that's really radical around here. let's come together and legislate, democrats and republicans. let's solve this problem. that's why we were elected, not to collect a paycheck and build a pension but to solve the problems facing america. this one is real. it is timely. it is now. for maria roca, for 780,000 other young people, they're counting on us to do something. let's not come up with excuses.
10:53 am
let's come up with answers. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:54 am
10:55 am
10:56 am
10:57 am
10:58 am
10:59 am
11:00 am
quorum call:
11:01 am
11:02 am
11:03 am
11:04 am
mr. barrasso: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i come to the floor today, the senate is facing one of its most important votes in years. the tax relief legislation that we will be voting on i believe will be great for america, the american people, and to a lot for the country. it's been a long process, there's been a lot of discussion, and this has been years of preparation waiting for today's vote. the finance committee has held over 70 hearings on the subject over the last six years. when we debated it on the floor, we had about 285 amendments offered to this legislation. there's been a lot of changes over the past few weeks to include as many good ideas as possible. after all of that, it is understandable that there may be some confusion about what the legislation does. so i want to speak today about
11:05 am
various ways that this legislation is good for hardworking americans like the people in my home state of wyoming. first, most people are going to pay lower tax rates. for a couple who makes between $19,000 and $77,000 a year, the rates will drop from 15% to 12%. so a family might see their tax bill drop by more than $1,000 just by this one part of the republican tax relief plan alone. the second thing i want to point out is that this legislation roughly doubles the standard deduction. it goes from $12,000 for a single person who files and then to $24,000 for a married couple. well, that's double. people won't have to pay federal income tax on all of that money, none of it at all. it's a standard deduction,
11:06 am
$24,000 for a family. if we combine that with a lower rate, the lower rates, higher deduction, it is more money that people will be able to keep instead of having washington spend it, they will not send it to washington for someone else to spend. mr. president, you know as well as i do, people are much better deciders on how to spend than money than for washington to spend on their behalf. not only that, their taxes might be simpler to figure out come april 15. so we have lower rates, higher standard deduction and now simpler to figure out april 15. you know, a lot of people are looking around trying to find deductions they can take and save a little money on their taxes. we've seen that for years, ways to find additional deductions, save the receipts, look at the
11:07 am
reseems, -- receipts, go through the box. they gather up receipts, fill out extra forms. under this tax relief plan, they can choose to just take this much higher standard deduction and not have to spend all of that additional time looking through the shoe box of receipts trying to find something that they may have spent. they just -- this is going to make tax filing a whole lot simpler for lots and lots of americans. how many people will benefit from this? today about 70% of people who fill out their tax form choose the standard deduction. on this plan that doubles the standard deduction, we expect even more than nine out of ten americans are going to be able to use this simplifying filling out their tax forms. and they are going to see that it is really a good deal for
11:08 am
them, personally, individually, for them and their families. millions of people will save money and have an easier time filling out their tax reform, tax return rather than having to pay somebody to prepare their taxes for them. they won't have to save the receipts, they won't have to save the extra forms, they won't have to worry they are going to be audited by the i.r.s. for trying to keep more of their hard-earned money. they'll be able to keep more of their money and use their time doing something else that they actually enjoy doing instead of filling out forms and sending money to the federal government. mr. president, that's another way democrats are trying to confuse people. they want people to think that tax relief is somehow taking away options, it's actually giving them more options. that's what we're seeing. it's expanding the standard deduction that a lot of people already use and many more people will be able to use it under the republican plan.
11:09 am
that brings me to another important point i want to make about this tax relief, tax deduction plan, mr. president. mr. president, we did work hard to keep a lot of the deductions that are important to some americans. in some cases we even maipped them better. -- made them better. for people who come out ahead by itemizing their deductions, and there certainly will be some, there's another way they can keep more of their money. people who still take a deduction, they donator charity. people can still -- donate to their charity. people can save through their retirement plans. for those who have children, it has doubled to $2,000 per child. they don't have to itemize their taxes -- taxes. they don't have to itemize. it is a straight tax cut that they get under the republican plan. they still get to set up an
11:10 am
account to save for their children's education, if they like. for people who have high medical expenses, this tax relief plan actually saves them more money on taxes than the old way. republicans understand that medical costs remain out of control in this country. there are a lot of policies that the democrats and president obama put in place that raised the cost of medical care for people all across the country. republicans are working hard at getting rid of those policies and improving the cost of care across the country. until we get that completely done, this tax relief plan makes it easier for people to deduct their higher medical costs. -- someone can go tax relief if it is more than 10% of their income. we made it so more people can
11:11 am
qualify. we will keep working on ways to reduce the cost of care. mr. president, that brings me to another way that this tax relief legislation is going to save a lot of people money. the republican plan effectively repeals, eliminates the obamacare individual mandate tax. this was the outrageous tax penalty that made obamacare a mandatory program by sending the i.r.s. after someone if they didn't have washington-approved health insurance. you had to pay a tax, had to pay a fine. people knew it was unpopular. it didn't matter to president obama and the democrats. they took it all the way to the supreme court to force people to pay a fine, a tax, to force them to buy obamacare health insurance even though it wasn't right for them or their family and they couldn't afford it. it didn't matter to the democrats or president obama. oh, no, you have to buy it.
11:12 am
if the insurance is too expensive, you can't buy it, you can't afford it, tough. pay the tax. mr. president, we're eliminating that tax completely. in my home state of wyoming over 16,000 people ended up hit with that fine, hit with that tax. over $60,000 collected from the people in my state. this is about $700. legislation says that tax in the future will be zero. it takes obamacare from being a mandatory program to turning it into a voluntary program. more than six million people paid that tax in the united states this past year. these people will now get a tax break. under the republicans they will see this and it will affect their lives, give them more money to spend. it doesn't take away anyone's insurance as democrats have claimed. it just says no one should have
11:13 am
to pay an extra tax because overpriced obamacare insurance isn't right for them. so those are just some of the ways that this republican tax plan legislation is good for americans. it saves people money, it saves them time, it gives them more freedom. and together it's about $1.5 trillion in tax savings over the next ten years. it's money that families and small businesses and large employers won't have to send to washington. they can use the money anywhere they want. mr. president, it's interesting, last week nancy pelosi was talking about this republican tax relief plan. she said: this is who they are. she said, this is what they came here to do. well, she probably meant it as an insult, but she stumbled upon the difference between republicans and democrats like herself. republicans believe in cutting
11:14 am
people's taxes an keeping more of their hard-earned money because we believe that hard-working americans should be able to make decisions about what they spend and how they spend it. it's in the the government's money like nancy pelosi believes so she can grow the government. republicans look at this and say, how can we give more people more freedom? mr. president, that's what this legislation does. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, a tax bill is a fiscal document, it is a legal document, it's also a moral document. it involves choices much as we make choices as families when we
11:15 am
own a car that is unsafe or a house that has a front step that is about to collapse. or a college student who needs money to pursue her education. a family can make choices. a parent can go to the casino and gamble and lose the money or spend it on luxuries that are unnecessary or unwise. and nations make those kinds of moral choices as well. this tax document is a moral document. it involves choices that will make our country safer, rebuild our infrastructure, and our national defense. or instead in effect squander
11:16 am
resources, $1.5 trillion or more, on a giveaway to the very wealthiest in our country. and it relates directly to the tragedy that this nation experienced outside of tacoma, washington, just yesterday. i want to extend, first of all, my thoughts and prayers to those families and loved ones who have suffered losses. the deaths, three of them, and injuries have taken their toll emotionally as well as physically. and in these dark days, we're demanding answers, and fortunately the national transportation safety board is there, beginning its investigation. we know now that that train apparently was traveling three times the limit on speed.
11:17 am
80 miles per hour in a 30 milesr zone. that fact is absolutely stunning and scandalous, and the ntsb no doubt will present its results after its investigation. i call on the ntsb to finish that investigation as promptly and quickly as possible, as responsible an agency as it is, it often works much more slowly than taxpayers deserve. and so i call on it to produce its investigation not in months or years, but in days. in days and weeks, because we need to know the answers as to why this catastrophe occurred. we know with certainty,
11:18 am
apparently now, that the train was traveling too fast. and you may be forgiven for thinking, it seems like deja vu. didn't that happen also where four people were lost. didn't it happen in philadelphia where eight were killed in 2015? and, yes, again, three people were killed yesterday. 300 people have been killed in these accidents since 1970, when the ntsb first recommended that there be this new technology. it was new technology in 1970 called positive train control. now it is old technology.
11:19 am
but it still has not been implemented in three-quarters of the nation's railroads. and the deadline for installing it was postponed from 2015 over my vehement protests and others on our side of the aisle in the commerce committee and on the floor of the united states senate, postponed until 2018. and now, even now the railroads are seeking extensions of that time, saying the resources aren't available. well, the cost of those 300 lives lost and of the crashes that have resulted from derailments and other kinds of very severe mishaps due to
11:20 am
excessive speed are way in excess of the cost of installing , since 1970, since 2015. and if it is postponed again, the cost will exceed the expenses of installing this system. it is available now. it is fully ready for installation on railroads across the country. the resources aren't preventing its installation. it is the will to do so, and determination. the failure of federal authorities to require and provide support for positive train control is a moral choice this nation has made. it's not about only dollars and cents. it is about basic moral
11:21 am
choices, and those choices are a factor in those three deaths outside of tacoma, washington. we know excessive speed was a factor. we know positive train control slows down trains when they're going too fast in zones where the limit is 30 miles an hour rather than the 80 miles an hour that that train was traveling. regardless of driver fatigue or distraction, regardless of any of the other contributing causes, positive train control is there to stop or slow down trains when human error may lead to crashes. the new deadline is now one year away, and if we do nothing else in this congress, let us insist that that deadline be met without additional delay. our failure to do so would be a
11:22 am
moral failure. but the dollars and cents required to install positive train control and to repair our aging and decrepit roads and bridges involve investment. in connecticut, we know, to show you what is happening in connecticut, very much like the rest of the country, 78% of our roads are in poor or mediocre condition. that's a moral choice, not just a fiscal choice. and it has the same kinds of consequences as failure to install positive train control. the cost per motorist annually is $864 needed for vehicle
11:23 am
repairs from driving on roads that are in disrepair. now as a result of this so-called tax cut, a lot of people in connecticut are going to perhaps see a few crumbs, a few sweeteners, very minor deductions in their tax bill, nowhere near the $864 that they are now paying because of inadequate roads and bridges. that is a hidden cost. it is a moral choice, because it not only creates costs in vehicle wear and tear, it also leads to crashes that in turn take lives and cause injuries. this legislation will put
11:24 am
america in debt by $1.5 trillion. that's a moral choice because it shifts the burden of tax breaks and giveaways now to future generations. it also deprives us right now of funds that could be applied to infrastructure, rebuilding roads and bridges. and lest you think that connecticut's situation is an anomaly or an exception, the grade for our nation as a whole in infrastructure is a resounding -- yes -- d-plus. now, i know it may seem like an oversimplification.
11:25 am
yes, it is. but it is an oversimplification with real facts that support it and real consequences to the american people. and when the president of the united states suggests in a tweet, as he did yesterday after the tacoma tragedy, that his infrastructure program will be ready, quote, soon, end quote, that is ducking responsibility. and it is a moral choice. because soon has meant delays month after month into the first year of his presidency. he can take action today. he can disavow the shameful program that he has supported, the tax cut that slashes resources for the federal government. and instead decide that investment is the right course
11:26 am
here. investment in roads, bridges, rail, broadband, v.a. facilities, ports, and airports. that's a moral choice that this tax scam makes. it's a tax scam with moral consequences in terms of inequality in this nation. it tilts benefits in favor of the wealthiest and corporations who receive permanent tax cuts. it will hurt working families, students, public schools, firefighters, police officers, local governments, and sick people who receive nothing but crumbs by comparison. and it will desperately hurt states like connecticut, our state and local taxes will no longer be deductible above set limits. $10,000 will barely cover, and
11:27 am
in fact will fail to cover many, many of the tax bills that formerly could be deducted. and it will impose limits on mortgage interest deductions that will harm our real estate industry in connecticut and many other states across the country. yes, there are crumbs and sweeteners, and they are temporary. and they pale in comparison to the tremendous benefits that will go to corporations and the wealthiest. it narrows our tax base, shifting the burden in fact from corporations to individuals who don't receive them. it makes tax codes more complicated, not less so. it grossly increases equality.
11:28 am
and it steals $1.5 trillion from our children and from us insofar as it deprives our national defense as well as our infrastructure of resources that are needed. now i'm a member of the armed services committee, and i remember very well the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, mike mullen, saying the most significant threat to our national security is our national debt. which surprised me at the time. if the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to say the biggest threat to our national security is our national debt, how could that be? well, having watched the national defense authorization act year after year constrained
11:29 am
by resources that are now going to be less available because of this $1.5 trillion debt that's created by this tax plan, and larger probably, i better understand what he meant. the republicans are essentially pursuing two inherently irreconcileable objectives. the chairman of the committee, a man whom i respect as much as anybody in this chamber called for an additional $430 billion over the next five years to build up our military and rebuild it. i can tell you without doubt there is no way to increase defense spending. $86 billion every year as the chairman has said we need, while slashing federal revenue
11:30 am
$150 billion every year, the math fails. it will not work. and so for my republican colleagues to say we need to build, we need to invest in our national defense and in our military and in the skill training of our warriors, is a fiction. it is blatant deception. and it is a disservice to the brave men and women who have enlisted and serve us in uniform now and others who will join them in the future. we cannot have the most advanced and strongest military in the world if we use the same tax code as the cayman islands.
11:31 am
this year our country experienced a tragic loss of life. in fact, more than one loss of life needlessly, preventably. 17 sailors perished on the u.s.s. john mccain and u.s.s. fitzgerald. two of them were from connecticut. i attended ceremonies in their honor. those deaths are attributable largely to lack of resources. there may have been other caus causes. but this tax bill is a moral choice about our military. the failure to invest in those ships, in the training and necessary rest that's required for our men and women in those positions will be aggravated by the debt that we see here.
11:32 am
our national security is more than just military spending in the face of russian cyberattacks in our elections, horrific hurricanes hitting puerto rico and texas and florida, fires still burning in western states. we know that our military alone is not enough to keep us safe and secure. those natural disasters and those challenges from our adversary require investment as well. and again, the loss of this $1.5 trillion to debt that will be paid largely by future generations is something that hubbles our ability to make our nation safe and secure.
11:33 am
this tax scam is reprehensible morley. it cut, taxes -- it cuts taxes for the wealthiest while jeopardizing programs that are essential to the safety and security of many in our nation who are most vulnerable. under current law, the g.o.p. tax plan will trigger $25 billion in medicare cuts next year alone. and with this self-inflicted $1.5 trillion hole in our federal deficit, we know what will come next. savage attacks on social security as well as medicaid and medicare. this is an assault on health care. it doesn't end with these programs. the repeal of the affordable care act's individual mandate
11:34 am
will raise premiums and eventually lead to $13 million -- 13 million more uninsured americans. republicans are sabotaging these critical programs that provide care to the most vulnerable americans so that those at the top can avoid paying their fair share. and what corporations benefit the most? there is a very simple answer. the ones that benefit the most with foreign cash that will be distributed almost certainly to their shareholders and to their c.e.o. are listed right here in the red are the foreign cash and the total is listed as well. they are the ones who are going to benefit. apple has been singled out as
11:35 am
the single largest beneficiary, but many other corporations around the country will benefit as well. and the picture that i think was most powerful in assessing how these corporations will use this money occurred when the president's chief economic advisor asked a room of c.e.o.'s how many of you will spend these additional resources on creating jobs? and there were no more than a few hands out of that room. this money will go to shareholders. and these corporations have zero incentive to provide new jobs if there is no increase in demand
11:36 am
and sales. and the failure to provide real tax cut, real benefits to middle-class families and to our working families means that sales and demand will not lead to more jobs because there will be no increase in demand with the crumbs and pittance tax cuts that are complicated. so republicans, let me say finally, are borrowing $1.5 trillion, and they're putting it on a credit card. and sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words. here's the american excess tax scam card. it won't buy you much because it's debt.
11:37 am
american excess with apologies to american express, sincere apology, the american excess tax scam card can be used by our children, my children, your children as a symbol of what they are losing. what they are losing not only in the opportunity costs, the roads and bridges and rail that is unrepaired, the new schools and airports that are unbuilt, the national defense that becomes far less adequate because the investment can't be made, the government programs whether it's medicare, social security,
11:38 am
medicaid that are in peril, deeply in jeopardy because of this tax scam. and positive train control that could save lives, could have saved lives in fact in tacoma when that train was valving 80 miles an hour -- was traveling 80 miles an hour when the speed limit was 30. these opportunity costs are re real. the choices to incur them are moral. and the debt that will have to be paid by future generation is equally real and it is immoral. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. first i would ask unanimous consent that nellie, a fellow in
11:39 am
my office be granted floor privileges for the remainder of the 115th congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: thank you very much, mr. president. when you are the father of a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old during the holiday season, you spend an awful lot of time reading holiday stories. you spend an awful lot of time watching christmas specials and christmas movies on tv, and it's wonderful. i love it. getting to relive my childhood through the eyes of my kids. and if you remember all of these stories and specials, there's a familiar theme that runs through them. and it's a really nice theme for kids to hear. the basic idea in many of these stories is that christmas, ho hanukkah, the holidays that we
11:40 am
celebrate today aren't about pageantry and they aren't about pomp and circumstance or the presents or material things. that it's really about celebrating each other. it's about sort of understanding what's important to us and who's important to us and using this little break that we get at the end of the year to spend time with each other. and my youngest favorite of all of these stories and specials is the iconic dr. seuss poem about the grinch. it ends like this. he says, he hadn't stopped christmas from coming. it came. somehow or other it came just the same. and the grinch with his grinch feet ice cold in the snow stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so. it came without ribbons. it came without tags. it came without packages, boxes
11:41 am
or bags. he puzzled three hours til his puzzler was store. then he thought of something he hadn't before. maybe christmas he thought doesn't come from a store. maybe christmas perhaps means a little bit more. it's -- maybe the most famous of all of the passages from christmas stories explaining that premise, that this time of the year is a time in which we think about each other. and i hope that we do that in the senate and in the house over the coming days before we wrap up for the year because as we approach the christmas season and as creatures of good fortune, those of us who get to serve in the united states senate, as we begin to prepare, to go home and share time with our family and our loved ones, we need to think about the crisis that many families are in
11:42 am
today and will be in over the holiday season if we don't choose to do some basic things here attached to our responsibility as united states senators. we need to think about the position that we are going to put people in because of our inability to act and to pass legislation that prior to this holiday season seemed relatively noncontroversial. christmas is about celebrating our love for one another. and if we really do believe in brotherhood, if we really do believe that our role as united states senators is to try to lift people up around us, then we need to understand that the debates around health center funding or the children's health insurance program or the status
11:43 am
of children who were brought here by their parents at a very young age from another country isn't about politics. it's not about scoring political points. it's about people and what we will do to people as we head into the holiday season. adriana bagard is a single mom from hamden, connecticut. and for her the chip program has been a life saver. she's doing everything that we would ask a young woman to do. she received her master's degree in public relations from quinnipiac university. she is now working as a public relations specialist. but she has a young son, a 6-year-old, carter. and she's a single mom. and she gets a paycheck every week, but it goes out as quickly as it comes in.
11:44 am
she is one of the millions of americans who is working, who is playing by the rules, but it is living paycheck to paycheck. and she gets insurance through her employer, but when she was told how much it would cost to add her son to her coverage, she simply could not afford it. she literally did not have the money in her monthly paycheck to be able to pay for gas and for groceries, for rent and for coverage for her son. and so the chip program is a life saver for her. her son now is enrolled in what we call husky bee in connecticut. that's the name we use for our chip program. and without it, she says, things would dramatically change. if husky goes away, if chip goes away, once all benefits, taxes, et cetera, are paid, i will not have enough money left in my paycheck to pay my rent. and that's what is consuming her
11:45 am
this holiday season because she just got a notice from the state of connecticut telling her that on january 31, her son, carter, will lose health care insurance meaning on january 31, adriana will not have enough money to pay her rent or she will have to leave her son uninsured. that will be her choice come jon 31. that's a pretty terrible, awful way for her to spend her holiday season. in northeastern connecticut i heard from a woman who works in homelessness had she was telling the inspiring story of a gentleman who had been living the last three months in a tent and suffering deeply from severe joint pain, fevers, weakness
11:46 am
with no access to health care until he was connected with the local community health center. that local community health center was able to get him in for care, to stabilize him and potentially save his life. that community health center, it's called generations, serves thousands of people in northeastern connecticut, will lose 70% of its funding next year. many health centers in connecticut on january 1 will lose more than half of their funding and they will shut their doors to thousands and thousands of people like this man who couldn't receive health care but for community health centers. in rural america the slashing of community health center funding will be absolutely devastating. sometimes these community health
11:47 am
centers is the only way for some people to get care, particularly mental health care. so health center patients are trying to digest the news that they may be shut out from their psychiatrist. they may no longer able to see their child's primary care doctor come january 1. a 70% cut is not something you can manage with efficiencies. it means an elimination of services. what about faye from norwalk, connecticut. she came to this country when she was 11. she now has daca access. faye went out and went to school. she got an advanced degree, she's now holding down two jobs, one of them as a raidology
11:48 am
scheduler. she's working two jobs because she wants to have access to the american dream of homeownership and had he is saving and saving and saving so she can buy a house. now she is facing possible deportation to a country that she doesn't recognize. she's been in the united states for 19 years and lived in connecticut for 16 years and she's spending her holiday season, as are the other 800,000 daca recipients who fear that their life as they know it will end at the beginning of next year. kres mass -- christmas and the holiday season is not about presents, it's not about the christmas specials. it's about people. it's about reconnecting ourselves to the unique american notion that we are all in this
11:49 am
together and that we are weaker as a whole if individuals who live amongst us are in a crisis, especially individuals who have done everything that we have asked, who have played by the rules. that's abriana, that's faye, people who will have something taken away from them and their loved ones and will be put into crisis because we won't do our job. and so by the end of this week we have to protect these dreamers. we have to provide a permanent extension for health center funding. we have to provide a permanent extension for children's health care insurance funding because it's our job and also because it is just cruel to send all of these millions of families into the holidays with that kind of anxiety while we all sit around our holiday tables safe and
11:50 am
sound. my kids remind me over and over again about what they learned from the christmas specials. christmas is not about the presents, it's not about the trees, it's not about the decorations. the holidays are about our commitment to one another and we can do that this week by doing the right thing. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas is recognized. mr. boozman: thank you, mr. president. i rise to comment on the -- historic occasion with all who gathered with the commissioning in buffalo, new york, this past weekend. it's an honor to have one of the nation's more versatile warships named after the capital city.
11:51 am
the u.s.s. little rock's logo features one of the most recognizable images associated with arkansas, the razorback. it was given the nickname after the head coach at the time said the team played like a bunch of razorback hogs. i'm confident that this crew will carry on the same work ethic. it has been four decades since a ship has been named after the city of little rock. we're thrilled it will again be represented in the navy's fleet. saturday marked the first time in the history of the navy that a ship was commissioned alongside her namesake. this special occasion brought together members of the original u.s.s. little rock and those like lieutenant robert dyer who is a member of the current crew. during his time as -- its time as a light cruiser, the u.s.s.
11:52 am
little rock and its crew were vital to defeating the growing threats of its time. the new u.s.s. little rock is just as critical to the navy sea power. this trip and the strength and power of the war hog crew offers unique capabilities to defend against threats around the globe. there are things that this chamber and our colleagues in the house of representatives can do to ensure the navy has the resources to stay ahead of the threats our adversaries pose to us and our allies. that begins with passing individual appropriations bills. as congress continues discussions for fiscal year 2018 funding, it serves as a reminder that continuing resolutions are an inefficient method to keep the government operating. we should be approving
11:53 am
individual appropriation bills instead of relying on continuing resolutions. it starts and stops in the budgeting process, impacts the defense department and navy significantly. it slows down the timetable to achieve the goal of a 355 fleet ship. continuing resolutions take our eyes off the focus of eliminating wasteful spending. they hinder our navy's ability to plan and support equipment. they stop the navy from starting new programs. earlier this month navy secretary spencer said that the service wasted $4 billion since 2011 because of continuing resolutions. this could have gone a long way towards growing our fleet. instead it is just gone. a continuing resolution means
11:54 am
that the navy is operating on the previous year's budget level and last year's priorities. it means delays in shipbuilding and repair. it reduces training opportunities, flying hours, and steaming days that forces more requirements on to the operational fleet which is already stretched thin after decades of worldwide deployment. secretary of defense james mattis said the longer the continuing resolution the greater the consequences for our force. funding the government is the basissic responsibility -- basic responsibility of government. it is something that i and the appropriations committee takes very seriously as we craft the bills, set priorities, and make difficult decisions on how to
11:55 am
spend taxpayers dollars. we must have time to debate and pass these bills in order to provide predictability to our military leaders and other agencies of government. we can do this by returning to regular order and passing the individual appropriations bills. i can't say it enough. we owe it to the service members, their families, and all americans. admittedly little rock is no the first place most people think of when you mention the navy. our state doesn't border an ocean, but now the state capital once again has a place on the high seas. this is a tremendous honor for the city of little rock and i know that the ship and its crew will make arkansas proud. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
11:56 am
quorum call:
11:57 am
quote
11:58 am
is. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: so, mr. president, the clock is ticking ever closer to the end of the year. we still need to fund the government by friday. we still need to lift the spending caps equally for defense and urgent domestic priorities like combating the opioid and we must shore up pensions for over a million americans many we still need to reauthorize chip and end the sabotage of our health care markets. we've had a partisan deal on a stabilization package for months now. it's a product that should have been easy to include in the end-year deal. after all, it's the product of bipartisan negotiations between
11:59 am
chairman alexander and ranking member murray, two of our most effective senators. but now because republicans are repealing the individual mandate in their tax bill, the alexander-murray bill won't have its intended effect. speaker ryan said that it won't pass the house unless hyde is attached to it. this is another last-minute thing. this is getting more difficult by the hour because of republican demands. we still need to pass disaster, supplemental funding to aid storm-stricken parts of our country, california, puerto rico, virgin islands, texas, louisiana, and florida. the disaster supplemental bill, while it has better funding levels, still does not treat puerto rico or the virgin islands fairly and does not
12:00 pm
provide for cost-sharing waivers and does not cover medicaid or drinking water infrastructure. it's a step in the right direction but not good enough and i reiterate my plea. texas and the texas delegation have constantly criticized funding -- government funding -- all of a sudden now that there's a disaster they want money. fine.
12:01 pm
these are people in our armed forces, working in our factoryings and offices and stores. they, like everybody else, like our ancestors want to be americans. they contribute to america, they help america. yet, there are people on the other side of the aisle who have this nasty immigration attitude that affects the dreamers and everybody else. it's so un-american. it's so against the statute with the torch in the harbor in the city in which live. it's so against what the american people believe. 80% want to help the dreamers. and yet we're stymied so far. 1,000 dreamers are losing their status each week. so on all of these things the time to act is now.
12:02 pm
we will strive to reach a deal as soon as humanly possible. mr. president, if we are not able to reach a global deal by this friday on these many issues, there will be a temptation to do a short-term funding bill with some of these items, but not others. that won't work. we should do all of these things together instead of a piecemeal week by week fashion. our republican friends cannot pick and choose what they want and do what they did on the tax bill and health care bill and say, democrats, you're not welcome to be part of the deal. this one ain't under reconciliation and we rant to work in a -- and we want to work in a bipartisan way, and it
12:03 pm
means just that, not republicans decide on their own and tell us that we should just be for it. the best way to get a good bipartisan result, which by the senate rules is necessary for spending bills, is for us to work together. finally, i'll have further comments on the tax bill that i'll deliver on the senate floor after the conference report late tonight but i just want to say this bill will be an anchor around the ankles of every republican. it's -- it so helps the wealthy and powerful corporations. it does so little and even hurts many in the middle class. it's a loser. cnn new poll, majority of americans against the tax bill. when did you ever hear americans are against a tax cut bill? you're h hearing it now. it's because our republican friends are listening to the
12:04 pm
1,000 greedy multibillionaires who want their taxes cut even though they're doing great, and don't want to share those benefits with the middle class, even making millions of middle-class people pay more. republicans will rue the day that they pass this tax bill. rue the day because it's so unfair to the middle class. it so blows a hole in our deficit. it so threatens social security, medicare and medicaid. they will rue the day. finally, mr. president, on the mueller investigation, we have a lot of business to get to this week, but because the topic is so important i'd like to address the investigation of special counsel mueller into russian interference in our elections and the potential involvement of the trump campaign. over the past several months the investigation and the f.b.i. have been the target of a smear campaign by republicans and the media primarily, in a media
12:05 pm
outlet hardly regarded as down the middle, a media outlet that seems to say how high when president trump seems to jump. but now it's been joined, quite naturally, by several republicans here in congress. their intent is not to push back on the findings of the special counsel or introduce exculpatory evidence on behalf of manafort, papadopoulos or flynn who have been indicted or convicted. their intent is not to make an argument about the substance of the investigation at all. their ?int -- intent is to discredit the investigation and investigators by painting it as partisan. that way whatever findings at the end of the day, they've created a permission structure to dismiss them. when you're afraid of the result, you attack the process. when you're afraid of the message, you shoot the
12:06 pm
messenger. that's what's happening right now with escalating rhetoric and the right-wing echo media chambers. fox news commentators have actually called mr. mueller's investigation a coup, an outrageous charge repeated by a republican congressman on the floor of the house. that's how overblown this rhetoric has gotten. mr. mueller is one of the most trusted and respected public servants in america. he's served administrations of both parties and was first appointed by a republican, was installed as a special counsel by president trump's pick for deputy attorney general, republican roz rosen stein. he's -- as everyone in america knows he's as straight a shooter as he comes. impugning his motives and calling his investigation a witch hunt or coup is frankly hysterical. there is not a shred of ed to
12:07 pm
back them up. if any of these critics had evidence they would pursue their claims in court. of course there is no evidence so instead they wage a warped campaign in the press fueled by after avalanche of donald trump up allegations -- avalanche of trumped up allegations. we have to get to the bottom of what happened in last year's election, no matter who, who ends up on the short end of the stick when those results are announced. how was russia able to wage a successful information campaign to influence our election? to what extent were any members of trump president's campaign coordinating with that foreign attack on our democracy for political benefit? these are vital questions that every american should know. it's an outright disgrace that our republican colleagues haven't joined in in asking for this, so many of them, being as partisan as could be, putting their party over
12:08 pm
country. because if russia continues in these types of investigations, woe is america. woe is america. rather than this concerted campaign to sully the investigation and the f.b.i., president trump and his allies should be encouraging them to do their job, to do it right, do it thoroughly. the stakes are too high. the topic too serious. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of state, jennifer jillian newstead of new york to be legal advisor. mr. schumer: i ask for the yeas and nays and yield back all time. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. all time is yielded back. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be.
12:09 pm
the clerk will call the roll. vote:
12:10 pm
12:11 pm
12:12 pm
12:13 pm
12:14 pm
12:15 pm
vote:
12:16 pm
12:17 pm
12:18 pm
12:19 pm
12:20 pm
12:21 pm
12:22 pm
12:23 pm
12:24 pm
12:25 pm
12:26 pm
12:27 pm
12:28 pm
12:29 pm
12:30 pm
vote:
12:31 pm
12:32 pm
12:33 pm
12:34 pm
12:35 pm
12:36 pm
12:37 pm
12:38 pm
12:39 pm
12:40 pm
12:41 pm
12:42 pm
12:43 pm
12:44 pm
vote:
12:45 pm
12:46 pm
12:47 pm
12:48 pm
12:49 pm
vote: the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 88. the nays are 11. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table. and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. mr. nelson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask consent to speak as if in morning business up to five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, there are many reasons to vote
12:50 pm
against the tax bill. a new one has come to light in examining this 1,100 pages, and that is with regard to puerto rico and what it does to puerto rico. now it ought to be enough that $1.5 trillion are borrowed in order to finance a huge tax cut for multinational corporations with incentives to send american jobs overseas. that ought to be enough. and it ought to be enough that compared to that, they're just crumbs for the hardworking middle-class, hardworking families. but there's more. in this tax bill, indeed c.b.o. has said 13 million people will
12:51 pm
lose health insurance as a result of something that was done to the affordable care act. now if all of that were not enough, but if you care about the people on the island of puerto rico that are reeling from two storms that hit them and of which a good part of the island still doesn't have electricity, still does not have potable water, and who already were in economic straits to begin with, and wanting to keep jobs in the island so that people don't have to flee, lo and behold, in the tax bill, what was given to american mainlanders, an increase in the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child, and making that refundable for low-income
12:52 pm
people up to $1,400 per child, that increase to help poor working families with children, that was not given to puerto rico. that doesn't make sense. and it's just another reason of why we should vote against the tax bill. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate previous order, the senate >> the senate this afternoon confirmed the presidents nominate to serve as legal advisor in the state department. if the house approves the gop
12:53 pm
tax reform bill today with expecting the senate to take it up this afternoon and we could have final passage boat on that much later today when they return live at 2:15 p.m. eastern on c-span2. as we've mentioned the house of debating the tax reform bill now and ahead of that debate house speaker paul ryan and house democratic leaders, democratic leader nancy pelosi separately briefed reporters. you can hear both of those starting with speaker ryan. >> [inaudible conversations] >> good morning, everyone. let me start by saying we're keeping all those impacted by the train derailment and pierce un

75 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on