Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 24, 2018 9:59am-11:59am EST

9:59 am
going to make up for the fact we're talking hundreds of billions of dollars worth of cuts and i also ask unanimous consent, mr. chairman, that we put into the record, documents from pew trust and global data that suggests the answer to senator mccaskill with respect to advertising and r & d was incorrect. in 2013 according to these, 5.7 billion dollars on sales and marketing, and 5.5 billion dollars on r & d and he says that these budgets were not remotely close to each other so i would-- >> i'd--ut objeion. let me now. >> mr. chairman, i would clarif the senator's question was the advertising budget, which was direct to consumer and there's no way that was remotely close to $5 billion. >> you can see the rest of the confirmation so health and
10:00 am
human services secretary on and you can see the vote for mr. azar at 2:15 eastern. 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. our father, the center of our joy, we thank you that you are in the midst of life's battles
10:01 am
with us, bringing good even from the abnormalities of our pilgrimage. lord, we are grateful that throh the struggles and tear you stand thin the shadows, keeping watch over your people. lord, even though our lawmakers may not know how all the pieces fit together, we are grateful that they can still strive with grateful hearts to do your will. may they remember your command in 1 thessalonians 5:18; "in everything give thanks for this is god's will for your life." we pray in your great name. amen.
10:02 am
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
mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday morning senseless violence struck the community of benton in western kentucky. a shooting at marshall county high school has claimed two lives, left more than a dozen injured and thursday an entire -- thrust an entire community into grief. this is a parent's worst nightmare. school should be a haven where students and teachers can work without fear of violence. elaine and i send our thoughts and prayers to them.
10:04 am
there were 20 prayer vigils and services across the region. though few can understand their grief, an entire nation stands in solidarity at tir side. now, mr. president, on an entirely different matter. yesterday the senate took another important step in confirming president trump's qualified nominees. in strong bipartisan fashion we confirmed jerome powell to serve as chairman of the reserve by a vote of 84-13. he is a fine choice to lead the federal reserve system. he has received accolades from across the political spectrum. he joined the board of governors of the federal reserve in 2012 and he's demonstrated an expert grasp of monetary policy and a
10:05 am
commitment to improve the fed's accountability to the public. i look forward to his service in this new position. the position of fed chairman is integral to the health of the u.s. economy. washington must empower the american people to create prosperity through sound policy that gets the government out of the way of workers and job creators. jay powell is up to the task. i was proud to confirm him yesterday. the senate advanced the nomination of another highly call fied nomee, alex -- qualified nominee, alex azar. mr. azar discussed his intention to confront head-on the opioid crisis that is hurting so many families across the country, including in my home state of kentucky. he made clear that he will place
10:06 am
an important priority on education and enforcement to halt the advance of the scourge. but he recognizes that we need effective, compassionate treatment options for those seeking recovery. for all americans he will work to expand access to high-quality affordable health care options. his distinguished record including prior h.h.s. service and private sector work shows he is the right man for the job. it is vital that this department be headed by a leader with mr. azar's reputation. he will oversee $1.13 trillion in department depending, supervising critical research and administering and reforming programs that touch millions of american lives, such as medicare and medicaid. i look forward to voting soon in support of his confirmation.
10:07 am
now, o the rising tide of economic optimism i've been high lighting on the floor is not showing any signs of subsiding. yesterday alone three of the largest companies announced investments in the economy and work force. it is due to the tax reform overhaul congress passed last year. first, verizon announced plans to invest a chunk of its tax reform savings right back into its employees. next month about 155,000 verizon workers, including senior management will receive stock bonuses valued around $2,500. additional savings will go to expanded philanthropy and infrastructure investments here in america.
10:08 am
the walt disney company announced a new investment of $175 million in its u.s. workforce. over 125,000 employees will receive cash bonuses and disney will invest $50 million in an employee program to help employees to access higher education and vocational training. jp morgan chase announced a five-year comprehensive instment pla to support economic growth and american workers. that plan includes permanent raises for 22,000 employees, hundreds of new bank branches across the country, thousands of new jobs, expanded philanthropy and an increase in loans for affordable housing and small business development. and just this morning starbucks announced it is permanently raising pay and and one-time
10:09 am
stock bonuses. this major investment will affect 150,000 employees. so, mr. president, the good news about tax reform and its benefits is rolling in almost faster than i can keep up with it. in retrospect the surprise here is not that the tax reform boasted the economy -- boo ted the economy -- boasted the economy, the real surprise is that there are those who didn't see it coming. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of theollong minati which t clerk will
10:10 am
report. the clerk: nomination, department o health and human services, alex michael azar ii to be secretary. mr. durbin: we have 14 kays -- days to do something about the dreamers issue, about daca. why do we find ourselves at this place? because on september 5 of last year, president obama -- president trump, as well as attorney general sessions, announced the end of the daca protection program as of march 5 this year. 780,000 young people who were undocumented in the united states but came here as children were given a chance by president obama to stay legally, be able to work locally, and not fear deportation. 780,000 of them. for the most part, they are students and workers who are a vital part of the community and they've done good things in
10:11 am
their lives and promise to do even more. but the decision was made by president trump to put an end to this program. when he made that decision, he also challenged congress. he said, if we're going to end this executive order, do something. pass a law. well, here we are just about at the fifth month of the six-month period that he gave us to do our work and nothing has happened. some of us have been working on this issue trying to address i on a bipartisan basis hoping in this republican-controlled congress will help to solve the problem which the president presented. i worked with five of my colleagues, three democrats, three republicans together, to craft a bill which we believe addresses the issue in a fair way. compromise was included in that bill, some that i didn't like at all, but that's the nature of a compromise and bipartisanship. we presented this bill to our
10:12 am
colleagues and we also attended a meeting on january 9, most of us, with president trump where he addressed this issue. here it was four months after he gave us the challenge and he said it is time to get this done. he said this and this was televiced -- televised. he said to us, send me a bill and i will sign it. i will take the political heat on this issue. and then the republican leader on the house side, kevin mccarthy, said it should include the following four elements, first daca and the dreamers, second, border security, third, family reunification issues, and, finally, the visa lottery system, diversity system that we established years ago. that's when i sat down with my
10:13 am
colleagues, democrats and plugs, our little gang, we have to get this done. the president challenged us and he said he's prepared to move forward if we come up with a response. and we did, we came up with an agreement. we presented it to the president through senator lindsey graham of south carolina, a republican, on january 11. he rejected it. so, as of today, we really don't have a bill before us, and woe are starting anew with a conversation about what to do to meet the president's challenge and more important to say to the 780,000 young people, this is what your future will be. we had our ups and downs, a rocky weekend. just a few days ago relative to funding the government and whether we were going to take this issue up, i thought it ended on a positive note whe
10:14 am
senator mcconnell came to the floor and made an express promis to this chamber and members on both sides of the aisle. i will try to characterize it and i think it is accurate. check the record if you don't think i say it quite right. but he said, if we have not reached an agreement on this issue by february 8, at that point we will open a process on the floor of the united states senate with what he characterized as a level playing field and aopen amendment -- an open amendment process. that, to me, is an opportunity, but i hope we can avoid that opportunity and reach an agreement as he asked us to by february 8. we have 14 days left. i would like to involve the house in this conversation, so we might reach a common agreement, but unfortunately they are on recess this week and those of us sitting and talking about it don't have a chance to get together with them. however, i am heartened by the fact that a number of my
10:15 am
colleagues on the republican side of the aisle are going to join a number on the democratic side of the aisle this afternoon and start what we hope will be a productive process to reach a bipartisan agreement and do it in a timely way as suggested and challenged by senator mcconnell. now to achieve this goal, think we understand we have to be mindful of one another and the realities we face. there are a lot of issues relative to immigration. and there are important issues that should be considered. it is unrealistic to think that we are going to propose our even agree on a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill in 14 days. what we can do is to address the president's challenge dealing with daca and those daca-eligible so-called dreamers. what we can do is address border security in a realistic and honest way. i took a look this morning at some of the publications of the
10:16 am
department of homeland security to try to get an understanding of what our challenge it when it comes to undocumented in the united states. where do they come from? how do they come to this country and how do they stay in this country if they don't have legal authority to do so? it turns out that each year, for example, the department of homeland security tells us 50 million, 50 million visitors come to the united states from visa-waiver countries. those who are visiting from those countries have not gone through an application process to visit the united states. they carry a passport from a country that we have an understanding or agreement with, that we can travel back and forth. think about european countries, for example, that we travel extensively back and forth between the united states. out of those 50 million, about 1.5% end up staying longer than they're supposed to. we endp with hundreds of thousands of undocumented people
10:17 am
here by visa overstays. 40% of all those who are in this country undocumented came here by visa overstays. there is no wall that you can build on the border with mexico or canada that's going to solve that problem. this is a problem that really relies on technology, which we should be investing in, which we can invest in on a bipartisan basis. so if your true goal is the reduction of the undocumented in america and trying to make sure there is legal status for as many as possible and you're looking at the incremental growth each year, you wouldn't look to the border first. you would look to the visa overstays first. those are the ones who are slipping through the system who should be policed and monitored with new technology. we have talked about it for decades. it's time to do something about it, but also to concede, as i said, no wall is going to stop that problem. no wall is going to solve that problem. in addition to that, when i take
10:18 am
a look at the asylum issue, which i wouldn't say i'm amused but i would say i'm interested, is the one that's always raised by the department of homeland security. those who present themselves in the united states at the border or otherwise and suggest that they have aredibleear i returning to tir home country. it's interesting to look at the statistics because you find out that even though there may be this notion that they're primarily from mexico, they're not. they are primarily from countries in the northern triangle of central america, but there is a large contingent each year from china. so if we're talking about an asylum issue and not addressing all of the countries, the major suppliers of those seeking asylum in the united states, then we're not talking about it in honest terms. or in its entirety, as we should. and i might mention that china,
10:19 am
along with 22 other countries, does not even have an agreement with the united states in terms of deportation, according to the report of the department of homeland security. there's a lot we could do there to make sure that china and those countries comply with the united states when we say we're deporting someone from your country that we find to be a danger to us, and rather than incarcerate them here, you get to have them back. they're yours. they shouldn't be here in the first place. so when we talk about dealing with the issues of undocumented, the issues of security in this country, many of these are not going to be solved with a wall. they are going to be solved if we deal with technology and look in honest terms and count real numbers about those coming from different parts of the world. i also want to address this issue about unaccompanied children coming to our border. i understand that challenge. the numbers have risen dramatically in prior years, and we have to take it seriously.
10:20 am
i followed some of those children from the border to a protective gathering that they have in chicago at a place called heartland alliance, and i went in to meet them. i was shocked when i went into the cafeteria to see that some of these children were as young as 6 years of age. 6 years old, presenting themselves at the border of the united states. what circumstances could have led to that? it's possible it was a smuggler who either threatened or exploited a family and ended up with a child, pushed them across the border into the arms of one of our border patrol agents. that's possible. and that is something we should do everything we can to stop. that's an exploitation of that child. that child is likely to be abused in the process of this immigration. it's something that we ought to do everything we can to discourage. but to simply turn away children at the border is a dangerous thing. what are we going to do with that 6-year-old from honduras or
10:21 am
el salvador or guatemala? at the border when they establish through a written note or whatever that there's a credible fear for their returning to their country? do we ignore it? do we turn them backo their country regardless? we better be careful. awful things can happen. and what do we do with the 12-year-old, 13-year-old girl who is a victim of rape and sexual assault in one of those countries who was sent to the united states and our border because her parents believe she was about to be raped again or killed. do we turn her back and send her back and ignore the reality? i commend to my colleagues and others who follow this debate an article that was written in the new yorker last week by sara stillman, and it was entitled "when deportation becomes a death sentence." she followed the terrible support of a young woman who was
10:22 am
undocumented, who was stopped, who said over and over again if you send me back to mexico, that husband of mine is going to kill me. there has been protective orders issued. he's a dangerous man. she was sent back anyway, and she was killed. so these are complex situations, not easily answered with the common definition that anyone who presents themselves at the border and says credible fear is going to be turned away without any consideration about the merits of of that claim. we have got to be careful. human lives hang in the balance. our reputation as a caring, principled nation hangs in the balance as well. we need to do the right thing, top the exploitation where it occurs, but also be mindful and sense tiff of the fact that mant that many people who do present themselves seeking asylum are truly leaving desperate circumstances and trying to find a safe place for themselves and their family. so the conversation continues this afternoon on a bipartisan basis among the senators in the
10:23 am
united states senate to meet the president's challenge to accept that challenge and to come up with a bipartisan measure. i don't know the position of the president of the united states now. i couldn't express it after the experience we had a couple of weeks ago. i don't know where he stands. he has never issued anything by way of a suggested piece of legislation. we haven't heard from him. so we have to do our part. we have to meet our responsibility here in the senate, hope that the house does the same, and that sat some -- at some point the white house will join us in solving this problem which the president actually created on september 5 of last year. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will calm the roll. -- will call the roll. quorum call:
10:24 am
10:25 am
10:26 am
mr. rnyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i
10:27 am
would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, on monday, democrats relented after three long days and allowed the government to reopen. they agreed to pass a continuing resolution to reopen the government until february 8. i'm glad they finally decided to fund the children's health insurance program on which nine million vulnerable children rely, as well as fund our military and essential government entities that could not operate during the shutdown. but now we have got to work on other items that have been stalled and held hostage, too. the first is disaster aid which has been held up for months. the house of representatives has passed an $81 billion disaster relief bill back in december, but so far that package has gone nowhere here in the senate.
10:28 am
that's incredibly disappointing and exacerbates the hardships to the victims of hurricane irma and hurricane harvey, as well as the folks out west who have suffered extreme wildfires and floods and mudslides. they need to get access to that $81 billion of disaster relief funding that the house passed last december, but that, too, has been held hostage here in the united states senate. it's especially disappointing in my home state of texas. i just got off the phone talking to governor abbott who is perplexed, is the kindest word i can think of, why we would continue to delay disaster relief to the people who suffered as a result of hurricane harvey, but i'm sure governor scott in florida feels the same way. i'm sure governor brown out in
10:29 am
california feels the same way. i'm sure the governor of puerto rico and of the virgin islands feels the same way. what is wrong with congress? why can't they take up and pass an $81 billion disaster relief supplemental that the house sent the senate in december? well, last august, hurricane harvey devastated 28,000 square miles on the texas coast. it's been called the most extreme rain event in history, certainly the history of the united states. highways were flooded, thousands of homes were gutted. places like port arthur, beaumont, and houston have not returned to normal. routines were disrupted. shops and businesses remained closed. and houses are being renovated or rebuilt. but because of the size and the scope of the devastation, it's
10:30 am
hard to get building supplies and it's hard to get the workers to rebuild these damaged homes and businesses. in rockport, where i visited over thanksgiving, harvey made landfall with 150-mile-per-hour winds and 13-foot storm surge. as of the end of december, 284 families were reported to still lack permanent housing. some people were even living in tents. the rock port mayor said that 70% of businesses in rockport remain closed. 70%. according to the federal emergency management agency, a third of rock port is so badly damaged that it will be impossible to rebuild. think about that. think if this hit your hometown. a third of your hometown is so
10:31 am
badly damaged by a natural disaster that it will not be rebuilt and that0% of the businesses in your hometown are closed and haven't reopened. think of how you would feel. over in oasis county, meanwhile, which includes corpus christi and port arrest -- port aranzus, officials are frustrated because they haven't received the temporary housing assistance they need. although fema continues to marshal the full extent of its resources to help some people, for various reasons, many people are still living in motels and, as i said, even tents. completely unacceptable in the united states of america, especially while the house of representatives has acted to produce a disaster relief bill but it's been held up hostage
10:32 am
here in the united states senate. this isn't a democratic issue or a republican issue. this is something we all should be clamoring to solve, a problem we should be clamoring to solve, and not only clamoring, we should be acting to vote on that disaster relief today. stories like these are why we need to move additional disaster funds for dister relief without delay. it's not just texans, as i said. it's floridians, it's puerto ricanspeople who live in the virgin islands, and wildfire-ravaged parts of california as well. the senate has been dragging its feet long enough, and the longer we wait, the more people forget. i remember when the president and mrs. trump, along with the president's entire cabinet, came down to texas after hurricane
10:33 am
harvey. the speaker of the house, the majority leader of the house, leaders on both sides of the aisle came down to texas and said we want to help. and the house has. the house has passed an $81 billion disaster relief bill. but because of this unrelated immigration issue that shut down the government, this is another one of the hostages that needs to be released. june 1 is the beginning of hurricane season, and it's imperative that flood mitigation and storm surge protection projects begin without further delay. the support from harris county, the city of houston and members of the engineering community have identified the necessary projects, but we can't get
10:34 am
started until we pass a disaster relief supplemental similar to the one the house passed in december. i talked to mayor turner about that, the mayor of houston, texas, one of the largest cities in the united states. he's beside himself knowing that the house has passed this appropriation but that the senate doesn't seem anywhere near to taking it up. it's hard for me to explain to him why the senate has not acted but the simple fact is this disaster relief should not be held hostage any longer. amidst the disaster, i do want to mention one good piece of news on the hurricane front. i'm glad that fema has responded to members of congress who asked that they accept applications
10:35 am
for relief from nonprofits like houses of worship that were affected by hurricane harvey. this is a picture of one of the synagogues that i attended in the mireland community in houston, texas, which shows some of the devastation that the synagogue there experienced. an theabbi asked me, would you please go back to washington and see if on a nonsectarian basis whether you can get fema to expand its relief efforts to respond to houses of worship. many of which use their facilities or volunteer their facilities for community meetings and the like. so it's good to know that churches and synagogues and other houses of worship will be able to get that sort of relief. this is the united orthodox synagogue in, as i mentioned, in
10:36 am
houston that i visited after harvey where i saw this firsthand and was, as i said, had that discussion with the rabbi. the other issue we've got, have to address, mr. president, is budget caps. that's another issue that's been held hostage by this unrelated immigration issue known as daca, which everybody has heard so much about now. in conversations regarding the budget caps, these are the spending levels for this current fiscal year. you know, the fiscal year of the united states government lasts from october 1 to september 31. but we're already in, well into the fiscal year. we're in january. so we've already been on continuing resolutions because the spending caps have not been
10:37 am
agreed to, and we all know why by now, because our democratic colleagues refuse to agree to the spending caps so we can get a spending bill that funds the military and the rest of government until they get a solution for the daca issue. that's another hostage that's been taken. well, i'm really worried about its impact on our military because we already know our military is in dire straits when it comes to readiness. and they can't operate on a three-week continuing resolution which is the one we're on now. and even if the spending caps were agreed to today, it would take the appropriations committee a matter of additional weeks to come up with a bill we could vote on. so as a result of the shutdown,
10:38 am
the democratic leader, who said he voted against the four-week continuing resolution because he didn't like continuing resolutions, he's guaranteed us at least two more continuing resolutions, even if the spending daps were -- spending caps were agreed upon in the next few days. but this is a terrible way for the pentagon, for the people we depend upon to defend us and keep our country safe, this is an impossible situation for them to manage and to be as effective and be as efficient as we want them to be. the defense department has been operating under continuing resolutions for more than 36 months, since 2010. 36 months since 2010. by way of comparison, in the previous eight years, the military was funded that way for fewer than nine months. but the consequences are clear
10:39 am
and they're deadly. many of the misha*ps that have involved our naval vessels like the mccain and the fitzgerald are as the result of sailors spread thin, budgets spread thin, not enough training, not enough preparation for the challenges they face. and so thesemishapss occur and people die. the "wall street journal" reports only five of the brigade combat teams are prepared to fight. five out of 58 are prepared to fight. i don't think our adversaries
10:40 am
should take any comfort from that because i know americans well enough to know that if there were an imminent threat, we would rise to the occasion and make sure that all 58 of them would be prepared to fight. but right now 5 out of 58. the united states air force that provides the air power is short 2,000 pilots. our military dominance across the globe is never guaranteed, and we know there are many signs that our military dominance is eroding. you know, when american power erodes, when we retreat either for policy or fiscal reasons, there are other people more than happy to fill the void. when that happens, the world
10:41 am
becomes a more dangerous place. miscalculations occur and conflict breaks out. defense secretary jim mattis put the matter succinctly last year wh he sai for all of the heartache caused by the loss of troops during four wars, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military than sequestration. he might have said congress, because congress is responsible for sequestration. and unfortunately, general mattis is right. the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who so bravely serve our country deserve all of the political and financial support we can muster.
10:42 am
so we need to quit fooling ourselves into believing that our security won't be negatively impacted by our current funding approach. we need to quit dawdling and raise the defense spending caps without further delay. it's dangerous not to do so, and lives have been lost as a result of the lack of readiness caused by underfunding our military. yesterday when the senate democratic leader spoke, he said that common sense and bipartisanship won, and the government reopened. as conversations addressing spending caps and disaster relief continue, we need to make sure that those two things continue to prevail.
10:43 am
common sense and bipartisanship, particularly when it comes to funding our military and other critical government functions, to make sure that they are no longer held hostage to an unrelated immigration issue that we are working on as hard as we know how to do. and we understand the clock is ticking. and both political parties are demonstrating their good faith in working to solve that problem. so let's let these other hostages go. and finally, mr. president, on a different note, i want to extend my condolences to the men and women affected by the school shooting yesterday at a high school in benton, kentucky. two 15-year-old students were killed and more than 18 more were injured. sadly, my state is no stranger to these kinds of tragedies.
10:44 am
there was a shooting in italy, texas, outside dallas on monday. d of coue last fall everybody remembers the shooting at the first baptist church at southerland springs with 26 people were killed and 20 more were injured. each time these events happen, i fear that we become more desensitized to these terrible tragedies and when we are desensitized, we are paralyzed. but we must not be desensitized and we must not be paralyzed. we must work together to do everything we can to meet this challenge. so it's important for us to work together to find common ground that will improve public safety by targeting criminals who
10:45 am
perpetrate acts of mass violence, people who have been convicted of domestic violence, felons, people who have been adjudicated mentally ill. all of them are disqualified from purchasing firearms, and when they lie to the federally licensed firearm dealer who runs the background check, unless those items are reported to the f.b.i. and recorded on that background check, they can get away with a lie. like the shooter in sutdzerland springs -- southerland springs did. he had been in a mental institution, committed of domestic violence, assaulted his wife, and he was a convicted felon. there's no way in the world he
10:46 am
should have gotten access to a firearm except he lied about it and because the air force refused to do its duty and uplode the background -- upload the background check system, he got away with it. one way we can begin to address at least some of these horrific incidents is by bipartisan commonsense solutions, like the fix nics act. i'm beyond gratified to know that many of my colleagues, on the democratic and republican side, have come together to cosponsor this legislation. when it comes to guns in america, so much of your attitude is a product of where you were raised and how you were raised. in texas, most texans believe
10:47 am
strongly in the second amendment to the united states constitution. i do too. i believe in the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear firearms, but i also believe that the background check system needs to be fixed, and commonsense, bipartisan solution like the fix nics act needs to be addressed. i'm glad that the majority leader and the minority leader are cosponsors and we will take it up as soon as possible. when these terrible tragedies occur, like the one in kentucky, or the one in italy, texas, most recently, most people say we need to do something. well, we do need to do something, but specifically we need to fix the broken background check system and save lives in the process. i don't know how any of us could
10:48 am
go home and look into the faces of families who have lost loved ones because people have lied and debated the background check system because it doesn't work the way it should. i don't know how we can go home and look these families and families in the face and say we have ton our duty. -- we have de our duty. because until we pass this legislation, we will not have done our duty. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: well, the government funding bill that passed on monday left us, all of us, with three weeks to come to a resolution on legislation to protect the dreamers, at the same time we must be working on legislation to improve american health care. i see the senator from
10:49 am
washington state, who has been so vigilant in that area, a budget agreement that supports our military and our middle class, delivering long-awaited funds. we democrats will insist on these for opioid epidemic, veterans health care, pensions. we should feel urgency about all of these issues and many more that we can make happen. leader mcconnell's promise to take up immigration on february 8 should light a fire under everyone. the republican leader and republicans bear a special responsibility to make sure these votes happen. and all of those out in the country who want it make sure that the dreamers get treated fairly should be focusing their attention on getting 60 votes on a resolution that is fair to the dreamers. the clock is ticking. if we don't solve this problem in 14 days, the rublins to haveo dreamers what their plan is to
10:50 am
prevent them from being deported. and when those horrible pictures of deportation occur, god forbid that they do, but if they do, it will clearly be on the delay, the obfuscation and the lack of humanity that too many of our republican colleagues are showing in this regard. every democrat, all 49 of us, support daca. many of my republican colleagues do as well. we certainly can find a bill that gets 60 votes here in the senate, and that's where our focus is. i had a very good meeting with the hispanic groups yesterday. we all agreed -- some of us have disagreements about what happened a few days before, but it was an amiable and fine meeting and we all agreed that we would focus on getting the 60
10:51 am
votes. i hope people throughout the country of all political persuasion, business, labor, will join us like a laser in appealing to, imploring more republican senators to join us so that we get 60 votes on a fair daca bill. we didn't let those who are anti-immigrant, who call giving the dreamers hope, amnesty, block us. because we will fail and it will be those on the other side of the aisle that will have made that happen. overred weekend, and i'm glad about this, a bipartisan group of senators from both parties came together in an inspiring way. their efforts led to an agreement between the majority leader and me to have a guarantee that we will have
10:52 am
talks. let me say that the same energy and the spirit that the bipartisan group forged into a bipartisan agreement this weekend ought to be committed to a bill on daca that will pass this body with 60 votes. i support the bipartisan group. in fact, as some of our members here on the democratic side have plans for it, i encourage them to join it and form it. i've had very good conversations with both leaders, senator manchin, democrat, senator collins, the republican. what they are doing is very, very good forhe body. speaking asemratic leader, i coag theinds of groups to come forward. i remember the old senate. i remember that individual senators were involved in negotiating very important and very difficult issues and it made the senate a better place. it made the members feel more fulfilled and it made our
10:53 am
ability to get things done much, much more likely. our task is different from the task last week. the senate must find consensus. for that reason, we need to start from a new place. my negotiations with the president shouldn't dictate talks here on the hill. that was then, this is now. what happened, it was a hope that last friday the president would have reached out and supported something that he wanted to get something that we wanted and he proclaimed to want too. it didn't happen. so now the group has to start from -- in a new way with no preconceptions and come together and find a bill that can garner 60 votes. that's a job for these senators
10:54 am
who came together so well in the last few days, protecting the dreamers is our moral the senates now in the spotlight. the eyes of t american people, who overwhelmingly sympathize with the dreamers -- 90%, a majority of republicans believe in these dreamers. they don't call for amnesty. these people have worked hard. they've been trying so hard to be americans. they came across the border when they were little and now they are in our armed forces. they are in our factories, they are in our schools, they are in our offices. to say allowing them to become americans is amnesty is nasty. protecting the dreamers, again, is our moral obligation. the senate is in the spotlight. the ayes of the american people who sympathize with the
10:55 am
dreamers, a vast majority of republicans as well as democrats, sympathize with dreamers, and all of their eyes are on us. we need to get the job done. finally, a word on the republican tax bill. republicans promised that the massive corporate tax cut they passed would unleash unprecedented economic growth, raise wages and boost jobs. we have evidence that big corporations are not turning their new tax cut into jobs for the middle class. there's a lot -- there was a lot hoopla when at&t said they would have bonuses. you know what they did at the same time? they announced plans to fire thousands of workers starting early this year despite the tax cut. macy's announced it would cut 5,000 jobs despite the tax cut. kimberly clark plans to cut 10,000 jobs and close plants
10:56 am
saying that the tax bill gave them flexibility to do this. care yes a company the -- carrier continues to bleed jobs. they are a met for. -- metaphor. the condition of the american worker is not getting better. meanwhile, what are most companies doing, so many of them, with these massive tax breaks they got? they are announcing stock buybacks. that benefits the c.e.o. it raises their stock and doesn't help anybody else. mastercard, $4 billion, bank of america $5 billion, pfizer 10 billion, wells fargo $22 billion.many, many more.
10:57 am
$100 billion have been announced in stock buyback since the senate announced its tax bill. when many learned that some are not getting anything, some are getting raises, and the rest are getting crumbs, and big corporations and wealthy individuals are getting nice big fat pieces of pie, they are going to be outraged. my majority leader will not brag about the stock buybacks. he will, however, announce when a company gives a bonus to its worker. let's hear both sides and let the american people judge. bonuses are a good thing, but the truth is these one-time bonuses are a drop in the bucket compared to what corporations could be doing for their workers. and, by the way, not only were these buybacks, let me announce pa few other things that the -- a few other things that the corporations did after the tax
10:58 am
breaks. when bank of america announced their news -- when pfizer announced it $10 million buyback, it would not research alzheimer's, laying off 300 people. wells fargo announced $22 billion in stock buybacks, helping the wealthy shareholders and it is closing 800 branches. here's a paragraph from yesterday's "new york times". quote, bank of america's bonuses will cost the bank $28 million in 2018, or about 5% of the nearly 2.7% it is sing in 2018 from a low 21%. apple's bonuses will costs dz 300 million, a fraction of the $40 billion at least that the tech giant is saving from a single provision in the law which allows it to hold earns it
10:59 am
receives overseas. and two days before wal-mart snagged glowing headlines for handing out $400 million in bonuses and lifting the minimum wage at a cost of $300 million, they unveiled a plan to buy back issued debt, $4 billion. minimum wage, they pay out $300 million, stock buyback, $4 billion. i'm glad that the workers are getting bonuses. they deserve them. it seems to be a tocken effort -- token effort so that they can have huge benefits. a cnbc survey found that, quote, cuts in corporate taxes haven't yet had a meaningful impact on american company companies plans to boost investment or raise
11:00 am
workers' pay. we could have imagined a tax reform that was definite few tral, closed loopholes, lowered corporate taxes but stipulated that the money be put into wage increases and new jobs instead of what companies are doing now. one-time bone quses and massive stock repurchasing programs. many middle-class families have waited so long for better wages and more jobs. a tax bill properly constructed could have helped deliver that to them. instead, republicans squandered their once in a generation opportunity on an extraordinary tax break for big corporations and the already wealthy, and we're already seeing the consequences. i yield the floor.
11:01 am
mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, almost a year ago, as republicans were jamming through the confirmation of tom price as secretary of health and human services, i rose to object to hisominatn, and i voiced my very deep concerns about whether secretary price would be committed to protecting health care for our families, committed to putting evidence and sound policy over partisanship and ideology, and whether he would be committed to addressing the many ethical questions about his investments republicans allowed to go unanswered. well, he was not. today secretary price is infamous for two signature achievements. first of all, undermining health
11:02 am
care, access for millions of people, and second, resigning in scandal and disgrace. in the wake of secretary price's resignation, president trump had another opportunity to get this right. i believe families in washington state deserve a health secretary who will finally put patience ahead of politics. unfortunately, after meeting with alex azar, hearing his testimony and carefully reviewing his record and his qualifications, i do not believe mr. azar is an acceptable choice to lead the department, and i will be voting against his confirmation. from president trump's first day in office, he has been focused on undermining health care coverage, by putting up barriers to obtaining care, shortening our enrollment periods, expanding loopholes for corporations, and making every effort to throw the entire
11:03 am
system into chaos. after a year of president trump's health care sabotage, there were over three million people more uninsured in our country. so we need a voice to stand up and defend the health care that our families rely on, and i am alarmed by mr. azar's statements , cheerleading health care repeal efforts, predicting the affordable care act was, quote, circling the drain, even though enrollment stayed strong across the country this year, and detailing specific steps to, as he said, hasten the demise of patients and families' health care. now, meanwhile, while president trump continues to call the opioid crisis a public health emergency, he has yet to treat it like one. so far, his administration has proposed cutting the budget for the office of national drug control policy by 95%. it's focused on gutting
11:04 am
medicaid, which provides critically needed substance use disorder treatment. and they fail to provide any new funding or resources to support the communities that are fighting this crisi local leaders in my hom across e country need a voice at the department of health and human services committed to bringing more resources, not fewer, to address the opioid epidemic. so i am alarmed by mr. azar's refusal to support more funding for communities who are hard hit by the opioid epidemic. president trump's department has also shown a concerning pattern of undermining evidence-based policies in favor of ideology. when it comes to undermining evidence, political appointees at health and human services have asked their career staff not to use the terms evidence based and science based because they view them as essentially
11:05 am
meaningless, and when it comes to favoring ideology, not only has the department taken steps to restrict access to care for women and transgender patients, leaders have also sought to effectively ban the words like transgender and diversity and vulnerable among their department employees. ban the words. and they have not just cut important words. they have gutted valuable evidence-based programs like the teen pregnancy prevention program. this program has provided useful insight on what works to address high teen pregnancy rates. it has been recogzed by the bipaisan commission on evidence-based policy making for its rigorous approach to evaluation, and yet president trump's administration chose to unilaterally shorten that program's grants. we need a voice there who will reject such damaging ideological decisions and to champion
11:06 am
evidence and science and sound far making. i do not believe mr. adar is that champion. quite the opposite, in fact. i'm alarmed that mr. azar believes a woman's employer should be able to decide based on ideology whether or not her birth control should be covered. i'm alarmed by his extreme and out of touch views on roe v. wade as shown by his support for legislation and political candidates who were undermine the constitutional rights enshrined in this important decision and his use of ideologic rhetoric in discussing the rights guaranteed to women by that landmark case. unfortunately, mr. azar is the latest in a string of ideologically driven health care appointees for president trump. we cannot tolerate one more nominee overseeing a woman's health care program who is more focused on undermining that than
11:07 am
on advancing that. and finally, i'm alarmed by his track record at the pharmaceutical company eli lilly. as a nominee, mr. azar has said we need to fight to lower drug prices. but during his time as president of lilly, that company tripled the price of insulin. and mr. azar personally approved significant prices increases for some of the company's drugs. as a nominee, mr. azar may try to assure us he will fight for patients and protect the health of our communities, but after looking at his record, after reading his past statements, and after discussing these issues with him, i'm alarmed he might not stand up for women and families. i'm alarmed that he might not stand up to the pharmaceutical industry. and i am alarmed he might not stand up to president trump's agenda driven by sabotage and ideology. after months of republicans putting politics ahead of
11:08 am
funding health care for children and as republicans continue to put politics ahead of funding for community health centers like those in rural washington state and those across the country that help to serve underserved communities, and as they continue to ignore other primary care programs that bring medical professionals to populations in need like teaching health centers in spokane, we have to have strong leadership at the department of health and human services that will demand that we put public health first, not partisanship. so i urge my colleagues today to vote against this nomination, and i thank the chair and yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i come to the floor to voice my concerns about the nomination of alex azar to lead the u.s.
11:09 am
department of health and human services. the american people deserve a secretary of health and human services who actually believes in the agency's work and mission, which is to help america's families, children, and seniors lead healthier and more productive lives. nothing in mr. azar's record gives me any reason to believe he will do anything other than advance the trump administration's mission to take health care coverage away from millions of americans and leave everyone else with higher costs. instead of working to help more families get the care they need, i fear he will devote most of his time to imposing a harmful right-wing ideology on patients, on women, and families. mr. azar will continue the tmp administration's reckless assault on the reproductive righ of women. he'll support the far right's relentless war on science and
11:10 am
evidence-based health policy. and he will put the needs of powerful special interests ahead of patients and families. you know, it's hard to believe the trump administration has only been in office a year because already it has broken so many of the promises the american people were fed on the campaign trail. during his campaign, president trump promised he would replace the affordable care act with something truly great, something way better, but under president trump's watch, things have only gotten worse. premiums are up. deductibles are up. and for the first time since 2012, the number of americans with health care coverage has gone down. now, this is no accident. it is the result of the trump administration's relentless assault on the affordable care act. that's right. thanks to this administration's deliberate -- deliberative
11:11 am
efforts to sew chaos in our health insurance markets and subsidies that reduce sky-high deductibles and give consumers less time to shop for insurance, 3.5 million fewer americans have coverage compared to one year ago. in my state, the number of new jerseyans enrled in the marketplace dropped by 5%. mr. azar says the affordable care act is, quote, circling down the drain, when the reality is that republicans have done their best to drown it. the trump administration has no plan to help a growing number of americans without coverage, and mr. azar has offered no solutions to protect their health and financial security. in fact, he believes the paltry tax credits republicans propose in their affordable care act alternative to buy insurance are too generous, too generous. if i say that to any one of my
11:12 am
constituents, they would laugh in my face. nothing in mr. azar's record gives me any confidence that he will change course. that's because, like former secretary tom price, mr. azar lives in an alternative universe where health insurers will suddenly put the well-being of patients ahead of their stock prices. that if we just scrap the affordable care act, the free market will magically begin covering the sick, caring for families, and protecting our seniors. well, we know that that's patently false. we already tried letting health insurance companies run the show, and it didn't work because in america, health care doesn't ever go on sale. if it did, people would be banging down doors like best buy on black friday to schedule their heart surgeries and cancer treatments. mr. azar seems to forget that we need commonsense protections to ensure americans with preexisting conditions that they have access to coverage, that before the affordable care act,
11:13 am
health insurance companies routinely denied coverage for cancer survivors and people with chronic challenges like m.s., that children with preexisting conditions like asthma or heart murmurs were blacklisted by insurers for life, that thousands of people were bankrupted by medical bills each and every year, and women were charged higher premiums for the same exact insurance policies as men. mr. azar seems to forget that before programs like medicare and medicaid, seniors who worked hard their entire lives languished without care and lived in abject poverty. do we really want to see seniors backsliding into poverty in 2018? now, i know mr. azar is a v wealthy man. it almt seems to be a erequisite in order to serve in the trump cabinet. but i encourage him to try and imagine what it's like to work a low-wage job that doesn't
11:14 am
provide health benefits, what it's like for parents in new jersey to go to work every day, knowing that they are one illness or injury away from ruining their families' financial future. these men and women are among the 11 million americans who depend on the affordable care act's medicaid expassengers, including well over a half a million in new jersey alone, yet mr. azar believes he has a mandate to turn programs like medicare into vouchers to shortchange seniors. he supports turning medicaid into a blocked program, which is a way of ultimately dramatically cutting the program and a fancy way of saying states should be allowed to block millions of people from getting the care they need. the american people deserve a secretary of health and human services who is prepared, not only to defend these stalwart programs, but is committed to building on their success.
11:15 am
after a year of higher costs, less coverage, and empty promises by the trump administration, the american people want congress to turn the page. we have the chance to do that by rejecting mr. azar's nomination. it's time we demand the administration nominate a leader who's truly devoted to helping all americans get the care they need, no matter how much money they make, what zip code they come from, or what health care challenges they face. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mrs. shaheen mr. president. the presiding ficer:he senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i join my colleagues on the floor today to speak in opposition to the nomination of alex michael
11:16 am
azar to head the department of health and human services. mr. azar is, i believe, first and foremost, a product of the pharmaceutical industry with a long, consistent track record of sharply increasing drug prices during his tenure at lilly u.s.a. furthermore, his nomination makes clear that president trump didn't mean it when he said repeatedly during the campaign that pharmaceutical companies are, in quotes, getting away with murder and that he as president would dramatically reduce drug prices for seniors and all americans. mr. azar's nomination is yet one more example of the trump administration putting special interest above the public interest and public safety. mr. azar's long imposed any federal intervention in prescription drug pricing, things like allowing medicare to negotiate for drug prices, and of course his former company has
11:17 am
profited handsomely from the government's hands-off approach. when mr. azar became president of lilly u.s.a. he became chair of the pricing committee with a major say for price increases for drugs domestically sold in 2012 to 2014. during that time the list and net prices of lilly's drugs sold in the u.s. increased by double-digit percentages each year. as cochair of the senate's diabetes caucus, i am especially troubled that during mr. azar's time with the company, lilly more than tripled the price of insulin, jacking up prices from $74 to $269, and much of that increase occurred during mr. azar's time as chair of the pricing committee. these price increases are not only exorbitant, but they have
11:18 am
caused real hardship to many of the nearly 30 million americans who are living with diabetes. as candidate trump would have put it, lilly, under mr. azar's leadership, was getting away with murder. i'm also concerned that mr. azar will continue and even ramp up the trump administration's across-the-board campaign to sabotage our health care system. we're now one year into this administration's efforts to undermine the affordable care act, and regrettably, it's working. the uninsured rate rose in 2017 by 1.3 percentage points. that's nearly 3 million more people without health insurance. already the administration has eliminated those payments that allow insurance companies to keep down premiums and reduce co-pays and deductibles, and that has created further hardship on people who desperately need health
11:19 am
insurance. without reason or justification, the administration cut the open enrollment period by half. it slashed the budget for open enrollment ads on tv, radio and the internet by 90%, shutting down most efforts to inform consumers about all their enrollment options. and yet despite these efforts, they weren't successful in dramatically reducing those people who tried to enroll in the affordable care act, because enrollment for 2018 was 8.8 million people compared to 9.2 million the year before. and it shows how desperately people want to have health insurance. but of course we know that since that enrollment period the republicans in congress have used the tax bill to repeal the individual mandate. in an interview mr. azar spoke of his desire to hasten the
11:20 am
affordable care act's demise. he apparently doesn't appreciate that the affordable care act and medicaid expansion in particular has been an absolutely critical tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic. i would urge mr. azar and president trump to read the front page story in sunday's "new york times." the story is about the devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic in my state of new hampshire. the article is titled "how a perfect storm in new hampshire has fueled an opioid crisis." it was a company by an even more compelling titled "one son, four overdoses, six hours." it profiled the life of patrick griffin of pen brokenew hampshire. it documents how mr. griffin struggled for years with the substance misuse disorder,
11:21 am
overdosed four times within a six-hour period and twice within those six hours emergency medical responders came to his house and revived him with narcan, the antidote that reverses opioid overdoses. and some people reading that article say, well, why can't he just control his substance use disorder. they don't understand that this is a disease. it changes people's brain makeup. the chemistry of an individual's brain. and just like health -- heart disease or diabetes or any other chronic illness, there is a physiology involved with that that affects a person's ability to get better. and one of the things that saves people like patrick when they're
11:22 am
overdosing is the drug narcan, or nalaxone, which is the official name. it's been used so much in new hampshire, most people refer to it as narcan. and we've seen that the pharmaceutical industry has dramatically increased the price of narcan. as this epidemic has spread, the price of the drug that's needed by so many to save their lives has increased dramatically. a two-dose package of narcan costs $690 in 2014. it's $4,500 today and generic doses of narcan increased between 95% and 125% since 2012. bear in mind that it often takes multiple doses to revive people who have overdosed.
11:23 am
so this has an impact on our health care system. it has an impact in new hampshire on families, on municipalities, on first responders, all of those people who are trying to save people who have overdosed. now as we all know, the opioid epidemic is a nationwide crisis with some 63,000 americans killed by drug overdoses in 2016. and new hampshire has been especially hard hit. the demise of the affordable care act which mr. azar says he wants, would mean that thousands of granite staters would lose access to treatment with devastating consequences. and that's true not just in new hampshire. it's true in states across this country. i think it's unconscionable that a secretary of health and human services would take away one of our most valuable tools for combatting substance use disorders and that he would actively oppose access to health care for millions of americans.
11:24 am
so for me, between mr. azar's cozyness with the pharmaceutical industry, his disdain for the affordable care act which is the law of the land and which mr. azar would be charged with administering as secretary, i think he's the wrong person to serve in the critically important post of secretary of health and human services. i intend to vote against his confirmation, and i hope 3450eu 3450eu -- and i hope my colleagues will do the same. thank you, mr. president. mr. hatch: mr. president. the presiding officer: the president pro tempore. mr. hatch: mr. president, i rise with my good friend from tennessee to discuss some surely landmark legislation we'll be introducing later today. this is long overdue. it's the, it's called the music modernization act and it will reshape the music licensing landscape to bring it into the 21st century. as a song writer myself, i have
11:25 am
a deep interest in music issues and ensuring we have a music licensing system that works. unfortunately, our music licensing laws have not kept pace with the technological change. we have an outdated, antiquated system designed for the era of c.d. and cassette tapes rather than the era of digital frame lining and audio on demand. most of us rarely think about the complex laws that govern who can listen to what music, when and who gets paid when we purchase an mp-3 or listen to an interactive stream. we pay our money to i-tunes or the streaming service without thinking about how that money gets distributed to dozens, even hundreds of actors across the music industry. song writers and publishers and
11:26 am
recording artists and record labels, you have agents and broadcasters and streaming services and performing rights organizations. you have multiple copy rights across multiple individuals for the same song. it's a dense, interconnected web of licenses, rights, and legal obligations that all need and should be carefully calibrated. our current regime is not well calibrated. far from it. to begin with, the process of ensuring that song writers are paid when a song they write is downloaded or played on the internet is a complete mess. the problem lies in matching sound recordings to the underlying musical work. that is to the song performed in the sound recording. when a person down loads or streams a song, there are actually two sets of copyright
11:27 am
holders whose interests come into play. first is the recording artist who owns a copyright in the sound recording. that is in the recorded version of the song. often the recording artist will have assigned his or her copyright to a record label. the other relevant copyright holder is the song writer, the person who actually wrote the music. in virtually every case the lyrics that the performing artist performed. the song writer owns a copyright in the song itself, and the actual words and music. often the song writer will have assigned his or her copyright to a music publisher. when a sound recording is reproduced, whether by download, interactive stream or fixing the song on a c.d. or other physical object, the recording artist and song writer or their respective
11:28 am
assignees both receive a royalty. the recording artist receives a royalty for the sound recording itself, and the song writer receives a royalty for the underlying song. these are called mechanical royalties because historically reproduction of sound recordings was done through mechanical means. think of the vinyl record and its grooves. there is also a second type of royalty that comes into play when a song is perfo publicly such as on the radiot a concert, or over digital transmission service like pandora. this type of royalty is called sensibly enough a public performance royalty. just like the mechanical royalties, it is paid to both the recording artist and the song writer or their assignees. as i said earlier the problem lies in matching the sound recording to the underlying musical work. that is in determining who should get paid when an
11:29 am
individual downloads a song or listens to an interactive stream. think about -- figuring out the recording artist is pretty easy. when digital music services play music, they play sound recordings. they play a song recorded by taylor swift or jay-z or garth brooks or offer the sound recording for download. in either case determining who recorded the song is straightforward. figuring out who the song writer is, however, can be much more complicated. a recording artist may play ten different songs by ten different song writers on a single album. or ten separate writers may have contributed to a single song with each entitled to a cut. and unlike with recording artists, it's usually not apparent from the sound recording itself who the song writer is. of course the recording artist
11:30 am
or the record label, if the recording artist has assigned his or her rights to a record label, may know who the song writer is. but not always. and it's simply not feasible for digital music providers to independently track down every individual song writer for the millions of songs they offer over their services. the problem of unmatched works where the sound recording was not matched to the songwriter creates significant difficulties for digital musi providers and congress wriers. start -- and songwriters. they are required to pay mechanical royalties to songwriters for digital streams and down loads, but if they don't know who it is, they can't pay the royalty.
11:31 am
this can be a significant liability if a songwriter asserts its right. at the same time songwriters don't get paid when they are supposed to be. digital platforms offer their songs for download without paying the required loyalties. as you can see, this is a complicated system. it's a bad situation all the way around. that's where the legislation senator alexander and i are introducing today comes into play. our bill, the music modernization act creates a blanket mechanical license for digital music providers. this will be issued by a digital mechanical, it will offer a single mechanical license for the music they play rather than seeking out songwriters and
11:32 am
publishers. services that obtain it will receive liability protection. songwriters will benit from increased royalty stents, they will step establish and maintaining a public database that identifies musical works and their owners. now, this will help reduce the number of unmatched works. in addition, the music modernization act provides that royalties for unmatched works will be distributed after a holding period of three years to known copyright holders on a market share basis. this means that rather than going unpaid, royalties for unmatched works will go to existing copy right holders or according to how active each copyright holder is in the marketplace. our bill will have an update to
11:33 am
the royalties for songwriters. the current law requires the board to consider a variety of statutory of factors. these factors do not accurately reflect market demand with the result that songwriters would pay a below market rate. our bill revises this standard to instruct the board to establish rates what a willing buyer and willing seller would agree to in the marketplace. lastly, the bill makes two changes related to public performance royalties for songwriters. as i explained earlier, this type of royalty comes into play when a -- a song is performed in public such as on the radio or over something like pandora. songwriters and publishers are
11:34 am
administered through p.r.o.'s. the most well known of which is b.m.s. they offer blanket licenses to radio stations, restaurants, digital transmission services, and others that allow licenses to play all songs in the p.r.o.'s catalog. these blanker et licenses are -- these blanket licenses are governed by two decrease that -- decrease that -- decrees that require all licenses to be approved by a judge in the southern district of new york. the music modernization act has two changes. first, it says that any judge in the southern district of new york may hear a rate-setting cap involving licensing fs,ot
11:35 am
just a judge that oveees the consent decree. it allows judges to consider evidence of public performance royalties paid for sound recordings in setting public performance royalties for songwriters. the purples of this provision is to better -- purpose is of this provision is to have public performance for underlying work and ensure that songwriters are properly rewarded when a song they write becomes a hit. music licensing is an incredibly complicated subject. i have endeavored to say this in a straightforward way. the key points are as follows, first, the bill will help solve the problem of unmatched works
11:36 am
so that digital music providers are protected from liability and songwriters receive the royalties they are due. second, the bill will better align royalties with market demand. it will bring much-needed transparency to our music licensing system by creating a public database that identifies musical works and their owners. i'm pleased to report that our bill has broad support across the music industry, which is a tremendous thing. one of the things that makes this legislation such a breakthrough is that we've been able to get the song writing side of the industry, the songwriters and their representatives in all of these matters in the publishing and pro-community -- p.r.o. community on board with the recording and distribution side
11:37 am
of the industry, the record labels and digital music providers. indeed, mr. president, i don't think i have seen a music bill that has such broad support across the industry. all sides have a stake in this and they've come together in support of a commonsense consensus bill that addresses challenges throughout the music industry. this is just the start of the -- introduction is just the start of the process. the bill's chances as it moves through markup and floor consideration, and there are some issues in the latter part of the bill that remains to be resolved with broadcasters, i'm committed to work through the issues as the bill mov forward so that we have the broadest consensus possible. i said at the outset, mr. president, that i'm a songwriter myself. i have a deep and abiding interest in these issues.
11:38 am
these matters are personal to me. they are also an important part of my legacy. but i'm relatively unknown and i don't expect to make a lot of money out of the music industry, but i am deeply interested in this and making sure that those who do create these wonderful musical subjects really are treated more fairly than they are today. i thought long and hard for strong copyright protections in the senate. i have copy right bills from the digital copy right to the family movie act. this is another in the long line of legislation. in fact, mr. president, i view it as the capstone of my work on copyright. i say that, mr. president, because i want my colleagues to know how important this bill is, not just to me, but to my
11:39 am
friends. and i want my friends in the industry to know how important this bill is to me as well. i have less than a year left in this body, and one thing i'm dead set on is enacting this bill into law before i leave. i hope my colleagues will join me in supporting and sponsoring this bill. the music we create in our country is an important part of our culture and of the message we carry to the rest of the world. let's do everything we can to ensure we have a music licensing system that's fair, that rewards create activity and creates thei t incentives to write, perform, and sell music. that's exactly what the music modern glaiks act will -- modernization act will do. i have a partner in this of trying to get this bill through and that is the great senator from the state of tennessee, lamar alexander, who, himself, is a very accomplished musician. he is a great piano player, and
11:40 am
he's a great friend, and he understands these issues as much, if not more, than anybody else i know in the united states congress. i feel indebited and blessed to have him working with me on this matter. i yield the floor. mr. alexander: mr. president, he is not only the former chairman of this committee, he is a songwriter himself and he has a platinum and a gold record and another one that might become gold. so he knows what he is talking about. i think for all of us in the senate when orrin hatch says in his 40 years or so here, or in his years here, more than any other republican senator, that
11:41 am
this is the capstonef his career and his work on copyright, and it is personally important to him, that means something to the rest of us here. i think that means, among all of the other issues here, that we are going to pay more attention to this and we are going to work hard to pass it. i hope it means something to those outside this chamber, the songwriters themselves, the broadcasters, this is something we intend to do. we intend to make this is law because it is right to do it, because the songwriters aren't being treated fairly, and because it is important to senator hatch, whom we respect. when senator hatch stands up on the floor and says i've been working since 1977 on copyright issues, and we know how many important issues he has dealt with, and he says this is the capstone of all of these issues,
11:42 am
we should pay attention to that and deal with it. i think we will be able to deal with it because we start off with strong bipartisan support. this afternoon, senator hatch and i will file the music modernization act here. we will begin with eight members of the senate, including senator hatch, of course, as the lead sponsor. i'll be there. but in addition to that, senator whitehouse, the senator from rhode island, a democrat, senator corker, senator from tennessee, senator dick durbin, the senator from illinois. dick durbin is in nashville much as much as oor orrin hatch is. he is not a songwriter, but he loves country music. so begin to have that sort of cosponsorship in addition to senator isakson, senator coons of delaware, our newest senator,
11:43 am
senator jones of alabama. those are the eight of us in the senate who are starting to see the wisdom of it. mr. president, italy has its art, napa valley has its wine and nashville has its songwriters. songwriters are the life-blood of music city. the mayor of nashville was in my office and we were talking about that. we have thousands of songwriters in nashville and also in brings yol, tennessee -- bristol, tennessee. they are bus drivers, waiters, teachers, they are having other jobs as they build their song careers. - songwriters are paid with a
11:44 am
royalty. we want to make sure that the hits heard around the world are felt in their pocketbooks. the arrival of the internet has transformed the music industry, but it means that many songwriters are not paid their royalties when their songs are paid online. this is the first problem, the arrival of the internet. the second problem is when songwriters are paid, they are not paid a fair market value for their work. senator hatch, as i have mentioned, has long been an advocate for musicians. he understands this. we have worked together over a year with representative doug collins on the music modernization act which eight of us will introduce this afternoon. it's bipartisan, as i said. it represents the first major consensus legislation that has the support of songwriters, of music publishers, of digital
11:45 am
music companies and record labels. senator hatch and i will continue to work together to make sure it has the support of broadcasters as well. more importantly, the legislation will have a real impact on songwriters in tennessee and elsewhere. first, it creates a simple licensing system for direct sic services like pandora, amazon, et cetera, to reflect the changing mic industry, and second, it will make it easier for the songwriters to be paid when their music is played or someone buys a song that they wrote. and third, it will allow them to be paid for the fair market value of their work. that's what the bill does. to give you an idea of what this really means, let me tell you a support about song writing. i do not have the experience that the senator from utah has. he's written more than 100 songs over the years, cowritten with a
11:46 am
number of national song writers, as a matter of fact, some of them. he even has a song that is a platinum record. a few years ago, i was in east tennessee in my hometown of maryville and i saw an old couple sitting in a president trump. i asked them how they were doing. the woman said she and her husband, she said we are just falling apart together. well, that weekend, my son drew was having a songwriter's retreat at our home in east tennessee. he's in the music business. and so i told one of them, lee bryce, about what the woman said to me, falling apart together. lee bryce said i think i can do something with that. so he and billy montana and john stone, the songwriters, wrote a song called "falling apart together." lee butryce p that onne of his albums. i got one-fourth of the song writes. that's the way it works in nashville. if you contribute anything,
11:47 am
clinton-gore just the song name to a song, you get a part of the royalty. well, lee bryce is a pretty well-known singer as well as a songwriter, and he put the song on his album. you would think the royalty would add up to a lot of money. but in 2016, on my senate financial disclosure, i reported receiving $101.75 in royalties from my one-fourth of the song "falling apart together." if you're a songwriter living in nashville or memphis or los angeles or new york or anywhere or provo or salt lake city, you can't make a living on $101.75. the other problem facing songwriters is that music is increasingly played online. companies like spotify, pandora, amazon, apple, offer listeners virtually unlimited access to digital music libraries that they can play using the internet whenever they want.
11:48 am
according to nielsen, there are nearly 86 million paying subscribers to these types of digital music streaming services. 86 million paying subscribers. in 2016, these subscribingers listened to more than 252 billion music streams, including repeated songs. so in 2016, for the first time in history, streaming music services, songs played online generated more than half the music industry's revenues. digital music services such as spotify, pandora, and apple music generated the majority or 51.4% of the music industry's revenues. so we know that the internet has changed our world, it's changed politics, it's changed newspapers, it's changed retail. we have seen the effect of it. it's changed the music industry, too.
11:49 am
one half of the music industry's revenues are -- come from online songs that are played, and as senator hatch has said, our laws have not kept up with that, and as a result, our songwriters, the creators who have a right under our constitution to be paid for their work, a fair market value aren't being paid in many cases, and when they are paid, they are not being paid a fair market value. sales of compact discs if fell below $100 million in 2016, a 27% decline from 2015. it means it is getting much more difficult for songwriters to make a living, and congress can't chae theact that the internet and other new technologies have changed the music industry, but we do have a responsibility to update our laws to keep up with what has happened. so how did we get in this mess, and what laws are we talking about updating?
11:50 am
in 1909, mr. president, more than a century ago, congress gave copy write owners of musical works the exclusive right to make, reproductive, and distribute their own musical work. at the time, the works were primarily piano roles. so we're talking about laws that were created for player pianos. congress set the royalty to be paid to the owners of those piano rolls at two cents per copy. the copyright royalty board, a three-judge panel at the library of congress, still sets those royalty rates today. the current rate is 9.1 cents. it's based on below-market standard. another problem is the two largest performance rights organizations are subject to a 76-year-old consent decree with the department of jump. that means an agreement agreed upon in 1940 or so, and ever
11:51 am
since then it has been governing these performance rights rates. these consent decrees never contemplated the internet, and today they are harming national songwriters. eiggest problem with these outdated consent decrees is that songwriters don't get paid the fair market value for their work. songwriters negotiate with radio stations for the right to play their music in exchange for a, quote, reasonable performance royalty. if songwriters and the radio stations can't agree on the reasonable royalty, the songwriters have to go to a federal rate court, which means their case is heard by district judges in new york -- in the southern district of new york. under current law, the judge is not allowed to consider what the song's performer earns when he sets a reasonable royalty. the music modernization act changes that by allowing ascap and b.m.i. to present new
11:52 am
evidence about the fair market value of a songwriter's new work, like what a performer might earn to a federal rate judge when there is a dispute about royalty rates. the legislation also allows more federal district judges to hear these type of cases. the music industry has changed dramatically in the past 109 years. it's time to update our music licensing laws to ensure songwriters can continue to make a living. now, what the music industry act does to solve the problem is this -- increase a new simplified licensing entity to make it easier for the digital music companies -- this is spotify, pandora, to ensure a license to pay songs and ensure songwriters are paid when their music is played. instead, spotify and pandora tracking down each songwriter or songwriter's publisher to get
11:53 am
permission to play a song, they will be able to submit one license and start playing a song right away. transitioning to a blanket license for reproductions was recommended by the copyright office of the library of congress. in a february, 2015, report on music licensing reforms, the copyright office recommended this blanket licensing approach that's included in the music modernization act. the copyright office report concluded that song-by-song licensing is widely perceived as a daunting requirement for new services and as an administrative drag on the licensing system as a whole. the move to a blanket system would allow marketplace entrants to launch their services and begin paying royalties more quickly. another important point is the new licensing entity won't be a new government agency, and the digital music companies will pay to send it up and keep it running, not songwriters. the new entity will be governed
11:54 am
by songwriters and music publishers, giving songwriters a say in how their work is used for the first time. and the new entity helps songwriters because it will collect royalties each time a song is played, look for the songwriter, and hold onto the royalties for three years until they can be found. this helps songwriters because it ensures they are paid royalties for their work whether they have a publisher or not. this helps digital music companies because it makes sure songwriters are paid, and that means fewer lawsuits. the legislation also improves transparency by creating a publicly accessible database for all music works and requires digital music companies to pay songwriters their royalties every month. songwriters will receive usage reports on music that is played to make sure that money is all there. the new database is important because maybe a young, inspiring
11:55 am
songwriter cowrote a song under an alias or moved or can't be located. legislation authorize the entity to edit the songwriting once a year. and finally, it authorizes the copyright royalty board at the library of congress to use a fair market standard of what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller when the board sets royalty rates. this helps songwriters receive a fair market royalty when their song is played online. the music modernization act, as se said, has broad support, really unprecedented support. it's a consensus piece of legislation. it is supported by the national music publishers association, the digital media association, the american society for composers, authors, and publishers. the broadcast music incorporated. the songwriters of north america. and on january 8, these groups
11:56 am
joined the recording industry association of america, the recording academy, and more than a dozen music industry groups in endorsing the music modernization act. it will help thousands of songwriters in nashville, across tennessee, and across this country. songwriters, music publishers, and digital music companies have reached a consensus. now it's up to congress to provide a result. that's why i'm working in such a bipartisan way and so glad to be working with our -- such eminent leaders as senator hatch, senator durbin, and others to pass the music modernization act and give tennessee and our nation's songwriters the fair pay that they have earned. i want to thank senator hatch's staff as well as my own staff once again because they have been working on this issue for some time, and the senator, senator hatch, was an original cosponsor of legislation in the
11:57 am
11h congress titled the songwriter equity act. i'm proud to work with them. i want to thank representative doug collins and representative hakim jeffries who are sponsors of the bill in the house of representatives. they are leading the effort to get the bill through the house judiciary committee so it can be considered by the full house. finally, i would like to thank barb herderson, david israelite, beth matthews, michael neil, greg barnes and chris harrison with the digital media association. these individuals have all worked together and negotiated for months to try to produce a consensus legislation to help songwriters modernize the music licensing laws. so, mr. president, let me end where i began. this is a bill to help songwriters. this is a bill to modernize a copyright system. this is a bill to help our laws
11:58 am
keep up with the digital age, the internet world. this is the bill that has consensus among digital companies and songwriters and publishers for the first time. and this is a bill to honor orrin hatch who has served in this body since 1977, who is a songwriter himself, who has been our leader on modernizing copyght lawfrom the very beginning, and i intend to work as hard as i can in a bipartisan way, both in the senate and the house, to pass this bill for the good of our country and as a capstone of the career of our senior united states senator, senator hatch. i thank the president, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the president pro tempore. mr. hatch: i can't express my appreciation well enough to thank the senator from tennessee for his wonderful set of remarks
11:59 am
that he has just given. he has outlined it as well as it can be done. tennessee has always been very well represented, but lamar alexander is one of the great senators here. i'm just grateful that he -- that he is standing side by side with me on this, because the songwriters of america have been mistreated for years and years and years, and it's time to change it. it's time to get some equity and some fairness into this system. i think lamar has outlined that about as well as it can be outlined. i just want to personally express my appreciation to you for what you have said here today. with that, mr. president, i would like to ask unanimous consent that anna binelli, a detailee of the senate committee on finance be granted floor privileges for the duration of the congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: thank you. mr. president, earlier this week, the se voted to pass a continuing resolution to


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on