tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN January 10, 2018 9:30am-11:31am EST
its entirety at c-span.org. and 2:30 eastern, the senators will vote on nomination of senator thomas to be a u.s. district judge for the western district of tennessee, a vote on that on limiting debate on another court nomination is expected later. live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the chaplain: let us pray. o god, our savior, help our s god, our savior, help our lawmakers to see eternity beyond time, remaining loyal to you lord, awaken in them a desire to represent your purposes in our world. give them grace o god to love and to be even pray for those
who would strive to hurt them. may nothing blind them to your truth as you lead them through the night of mortality to the light that never fades. lord, keep them calm in the quiet center of their lives so that they may find certainty in life's swirling stresses. and, lord, fill us all with your peace as we strive to understand others as we would wish to be understood. we pray in your holy 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. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., january 10, 2018. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i here by appoint the honorable rand paul, a senator from the commonwealth of kentucky, who will perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore.
morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, thomas lee robinson parker, of tennessee, to be united states district judge for the western district of tennessee.
the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i've been talking all week about the ways that our historic tax reform law has been helping middle-class families. it's been less than a month since congress passed and
the president signed the tax cuts and jobs act, but already more than one million americans are on track to receive special bonuses, permanent raises, and
other benefits. and their employers are attributing these changes directly to tax reform. 100,000 employees of american airlines are each receiving a $1,000 tax reform bonus. u.s. bank is raising its minimum wage to $15 and is also giving $1,000 bonuses to 60,000 employees. 29,000 employees of nationwide insurance are also receiving bonuses and 33,000 are getting an increase in their retirement match. these are just a few of the 100-plus companies that have already announced new benefits for american workers as a direct result of tax reform. and these are only the immediate benefits. mainstream economists agree in the months and years to come, the permanent changes we made to the way we tax businesses will
make our economy more vibrant and more competitive. that means greater investment and higher wages for american workers. of course, all of this is in addition to the direct effects the tax cuts themselves will soon have on family budget. the tax cuts and jobs act reduced income tax rates and significantly expanded key deductions. we took money out of washington and put it right in the pockets of middle-class americans. starting as early as february, the i.r.s. will withhold less from paychecks and workers will get to deposit more of their hard-earned money right into their own bank accounts. in 2018 alone for a typical family of four earning just over 7$0,000, the tax cuts and jobs act could mean a tax savings of more than $2,000. nearly every day new reports
come out on how this tax reform bill is helping americans. here is a subject relevant around many kitchen tables this winter, utility bills. utility companies are discussing plans to pass their savings on to customers. major power companies in illinois, maryland, and massachusetts are already proposing plans to give their customers tens of millions of dollars in relief by lowering the rates they charge for energy. and get this, according to cnbc, a south carolina electric and gas utility is planning to give a cash payment to 1,000 customers. more are following suit in montana, louisiana, and indiana. utility companies are working to see how households can benefit. in kentucky there are a number
of electric gas and water companies to make plans to cut rates for consumers. as any other -- as any mother or father who has to balance a checkbook, this is welcomed news to middle-class families. these deductions will be especially helpful to the most vulnerable in our society. according to data from the department of health and human services, utility eats up a significant part of household income for poor families. in silicon valley, a lower heating bill may go unnoticed, but for those who clean the office it will make a difference. so, mr. president, this is just another example of how the tax cuts and jobs act is rapidly proving to be a serious asset to poor rand middle-class families,
precisely the people whom my democratic friends in the house and senate would get nothing at all from this bill. it's been three weeks -- three weeks, lower utility bills, a million of special tax reform bonuses and pay raises, and this is only just the beginning. the republican majority in the house, a republican majority in the senate, and president trump listened to the facts and settled
the political spin. i'm proud we passed this historic bill and gave families across america the tax relief they waited decades to receive. mr. mcconnell: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk
mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now, mr. president, we have barely over a
week to negotiate a broad package of must-pass items, including an extension of government funding, a deal to lift the spending caps for both
defense and urgent domestic priorities, a health care package, disaster aid, and an agreement to protect the dreamers and provide additional border security. the path forward on some of these issues is very clear. there is significant bipartisan majorities that would vote to extend chip, the children's health insurance program, and community centers. there seems to be a growing consensus on something -- how we can pass the 702 phisa program. i'm also confident we can address a disaster package that addresses the needs of the territories, texas, california, the western states that have been plagued by fires, puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands as well as modifying what the forest service does. so they don't spend all their money simply protecting -- fighting forest fires and not do the job that they are intended to do which is prevent future forest fires by careful forestry
programs. and even where the path is murkier, mr. president, the outlines of a deal exist. if we don't lift the spending caps in short order, the sharp ax of sequestration will fall on the military side of the budget and on the domestic side of the budget. that's a scenario everyone wants to avoid. the majority leader continues to insist that we should raise the budget caps unequally, sparing our military but not critical domestic programs that create jobs and grow our economy and help the middle class. we democrats believe we must absolutely provide the resources our men and women overseas need to protect our country. we believe that strongly. but we also know that there are many important issues here at home. combating the opioid crisis, improving veterans health care, shoring up the pensions for millions of hardworking americans who are approaching retirement, dealing with rural development and rural broadband.
these items are all crucial to the middle class. the deadly scourge of opioid addiction has contributed to the first consecutive year decline in life expectancy in the great united states of america since the early 1960's. that's an astounding and alarming fact that should rouse everyone in this chamber to action. it's not occurring in most of our western country allies. some of our veterans have been waiting in line for health care to veterans hospitals for over a year. these men and women served our country bravely. we have a solemn responsibility to serve them when they come home and we're not living up to that responsibility right now. over a million americans paid into pension plans with the expectation they could retire with basic dignity. for so many of them, teamsters, miners, food workers, pensions have fallen short and a lifetime of careful savings may be ripped away from pensioners at the last
moment. now, we could make progress on each of these issues through a budget that lifts the spending caps equally for defense and nondefense. the republican majority which conveniently forgot its long history of opposing deficits when passing a $1.5 trillion tax bill cannot in good conscience turn around and complain about deficits here. so let's make the investments we all know are essential in both our military and in our middle class. even on the most challenging issue we face, the fate of the dreamers, there appears to be a path forward. yesterday's immigration meeting at the white house was encouraging for two reasons. first, practically everyone at the table including some of the most conservative voices on immigration, like the senator from iowa, agreed that we must resolve the future of dreamers by passing daca protections into law. that's a very positive
development. and second, president trump appeared to endorse a narrow deal to protect the dreamers leaving the thornier issues for a debate on comprehensive immigration reform and the debate personally that i would welcome, the sooner the better. but first we have to do this narrow deal. president trump also backed off his demand that a daca deal include an expensive and ineffective border wall across the entire length of the southern border. of course, the devil lives in the details. but we democrats have repeated time and time again that we're ready, willing and eager to support effective practical border security measures in a deal that enshrines daca into law. the president yesterday seemed to agree with that. we agree with that. for these reasons the meeting was encouraging. now, last night a federal judge ruled against the trump administration's handling of the termination of the daca program.
let me be very clear. the ruling last night in no way diminishes the urgency of resolving the daca issue. on this we agree with the white house who says the ruling doesn't do anything to reduce congress' obligation to address this problem now. a court case, of course, is no guarantee of lasting security. a higher court can quickly overturn it. unsurprisingly the department of justice responded to the ruling last night by saying that it, quote, will continue to vigorously defend their position and looks forward to vindicating its position in further legislation. so the fact remains. the only way to guarantee the legal status for dreamers is to pass daca protections into law and do it now. for that reason, a resolution to the daca issue must be part of a global deal on the budget. we cannot wait.
we cannot tolerate delay. delay is a tactic employed by those who do not wish to see a deal. let me just say promises that may be in the future will do it, particularly on immigration have vanished by the wayside. unless daca is on a must-pass deal, a must-pass bill, terms of a global agreement, people are rightfully skeptical that it will ever happen. somehow, some where, someone will say i can't do it. and let's not forget the house has been a graveyard, even for immigration proposals that have had bipartisan consensus here in the senate. so it must be on a must-pass bill. otherwise we're not going to get it. congressional negotiators and the valiant group here in the senate led by senators durbin and graham are focused on this
issue right now. the meeting they had yesterday, i talked to both senator durbin and graham last night and this morning, are a clearer picture of the parameters of the deal. the iron is hot. we should strike now. delay will snuff out the hope of getting an agreement both sides can agree with. let us press forward. each side will have to give. i'm confident that both sides can come to an agreement on border security. i'm convinced both sides want to find a consensus on daca. some will support a deal enthusiastically, other reluctantly, but nonetheless an agreement is in reach and we ought to get it done through the senate, through the house, and on to the president's desk. so let's get the job done.
mr. president, i yield the floor.
mr. merkley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, here we are at the start of a new year. last year the republican majority decided to dedicate the year to government by and for the powerful and the privileged. but how about this year in 2018? we pay attention to our constitution, which starts with that vision of the government not for the powerful, not for the rich, not for the privileged, not for the well connected, not for the wealthy, but for the people of the united states. a vision which power is distributed, power comes up from each individual citizen to
create policies for the general welfare. last year we saw this complete dedication to trying to wipe out health care for 20 million to 30 million americans in order to provide tax benefits for the richest. and how big were those tax benefits? well, if you add up the provisions that are dedicated to the powerful corporations and those benefits for the wealthiest 10%, and most of that goes to the wealthiest 1%, those provisions stack up to over $2 trillion -- $2 trillion. it's very hard to get your hands around $2 trillion. those are not numbers we use in ordinary conversation, but let's take that down to the amount of money per man, woman, and child,
per citizen -- per citizen in america. well, that's about $6,000 -- $6,000 taken from the community funds for every man, woman, and child in america to deliver to the wealthiest americans. that was government by the republican majority in 2017. not we the people but we the powerful and we the privileged. how about we have a new year's resolution to pay attention to the vision of our constitution, to that vision of government of, by, and for the people? ben franklin once wrote in poor richard's almanac, be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. every new year a chance to recreate and reenvision where we are headed. and, certainly, it is a big vice to use this chamber in the
convention of our constitution to pursue policies for the powerful and privileged rather than for the people. so let's set that vice aside, a bipartisan year dedicated to make a foundation so families can thrive, for jobs, health care, and a healthiers planet. -- health care, and a healthier planet. right now we should have a new year's checklist of things to get done, and that checklist starts with the budget. we have just nine days until funding runs out for the federal government, and we all know from experience what that means. parks shut down and medical research stops and passports don't get processed, and businesses can't check in on their i-9 applications for their
employees. that's the type of conduct that happens in banana republics, basically in countries that don't have a competent system of governance. it should not happen in the united states of america, but here we are deep into the financial year, which started on october 1. october passed, november passed, december passed. we're well into january and still the majority leadership of this body is unable to put together a process that addresses just key, fundamental issues. why is that? because they were so distracted by delivering trillions of dollars to the richest americans and trying to destroy health care for millions of americans, that they didn't tend to the fundamentals that needed to be tended to. so let's take care of those things now.
the children's health insurance program. here we are, it expired on september 30 of last year. nine million children across america depend on this insurance. this insurance was crafted in bipartisanship. it was forged in an agreement between senator hatch, republican, senator kennedy, a democrat, who had very different visions of america but who could agree that families who didn't qualify for medicaid but weren't affluent enough to buy insurance for their children should still have insurance for their children. these are the working poor of america, the struggling workers of america. as forged in -- it was forged in bipartisanship, but this year my republican colleagues decided to make these children a bargaining chip for their effort to get
more for the privileged and the powerful. that has to end. when children do not have insurance, they don't get that dental visit to take care of those cavities, they don't get that medical exam, they don't get those vaccinations, they don't get treatment when they are injured because their parents can't afford to take them to the doctor. they don't get treatment when they are sick for the same reason. let's take care of children's hng. isn't -- health care. this is not a partisan issue. it was forged in bipartisanship, and it should be so today. also expiring on september 30 of last year was the legislation authorizing support for our community health clinics. now, community health clinics are the front door to health care for millions of americans. it's that friendly place in your rural community, your urban
neighborhood, you can go through the front door and get assistance. talking about millions of americans who go through those front doors. more than 1,400 clinics across the country. these are popular in rural areas. they are popular in urban areas. they are popular in red states. they are popular in blue states. nothing partisan about it, but the leadership of this body has seen no interest, no urgency in reauthorizing those health centers to stay open. in oregon we saw, as a result of the affordable care act, 30 more health clinics established. we saw more resources go into both mental illness an drug a -- and drug abuse. during a period in which the opioid crisis joined the meth crisis in affecting both rural
and urban areas. lots of folks come to this floor and say, we've got to take on opioids. not just on the lef-hand -- left-hand side of the aisle, but on the right-hand side of the aisle. yet, the republican leadership says this isn't important. well, let me tell you it is important and we need to get it done. and then let's turn to the dream act. dreamers are those children raised in our communities, now 16 through their mid-20's, productive them ins of our communities -- members of our communities. they are in college, working, contributing. they know no other country than ours. and across both sides of the aisle we hear people say we want to take care and have a legal
structure for the dreamers. the president yesterday hosted a bipartisan conversation at the white house saying let's get this done. he expressed support. in fact, everyone in the room expressed support for getting this done. so each one of these, the budget and children's health care and health centers, dream act, these are bipartisan efforts. these are things that should have been long ago addressed if my republican colleagues weren't so on s.ed with -- on s.ed with -- opsse ed about delivering benefits to the wealthiest americans. let's get this done for our dreamers. more than 100 a day are losing their status, which means they can no longer legally work in our country. it matters. it's urgent.
it's productive for our communities. it's bipartisan. let's get it done. how disaster relief? well, we certainly saw a powerful punch against our states from the raging forest fires in the west to the hurricanes in the south and east, hitting -- hurricane also that hit texas and florida and puerto rico, and the virgin islands, fires that scorched states from washington, california, and oregon, fires that burned into the winter months of november and december. so these afflictions hit democrats and republicans, red states and blue states. why don't we get this done? this is a basic, bipartisan, let's get it done agenda and
let's get it done now. let's make sure when we're addressing the impact of those storms in the south, those hurricanes, harvey and irma and maria, we simultaneously recognize the destructive impact that forest fires have done to the west. they have affected a lot of communities that need economic help recovering, and certainly it made us recognize that we have millions of acres of forests that can become much more fire resilient if they are thinned and we get rid of the fuel buildup on the floor of the forest. and when they become more resilient, they stop these forest fires. now, thinning is a win-win. it gives a steady supply of saw logs to the mill and stops
forest fires when they are raging. there was a forest fire in oregon and it hit an area that had been thinned. and guess what. it stopped. the trees were farther apart, the fuels were removed from the floor of the forest many we created a real fire hazard with our clear-cut strategy of years past. the fortry grows close together, often replanted, the trees are all the same height, it's easy for the fire to get into the canopy, and once the fire gets in the canopy, there is no break. a natural forest is a way to resist the fires. we can create the supply of saw logs, keep our people working, strengthen our economies in rural america, and we can do it
by funding this reduction, these thinning programs in acreage that already gone through the environmental process. in oregon you have 1.6 million acres already approved for thinning. if we can pass the funds to get it done. so let's take this on in 2018. let's dedicate 2018 to that vision in our constitution of we the people. let's stop passing legislation targeted specifically to help out the richest at the expense of everyone else in america. let's turn over a new leaf from campaigns and policies and legislation by and for the privileged and the powerful to honoring the vision of our constitution, the vision of our nation, a nation of laws with distributed power, power that produces policies by and for the people of the united states of america, for making families
stronger, for building those foundations of jobs and health care and education and a healthy planet. thank you, mr. president. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i admit i wasn't here during the entirety of the comments from our friend, and i saw his to-do list. the only thing missing from that to-do list was to fund our military, or at least i didn't see it on there. maybe in all fairness he
mentioned that in his comments, but we now have nine days to reach an agreement to keep the government funded, to keep the lights on, to keep paying the salary of our government employees and of course to fund our military, which ought to be our number one priority. you know, if you think about things that government must do, funding our national defense is the only thing that we can do and the government can do. there's a lot of other things the government does that is optional or maybe things you would like to do, but funding our military is the number one priority, or should be. as the senate majority leader mentioned earlier this week, our democratic colleagues persist in the notion that we should only increase defense spending if we increase nondefense spending by the same amount. the parity that the minority leader and the other democrats
call for doesn't make any sense, though. it's apples and oranges. they act as though all government spending is exactly alike and enjoys or should enjoy the same priority, and that's just not true. we know that from our own family budgets or from a small business. there are things that you must do, things you want to do, and things that you will do if there's money left over, but our friends across the aisle who are obstructing our ability to get to negotiate the -- negotiated budget caps and fund our military act as if that is all the same. must do and what you will do if you have money left over, that those are all exactly the same, it's just not the case. it's not the case in our family budgets, small business budget, nor is it the case for the federal budget. not everything is a priority,
but we do know the number one priority must be the safety and security of the american people by making sure our military is adequately funded. the budget control act signed into law in 2011 was what i would call a necessary evil. what it did is we said that we would have a negotiation, a bipartisan, bicameral negotiation and try to come up with a grand bargain. that is what president obama liked to talk about a lot, the grand bargain. but some people suggested that was kind of like a unicorn, something that people describe but nobody has ever seen, the grand bargain. i wish it weren't true. but the budget control act said in the absence of a grand bargain, we would have budget caps or sequestration imposed on discretionary spending above certain levels. it imposed separate budget caps for defense and nondefense, and
if the budget caps were exceeded, there is an automatic enforcement mechanism called sequestration which imposes across-the-board cuts, which i mentioned a moment ago. now, the purpose of this sequestration of these across-the-board cuts is to do something in the absence of us doing what we should do. in other words, we should take it upon ourselves to figure out what the appropriate spending levels should be for defense and nondefense, and then we should act to appropriate that money. but what this does is it basically is a fail-safe mechanism which operates as a result of our failure to deal with this in a proactive way, and it's hit our defense spending much, much harder than domestic spending, and as we know, neither our defense spending nor tax cuts are the cause of our deficits and debt.
it's the 70% of spending that happens in the federal government on auto pilot. it's the entitlements that have been going up well in excess of 5% a year and are causing instability and unpredictability in those important programs like medicare and social security, but at the same time racking up huge deficits and debt which future generations are going to have to pay back. somebody's going to have to pay it back. and it won't be the present generation because we won't be around then. but it's simply immoral to continue to see this happen without trying to deal with it. but back on the matter of the pentagon, as one op-ed writer put it in "the washington post" last month, he said the pentagon and the welfare state have been locked in brutal combat for decades, and the pentagon has gotten clobbered. welfare programs, social security, medicare, food stamps,
and other benefits dwarf defense spending. in the 1950's and 1960's, defense spending was roughly 8% to 10% of our economy. in 2016, it was just 3%, and that's a huge change. james clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said in his 50 years in the intelligence community, he had never seen a more diverse array of threats confronting the united states around the world. never in 50 years of his experience. so we are simply asking our military and our national security personnel to do too much with too little. it's no surprise why secretary of defense james mattis said last june that for all the heartache caused by the loss of our troops during our wars abroad, no enemy in this field has done more to harm the
readiness of our military than sequestration. more recently, general mattis said that so far our continuing resolutions have not done even greater damage or have said that so far our continuing resolutions have not done greater damage to our readiness, thanks to certain additional or supplemental funding that we voted on, but at the same time he soberly cautioned that there could be real impact, and it won't be positive, it will be negative, if the problem persists. and the department of defense doesn't have a real budget sometime this month. his remarks echo that of practically every service chief. together, their views mean we have to act. i don't know who else we would listen to if we're not going to listen to the secretary of defense and our service chiefs when it comes to national security because that's their job, and we ought to take their
advice and heed their counsel. cuts in defense spending have real consequences. let's money is available for training and necessary maintenance, for example. the length of deployments for our troops grows and our soldiers are stretched thin. our military is forced to operate beyond its normal capabilities. the air force chief of staff, former air force chief of staff recently described the air force as the smallest, oldest equipped and least ready force across the full spectrum of operations in our service history. those are chilling remarks. or should be. more than half of all marine corps fixed and rotary wing aircraft were unable to fly by the end of 2016. well, i have no doubt we could turn that around very quickly if congress were to step up to its
responsibilities and adequately fund the military, but that's the status quo unless we act. the navy fleet currently stands at 275 of the 350-ship requirement of our 58 army brigade combat teams, only three, three out of 58 are ready for combat. our enemies shouldn't take any comfort in these numbers because, as i said, the united states always pulls together and congress always acts when they see a national emergency, but it shouldn't take an emergency for us to do our job and to make sure that our military is adequately funded and is ready to fight. general brooks in seoul, south korea, said their motto is ready to fight tonight, and that's the kind of world we live in.
last summer was the perfect example of why when we draw attention to these numbers we're not just blowing smoke. operational accidents in the south pacific exposed our readiness failures in a dramatic fashion and in a tragic fashion. ten sailors died when the u.s.s. john s. mccain collided with a 600-foot merchant vessel off the coast of singapore. seven sailors died when the fitzgerald collided with another vessel off the coaft -- coast of japan. and the u.s.s. lake champlain collided with a boat off of korea, although thankfully that time no lives were lost. this ought to be a wake-up call to all of us. and many have drawn correlations, credible correlations between these incidents, these accidents that have taken the lives of our military service members, have drawn credible correlation between these accidents and our
readiness failures, citing studies like the 2015 independent investigation by the government accountability office. that study determined that the navy's mandate to keep ships afloat in the pacific was shortchanging crew training and degrading the condition on our ships. in other words, additional readiness failures. these accidents, by the way, are happening at the same time our national security threats are not going away, as general clapper's comments would indicate. we see north korea continue to improve its nuclear and long-range ballistic missile capabilities beyond the estimates of our intelligence community much faster and detonate what is widely considered to be a hydrogen bomb recently. we have seen large-scale protests in iran, and i hope
they continue, exposing the instability of a regime that continues to use its proxies to advance its aims throughout the broader middle east. in other words, the number one state sponsor of international terrorism, iran. we should to encourage the people of iran to continue rising up in protest and to change the regime there to one that does not prey on its neighbors in the region. and we have seen it grow in china, something that more and more people are realizing is a threat. i know when we deal with countries like china, frequently we deal with them in the commercial context where we see a business that hires people, we see investments here in the united states, but what we need to recognize is they don't do business the way the united states does business. sitting at the top of every company in china in the board
room of every chinese company is the communist party. they operate on an all of government basis, and it's not just the government. it's also the -- what we would consider the private sector, but there is no private sector in truth in china. it's all an arm of the government. and it's posing a rising threat to american wages and laborers. they erode our industrial base by stealing our technology, because of loopholes in the committee on foreign investment in the u.s., the so-called siphius process, they are now able to taylor ventures in a way to capture our dual purpose cutting edge technology and then to copy it in china and erode our defense industrial base here in the united states, along with the jobs that go with it.
so it's a very real and present threat to american wages and workers. it's a threat to our intellectual property edge and the innovation that we are the best in the world at. but they're all too eager to steal it and to copy it and to harm the jobs and the investment in those businesses here in the united states. and, of course, when it comes to china, there's the threat to human rights and nondemocratic nations like venezuela and zimbabwe which china has no qualms in supporting. so with this diverse array of dangers, we simply can't afford to straitjacket our military by arbitrarily cutting the amount of money we appropriate to fund it. but that's what's going to happen unless we act and act quickly. the current continuing resolution expires on the 19th
of this month. and the truth is, even if we're able to come up with a negotiated budget caps for defense and nondefense spending, we're probably going to have to have a short-term continuing resolution to give the appropriations committees time to put that into bill text. in other words, we can't just snap our fingers once the decision has been made. it's going to take some time to actually put it on paper. but the bottom line is, if we want to return to having the strong military that we've always had, if we want to continue to lead in the world, if we want to continue to be a force for peace and stability, we have to maintain our military strength. that was a lesson we had to learn again during the last administration when we saw america retreat from its leadership in the world. there are countries and tyrants and bullies and dictators all too willing to fill that void
left by american retreat. and one way we retreat is when we don't fund the readiness of our military, when we're not ready to fight tonight, as general brooks has said. and we need to start with ending this cycle of continuing resolutions and defense sequestration. so i come to the floor today to call on my colleagues from all across this chamber but specifically across the aisle to quit holding our military hostage to other unrelated demands. and i urge this body to come together in an agreement on new budget caps as soon as possible. mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: