tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN April 18, 2018 1:29pm-3:29pm EDT
the clerk will report the nominaon. the er nomination, nasa, jameridensne o oklahoma to be administrator. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, later this afternoon, the senate is finally voting to confirm carlos muniz, well qualified for the department of education. i came to the floor last week to ask for this vote because i believe mr. muniz has been subjected to unreasonable delays. for example, mr. muniz was nominated by the president on june 6 of last year, 315 days ago. he's been pending on the floor since we reported him out of her
health, education, labor and pension on october 18, 2017, 1881 days ago. in other words, he's been waiting six months following his approval by the relevant committee for the senate to consider this nomination. so it's time to confirm him. time to give secretary devos, an attorney and a general counsel. mr. muniz has extensive experience as an attorney in government. from january 2014 to 2018, he was a partner at the law firm of maguire woods in florida. prior to that january 2011 to 2014 he was deputy attorney general for the state of florida, chief of staff to attorney general pam bondi. there he managed a 400-lawyer agency and oversaw all functio including litigation, policy lopmen legislative affairs and communications. he was also general counsel for florida's department of financial services and deputy general counsel for governor jeb
bush. mr. muniz graduated from the university of virginia with high honors. he earned his law degree from yale where he was an editor of the yale law journal. after law school he served as clerk to two federal district judges. one on the united states court of appeals for the second circuit. the other on the united states district court for the district of columbia. in other words, mr. president, he's exactly the kind of person that we would hope would serve in public life. and i'm delighted that he chose to accept the president's nomination and that we will have a chance this afternoon to confirm him. as general counsel, he'll have the important job of providing legal assistance to the secretary concerning the programs and policies of the department and making sure these policies follow the law which given his background, he has the experience to do. when he testified in his confirmation hearing, he's committed to advising the secretary to follow the law as
congress wrote it. i'm glad we're having this vote today. i support his nomination. i urge my colleagues to do the same. mr. president, i thank the senator from texas for his courtesy in allowing me to speak before him. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of education, carlo g. muniz of florida to be general counsel. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will now be one hour of debate on the nomination equally divided between the senator from new york or her designee and the senator from tennessee or his designee. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, it's with sadness i come to the senate floor to speak about the former first lady, barbara bush,
her passing yesterday. of course, she was the wife of our 41st president and the mother of our 43rd president. my wife, sandy and i have wonderful memories of mrs. bush flying around the state of texas with us during my campaign for attorney general, that the former first lady of the united states was so willing to embark on this long day of campaigning speaks to her generosity and her devotion to causes she believed in. with her we always felt like we were flying in first class. many kind things have already been said about the first lady's sharp wit and her sense of humor, her efforts to improve child literacy and her faith and loyalty to family and friends and all of those are true. i won't try to top those statements. i'll simply say what all of us are feeling today. sad and a little bit emptier as a nation missing her honor,
dignity, and respectability. mr. president, later today i have the honor of meeting with the director of the c.i.a., mike pompeo who's been nominated by the president of the united states to become america's chief diplomat to u.s. secretary of state. i'm looking forward to catching up with the director about severallobal challenges and his priorities as the next secretary of state. but what confounds me as i stand here today is that many of our democratic colleagues have made his nomination a partisan wedge issue. diplomacy which is what the state department does is supposed to be about bringing people together, not dwig them apart -- not dividing them apart. but sowing discord is what some partisans seem intent on doing whether it comes to director pompeo's nomination and it's a
shame. with the growing number of threats around the world, with heightened tension in north korea and syria, it's clear that we need an intelligent, qualified person in that position. it's time to put partisan politics aside and confirm this nomination. there is no good reason why we shouldn't be able to do that. after all, as the editorial board at "the washington post" argued persuasively, director pompeo should be confirmed. 14 democrats supported him when the senate voted last year to approve his nomination to lead the c.i.a. back then my colleague, the senior senator -- our colleague, the senior senator from virginia said he believed that pompeo would be an effective leader of the central intelligence agency at a time when the agency is facing many challenges. the junior senator from virginia added that pompeo has a keen understanding of the c.i.a.'s
role and was knowledgeable about our nation's cyber threats. those seem like pretty nice compliments and prey accurat assessments to me. but now some democrats are saying they oppose pompeo's nomination for the state department and on what ground? is the c.i.a. any less important a job than the state department? to be for director pompeo as director of the central intelligence agency and against him for secretary of state seems to be unreconcilable. some have attempted to justify their opposition saying he is somehow antidiplomacy but that claim is frankly false. we just heard last night of the news of director pompeo's trip to north korea. two democratic senators from connecticut praised the groundwork that was being laid saying they're glad that
preparations were being made for upcoming negotiations on the nuclearization of the korean peninsula and that this is the sort of diplomatic effort on the part of pompeo that is undoubtedly welcome. i agree with those comments. it's important for us to make sure that we exhaust all efforts at diplomatic resolution on the korean peninsula rather than see an armed conflict with so many innocent lives lost and so much bloodshed. so i applaud director pompeo and this administration for taking the diplomatic avenue so seriously and making that trip, laying the groundwork for the president's negotiation with kim jong-un. but then that raises a question, how possibly could director pompeo in light of this news be the warmongeringntidiplomattic caricature that some democrats have painted him to be? it's just not true. the director's trip is not the
only thing that established his diplomatic credibility. i've spoken about director pompeo's credentials on several occasions in the past. as we know he graduated first in his class at the u.s. military academy at west point where he was an engineer. he served in the united states army earning the rank of captain and he served as a calvary officer in various parts of the world. when he went to law school, he graduated at the top of his class and practiced at a prestigious law firm. then he went into business founding an aerospace company and later ransom for the house of representatives from his home state in kansas. those that know mike know that brash, impulsive, and reckless are not words you would ever use to describe him. he's not somebody looking to pick a fight with dangerous regimes or to flex military muscle unnecessarily. what director pompeo actually is
is careful, thoughtful, deliberate. he listens. he studies. and he gets along with people. and above all, he has the sort of experience we need in our next secretary of state. it is true he has military experience but that doesn't predispose him to military conflict as the best way to resolve our disputes with other countries. to the contrary. and he has much more than that experience. he served honorably on the house intelligence committee and he's now served at the c.i.a. for more than a year. so he has that vital intelligence background. as i said, he worked in law and business so he understands the role of civil society and public institutions and building the durable rule of law in countries unlike our own. i hope our colleagues will remember these qualities in the
days ahead, and i hope director pompeo will be confirmed on the floor in short order. it would be a grave mistake for this body to fail to confirm the next secretary of state, particularly leading up to the important negotiations with regard to the nuclear weapons capacity of the north korean regime and the likelihood that that could be resolved short of armed conflict should encourage all of us to continue to support those diplomatic effortsnd to support director pompeo as the next diplomatic in chief -- diplomat in chief. finally, mr. president, i would like to speak again about tax day which, of course, was yesterday. i know so many texans are saying thank goodness it's over. we heard a collective grown across the country as people jump balanced together all the paperwork and mailed their returns or delivered them to the i.r.s. the good news is that the worst is behind us.
as the majority leader wrote recently, there's a silver lining. simply put, it's out with the old and in with the new. yesterday was the last time american families will have to file under the unfair, convoluted and outdated tax code that congress and the president got rid of a few months ago. unfortunately, none of our democratic colleagues supported the tax cuts and jobs act, none. all of them voted in lockstep no. that's right, every single democrat in the house and every single democrat in the senate voted to block tax cuts for working families. they voted against doubling the standard deduction. they voted against doubling the child tax credit and they voted to maintain the u.s. corporate rate as the highest business tax rate in the industrialized wor world, all to our detriment and all to contribute to slow
economic growth and a lack of hope for so many people looking for work and hoping to pursue their dreams. well, some of our colleagues yesterday met on the stairs out front of the capitol, and they said not only would they vote -- did they vote no when it came to the tax cuts and jobs act, now they want to repeal those tax cuts. that's right. they came together unanimously and said, we want to raise your taxes killing the economic recovery we've see which has gotten people so excited, which has caused consume confidee to be at an all-time high, and we've seen what happened to the stock markets. people's 401(k) and pensions and retirement savings. and people finally have a skip in their step -- a spring in their step once more when it comes to their job prospects and bringing home more take-home pay.
well, our colleagues across the aisle voted against a $2,000 tax cut for a family of four making $73,000. they simply have ignored the fact that the tax cuts and jobs act doubled that standard deduction making sure that a married couple, the first $24,000 in income they earned was tax free. and they ignored the fact that the tax cuts and jobs act doubled the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 allowing many more parents to claim it and helping working families. and our democratic colleagues who voted no ignore the fact take the law eliminates the individual mandate tax which disproportionately hits low-income families. worst of all, our colleagues who insist on voting no to these reforms seem so driven by ideology, by a devotion to big government that they aren't actually listening to the
american people. well, i've listened to my constituents and every time i do, i learn something new. every week i hear from texans who explain how they're putting the new savings from the tax cuts and jobs act to good use. one, a retired disabled soldier named william alderman says he lives on a fixed income and has seen it go up because of the changes to the tax code. he thinks the law will have a lasting impact and he said thank you. and he said god bless texas and america. another texan, a retired air force colonel from brownsville named david tee began said the benefits felt a lot more than just crumbs to him. a third, donnie connell from san antonio, my hometown, said the tax law will result in close to $4,000 worth of savings this year, $4,000 he would not have had but for the tax cuts and jobs act.
donnie's trying to make a better life for his family, and he called the reforms a huge deal. and when he said huge deal, it was all in caps, i might add. or our democratic colleagues are so quick to dismiss or ignore normal hardworking people like donnie with the same old tired talking points and ideology because doing so is easier than actually doing the hard work of coming together on a biparsan basis and passing legislation. when they do this, this like to talk about corporations. according to their rationale that 505 companies that have announced pay raisessers bonuses, 401(k) match increases, cuts to utility rates and other benefits, that those appears really helping the -- that those aren't really helping the average worker. they're just somehow lining their own pockets. they regime to ignore that our -- they seem to ignore that our old tax code ranked at the
highest in the world. instead, they say that the stock buybacks, for example, which some companies have opted for in part reward corporate executives and well-off shareholders rather than workers. the senator from new york, the minority leader, has made those comments a number of times, which reflects a basic misunderstanding. our colleague from massachusetts has said that buybacks, quote, create a sugar high for corporations. but none other than warren buffett, one of the most famous investors in the world and a democrat, disagrees. he and others understand that it is oftentimes irresponsible to sit on large amounts of cash. they need to put to work for their shareholders, grow the business, improve stock values. if companies buy back stock,
shareholders can then go and invest the mey in another company that migave had something better to do with it, a company that has something greater to build or innovate and needs money toest go the project off the ground -- to get the project off the ground. as one economist has said, when it comes to buybacks, the money doesn't go into a black hole. it goes into a financial market somewhere and then a chain of events leads to higher wages and higher productivity. so as we hear and continue to spread the stories about tax reform, the true stories, let's remember men and women like donnie connell for whom the savings are literal a huge deal and let's ignore the delusional, ideological arguments which have already been disproven and let's keep finding ways to make the economy stronger and more dynamic. one characterized by more jobs, higher wages, and falling unemployment. mr. president, i'd ask unanimous
consent that the vote on the muniz nomination occur at 4:30 today. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. i come up to the floor today to urge my colleagues to vote against the nomination of carlos muniz as the department of education's general counsel. the department of education's primary responsibility is to help schools educate our students and prepare them to be successful in life. a good education can open doors of opportunity for children who may not have thought that their dreams were possible, and a good education can lift millions of families out of poverty and into the middle class. that's certainly what a good education did for me and for my family. so as many working families are struggling today, we should be
working to make sure every child can attend a good public school in their own neighborhood. we need to do more to ensure every student who wants to attend college can afford it, graduate, and find a good-paying job and isotaddled with a mountain o debt. and it's absolutely critical that every student, no matter whatagers is learning in a safe environment -- what age, is learning in a safe environment, free from discrimination, harassment, and violence. this should be at the core of our nation, that everyone has the trite a high-quality education no matter where they live or how they learn or how much money their parents make. mr. president, as general counsel to the department of education, mr. muniz would be responsible for providing legal advice and assistance to secretary devos, and her first year in office has shown how much she needs it. secretary devos continues to push her extreme privatization agenda even though millions of students and parents and the
teachers have stood up and rejected it. and despite bipartisan agreement in congress on our nation's k-12 law, the every student succeeds act, secretary devos is approving state plans that do not comply with all guardrails, guardrails that were agreed to by republicans and democrats in congress to help ensure that no student falls through the cracks. secretary devos has rolled back protections for students and student loan borrowers, making it easier for predatory for-profit colleges to make advantage of students and time and time again she has failed to uphold civil rights protections for students. she has triedo scale back the fice for civil rights, ope the door for schools t once again discriminate against transgender students and rolled back guidance for schools on how to investigate campus sexual assault. especially in this moment when more and more women are coming
forward and sharing their stories of harassment and assault, there is no excuse for those in power to attempt to sweep their stories under the rug. but by rolling back this guidance, secretary devos allowed schools to put the burden back on survivors. and by making it harder for them to trust they will be believed. and i'm concerned that fewer women will now come forward. mr. president, it is clear secretary devos needs an independent general counsel who will stand up to her when laws are being bent or broken. i am afraid mr. muniz has failed to convince me that he is -- that that is the kind of general counsel he would be. he worked for a for-profit college company that preyed upon students and cheated them out of their education and their savings. he has a record of putting politics before students. he worked for the florida attorney general who came under fire for accepting a political donation from president trump at the very time she decided
against investigating the trump university. a sham university that the defrauded countless students by promising them everything and leaving them with nothing. although they didn't stand up for students defrauded by president trump, many other states sued and just last month eight years after trump university closed its door, the $25 million settlement the president agreed to pay to his victims was just finalized. meaning some of those cheated by the president will now start seeing relief. however, mr. muniz's involvement in the trump university case gives me great concern that at the department of education he will once again not stand up for student loan borrowers defrauded by other predatory for-profit colleges. so, mr. president, i'm afraid mr. muniz at the department of education will only be more of the same. and for those reasons, i will be
voting against his nomination, and i urge my colleagues to do the same. and, mr. president, while i'm here, i want to briefly comment on another nominee that is being considered today by the senate, and that is representative bridenstine. since he was nominated to the -- to be administrator of the national aeronautics and space administration, i have been expressing very strong and very serious concerns, and i wanted to come to the floor today to once again call on my colleagues to reject this nomination and to call on president trump to send us a nominee that is worthy of the great legacy and incredible potential of our civil space program. my deep concerns with representative bridenstine fall into two categories. first of all, his fitness for leadership of an agency that is seeped in science, given his clear lack of understanding of basic scientific issues. and, secondly, his ability to
lead an inclusive and forward-looking agency given his history of hateful, demeaning, and divisive comments and positions. first, let me talk about on his fitness to lead this agency. mr. president, nasa is an agency that is committed to science, exploration, technology, and innovation. over the years, it has employed some of the most brilliant scientists in the world focused on the most cutting-edge research, with an eye towards exploring new frontiers, expanding human knowledge, and increasing our understanding of this world and beyond. it was this commitment to science and innovatn that allowed nasa to catchp with the russians and launch a satellite into space. it was this openness to innovation that allowed nasa to cast humanity's eyes with greater clarity than ever before far beyond our solar system with the launch of the hubble telescope. it was this focus on innovation and exploration that allowed nasa to put a man on the moon --
12 of them, in fact. and, mr. president, the list goes on. without a commitment to science, nasa would not have succeeded and if that commitment doesn't continue, it will fail. so, mr. president, that's why i'm very concerned that representative bridenstine not only is not committed to science, he flat out rejects clear scientific consensus. as i've said before in a june 13 speech he delivered on the floor of the house of representatives, representative bridenstine repeated the debunked claim that, quote, global temperatures stopped rising ten years ago. in a march 2013 tweet from him failed to recognize the difference between local weather conditions and the broader planetary climate. that is a basic scientific concept. and those are just a couple of examples, and this may be just one issue, but it is really telling. and i believe that representative brideningstein's
failure to accept fundamental scientific truths about earth's climate will make him an ill-suited and dangerous choice to lead an agency with science at its core. secondly, mr. president, is my concern about his ability to lead an inclusive and forward-looking agency, given his history of hateful, of demeaning and divisive comments and positions. i've noted this before, but it bears repeating. representative bridenstine has openly expressed his opposition to the rights of lgbtq individuals, of immigrants and of women. in may 2013, he gave a speech and sippinged that lgbtq people were immoral. he said, quote, some of us in america still believe in the concept o sexual morality. in response to the supreme court's marriage equality ruling in 2013, he stated that he would keep fighting for, quoting traditional marriage. representative bridenstine has a
history of supporting anti-muslim groups and has consistently defended a number of president trump's discriminatory policies on immigration, including the muslim travel ban. he even defended president trump's comments about sexually assaulting women saying they were, quote, lockerroom talk. he has gone on shows and stages to stand with bigots and racists, not to debate them but to agree with them. and that list goes on. representative bridenstine is not someone who should be put in charge of nasa's diverse workforce. in 2016 nasa announced that for the very first time, fully half of their new astronaut trainees were women. i mentioned before nasa has sent 12 men to the moon. we may be on track for the first wellcome to plant -- for the first woman to plant her feet on
mars. we women to strive for high careers in stem careers regardless of where they are from or who they love or what color their skin is. sending someone like representative bridenstine to lead our nation's space agency would send the absolute wrong signal and move our country in the absolute wrong direction. so, mr. president, i'll be voting against that nomination and i will be strongly encouraging our colleagues to do as well. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that my intern, fiona stywert, be given privileges of the floor. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you. the most important words in our constitution are the first three words, we the people. that's the mission statement of our constitution. our founders did not seek to design a government that would
enable the powerful and privileged to make rules to benefit themselves. ey didn'tay w to have a constitutionhat enables the wealthy and the well-connected to take away the riches of this country at the expense of the people. no, they laid out the vision. we the people, they put that mission statement in super-sized font, so even if you were reading the constitution from across the room, you'd understand it's core mission. a core mission that, unfortunately, has been sabotaged in the citizens united decision, which instead of pursuing government of, by, and for the people, instead of providing what jefferson called the equal voice mother principle of america that each citizen should have an equal voice, proceeds to give the powerful
the reins of power through unlimited third party campaign spending. the corruption of our democracy is in full gear, and we see it through the bills that are coming to this floor. bills to wipe out health care for 22 million to 30 million americans. a bill that passed that borrows $1.5 trillion from our children. from our children, and proceeds to give that money virtually entirely, more than 80% to the very richest americans. i encourage my colleagues to think about how we have a responsibility under our oath of office to fight for this vision of america, not a corrupted, we the powerful vision of america. and as we address the issues that people care about at the kitchen table, it comes down to
four basic things. it comes down to education and housing and living wage jobs and health care. eisenhower said because the strength of our nation is in its people, their good health is a proper national concern. and we have worked to design improved health care systems, lower costs, higher quality, improve accessibility. and we've come a long way through the a.c.a., the expansion of medicaid, establishment of competitive marketplaces for insurance, and indeed in oregon we reduced the uninsured rate from 15% to 5%. we increased resources in our rural health care clinics, our rural hospitals and you are urban health care clinics and
urban hospitals. we strengthened the health care system, but it's not enough. we still have 41 million adults in this country who are underinsured. we have 30 million who remain completely uninsured. that's why today i am delighted to join with my colleague, senator chris murphy, to introduce the choose medicare act. every american deserves the promise of access to a popular, affordable, high-quality health care option. fortunately we have just such an option. it's called medicare. it's time tested. it's well vetted. it's admired and desired by our seniors. and today chris murphy and i are introducing the choose medicare act which creates a medicare
option for all. putting consumers and businesses in the driver's seat on the pathway to universal health care. with the choose medicare act, we affirm that here in america, health care is not a privilege for the wealthy and well connected. it is a right and a fundamental value to have health care for all. i'm pleased that we have been joined in introducing this today with nine of our additional colleagues as original cosponsors. senators baldwin and senator blumenthal and senator booker, senator harris and senator heinrich, senator shaheen and senator schatz, senator gillibrand and senator udall. thank you to each and every one of these original cosponsors who believe in the vision of improving our health care system. and appreciation to the groups that worked to help forge this vision, to put meat on the bones
of this idea. p triple c involved from the beginning with insights and credo and daily coasts and democracy for america and move on and families u.s.a. we appreciate their endorsement of this plan. when we were talking about medicare for all, many folks said how do you create the transition. and back during the a.c.a., we did debate reducing the age of medicare to 55. we had 60 votes for it for a week and we lost our 60th vote. how do you wrestle with this vision? how do you create the transition? well, folks come to my town halls -- and i hold a lot of them. i'm well over 300 during the ten years that i've been serving in the senate. and they come and say we have this great health care plan: medicare. why can't we buy into it? why not give us t advantage of its efficiency and cost control,
it's low administrative costs, its high-quality health care. that's exactly what chris murphy and i are putting forward along with our cosponsors, is that vision of a medicare option for all. that is a we the people bill. that's not a bill for the 30u68 and -- for the powerful and privilege. this is about the fundamental issue people wrestle with, about around the kitchen table the complexity and the cost of our health care system. am i on medicaid today but i earn too much and so i'm off. how do you get on the exchange in the middle of the year? how do i sign up for tax credits and what if i don't get that right? what if the correspondence gets lost in the mail or misfiled, which seems to happen? why can't we have a simple, seamless simple? well, we have one. medicare. folks say why can't we participate? well, you can if we pass this bill. it makes sense to create this
public option competitor. what we have seen for states that have a public option in their provision for workplace insurance, the costs come down dramatically. that's certainly happened in my home state of oregon. it happened on the other coast of rhode island. it happened around this country. lyndon johnson, when he created medicare, signed the bill, he said it calls upon us never to be indifferent toward despair. it commands us never to turn away from helplessness. it directs us never to ignore or to spur those who suffer in a land that is bursting with abundance. medicare, high-quality coverage for 58 million americans. bargaining power, low administrative costs, high respect by participants. so what does plan do, this chooe
medire act? well, it covers all that medicare covers today. and then because it would be open to people of all ages, it throws in pediatric and reproductive health care and builds those networks. it strengthens the exchanges by strengthening the tax credit so that the middle class is not stranded when it comes to the affordability of health care. it extends those tax credits from 400% of poverty to 600% of poverty, reaching further into the middle class to make that transition, to make health care affordable on the exchange. it strengthens certainly kphaeurl -- medicare itself by putting a cap on the out-of-pocket costs. all of those were in traditional medicare. their medicare improves as well. and it provides the ability to drive down the cost of drugs by giving medicare the ability to
negotiate those prices. that's certainly, certainly a very important feature. so here we have something that is very popular with the public. the public, when they're asked would you like to see the opportunity for every single american to be able to buy into medicare, have that as an option? it's a voluntary option but an option. overwhelmingly they say yes. democrats say yes. republicans say yes. independents say yes. they'd like to have that option. and the more they learn about how a public option has driven down costs, the more ty say this is needed. now we not only make it possible to buy down the exchange, we make it possible for self-insured companies to take advantage of medicare. we make it possible for employers in regular companies who are buying other health care plans for nature employees to
consider buying a medicare plan. so this reach is broad and deep. that's the type of we the people legislation we should be considering on the floor of the senate. not a health care bill designed to destroy health care for 22 million to 30 million people like we saw last year, courtesy of our majority. not a plan to borrow $1.5 trillion from our children and to give it away to the very richest americans, the bigot, boldest -- the biggest, boldest bank heist seen in american history. that's the type of bank heist you expect out of corrupt third world countries. not here, not in the united states of america, which tells you just how corrupt our election process has become with
citizens united allowing unlimited billionaire dollars into our campaign system. so we have to fight to take back division of our nation, the we the people vision of our nation. it has been stolen. it has been corrupted. and we have to take it back. and when we take it back, we're going to put bills on the floor of this senate that are about the fundamentals for families. living wage jobs, public education and public college education, affordable, quality classroom. the cost of housing, which is complete out of reach. and certainly profound, substantial improvements to our health care system.
and i thank chris murphy for partnering in this project. i supported bernie sanders' medicare for all, and i loved that vision. chris murphy supported brian schatz's bill to be able to buy into medicaid. we don't have an identical health care profile, but what we saw together is the option of buying into medicare is a complete win for the american people, a complete win for our health care system. thank you, mr. president.
quorum call: mr. cruz: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cruz: mr. president, i rise to support the upcoming confirmation this week of my friend jim bridenstine to be administrator of nasa. we are now in our second year without a senate-confirmed administrator of nasa. not only has that been bad for the united states, but it's also been bad for the commercial space industry and for nasa. it has been bad for all of us who prioritize restoring and strengthening america's leadership in space.
nasa needs a strong leader, and it will have that strong leader in jim bridenstine. i serve as the chairman of the senate commerce committee space subcommittee, and i'm proud and deeply gratified that president trump chose to nominate representative jim bridenstine to lead nasa. i can think of very few people i know who are more inspirational than jim. unfortunately, throughout representative bridenstine's confirmation process, we have seen cynical politicians attempting to malign his character, despite the fact that he has spent his entire adult life in public service. jimridenstine is a veteran and a war hero. he is a man of deep character and deep integrity. having served our nation in combat as a fighter pilot, he earned the respect of the men and women who served under his command.
representative bridenstine's combat missions included airborne battlefield command and control and tactical air control flights in support of the liberation of iraq, controlling over 180 kill box interdiction and close-air support missions, resulting in the destruction of countless tanks, armored vehicles, and time-sensitive fixed targets. representative bride insoon -- bridenstine later transitioned to the fa-18 hornet while on active duty, serving at the naval strike and air warfare have the, top gun -- center top gun command where he flew both the e-2 and f-28. there receiving fitness reports from his commanding officers which rated him as, quote, the number one hawkeye pilot and weapons tactic instructor and, quote, the most skilled pilot in
the e-2 community. that is a remarkable record and one that has been followed by honorable and distinguished service in the united states congress. throughout my time in the senate, i've been blessed to meet with a number of astronauts. it is worth noting that quite a number of those astronauts at enasa h backgrounds very similar tohat of representative bridenstine. he wl be able to lead them as one who has served in missions similar to the ones they have served in and are serving now. and i have no doubt that he will be an effective leader of nasa and will work to ensure the safety of the men and women who step forward to save our country, that he will work to lead nasa in a way to ensure that america continues to lead in space and that, in particular, that nasa and the commercial space specter working hand in hand will move forward to implement the bipartisan commitment that this congress
has made that man will go back to space and will go to mars and, in particular, that the first foot that sets on the sail of mars will be -- on the soil of mars will be an american astronaut landing to explore that next frontier. and so i urge my colleagues to put aside partisan politics. if this vote were on the merits, representative bridenstine should be confirmed 100-0 on the merits. i urge our colleagues to come together so we can have a strong leader of nasa, an honorable war hero on the one hand a leader who will lead space exploration going forward. mr. president, i also rise today to join israel and the jewish people to celebrate israel's independence day. this year marks the 70th anniversary of theablishment
of the modern state of israel. on friday, may 14, 1948, israel's founding father david ben-gurion brought together members of the jewish people's council in the tel aviv museum. by then the zionist movement to rebirth the jewish state had been at work for decades. ben-gurion stood underneath a portrait of the pioneer of that movement, theodore hertzel. the land of israel was the birthplace of the jewish people. here their spiritual and religious identity was shaped. here they first attained to statehood, created culture values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal book of books. after being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept
faith with it throughout their dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and to the restoration in it of their political freedom. that right had been recognized by the international community, he said, and declared the founding of the modern state of israel. quote, we the members of the people's council, representatives of the jewish community of hertz israel and of the zionist movement are here assembled on the one hand the day of determination of the british mandate over irtz israel and by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the united nations general assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a jewish state in israel to be known as the state of israel. 11 minutes after ben-gurion made
his declaration and over the observation of many of his advisors and the state department, president harry s. truman courageously recognized the state of israel. i'm sorry that it took us a full 11 minutes to do so. meanwhile, five arab states declared war and invaded in an attempt to destroy the new state. despite being outgunned and outnumbered, israel would prevail. the israeli victory might not have happened without heroic u.s. soldiers who had recently returned from worl world war ii, including jewish-americans, volunteering to go and help. some volunteers provided badly needed weapons. others offered military experience. some fought. in 1951 ben-gurion, then serving as israel's first prime minister, established israel's memorial day, which takes place
the day before israel's independence day and which commemorates those killed in the wars and the terror campaigns waged against israel. from tuesday to wednesday morning, israel came to a complete standstill in honor of the 23,646 israelis who have fallen in wars and the 3,134 terrorist victims since 1860. i stand shoulder to shoulder with israel in commemoration. it has been seven decades since prime minister ben-gurion made his historic declaration of independence and president truman gave his historic recognition, and i'm proud to say that america continues to stand unshakeably with our allies. on december 6, 2017, president trump rightly recognized
jerusalem as israel's capital and announced that the u.s. embassy would be moving to jerusalem, ilementinghe jerusalem embassy act of 1995 that was adopted overwhelmingly by congress. i have long advocated and supported the united states to take these two actions, which are required to rectify an historic injustice. jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the jewish people for over 3,000 years. and the capital of the jewish state since its founding in 1948. i recently introduced a resolution reaffirming the deep connection between the jewish people and jerusalem and denouncing efforts at unesco that have attempted to rewrite historic truth, to erase from history undeniable facts. i'm also proud that my home state of texas adopted legislation on israel's independence day last year to
combat the anti-israel boycott diversement and sanctions, the bds movement. and on may 14 14 of 2018 exactly seven decades since president truman recognized israel, the united states will finally and formally recognize as much and open our embassy in jerusalem. mr. president, i along with many millions across our nation and across the world look forward to that day and we stand in alliance and solidarity with the people of israel celebrating the great friendship, the great national security alliance between two great nations. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the senate is a great place and to be able to speak here is a great honor, whether you're discussing your belief on an issue of great importance, honoring a friend, or on rare occasions but all too often when you get to be my age, pay tribute to somebody who's given so much and passed away. such has happened in my state this past monday on the 16th of april when john a. williams died. 74 years old. john williams was a giant in every weigh in our state. he's a giant entrepreneur. he founded two great companies, one of them post properties, the largest apartment read on the new york stock exchange started in 1993, built it to all new heights. most recently he started preferred apartment communities and done the same with it, employing thousands of people and thousands of units for housing and americans and set the pace of housing in his career. i don't know how many of you
noticed in the suburbs of most major cities today but office parks and apartment complexes of any size now are some of the most beautifully landscaped businesses in your community. 30 years ago nobody planted a stick, nobody planted a stimulus bill -- planted a shrub or flower. because of john williams tulips blossomed in every apartment building. he changed the advertising mode for apartments. he called them apartment homes because he wanted his apartments and rent units to be looked upon by the people who lived there as their home. he sold that concept and built that concept and replicated it over and over and it became the standard in georgia and i've traveled the country and it's the standard all over the country in terms of apartment houses and landscaping for major commercial properties. he was a great entrepreneurial building two great companies and helping thousands of other people in many other ways to build their companies. a great father, a great husband,
a great family man. his wife nancy a wonderful first lady in our community, parker, sarah brook, jay, his children great contributors to our community. all knew how lucky they were to have a great father. he's a great sportsman. when i say a great sportsman i mean a great one. he built ranger, one of the biggest yachts in the world and sailed the world on that yacht and won races all around. but also a sportsman, he was a minority owner of the atlanta falcons and invested with arthur blank and the atlanta falcons, ultimately almost got to the super bowl. they got to the super bowl but couldn't finish the drill with the patriots. one day we're tkpwhr-g -- going to figure out a way to do that. a giant community man. who have you heard of in your lifetime that in the same lifetime was president of two competing chambers of commerce? he was twice the president of the kalb county.
by owning the falcons he built two great chambers of commerce and sought others to come to t communities where he was prospering and built their businesses then he wanted toe president of the atlanta chamber of county. thr-pbt -- atlanta and kalb are the two biggest counties in georgia. he brought them together. he was a broker of common interest. he found the good in every opportunity and tried to sell the good and forget about the bad. he tried to bring out the best in everybody. and i never made a deal with john williams or saw a deal that he had made -- i never saw anybody leave the closing table that didn't feel good. his knack was to be sure that if you left the closing table and you had a check, you felt good about it. and if you had just written a check, you felt good about it. he wasn't a lose-win person. he was a win-win person. and that's why he was such a great businessman and such a great entrepreneur. he's a great friend and a giant of a friend to