tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN March 22, 2018 10:30am-12:31pm EDT
i just. >> the the u.s. senate is abouto gavel in this morning. at noon where expecting sender just to offer tributes to mississippi republican senator thad cochran who is retiring on april 1. later senate lawmakers are expected to start work on a $1.3 trillion government funding bill that would keep the government operating through september 30, if it is approved and how strict the senate will not be in session next week. how to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2.
the presiding officer : the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. o god, our father, may life's seasons teach us that you stand within the shadows keeping watch above your own. we praise you that you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in turbulent times.
cultivate within our lawmakers the grace of gratitude, as they seek to stand for right for the glory of your name. may they refrain from hasty speech, as they labor to treat others as they would have others treat them. empower them to grow in your grace and in a greater knowledge of your will and wisdom. we pray in your holy name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., march 22, 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 roy blunt, a senator from the state of missouri, who will perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro
tempore. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, yesterday evening the house filed a landmark appropriations bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2018. months of in-depth, bicameral, bipartisan negotiations and committee work have led us to this point. the result is legislation that neither sides sees as perfect,
but which contains a host of significant victories and important achievements on behalf of the american people. first and foremost, in my view, this bill will market the end of disproportionate and harmful cuts to the department of defense. it delivers the largest year-on-year increase in defense spending in 15 years. these new funding levels will ensure that the training and tools available to our service members remain on the cutting edge, and at long last veterans will receive more transparent and more accessible care. this has been a top priority on our side of the aisle especially. to deliver for our men and women in uniform, to deliver for the future of national security, this bill will get it done. of course, our armed forces aren't the only vital priority this measure will address. it will help those caught in the
grip of the opioid epidemic. this bill scales up research, treatment, and prevention funding and provides for grants to first responders. it will confront the scourge of addition head-on and help save lives. for rural communities, like my home state of kentucky, this is a big deem. the measure is also a victory for saifl, reliable, 21st century infrastructure. it will fund long overdue improvement to roads, rails, airports and inland waterways to ensure that our growing economy has the support system that it needs. are importantly, the bill will also contain a number of provisions that will provide more safety for american families. it expands funding for federal law enforcement, it allocates new resources to border security and immigration enforcement, including an important step forward for president trump's proposed wall. the total miles of new and
upgraded walls and barriers funded by this bill exceeds the administration's initial request for this fiscal year. it has the necessary funds to keep guantanamo bay open and operating. it delivers for students and teachers across our nation who deserve to learn and work without fear of violence. at the insistence of the speaker and myself, this bill will include two important bipartisan, commonsense measures to address real issues facing the nation. the knicks nics bill and -- the fix nics bill and the stop school violence act. thanks to senator hatch, this will provide millions of dollars new funding for early intervention and programs to stop school violence before it happens. this will include the funding and training of school personnel
to identify and respond to safety threats and implementing enhanced technology and equipment to improve school safety. and thanks to the dogged efforts of senator cornyn, the fix nics provision to repair and improve firearm background checks is also included. both of these bipartisan accomplishments are the direct result of tireless work by those most tragically affected by violence in america's schools. here's how mark borden, a cofounder of sandy hook promise described this legislation, this legislation will save lives, he said. likewise the parkland, florida families wrote all four congressional leaders to include these two particular measures in this piece of legislation. i'm proud that we can deliver for them and for the safety of schools around our country.
mr. president, let's take one more look at just a few of the good things this bill will accomplish. number one, the largest year-on-year funding increase of our war fighters in 15 years. next, new resources for the fight against opioids and border security and the president's wall. major enhancements for law enforcement and school safety. these provisions, and the entirety of this omnibus represent months of bipartisan work. i look forward to considering it very soon. now, on another matter, the good news about tax reform continues to sweep across the nation, but recently, as special bonuses, wage chiefs and ex -- increases and expanded employee benefits
continues to hit the headline, they have had to deal with cold weather. this could mean high utility bills. tax reform has an answer to that. rate pairs are looking forward to lower utility bills thanks to the tax code. in my state the public service commissioner announced that kentucky utilities in will be passing along savings to customers to the tune of a 6% decrease in monthly bills -- a 6% decrease in monthly bills. that means real savings for middle-class families that i represent. we've heard a similar story from our neighbors over in indiana. the northern indiana public service company reports that tanks to tax reform, it will be able to pass $26 million in new savings on to its customers.
that's just one of a long list of ways that tax reform is helping hoosiers. pat williams, who lives in southern indiana recently shared another tax reform success story of my friend senator young. pat's husband jim works part time in the u-haul service center across the river in louisville. he received a $500 tax reform bonus. in converse, indiana, first farmers bank and trust raised its hourly workers, and announced a big investment in employee development and commune programs. the senator from indiana knows the folks at first farmers. he was so impressed by their pro-active response to the new tax code, that he invited them to the president's state of the union in january. mr. president, there aren't
enough seats in the house gallery that tax reform is already helping. not even close. if there were, i bet the working families and small businesses from indiana would come with yes. why did only one of their senators vote for these tax savings? why did their senior senator vote in lockstep to block their tax cuts, bonuses, raises, and benefits? those would be tough questions to answer. fortunately the republicans are focused on empowering the american people. the presiding officer: under the previous order, leadership is now reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak up to ten
minutes each. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to calendar number 165, s. 1519. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to the consideration of 1519, a bill to authorize appropriations
for fiscal year 2018 for military activities for the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: i ask that senators be permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection.
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. i have a few items i'd like to address this morning, but first i'd like to recognize our dear friend from mississippi, the senior senator, who will be delivering his farewell speech today. senator thad cochran has served in this body for decades with a sense of dignity decorum, -- dignity, decorum, and respect for his colleagues that was always appreciated but never confused for lack of conviction. when his issues were on the line, senator cochran fought for mississippi as hard as any senator. after all, he was first bitten by the political bug in his heat especially by the political bug in his run for head cheer will
the gentleman yielder -- head cheerleader of ole miss. he joins that distinction with trent lott. of course, we new yorkers, eli manning, we like him, too. of course, senator cochran never stopped being a cheerleader for mississippi. now, chairman cochran and i certainly had our differences. the chairman once said i don't call a lot of news conferences. i just don't see that as a necessary part of my responsibility. well, we'll agree to disagree on that one. but there are many things we have in common. there is a particular part of his legacy i admire. after hurricane katrina buffetted his state, he convinced recalcitrant lawmakers to deliver aid to the gulf coast, far exceeding the administration's request, and he did it by working members on his side of the aisle and across the aisle, behind the scenes. that's how he earned the
nickname the quiet persuader. it's a skill i greatly respect after going through something similar when hurricane sandy hit my home state of new york. at the time, chairman cochran was the ranking member on the appropriations committee. he and his staff were extraordinarily helpful throughout the process. ultimately, senator cochran voted for the sandy relief bill when many of his colleagues opposed it. i'll never forget that. under his stewardship of the appropriations committee, we have just completed the text of an omnibus spending bill which i will address in a moment, but once the bill passes, it will be a fitting legacy that senator cochran will retire with another bipartisan accomplishment under his belt. i wish him and his family the best, and i thank him for his
distinguished service to the state of mississippi, to his beloved country, and to the united states senate. he will be missed here in the senate. now, mr. president, i'm pleased to say that the four congressional leaders have reached an agreement on the omnibus spending bill. that's now public. it didn't happen until last night. it took a long time. painstaking weeks of negotiations. more than a few of which went past the midnight hour. before i go further, i want to thank leader mcconnell, speaker ryan, and their staffs, leader pelosi and her team, chairman cochran, vice chairman leahy and the appropriations committee staff and many others for all the hard work that went into this bill. now, it certainly doesn't have everything democrats want, and it contains a few things democrats aren't thrilled about. the same is true of our republican friends. that is true of all compromises.
if each of us stood on our hind legs and said if i get everything i wanted, i'm voting no, we would be totally paralyzed. that happens far too often in this body. but somehow on this appropriations bill, this omnibus, that didn't happen. there is a remarkable spirit of give and take in the room. overall, we democrats are very happy with what we have been able to accomplish on a number of very important priorities to the middle class in america. infrastructure, education, opioid treatment, mental health, child care. for nearly a decade, the middle class in this country has suffered from a needless and self-imposed austerity, limiting investment of all of the things that create good-paying jobs and improve the working conditions of americans, improve the lives of americans. this spending bill, this spending agreement brings that era of austerity to an
unceremonious end and represents one of the most significant investments in the middle class in decades. so many in the middle class are frustrated. they don't know why. well, one of the reasons is quietly but unfortunately quite decisively this congress cut back on the very ladders that helps the middle class climb, in education and infrastructure, in health care. it was cut and cut and cut, and the help that the federal government has given to the middle class since the progressive era of the early 1900's was taken away quietly but decisively. it's back. it's going to help middle-class people stay in the middle class. it's going to help those aspiring to the middle class climb that ladder and get there. it's really a good thing, and i'm excited about it. and as the republican leader mentioned, it robustly funds our
military, giving our men and women in uniform the resources they need. it also improves our ability to respond to wildfires. it makes a critical down payment on election security, provides a reliable pathway for the essential infrastructure projects in our country, and makes an incremental but important progress on the issue of gun violence, a debate this congress must resume soon. so again, that era of austerity which so hurt middle-class americans is coming to an unceremonious end because this bill represents one of the most significant investments in the middle class in decades. for these reasons, i'm confident that this agreement will pass both houses of congress, hopefully with comfortable margins, hopefully in a bipartisan way. again, i thank the republican leader for his part in reaching
this agreement, and i look forward to passing this legislation as soon as possible. and now a final issue. while we're talking about agreement and bipartisanship, i don't agree with president trump on a whole lot, but today i want to give him a big pat on the back. he is doing the right thing when it comes to china. for many of us, senator graham and i, since we went and visited china over a decade ago, we have watched china rapaciously take advantage of america, of american jobs, of american workers, and of american intellectual property. china's ruthless in how they go after us. they do it quietly. they do it with a smile. and unfortunately, previous presidents, democrat and republican, just stood by as china did what it did to us. president trump is exactly
right. this afternoon to propose a plan designed to punish china for its most flagrant trade abuses. i have called for such action for years, been disappointed by the inactions of both president bush and obama. i'm very pleased that this administration is taking strong action to get a better deal on china because china has stolen and extorted the intellectual property of american companies for years without repercussion. our intellectual property are our family jewels. the american way of openness, of thinking, of debate has created the kind of place where great thinkers come, think of great ideas, and those ideas are often translated into millions of middle-class good-paying jobs.
well, china knows this, but china's not a free and open society. to achieve the kind of gains and advancements in technology and in biomedical science and in so many other things, they have to steal what we do. sometimes by buying our companies. sometimes by cyber theft. sometimes by just these joint ventures, and they tell american firms you can only come to china if you give away your intellectual property. so china's taking huge advantage of us. intellectual property is the lifeblood of emerging industries and the good-paying jobs they provide. the american advantage of intellectual property is one of the main things that will keep us number one economically in this century, but not if we allow it to be stolen and taken advantage of, and the country that does that more than any
other is china. intellectual property is the lifeblood, as i said, of emerging industries and the good-paying jobs they provide, so it's impossible to overstate the cost of i.p. theft to our economy and our workers. this sentence pains me. i think about it often. general keith alexander, four-star general, nonpolitical, he was in charge of cybersecurity in america, and here's what he said. china's theft of intellectual property is, quote, the greatest transfer of wealth in history. we're letting them do it. the crown jewel of america, our free and open society that allows great thinkers to create great ideas and products, they steal it, and we do nothing. that's one of the things, mr. president, that aggravates me more than most others.
finally, president trump is doing something, unlike his predecessors, so i commend him. the w.t.o., they have been grossly inadequate for this problem. we cannot continue to ignore flagrant cheating by china, whether w.t.o. likes it or not, so the administration's announcement today is a leap forward. if this new push is going to be successful, we need our allies to work with us. germany, italy, france, britain. open and free societies, unlike china. they know their stuff is being stolen, too. join with us. if we are a united, strong front against chinese activities on intellectual property, we can force them to change their ways, but they won't do it by persuasion, they won't do it by smiling, and frankly, they won't do it by diplomacy when some of
our diplomats come in and say we need china for this thing. ignore the economic theft. ignore the economic disadvantage. so i support what the president's doing. when it came to the tariffs on steel and aluminum, i supported the thrust, i supported the president's instinct, but it wasn't focused enough on china and heard too many of our other allies like canada where we have a trade surplus. i hope the president corrects his thinking on that. but here this is aimed at china in one of the ways china hurts us the very most. it's smart. it's good. i salute our trade rep light lightheiser for pushing this issue. i salute our commerce secretary ross for pushing this issue. and by the way, to help support the administration's efforts to
crack down on china, we will fully fund the ustr's trade enforcement fund at $15 million in the omnibus. so let's make sure that china starts playing by the rules, and on intellectual property, certainly at the top of the list. today's announcement by the president will be a great
start in that direction. democrats, republicans, americans of every political ideology, every region in the country should support these actions. i yield the floor.
mr. corker: madam or mr. president, i can't tell which currently. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: madam president, thank you. i rise today to speak about the omnibus bill that we're going to be voting on later today or tomorrow. and i just want to say i came to the united states senate almost 12 years ago. i've got nine months left in my term. i told folks back home i couldn't imagine serving more than two terms and yet it's been an incredible privilege to be here. and when i ran, i ransom concerned about our nation's fiscal issues and ransom on the combination of pro-growth tax reform and entitlement reform and dealing with the tremendous deficits our country has and really thought we'd do something
about it. we had the financial crisis that took place back in 2007, 2008, 2009. it was building in 2007 and occurred in 2008. we dealt with much of it in 2009. i remember to talking to people around our country then, not just about the financial crisis but about the tremendous deficits that our nation was creating. and was still hopeful in my first term that we would rise to the occasion and actually deal with the fiscal issues that are going to haunt these young people, our pages sitting before us. we have $21 trillion in debt today and over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities with our long-term programs, our mandatory spending programs. so during that period of time, during the -- near the end of my first term, i kept saying to people around the country there's no question that the united states senate and house with leadership from the executive branch will deal with this fiscal issue.
madam president, i'm convinced today that is not going to happen until there's a crisis in our nation. i'm absolutely -- let me say it one more time. without extreme leadership at the very top, i do not think we will deal with this issue until there's a crisis because i just don't see the will here to do the things that need to be done. during december we had a debate on the pro-growth tax reform side of this. and i think it's well documented. i had concerns about it. as a matter of fact, when the bill came through the senate, i voted against it. i continued to work with some of my counterparts on the democratic side, chris coons and others, and the white house to see if there was some way to potentially alter the bill so if growth projections didn't achieve what we thought they might be, that we had some way of ensuring that we would not have deficits. at the end of the day when it
came through, i supported it, pro-growth tax reform being one of those things i ransom on back in -- in 2006. madam president, what concerns me is today before us or maybe tomorrow, we've got a2,232-page omnibus bill before us that sets the base in spending that will be about $# trillion -- $2 trillion in deficit spending over the next ten years. by the way, that doesn't include some of the supplemental items. i'm talking about just the baseline in spending. i think everyone knows like you i'm a very strong supporter of our men and women in uniform. no doubt, you know, we all understand the defense numbers in this bill are way beyond even what the executive branch had asked for. somehow in these negotiations, we've ended up over a two-year period with an average increase
in base spending of about $150 billion. when you multiply that times ten, that's a trillion and a half. you know there's going to be increases over that ten-year period. and then if you look at the interest on the debt that it's going to create, it's about a $2 trillion -- we're voting on a bill tonight or tomorrow that's going to add -- there's no question -- a minimum of $2 trillion in deficits over the next ten years. what was fascinating during the month of december when we were dealing -- let me stop for a second. let me just go down the road. you know, there's a lot of discussions about the fact that maybe the republican party has lost its soul. a lot of discussions about that around the country, that maybe the republican party has lost its soul. i will say that to have -- for the republican party to have the presidency and for the
republican party to have the senate, for the republican party to have the house of representatives, and for us to be passing a bill today -- obviously it couldn't happen without us. we control the agenda here. for us to be in a situation where we're getting ready to pass a bill that adds $2 trillion in deficits over the next ten years or sets the stage for that by passing the first two years with a huge increase in base spending with no offsets to speak of does -- does have to be a wake-up call to people as to whether that's the case. i can't imagine, for instance, had the 2016 election gone a different way and we had a democratic president and we controlled the house and senate, i can't imagine us being in a situation where we would vote
tonight or tomorrow for a bill that's going to add $2 trillion in debt without offsets. as a matter of fact, i can just tell you absolutely that would not be the case. and so here we are -- look, there's going to be all kinds of things in this bill that people don't even know about. it's just human nature. it's human nature when you have the pen in your hand and you're working in a back room some place, and i don't criticize back rooms. that's how these bills get written. but people do things to benefit themselves. they just do. that's the way it works. i don't even want to speak to that. that is something i hope the media will speak to over the next two or three weeks when we find in these 2,232 pages that no one has read, when we find the things in this bill that are growing to be egregious to the american people, highly egregious, and i hope people will find them and i hope the media will report them and i know they are in there. i just don't know what they are yet because the bill has just
been produced. that's of concern. but what's of great concern to me is the fact we've made no attempt whatsoever to create any kind of offsets, no attempt whatsoever to try to solve our fiscal issues and just together, republicans and democrats, are running off the cliff passing a bill. now, let me speak to my democratic friends. i'm criticizing republicans as i should with this piece of legislation where we control the executive branch, we control both houses of congress, and we're getting ready to pass a bill that will add $2 trillion for these young people to pay for down the road which will compound, compound, compound. we have $20 trillion -- $21 trillion in debt today, not to speak of the $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. my democrat friends raised unmitigated h-e-ll over
projections. i have not married a word from them, not a word about the fact there's no we we're adding $2 trillion in debt here. no question. this is money gone, down the tube, out the door, no way to pay for it. i haven't heard a word from them, not a word. and my friends in the media which just couldn't -- were beside themselves. beside themselves in december. just the world was going to come to an end if the growth projections that were laid out didn't occur and the deficits that might be created by this tax bill if we didn't have the growth, they were just beside themselves. i have not heard a word from them. it's amazing. somehow or another spending more money than we have is different than hoping to create pro-growth tax reform. so, madam president, let me just say this. i'm optimistic about our future. i see young people around our
country that are just so impressive. i go to schools. i go to colleges. i see people in town hall meetings and restaurants, at the grocery store, and other places. and i could not be more upbeat about the generation of people who are coming after us who care about others, who care about the future, are engaged in issues. we'll have a big crowd of people up here this weekend caring about a particular issue they should care about. but madam president, i could not be more discouraged about where we are today with our adult leadership here in congress and at the white house. this is one of the most grotesque pieces of legislation i can remember. one of the best votes i ever made was the budget control ac. it was criticized but it kept domestic and discretionary spending on a level.
we should have done the rest of it. the rest of it was people getting together to solve long-term problems. we created a sequester. it creates some pressure that leads us to where we are today. but this is a grotesque piece of legislation, grotesque that we would pass a piece of legislation that would set the standard for $2 trillion in deficit spending not offset. i'm discouraged. i'm discouraged about where we are today. i'm discouraged about the fact that we continue to be engaged in generational theft, my generation. we won't deal with mandatory spending. mandatory spending that benefits my generation. to these young people sitting in front of me, we're engaged right now in generational theft because we are transferring from you to us your future resources. because we don't have the courage or the will to deal with issues. by the way, unfortunately, the
american people are not there. the american people do not care about this issue. because we're living fat and happy today and because the crisis has not yet occurred and because we can sluff it off on you and keep ourselves from making these tough decisions -- by the way, these tough decisions, you see, they play themselves out in the polls because people get angry about the fact that we need to be responsible, that we need to make sure that you guys are not going to pay these huge tabs. by the way, your standard of living, when we pass this bill, your standard of living will be diminished. when you go home to college and graduate and start working in your jobs, just know what we're getting ready to do tonight or tomorrow is going to diminish your standard of living because we're going to pass a huge bill unpaid for that you're going to pay for. and your children are going to pay for. that's what we're doing.
that's what we're doing. because we don't have the will as a body to say, okay, if we're going to spend this additional money, what is it we're going to cut over here? what are we going to do relative to the fact that right now medicare recipients take about three times out of the program what they put in. what are we going to do about that? well, see, we're going to do nothing about it because that's unpopular. and people don't want to hear the truth about these things. instead, what they'd rather do is say let's worry about that down the road. but let me tell you who's going to be worrying about it. you're going to be worrying about it. and i hope after you've been here -- i know you've seen some outstanding people. i serve with outstanding people in this body. i really do. intelligent, hardworking people. i really do. it's been a great privilege but what you're going to see tonight and tomorrow, you're going to
see a bunk of hardworking people pass a piece of legislation that's going to make your lives and your kids' lives worse. with that, mr. president -- madam president, let me say i will not support this piece of legislation and i know it's going to pass overwhelmingly because there's too much in it to make people happy for the moment. but let me just say down the road, the american people are going to be very unhappy with our lack of responsibility. and not only do i question the soul of my own party, i question the soul of the other party. and i wonder where the media is and why they're not out crying over what we're getting ready to do. with that i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i use the term loosely, but last saturday was one of the high holly days in -- holy days in chicago, st. patrick's day. it was a great celebration. i look forward to it each year, to go back to my parish, old sta wonderful day of a lot of good feelings. during the course of the st. patrick's day parade, i walked along the various groups that were going to march and came upon the chicago police department's bagpipe and drum band and i noticed the banner
they were carrying for the day really was in honor of a wonderful man by the name of captain paul bower. paul bower was in the chicago police force and was attending an important meeting and heard over the radio a fugitive was trying to escape. he dropped what he was doing and tried to catch this fugitive. he was cornered in the stairwell by this man and shot dead. the man who shot him got off six rounds and killed this wonderful man who served not only the city of chicago but our nation in his role with law enforcement. he left behind a young wife and beautiful teenaged daughter. he's from the bridgeport community of chicago. when his funeral was held, there were massive crowds that showed up to tribute to paul bower.
the reason i bring it up, they traced the gun that was used to kill this brave policeman. it was a gun legally sold through a licensed dealer in madison, wisconsin, and then the person who purchased it sold to a member of the gun club. we don't know if that person was disqualified to purchase the handgun or not. the person who bought it ended up selling it to a convicted person. that's when that handgun got into the world of crime. it was used in the commission of a crime months before the shooting of captain baure and it was -- bauer. the reason i raise that, because we know what we need to do. we need universal background
checks. whether you're selling to a person over the internet, you need a background check. there is no excuse to sell a gun to someone in the united states who is prohibited by laws from owning one. that's why it happened. that's why that wonderful man, that brave policeman lost his life. the reason i raise that is because we have a bill before us now. it's an omnibus appropriations bill. and it includes provisions about gun safety. they are good. i don't argue with them. one is called fix nics to try to make sure that more information is put into the background check system. there's another one relating to gun violence which provides grants to schools to make them safer and such. no objection to that. but we're not getting to the heart of the issue. we can give a second amendment to legally allow americans to
own guns and use them responsibly. and the supreme court made clear that we can draw lines which say, yes, if you have been convicted of a felon, you cannot own a gun and assert a second-amendment right. you disqualified yourself. we can say as well, if you're mentally unstable, you cannot legally own a gun in america. you can't assert second-amendment rights in that circumstance. we can put provisions in the law relating to the type of gun that you own, how old you have to be to buy that gun, what kind of background check takes place. but none of that -- none of it is included in this omnibus bill. my fear is this. my fear is that many members of congress will say, well, we get a lot of context after the parkland, florida, situation, met with a lot of people, and now we have taken care of our
constitutional obligation with the provisions in this omnibus bill. it will be a sad day if that is the case. because what is in the omnibus bill would not have saved captain bauer. we have fallen far short of where we need to be when it comes to gun safety. something happened this saturday, a week after the st. patrick's day parade. tens of thousands of students are going to march right here in washington, in chicago where i will join them, and in cities and towns all across america, including springfield, illinois. they will march to urge lawmakers, like me, to finally pass meaningful gun reforms to help keep our children and communities safe. madam president, there are things that happen in our personal lives which we bring to our professional lives, and i'll just share one of them with you. after the terrible shooting that occurred in florida, my
daughter, who lives in brooklyn, new york, was talk to her -- talking to her daughter, my little granddaughter, first grader. her daughter, that first grader, said, mom, the teacher told us if there's a shooter in our school, stay away from the windows and get down on the floor. first grade, warning about shooters coming into your classroom. who would have dreamed that america has reached this point? and it has. who would possibly argue the second amendment envisioned that possibility that weed arm teach -- we'd arm teachers so we could have a shootout in a first grade classroom anywhere in this country? the marchs that will take place on saturday is a sign that perhaps america has reached a tipping point in gun safety. gun owners have said we need
universal background checks is an indication that we have reached that point. the younger generation is speaking out and confronting us, those of us in position of power, elected office, confronting us to do something and stop talking about it. these young people are tired of living in fear, as many students are across the country. they are fed up with the status quo where hundreds of americans are getting shot every day while politicians sit on their hands in fear of the gun lobby and national rifle association. i don't care what my scorecard is with the national rifle association. i know what it is, incidentally. it's a failing grade, which i wear with pride. i don't care about my scorecard there. i care about my scorecard with the people i represent in illinois and i particularly care about the parents who are worried about whether their school for their kids will be the next site of gun violence. these young people who are going to march on saturday are fed up with lawmakers who ignore the majority of americans, overwhelming majority of
americans who want to close loopholes in the background check system. through their powerful advocacy and eloquence, these juniors and seniors in high school were already bringing about change. listen to what businesses across the country are doing. they're distancing themselves from the national rifle association. it's no longer considered just another political organization. they are voluntarily changing their business practices so they don't give a break to a gun lobby which won't give a break to honest americans who want to be safe in their homes and schools. the students in parkland, florida, have helped these businesses recognize they need to be part of this effort, and we're seeing new gun safety reforms passed in state legislatures. not so much here in washington, but in states like florida that have a long tradition of voting the other way on gun issues. unfortunately, the republicans who control the house and the senate and the white house still haven't gotten the message.
what we have included in this omnibus bill is weak soup. 13 lives in parkland, florida, are worth more than what we are putting in this bill. even after parkland, after all the lives have been lost to violence, even after the school shootings continue, including a shooting at a maryland high school this week, president trump and the republican majority in congress are still unwilling to push for universal background checks and an end to high-capacity magazine clips and assault weapons. there were honest measures included in this omnibus bill. is that all we get. is that it? is that the end of the national debate on gun safety for another five, six, or eight years? there is important language that i included in the defense portion of the bill directing the department of defense to not only submit all its relevant records for nics background checks but also to flag and prevalidate the records which would prohibit a person from buying a gun. it's a step in the right direction. it's necessary, but it's not
sufficient to really make a difference when it comes to gun safety. the prevalidation and flagging is important for the f.b.i. to help us. it helps them quickly confirm whether a person should be blocked from a gun sale. but let's be honest. this omnibus bill that we're considering today and tomorrow doesn't address the fundamental challenges our nation faces when it comes to gun violence. it takes a pass. it's time for congress to start considering legislation on gun violence that the gun lobby just might not like. we can't let the national rifle association have veto power over gun policy in this nation. politicians need to recognize the obvious. the gun lobby is increasingly angry, sometimes paranoid, often isolated in its political positions. it no longer speaks for the majority of people who own guns responsibly in america. remember, the gun lobby cares about one thing more than anything, selling firearms.
it's all about the business side of the ledger, the bottom line profit margin. violence prevention is not the focus of the gun lobby's agenda. in fact, the gun lobby usually opposes violence prevention legislation just in case it might hurt gun sales. it's reached a point where the n.r.a. endorsement of gun -- of the gun reform proposal is typically a sign that the proposal is not meaningful. we can't settle for the status quo anymore. we're facing a public health crisis of gun violence and halfhearted measures are not enough. we need to fight for meaningful gun safety reforms. we need to call it measures like universal background checks in ending high-capacity magazine clips. tell me, tell me why a person who owns a firearm, whether it's a handgun or semiautomatic weapon needs to have a high-capacity magazine calypso that they can fire 30 or 60 rounds at a time. tell me why. you might need that if you're in
the military. you just might need it when it comes to police work and keeping our communities safe. there could be circumstances where they're needed. but why would an individual citizen need the capacity to fire 30 or 60 rounds at one time? those are the clips that are being used incidentally by these gun shooters. those are the clips that are being used for mass killing in america. those clips do one thing. they take human lives. it's not a question of sport or hunting or target practice. it's a question -- i ask consent to speak for three additional minutes if the senator from utah would give me the utah. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you very much. let me close by saying on march 24, students and americans of all ages will march in the streets to honor those who have been lost to senseless gun violence and to call on their elected representatives to step up. i support the marchers, and i will continue to work for meaningful action to help reduce gun violence.
i'm going to keep doing everything i can to put the safety of our kids and our neighborhoods ahead of the gun lobby's agenda. i don't have any obligation to the national rifle association whatsoever, but i do have an obligation to a granddaughter living in brooklyn, new york, in the first grade who has been warned about what to do if a shooter comes into her classroom. i hope my colleagues from across the aisle will join me. it's time to take a stand and show leadership. america's waiting. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. lee: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: madam president, i'd like to speak for a few minutes about ryan nelson who has been nominated by the president to serve as the solicitor of the department of the interior. ryan is a fantastic choice for this position at interior. a native and current resident of idaho falls, he is a fellow westerner who understands the issues confronting the west, confronting the region, confronting the entire country as it relates to the u.s.
department of the interior. but ryan would not just work on behalf of the west. i know he is someone who is going to serve honorably on behalf of the american people as a whole. in order to do that, he first has to be confirmed. by my count, it has been 232 days since ryan nelson was nominated. there should be no further delays. the american people deserve to have well-qualified professionals in the executive branch, and mr. nelson is qualified, to put it very mildly. he is someone who has worked in notable posts of responsibility in all three branches of government. during the george w. bush administration, ryan worked as deputy assistant attorney general in the department of justice's environment and natural resources division. in that position, he personally
argued 13 appellate cases. he also oversaw 700 attorneys and staff who touched on all aspects of energy and environmental issues within the department of justice. later, ryan worked in the white house as deputy general counsel for the o.m.b. and as special counsel to then-senator jeff sessions. that's just his experience in government. ryan is -- has acquired senior management experience in the private sector as well. for the past eight years, he has worked as general counsel for mellaluca, which is a very successful billion-dollar idaho business. so ryan does not just know what it's like to work in government, what it's like to work in washington. he knows that, but he also understands the challenges that businesses and workers face in the modern world. now, i have known ryan for many
years. ryan and i got to know each other while we were both at a law school, at b.y.u. i got to know ryan and his wife barbara who have seven lovely children. after law school, i ended up recruiting him to work at the law firm where i was then employed, sidly and austin. after pulling all-nighters alongside ryan, i can confirm what nearly 50 of his former colleagues wrote about him in a recent letter of support. he's an excellent choice to serve as solicitor. ryan has outstanding analytical skills, and he has immense attention to detail. these are qualities that will serve him really well as the interior department's top lawyer. as you know, madam president, this administration has made it a priority to repair the relationship between the federal government and the western states where the federal government owns so much land, but too many workers in the west
still don't feel like they are treated fairly by their government. we can help restore that trust by confirming impartial, well-qualified nominees, and ryan nelson is such a nominee. we need him in the u.s. department of the interior. the interior department needs to have a solicitor. ryan nelson is an exceptionally qualified nominee for that position. let's confirm ryan nelson today. thank you very much, madam president. i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i'd ask consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, i'd like to start my comments by paying tribute to the senior senator from mississippi, senator thad cochran. last night the appropriations committee which senator cochran chairs released the 2018 omnibus appropriation bill. it includes a proposal that i feel very strongly about, and i'm grateful to him and all of our colleagues for their support, but i particularly want to acknowledge the advocacy of the majority leader, mitch mcconnell, to make sure this provision is included in the omnibus bill. the house will soon vote on the
omnibus and then i hope we can quickly follow suit here in the senate. the provision i'm referring to is called fix nics, short hand. nics of course is the national criminal instant background check system, and it's a response, i think a reasoned and reasonable response to the shootings that have appalling occurred in our schools or churches and in our public spaces. just this last week, a gunman opened fire at a high school in maryland just not far from here. and, of course, the shootings that occurred in florida, texas, nevada, charleston, south carolina, and elsewhere. madam president, our constituents are frustrated, frightened, and fed up. they want us to do something. more importantly than that, they want us to do something that will be effective and save lives. and i'm happy to say the fix nics bill fits that description.
people that haven't been active on this issue now are raising their voices and demanding they be heard. students are worried understandably and parents of students are worried. they simply don't want what happened at parkland, florida, to occur to them. we need to listen to all of these voices, including these students who obviously will shape our nation's future. they don't want to go to school wondering whether bullets will be raining down their hallways or their friends might be the next victim. in a recent interview, one tablier said something that's triet but true -- that's trite but true. she said guns aren't the problem. people are the problem. i happen to agree with that. one question about school shooters is, how did they get to that point where they thought that shooting up public places is what they really wanted to do
or how did they justify it in their own mind as wharped as that might be. what is it about our culture, their home environment, or their mental state that allows them to rationalize violence that does such tremendous harm? how does slaughter, because that's what it really is, how does it become justified in their wharped perspective? i admit that's a tough question to answer and it's tough to even ponder, but we still can and have to do what we -- what is possible to protect our schools, our churches, parents, teachers, and our children. recently 13 families from parkland, florida, wrote in support of this particular legislation. and legislation that would improve school safety sponsored by our colleague, the senior senator from utah. senator hatch's bill would fund the creation of and provide for
training and training for threat assessment teams. in other words, to evaluate beforehand where people are vulnerable. it includes security measures and anonymous reporting systems. this bill is widely supported and shows that even on a divisive issue, there's plenty of room for common ground. in that same letter that the 13 parkland families said they supported senator hatch's school safety measures, they expressed support for the fix nics bill which they said is desperately needed to improve compliance with firearm purchasing background check systems. a recent gallup poll showed the public broadly supports proposals like fix nics. more than nine in tennessee the importance of back-- more than nine in tennessee the importance of background checks. over the last few weeks there's been true groundswell support for this bill. the senator from connecticut, the junior senator from
connecticut, senator murphy and i cosponsored. the supporters include not only victims rights advocates, gun silence prevention groups and prosecutors but also the u.s. conference of mayors, the national league of cities, and the major county sheriffs of america, as well as other law enforcement groups. all of these organizations have endorsed fix nics and signed a letter asking that the majority and minority leaders put this measure to a vote. and now it having been included in the omnibus appropriation bill, we'll finally have a chance to do that, first in the house and then in the senate. these organizations and the general public agree that fixing our background check system should be a national priority, that we should better ensure that convicted criminals with past histories of violence and mental illness do not purchase or possess firearms as the law currently in effect provides. they see merit in trying to fix our system that currently has
allowed these same people to slip through the cracks and purchase firearms and kill innocent people like the 26 gunned down inside first baptist church in sutherland springs, texas, just outside of san antonio. some have said that fix nics doesn't go far enough, that it's a modest measure. well, i have to question that sort of description. is it really a modest measure if it will in fact save lives? i think not. it's a necessary measure and one that brings people together across the political spectrum, republicans and democrats alike. even if fix nics were to save just one life, there would be reason enough to enact it, but i think that's unlikely. i think it will save many, many, many lives once enacted into law and signed by the president.
we have 78 cosponsors of this legislation. i can't think of another piece of legislation that has enjoyed such broad bipartisan support, including the majority leader and the democratic leader, senator schumer. in today's hyper polarized environment, that kind of support speaks for itself. i look forward to the house passing it as part of the funding bill, and i hope the senate will do the same before the end of the week. madam president, i want to just close by saying a few words about our friend and trusted colleague, the senior senator from mississippi, thad cochran who's announced his retirement from the senate. i know the real tributes are about to kick off in a minute when the majority leader will come out, but since i'm up here, i thought i would take the opportunity to say a few words. senator cochran has represented the state of mississippi since 1978. that's in the senate. he's one of the longest serving
members of congress in the history of the united states. his career and his life speak for themselves. he's the son of a school principal and math teacher. he was not surprisingly a gifted high school athlete. he's also a piano player and a former college leader and even like me, he's a recovering lawyer. but we won't hold that against him. before he joined congress, he served in the united states navy because he loves this country and the opportunities afforded him and his family. he's a man with a strong sense of duty and gratitude for the opportunities he's been given in life. after rotc at the university of mississippi, he received orders to join the u.s.s. macon and after that he joined the staff of the navy ca commandant in new orleans. he first served in the house of
representatives and came here to the senate where he quickly established himself as a cordial but formidable presence. before i came to the senate, senator cochran was chairman of the senate republican conference. he's chaired the senate agriculture committee, too, and most recently he's alternated between serving as ranking member and chairman of the all powerful appropriations committee. throughout his 45 years in congress, he's participated in, crafting, and enacting historic legislation. but his main focus has always been on the people, the people of mississippi. his highest priority has always been on the men and women he was elected to represent in places like jackson and gulfport, greenville, starkville, and hattiesburg. one example is when he fought so hard for recovery funding after hurricane katrina. many people forget that that awful storm was much bigger than new orleans.
mississippi was hit almost equally as hard and senator cochran made sure that his state got the help it needed to get back on their feet. his career is one of service and collegiality. even amidst all the fractious debates. he treats friends and political adversaries with respect. he listens to what people have to say. we need more people like that in public life. the majority leader has called him the quiet persuader, one who knows there's a big difference between making a fuss and making a difference. judge grady jolly of the u.s. court of appeal, fifth circuit who has known senator cochran as long as anybody said back home he's known for his modesty and retiring nature, not attributes you would normally associate with somebody in politics, but
he's a class act. also for the consistent attention he's paid to the mississippi delta, one of the poorest regions in the nation's poor estate. the judge calls senator cochran the ultimate model of sincerity, one who never engages in ad hominem or personal attacks and always keeps a sense of humor about himself. my office spoke to one mississippi resident this week because we wanted to learn a little bit more about what senator cochran has meant to them. that woman who had met senator cochran only a handful of times said she had always respected and admired senator cochran's statesmanship and the dignity with which he represented mississippi. her comments are a good note to end on. statesmanship and dignity. those traits never go out of style. i know i speak for my other colleagues and they will speak for themselves when we all say
thank you to thad cochran for setting a higher standard for the members of this body. the united states senate will not be the same without him. mr. cornyn: madam president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 4851 which was received from the house. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 4851, an act to establish the kennedy king national commemorative site in the state of indiana and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the young amendment at the desk be agreed to, the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without
objection. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thank you, madam president. madam president, i rise to say a word about my friend thad cochran who is retiring from the united states senate. in 1968, i had the job of recruiting state chairman for citizens for nixon agnew. i was a very young, wet behind the ears former legislative assistant to senator howard baker. we were working in the willard hotel in the fall of 1968. the idea was to try to find outstanding citizens who weren't necessarily republicans because in the southern part of our country, there weren't a lot of republicans, especially in the state of mississippi.
so i called around the state of mississippi to find out who might be willing to head up this nixon agnew campaign. everybody i called said, well, there are two young men here who are just the most outstanding young men. both are cheerleaders at ole miss, or had been, and both are going to grow up to be the governor of mississippi, which was at that time, i guess, the nicest thing you could say about some aspiring young man because nobody thought the two united states senators, east land and stennis would ever retire. growing up to be the governor of mississippi was a great compliment to a young man in mississippi at the time. one of those young men was named trent lot. one of those young men was named thad cochran. i telephoned thad cochran and invited him to be a member of the citizens for nixon-agnew.
he was a democrat but he agreed to do that. he met in october of that year in indianapolis. the mayor of indianapolis then was richard lugar, a young mayor at that time, later a member of this body. and that was the beginning of thad cochran's republican party activity. then he and that other young man who were so promising, both ran for the united states congress in 1972, and to the surprise of a great many people they were elected the first republicans since reconstruction, i suppose, in mississippi, thad cochran and trent lott. in 1978, thad cochran did something nobody had ever done in his state since the reconstruction. he became a republican elected to the united states senate and he's been here ever since. the reason he was able to be successful is not surprising. thad was and is an engaging pleasant person. his parents were educators.
he learned to play the piano. he was a terrific baseball player, good enough to play professional baseball. he joined the navy. he was in every respect the outstanding young man just as he has been a distinguished public servant throughout his life. he's been widely respected here by his colleagues, elected to be chairman of the republican conference. and most recently he's been chairman of the appropriations committee, which is as important as any position in this body. in an era where not everybody seems to think it's important to act like a gentleman, thad cochran is a gentleman. and we respect that and the example that he has set. so he's been a pioneer for the republican party. he's been a good example for young people and for all of us really in terms of what we should expect and try to emulate in public life. and to me, he's been a great friend. so my wife honey and i would like to say to him and to kay, his wife, that we respect him.
we look forward to the next chapter in his life. and we honor his service to this country. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: madam president, i too wish to join my colleagues in tribute to our retiring statesman, senator thad cochran. first of all, i have been asked by phyllis j. anderson, tribal chief of the mississippi band of choctaw indians, to insert into the record a proclamation that was adopted only recently about senator cochran in appreciation for his 46 years of public service as a member of the house and of the senate.
and i ask unanimous consent that that proclamation be inserted into the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: i would note -- and i thank you, madam president. i would note that the last paragraph of this document says resolved that i phyllis j. anderson by the authority vested in me do hereby honor the legacy of thad cochran and extend sincere gratitude and appreciation and many blessings of the band of choctaw indians to senator cochran upon his retirement after five decades of public service in the u.s. navy, the u.s. house of representatives and the united states senate. signed by phyllis j. anderson, tribal chief. back in december of 1937, thad cochran was born in the little
town of pontotoc, mississippi, population 1,832. he was born in the delivery room of the rayburn clinic. and some 13 1/2 years later, mr. president, i was born in the delivery room of the rayburn clinic in pontotoc, mississippi. now, during a campaign some years later in 1994 when i was first trying to be a member of the house of representatives, then senator thad cochran and i went around the northern part of the state and told many, many people that he and i were born not only in the same town and not only in the same clinic, but born in the same room, the delivery room of the rayburn clinic. we thought that was the truth.
it turns out we found out later from our moms that the rayburn clinic had moved down the street. and so while we remember both born in the delivery room of the rayburn clinic, that clinic itself had moved. but it just points out how long senator thad cochran and i have been friends and how long our families have been friends and how well associated we've been down through the years. senator alexander mentioned that campaign in 1968, and then he mentioned that he was a candidate for congress in -- successfully in 1972. i was honored as a college student to go door to door for senator cochran during that 1972 campaign. yesterday was national poetry day, and so perhaps it's appropriate for me today to
quote a couple of poets, the first being henry wadsworth longfellow who said lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, and departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time. and as thad cochran departs the senate in a few days, i think it's appropriate for us to reflect, as my friend from tennessee and my friend from texas have already done and as others will do, about the great footprints that senator thad cochran will have left in the sands of time for our nation. because of thad cochran, our nation's defense is stronger today. because of the efforts of our colleague from mississippi, my
senior senator, americans are healthier today and will continue to be healthier. american agriculture is stronger today because of the efforts of this quiet persuadeer in the field of agriculture. and our economy as a whole is stronger because of the many efforts of senator thad cochran and before him, representative thad cochran in the united states house and in the united states senate. so i'm just very grateful, we're all grateful for all he's done. senator cochran acknowledged in his statement about his impending retirement that health had become an issue for him, and it was time to move on. although that was -- i told reporters and i told members who
asked me, i said it's a bittersweet -- it's a poignant moment for me to hear such things. these sorts of things happen, and we all face, we all face health issues at some point. alfred lord tennyson in his magnificent poem ulysses said though much is taken, much abides and though we are not in that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are we are. one equal temper of her woke hearts made weak by time and fate but strong in will. to strive to seek, to find, and not to yield. so, mr. president, i say to my friend thad that we appreciate the fact that he has been strong
in will. and though time and fate have happened to thad cochran and will happen to me and to all of us, what abides is the legacy that he's left of being a quiet persuader, of being a person of accomplishment, of being a gentleman who has made this country and its citizens better off. and i thank you, and i yield
the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: when i learned that our distinguished colleague from mississippi would be retiring this month, i found it difficult to imagine the senate without him. that's for good reason. thad cochran arrived here in
1978. 254 senators have since followed in his footsteps. of those currently serving, 97 of us are newer at this than thad is. and every single one of us has been treated to a first-rate example of honorable service. a master class in the art of legislation and living proof that unwavering principle and unflappable collegiality can and should coexist. we all know thad had a knack for making things look easy. so many graces and talents seem second nature to him. but appearances can be
deceiving. take the start of his political career. when you think about it, it's only natural that senator cochran liked to work on conservation issues. i expect his adventures as a mississippi republican in the early 1970's helped him understand just what it feels like to be an endangered species in 1972, thad was a rising star attorney when he was asked to try and become just the second g.o.p. congressman from his state since reconstruction. the possibility seemed so remote, then when he asked rose how she liked being married to a congressman, she replied, i don't know. which one? long odds indeed. but true to form, thad won in
the end and again and again. and then he became the first republican senator from mississippi in a century. it's safe to say service is in thad's d.n.a. both his parents were devoted educators. his father w.h. served as superintendent of a large rural public school district. his mother emma was a pioneering mathematics teacher who wrote new curriculum. and in pontotoc, mississippi, their p two boys grew up with a healthy appreciation for the power of good schooling. thad graduated as high school valedictorian, then became a
nation commission and then law school where he graduated at the top of his class. but no amount of success could take the kindness and courtesy out of this quint essentially southern gentleman. a deep respect for others is thad's calling card. just a few weeks after he arrived in washington, he brought his staff together, and here's what he said. he said we're going to treat everyone the same. we're here to find answers for everyone, even if they disagree with us. and we're here to serve the people of mississippi. even at a time when the wounds of segregation were still raw, he made it clear this meant all -- all -- mississippians. in fact, he hired the first african american congressional staffer to work in a mississippi
office since reconstruction. nemiah flowers. and for all his staff, thad took the time to pen a detailed memo laying out high expectations for serving constituents and treating everyone with dignity. that temperament led it a litany of accomplishments. mississippians knew that in thad they had a quiet persuader. a steady workhorse, a dogged advocate who almost never made a fuss but almost always made a difference. indeed, the policy achievements of this mighty appropriations chairman are so numerous as to defy easy summary. i know this schoolteacher's son is particularly proud of his
work on education. senator cochran carried the banner for research partnerships that raised the profile of historically black colleges and universities. he delivered critical funding to expand scholarship access. he spearheaded the delta education initiative, inspired the cochran fellows program, which has changed the lives of more than 17,000 agriculture professionals from around the world. it's no exaggeration to say that thad cochran's work has broadened the horizons of millions, but it didn't stop there. there were the landmark bipartisan bills like the national missile defense act. there's his partnership with his dear friend senator leahy on the farm-to-school program. the list just keeps growing. when he first ran for the senate in 1978, tha d's thump speech
included a line that mississippians deserve add senator who would work full-time -- full-time for them. they certainly got one. thad didn't come to washington to win prays or hog the limelight. this man served in the senate for seven terms and only appeared on "meet the press" twice. no, thad had other business to attend to. he spent his 39 years in this body working full-time for students and educators, full-time for farmers and ranchers, full-time to deliver funding for our brave service members and veteran whose returned home. it is rare even in the halls of government to meet someone as influential as senator thad
cochran. it is even rarer to meet someone as kind, as even-tempered, and as concerned for the welfare of others. and it's almost unheard of that that same man would be both. that's just who thad is. he wrote the book on composure under pressure. he served as the careful custodian of billions of taxpayer dollars without losing an ounce of humility. on the senate floor and in committee he tackled heated debates and complicated legislative challenges with true servant leadership. on the tennis court, by all accounts, he offered his colleagues a different and altogether less hospitable sort of service. but true to form, i hear thad always combined winning and graciousness. he certainly had enough practice at both p.
from pontotoc, mississippi, to the senate floor, t -- thad cochran's story has grown but hasn't changed. it is a story about putting others first. it is about doing the right thing every step of the way. it's a story that will continue to teach and inspire those of us who now must carry on our work without him. i know tha d's devoted staff are sorry to see him go. their allegiance to him, famous throughout the senate, is further testimony to his own principled professionalism. this is exemplified by nobody quite so well as doris wagly, senator cochran's personal secretary who served thad ever since 1973. -- when he was first sworn in as a congressman.
she planned to take the job for just a year or so and then reassess. enough said. she, along with all of of senator cock rang's excellent staff -- cochran's excellent staff, have our admiration and our gratitude. i particularly would like to thank two men who have led teams in service to mississippi and senator cochran so well -- brad white house, his chief of staff, and bruce evans, his longtime staff director on the appropriations committee. i am grateful for their hard work on behalf of the senate. i know the he recall mornings and late nights were many, including just these last few weeks. thad's friends know that retirement will allow him more happy times with his wife kay, his beloved children clayton and kate, and the three
grandchildren he adores. he departs with our warmest wishes. we will miss our great persuader and our loyal friend. we stand with mississippians and a greatful nation in -- grateful nation in honoring the service of senator thad cochran. the presiding officer: the senator from
vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i thank the distinguished majority leader and distinguished other senator from mississippi for their comments. i often thought that thad cochran and i would serve here together straight through whatever time we have in the senate because he is such a dear
friend. i often felt that senator thad cochran was plucked from central casting to fill the role of devoted public servant. more than most of us, he looks the part. but more than most of us, he embodies the best of what the senate can be. currently in this body, i've served longer here than anybody else. i've never felt closer to a senator than i do to thad cochran, my dear friend. and our country needs more public servants like thad. as congress has become more partisan in recent years, thad has stood by his values. he brings substance, not sound bites, to the you werer chamber. his leadership, as has been said, as the quiet persuader, is going to be missed.
we've talked about him being the son of a schoolteacher. that is no shock that he devoted his life to public service. he joined the navy after graduating from ol' miss, getting a law degree from the university of mississippi and then become engaged in mississippi politics, often traveling his father to help with voter registrations and campaigns around the state. he worked on campaigns from county sheriff to the governor's race. then went to the house in 1972, and then here in washington a couple years ahead of me. and then we became senate partners in 1978. he and i both became chairmen of the senate committee on agriculture, nutrition and
forestry. today in the committee's hearing room, our official portraits hang together. it's easy to tell them apart. he's the one with the hair. and the better-looking. i know marcelle and i have joined thad in mississippi. we visited sprawling cotton and fishing farms. twice thad joined me in vermont to visit small family dairy farmers. i even introduced him to my mother in montpelier. now, mr. president, i have to make a confession here. i hope this doesn't go out of this room, but it was during one of those trips to vermont -- to st. johnsbury, vermont, in 1985, that i equity stoled the beauty of vermont in the -- extolled the beauty of vermont in the
wintertime. we arrived, and i think the southern gentleman was not ready for temperatures to dip down to around 20 below zero. that's cold weather even by vermont standards. but this wonderful southern gentleman turned to me and he says, pat, this is not mississippi weather. and then made a few other suggestions, but we had a wonderful visit just the same. and we stayed in what's called the rabbit inn with fire places going, and then the next day at our meetings, i think vermont was ready to elect thad cochran as the third senator, he was so impressive. but we also traveled beyond vermont and mississippi. we met with leaders around the
world. the senior members of the senate, we could go in a bipartisan way to see how they felt about the united states. we and our wives became close on these fact-finding visits. no matter how long the trip was -- and some were onto the other side of the earth -- thad, through his conversation and his friendship, made even the longest trip seem short. but in our travels, one of the things that i could always count on, thad would always check in on the cochran fellows in whatever country we were in. that started in 1984 -- thad started in 1984. the cochran fellow program has provided training for more than 17,000 people from 125 different countries to develop agriculture systems, strengthen trade between our countries, but also
strengthening understanding between the united states and other countries. he's leaving a legacy that's tied to our nation's agriculture development. when he was chair of the agriculture committee, he left his fingerprints on the farm bill. they're still there today. more recently we championed the reauthorization of the farm-to-school program, providing federal resources to bring fresh, nutritious local food -- local food -- from local if a he recalls to more than -- from local farmers to more than 40,000 schools across the country. including 83% of the schools in vermont. what a legacy. he was the son of a teacher and a grade advocate for mississippi farmers. thad knows how important this program is to strengthening local farm economies and educating young kids and their families about the importance of eating locally grown and
nutritionally dense food. this picture was taken when we were visiting a farm. obviously not when it was 25 below zero. it was probably a warm summer day. that's why we have on light sweaters, while we're doing it. even though we're on opposite ends of political spectrum, thad and i have crossed the aisle to work hand in hand for the american people from our work in the senate to our work of both of us as regents at the smithsonian. but in every bill and program in which we've worked, he's been a senator with integrity, decency, civility, and, most importantly, a dear and cherished friend. thad will always keep his word. and i would tell that to the senate because that's a quality that's becoming too rare sometimes in both parties.
he is old school. many of us would say the best school. when i became vice chairman of the senate appropriations committee, i knew i would have a steadfast partner in senator cochran. he's earned the moniker of the quiet persuader. he's referred to by one of the members of the appropriations committee once a moniker that should be appreciated as a workhorse, not a showhouse's horse. that's why he's -- not a show horse. that's why he's been known as the quiet persuader. he was the quiet persuader when he used his leadership to direct the nearly $30 billion to communities on the gulf coast to rebuild. he'll leave this chamber having cast more than 13,000 votes. becoming the leng tenth-longest
serving senator in the history of our country. constant champion of mississippians and the american people. i don't think the american people truly understand how much senator cochran has accomplished for his state and his country. marcelle and i count him among our dearest friends. his leadership on the appropriations committee in the senate will be sorely missed. our country needs more devoted servants like thad cochran. i'm sad to see my dear friend leave. but i know his legacy and presence will be felt in this chamber, in mississippi, across the country for generations to come. i will enjoy looking to photographs of my dear friend taken in vermont and mississippi