tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN June 12, 2018 9:59am-12:35pm EDT
passed on to rather generation so they can do the same thing. today, the united dates is definitely the leader of the free world thanks to you. if we are committed to self-determination and freedom, elp unleash a new era of new opportunity, security and prosperity around the world. not just here at home. we didn't choose this responsibility and i think it is our destiny. together, you and i can assure america in the world's best days are indeed ahead. if not now, when? if not us, who? thank you for all you do. god bless you and god bless the united states of america. [applause]
>> the u.s. senate is about to gavel n. kentucky senator mitch mcconnell becomes the longest-serving republican leader after 11 and a half years in the position. the main work today will be on defense programs for 20 night team. a number of amendments are pending. live coverage of the u.s. senate heren c-span2.
lord, you are the joy and strength of our lives. you can remove all pain, misery, and strife. be for our lawkers a source of truth. may they view pressing issues in the light of your precepts, embracing your wisdom and power. give them a passion for compassion and joy as they rememberour desire that they live abundantly. continue to shine in all our hearts so that neither the shade of doubt nor the shadow of death can bind us to the light of your
can -- can blind us to the light of your great love. we pray in your sacred 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., june 12, 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 cindy hyde-smith, a
senator from the state of mississippi, who will perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. just a few hours ago, president trump, crety of state pompeo, security advisor bolton and the rest of the delegation ended their meeting with north korean officials. this was an historic first step in negotiations. in the words of the joint statemen ateed t by the united states and north korea, both sides committed to pursuing a lasting and robust peace regime andete earization of the korean peninsula. the next steps in negotiations will test whether we can get to
a verifiable deal which enhances our relationship with northea asia a our allies. this challenge will take a great deal of hard work. as president trump explained a few hours ago, today is the beginning of the arduous process. our eyes are wide open. i support the goals contained in the statementnd i remain supportive of the administration's mission as secretary pompeo reiterated, the goal of the united states is the, quote, complete and verifiable denuclearization of the korean peninsula. if north korea does not prove willing to follow through, we and our allies must be pred to restore the policy of maximum pressure. today i congratulate the president on this major step and share his hope that this is a process that will lead to an
historic peace. now, madam president, on related matters, history shows us that skillful diplomacy and global peace and a strong military are in no way opposed to one another. quite the opposite. these components of america's strength are complimentary. as president reagan explained, quote, peace does not exist of its own will. it depends on us, on our courage to build it, guard it, and pass it on to future generations. and yesterday afternoon the senate took a step toward doing just that by turning to the mccain 2019 national defense authorization act. this legislation builds on the landmark bipartisan budget agreement congress and the president reached earlier this year. that deal established the outlines for the largest year-on-year increase on funding for american armed forces years. now this ndaa will authorize the
use of those resources for the priorities that matter most to the men and women who serve our country and to their commanders who plan for the future. the legislation will equip our all-volunteer force to meet a variety of challenges abroad, -- abroad, but its impact will be felt here at home where its service members will receive top-notch training and expanded support services for themselves and their families. it includes a pay raise for all active duty personnel, the largest increase in a decade, it will have new construction for family housing and on-base support infrastructure, it expands resources for child and health services as well. i know each of my colleagues can testify to the important roles that military installations play in communities all across our country. my fellow kentuckians and i take pride in fort camel, fort knox,
we are proud that kentucky has the 101st aaron borne division and those of kentucky's air and national guard units. in our state, as never every state, the military's presence anchors the communities and offers a reminder of the sacrifices that keep us safe. it is our responsibility -- our responsibility to support them. i look forward to delivering that support when the senate votes on the ndaa later this week. and now on another matter, i want to share the senate's warmest wishes for a speedy recovery of larry kudlow, assistant to the president, who is currently recovering at walter reed from what we were told was a small heart attack. larry is not just a famously happy warrior for pro-growth, pro-opportunity economics, he's also widely regarded really as one of t best guys in
washington. we hopes he gets well soon. speaking of the economy, madam president. by now it's no secret that under the last administration our nati's economic recovery was slow, stunted and almost exclusively focused on the largest urban centers. between 2010 and 2016, that's where more than 90% of population growth happened. it's where nearly three-quarters of new jobs went. most everywhere else in our small cities, small towns, rural areas, families heard lot of talk of what my democratic called an economic recovery, but they say few o saw none of these effects in the small towns and small communities. it's no surprise after seeing their communities suffer under eight years ofemocra' policies, millions of americans are ready to take a different route. that's why the elected republican president and republican majority is here in
congress and we set about implementing our agenda to take money and power out of washington and put it bac the hands of middle-class families and small businesses all across our country. even as the positive effects of these policies have become more and more obvious, they continue to encounter nearly comete party-line opposition at every turn. i recall two or three days after prident ump signed our historic tax reform into law, several of my colleagues across the aisle were offering some dramatic predictions. on christmas eve last year, the senior senator from montana took to the boozman daily chronicle with a piece entitled, tax bill, a disastrous plan fails montanaed and our future. quite a pronouncement. it reminded me of the democratic leader in the house shsm she said our plan to give tax cuts to middle-class families and businesses bring about, quote, armageddon. armageddon. so how a these
prognostications holding up, madam president? well, the new tax code is causing northwestern energy to pass along millions of dollars in savings to montana utility customers. my friend, senator danes, recently shared what tax reform means to montana's small business owners. stricts agriculturet means $1,000 bonuses for each employee, in mouzala it means money to purchase new equipment. the same goes for cabinet mountain brewing in liberty, and over in thompson falls, tax reform gave the lummer -- lumber company to build the first new forklift in 19 years. these are the kind of things that senator danes counted on when he voted for tax reform.
he voted for montana to send less to the i.r.s. and keep more -- more of their hard-earned money to keep or invest as they see fit. the senior senator tried to stop these tax cuts from happening. the democratic leaders in both chambers say they will repeal tax reform if they get the chance but republicans will keep picking up the slack. we'll keep standing up for the american people. the presiding officer: under the previous order, leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 5515, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 442, h.r. 5515, an act to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2019 for military activities of the department of defense and so
mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, madam president. before i begin my remarks, i want to congratulate our republican leader on becoming the longest serving republican
leader in the senate. my frien leader mcconnell, reached that milestone today. it's no secret we disagree on a whole lot of issues, both political and philosophical, but that doesn't mean we can't or don't work together or that i don't admire the qualities that have helped make him the longe serving republican leader. he understands his caucus and represents them well. he knows how to fight and he knows how to cooperate. the job is not an easy one. so it's testament to his qualities that he has done it longer than anyone in the history of the senate. now, on north korea, in the early hours of the morning, president trump and chairman kim met in singapore for the first meeting between a sitting u.s. president and the leader of north korea. it was a welcome improvement to see the two of them having a dialogue rather than engaging in name calling and saber rattling. certainly, americans feel better about talking than name calling
and threats of war, which had characterized the relationship up until now. though we are all rooting for diplomacy to succeed, we must be clear-eyed about what a diplomatic success with north korea looks like. a diplomatic success would be the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the korean peninsula. nothing less. and why do we say that? it's not to make any political points. but a nuclear north korea with icbm's probably presents a greater danger to the united states and the safety and well-being of our country than any other in the world. so it's imperative that we actually get action here, not just photo ops. previous negotiations have sought the same goal with good reason. and in 1994 and 2005, those negotiations yielded agreements that were in fact much more
rigorous than the initial communique issued by president trump and chairman kim. this communique lists denuclearization as a far-off goal, but includes no details about a pathway to achieving it. no details about how the united states might verify that north ko has disarmed when they repeatedly lied in the past. no detail about stopping the enrichment of plutonium or uranium. no details, even about the definition of complete denuclearization, which has been a main point of contention in previous negotiations. unfortunately, the entire document is short on details. as we have learned in the wake of the collapse of the 1994 and 2005 agreements, north korea is liable to backtck on vague commitments as soon as it's in its interest. chairman kim, like his father before him, has a historyf backing away from agreements.
there is a great fear now that chairman kim having won a major concession from the united states, meeting with our president, may not go any further. now, as then we must be weary of this probability. when trust is lacking, it is best not to dive in head first and hope for best. but rather to work slowly, transparently, and verifiably to build trust and lock in concessions. it is worrisome, very worrisome, that this joint statement is so imprecise. what the united states has gained is vague and unverifiable at best. what north korea has gained, however, is tangible and lasting. by granting a meeting with chairman kim, president trump has granted a brutal and repressive dictatorship, the international legitimacy it has
long craved. the symbols that were broadcast all over the world last night have losting consequences for the united states -- lasting consequences for the united states, north korea, and for the entire region. for the united states, it's permanent proof that we have legitimatized a brutal dictator who has starved his own people. for north koreans to have their flags atried, those of the united states, it's a clear symbol they're to be respected and that they belong among the community of nations and that their sins at home and abroad are beginning to be forgiven. if the united states is unable to win concrete, lasting concessions from north korea, the meeting alone will be a victory for kim jong-un and a defeat for president trump. even more troubling, only an hour ago president trump agreed to freeze joint military exercises with south korea, a legal activity in exchange for the mere hope that north korea
will freeze its illegal nuclear testing regime. alarmingly, president trump called our military exercises with south korea provocations. that's something north korea would say, not south korea or the united states. again, it seems the president has undercut our foreign policy by drawing a false equivalency between joint military exercises with our allies and the nuclear testing of a rogue regime. ultimately, if this is the result, it will have failed president trump's own standard. the president has said that, quote, if north korea doesn't denuclearize, that will not be acceptable, unquote. president trump has not made much progress toward that goal yet and has given up substantial leverage already, the leverage of joint military exercises, the leverage of an audience with the
president of the united states. imagine for a moment if a democratic president had gone to north korea in similar circumstances and came away with little more than a hand shake and a photo op. imagine if a democratic president had placed the flag of the united states next to the flag of north korea and met a dictator on equal terms. the common tators of the right wing media and in fact the entire republican party would be shouting grave warnings about the end of american leadership and the belittling of our country about selling out an appeasement. we democrats do not see it this way. we remain supportive of american diplomatic efforts in general, but are focused on significant, substantive concerns with president trump's preliminary arrangement with north korea. we want to see these efforts succeed and ensure that what has just transpired was not purely a reality show summit.
here in the senate we democrats believe that means five things. first, north korea must dismantle or remove every single one of its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. second, north korea must end the production and enrichment of uranium and plutonium for military purposes and permanently dismantle its nuclear weapons infrastructure. that means test sites, all nuclear weapon research and development facilities, and enrichment facilities have to be destroyed. third, north korea must continue to suspend all ballistic missile tests. fourth, north korea must commit to any time, anywhere inspections for both its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, including all ndeclar suspicious sites. if inspectors reveal any violation, we must be permitted to implement snapback sanctions. and lastly, any agreement between the united states and north korea must be permanent. let us hope this isn't the final
chapter in diplomacy with pyongyang. president trump and his team mustak stock of what's happened, what north korea has achieved, what we have yet to achieve, and pursue again a tougher course. for the sake of our national security, our interest abroad, and the safety of the american people, the unitedtates can settle for no less than the setter final -- certifiable, permanent denuclearization of north korea. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mrs. ernst: i came to the floor to make amendment 2004 pending, but it's my understanding that we are almost on an agreement and it was cleared in committee
by a voice vote. my minority counterparts have had months to look at this bill, but it remains held up on the hotlin the bill passed the house with unanimous support and has been included in the ndaa bill. i'm calling on my colleagues across the aisle to clear this bill or else i will fight for a vote on it in the ndaa. my legislation, the presidential allowance modernization act, would establish a cap on former president's monetary allowances which are currently unlimited and fund resources like office space, staff salaries, cellphone bills, and more. it would then reduce the allowance dollar for dollar by each dollar of income a former president earns in excess of $400,000. the national debt is over $20 trillion. we cannot afford to generously
subsidize the perks of former presidents to the tune of millions of dolla. the reality is that post-presidential life already provides fruitful opportunities on its own with former presidents raking in tens of millions of dollars from book deals, speaking engagements, and more. again, i'm calling on my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill which would save taxpayer dollars that can be used for more worthwhile causes like our military. and i thank the senior senator from missouri for cosponsoring this legislation and making it a bipartisan bill. thank you, madam president. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senar from vermont. mr. sanders: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, let me take this oortunity to thank my colleagues on the defense committee for their hard work in presenting this bill, but i am going to cast cast a very strong no vote on this legislation. this morning, i want to say a few words about why i am voting no, to talk about the number of ents that i have offered to this bill, and to express my veryerious concerns about our nation's bloated military budget, particularly in light of the many unmet needs we face as
a nation. also, i must express a very serious objection to the fact that we are dealing with a $716 billion piece of legislation that is more than half of the disetnary budget , and yet we will in all likelihood not have a process which aows for amendments to be debated. $716 billion at a time when in louisiana, as i understand it, they are now going to be cutting food stamps for hungry children, where schools throughout this country don't have enough money for books or for teachers' salaries. we're talking about a $716 billion military budget, and this process, as i
understand it, will allow for no amendments despite the fact that i think virtually every member of the senate has concerns about this bill. you know, mr. president, over and over again, i have heard my republican colleagues and a number of democratic colleagues come to the floor and talk about a very serious issue, and that is the $21 trillion national debt that we are leaving our kids and our grandchildren, but somehow when it comes to giving huge tax breaks, trillion dollars in tax breaks to top 1%, suddenly we don't hear much about that national debt. and when it comes to spending $716 billion on the defense bill, myublican friends are
mute. suddenly the debt has disappeared because it's okay to spen unlimited sums of money on the military. mr. president, i have heard my republican colleagues tell us that the united states just cannot afford to join the rest of the industrialized world, every other major country, and guarantee health care to all of our people as a right to a medicare-for-all program. it's what the american people want, but i'm told we cannot afford that. $716 billion in one year for the military we can afford, but health care for our children and for our working people and for the 30 million people who hav noeah insurcend t ten illions people who cannot afford health insurance, that we cannot afford. mr. president, at the moment
that we are engaged in a highly competitive global economy, i am told over and over again that we cannot afford to make public colleges and universities tuition free. hundreds of thousands of our young people are unable to go to college because their families lack the income. millions leave school deeply in debt. oh, no, we cannot afford to make public colleges and universities tuition free, but we can afford to spend $716 billion in one year on the military. mr. prt, over half of older americans have no retirement savings, no retirement savings, and yet we have republican colleagues in the house and the senate saying oh, we can't afford social security. we have to cut social security for people who are trying to get by on $12,000, $13,000, $14,000 a year, cutting their
prescription drugs in half. cut socialit yes, but think about yielding with the $716 billion military budget in a rational way. no, no, no, we can't afford to do that. we can't even aept amendments here on the floor. mr. president, the time is long overdue for us to take a hard look at the enormous amount of waste, at the cost overruns, at the fraud, and at the financial mismanagement that has plagued the department of defense for decades. i've heard many of my republican colleagues worried about that low-income people are taking advantage of this program or that program. well, do you know where the money is? the money is at the department of defense, and it may be time that we took a hard look at the fraud and the financial mismanagement that exists there. and that is why i am offering a
bipartisan amendment. i want to thank senators grassley and lee for their support on this amendment, to end the absurdity of the department of defense being the only federal agency that has not undergone an audit. mr. president, it will not surprise you to know that according to a gallup poll in february a few months ago, 65% of the american people opposed spending more money on the department of defense. 65% say we should not spend more money, and yet over a two-year period, we're going to spend some $165 billion more on the defense. so it shouldn't shock anybody that what happens here is a direct contradiction to what the american people want. the american people want health care for all. our republican colleagues want to throw 30 million people off of health insurance.
the american people want to ask the rich and powerful to pay more in taxes. our republican colleagues give massive tax breaks to the top 1%. so defense spending did just the same thing. the american people say i can't afford to send my kid to college, i can't afford child care, i can't afford housing. we need help there. ah, but nobody listens to that. we don't have lobbyists here fighting for working families so they can find affordable housing or affordable prescription drugs, but today we're listening to the military industrial complex and talking about $1 billion increase in two years for the military. mr. president, as aoi in comparison -- and i hope everybody hears this -- the increase in military spending, $165 billion over two years that we recently approved, is larger than the entire military budget
of china. china spends about $150 billion a year on defense. we have increased military spending by $165 billion over two years, as well as russia which spends about $61 billion on defense annually. so children i louisiana may be losing their food stamps and go hungry, but we are spending today seven -- voting on a bill of $716 billion at a time when russia spends about $61 billion on defense. there are enormous needs in this country, in vermont, in california, all across this country. we might want to listen to the needs of working people rather than just lobbyists from the military industrial complex.
mr. president, i believe in a strong national defense, but we cannot continue to give the pentagon and defense contractors like lockheed martin a blank check while we ignore the basic needs of working families rougho this country. what this debate should be about will not be about -- is our national priorities. do we have to spend more money on defense than the next ten countries combined when children in america go hungry, when veterans sleep out on the street, when we are the only major country that does not guarantee health care for old people? io s no, and i say that the time is long overdue for us to stand up to the lobbyists and the military industrial complex and fight for rational national priorities. mr. president, about half of the
pentagon's $716 billion budget goes directly into the hands of private contractors. not into the hands of our troops. let's be clear. over the past two decades, virtually every major defense contractor in the united states has paid mlions of dollars in fines and settlements for misconduct and fraud, all by -- all at the same time while making huge profits on government contracts. since 1995, boeing, lockheed martin, and united technologies have paid nearly $3 billion in fines or related settlements for fraud or misconduct. $3 billion. at a time when oversight frankly is pretty weak. yet those three companies alone received about $800 billion in defense contracts over the past
18 years. one of the amendments i have filed would simply require the pentagon to establish a website on defense contract fraud with a list of companies convicted of defrauding the federal government. the total value of contracts awarded to such companies, and a list of recommendations for ways the pentagon can penalize fraudulent contractors. my guess is that fud is a way of doing business, and these settlements are simply a cost of doing business for companies who have huge contracts with the department of defense, and that has got to stop. further, mr. president, i find it interesting that the very same defense contractors that have been found guilty or reached settlements for fraud are also paying their c.e.o.'s and executives excessive and obscene compensation packages. last year, the c.e.o.'s of lockheed martin and raytheon,
two of the top four u.s. defense contractors who were each paid paid -- contractors were each paid over $20 million in total compensation. moreover, more than 90% of the revenues from those cpanies came from defense spending. so they get the bulk of their money that comes from the taxpayers of the united states, and then they pay their c.e.o.'s exorbitant compensation packages. i think the american people might like to know why a defense contractor can pay its c.e.o. 100 times more than the secretary of defense whose salary is capped at $205,000. in my mind, that is a reasonable question. how does the c.e.o. of a defense contractor get 100 times more salary than the secretary of defense? and that is why, mr. president,
i have filed an amendment to prohibit defense contractor c.e.o.'s from making more money than the secretary of defense. moreover, mr. president, as the g.a.o. has told us, there assive defense department's acquisition budget that we have got to address. according to the g.a.o., the pentagon's $1.66 trillion acquisition portfolio currently suffers from more than $537 billion in cost overruns, with much of the cost growth taking place after production. you know, i was a mayor for the city of burlington, vermont, for eight years. like other mayors throughout this country, republicans, democrats, independents, whatever, you sit down and you negotiate a contract with somebody who perhaps is going to repave the streets. the contractor says i'm going to do it for $5 million. you sign a contract. and you don't accept the fact
that the contractor comes back and says oh, i'm sorry, we made a little mistake. it's going to cost your people $10 million. not the way it was done in burlington. not the way it is done in cities and states throughout this country. but apparently, that is the way it is done at the department of defense. yes, mr. president, we're going to do this weapon system $5 billion. we made a mistake. you'll have to pay us $10 billion. don't worry. nobody in congress is going to raise any issue about that. programs fall short of schedule and performance expectation, meaning d.o.d. pays more than anticipated, can buy less than expected and in some cases delivers less capability to the war fighter. end of quote. that is not bernie sanders. that is the g.a.o. mr. president, let me repeat. a major reason why there is so much waste, fraud, and abuse at
the pentagon is the fact that the department of defense remains the only federal agency in america that hasn't been able to pass an independent audit 28 years after congress required it to do so. i know the federal bureaucracy moves slowly but 28 years should be enough time for the d.o.d. to do what congress demanded that it do. the amendment that senators grassley, senator lee and i hav filed simply says -- couldn't be simpler -- that if the pentagon can't pass a clean audit by fiscal year 2022, not tomorrow, fiscal year022, then a small portion of the defense budget, about $100 million, will be redirected to deficit reduction. interestingly, very
interestingly, mr. president, you may recall on september 10, 2001, one day before 9/11, former secretary of defense donald rumsfeld and i quote -- this is donald rumsfeld, george w. bush's secrety efense, one day before 9/11, he said and i quote, our financial systems are decades old. this is the secretary of defense, 2001. our financial systems are decades old according to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions. we cannot share information from floor-to-floor in this building, pentagon, because it's stored on dozens of technological systems that are inaccessible or incompatible, end of quote. donald rumsfeld, 2001, george bush's secretary of dse saying that then d.o.d. could not track $2.3 trillion in
transactions. and yet 17 years after mr. rumsfeld's comments, the department of defense has still not passed the clean audit despite the fact that the pentagon controls assets in excess of $2.2 trillion or roughly 70% of what the entire federal government owns. mr. president, the commission on wartime contracting in iraq and afghanistan concluded in 2011 that 31 -- $31 billion to $60 billion spent in iraq and afghanistan had been lost to fraud and waste. children in america go hungry. young people leave school deeply in debt. people in this country cannot afford health care. $31 billion to $60 billion in iraq and afghanistan have been lost to fraud and waste. maybe, just maybe we might want to get our priorities right and take a look at that issue.
separately in 2015, the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction reported that the pentagon could not account f $45 billion in funding for reconstruction projects. and more recently an audit conducted by ernst and young for the logistics agency found that it could not properly account for some $800 million in construction projects. mr. president, it is time to hold the department of defense to the same level of accountability as the rest of the government. mr. president, i would also like to briefly mention an amendment that to me makes an enormous amount of sense. in this bill we are spending $716 billion in defense spending in order to protect the american people. and what this bill does is spend that money for the production of
fighter planes, for bbs, for guns, mo fissiles, for tanks, for -- missiles, for tanks, submarines and other weapons of mass destruction. the amendment i have submitted would reduce the defense budget by one-tenth of 1%. not a massive cut. one-tenth of 1%. and we would use that $700 million, one-tenth of 1% of the current budget, to make our country safer by reaching out to people throughout the world in ways that bring us together through educational and cultural programs. at the end of the day it is not necessarily true that guns and tanks and missiles are the only way that we will be safe. we will be safer when people throughout the world get to know
each other, understand the common humanity that they have. when kids from iran and burlington, vermont,anit down and talk about the issues that they face. so, mr. president, what t amendment is about is helping to make us safer by investing in educational programs, allowing our kids to go abroad to learn about other countries, allowing kids from other country, to come into the -- other countries to come into the united states. dialogue alone taking place between foreign ministers or diplomats at the united nations is not the only way that countries can relate to each other. that type of dialogue, that type of communication, that type of sharing of who we are should be
taking place between people throughout the world at the grassroots level, among young people, among older people, among working people, among academics. let us try to destroy the hatred which exists throughout the rld based on fear and ignorance by allowing people to get to know each other. one-tenth of 1% wld go toward that effor now, in a spat note, mr. president -- in a separate note, mr. president, since march of 2015, the united states armed forces have been involved in hostilities between a saudi-led coalition and the howlt -- and the houthis in yemen. i believe it is long past time that we put an end to our unconstitutional and unauthorized participation in this war. to my mind there is no question that u.s. participation in the
war in yemen is unauthorized and is unconstitutional. it is the conof the united states that decides whether or not this country goes to war, not the president. the truth about yemen is that u.s. forces have been actively engaged in support of the saudi coalition in this war providing intelligence and aerial refueling of planes whose bombs have killed thousands of people and make the current humanitarian crisis in yemen the worst humanitarian crisis on the face of the planet today. even now as i speak, there are reports that an attack on the yemeni port city of houdega by the saudi-led coalition is imminent. it is a key entry point for humanitari point in yemen. the u.n. humanitarian coordinator in the country leeza grand said last week, quote, that a military attack will
impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and a prolonged worst case we fear that as many as 250,000 people may lose everything, even their lives. end of quote. the trump administration has tried to justify our involvement in the yemen war is necessary to push back on iran. well, another administration told us invading iraq was necessary to confront al qaeda and another told us that the vietnam war was necessary to contain communism. none of that turned out to be true. mr. president, i believe that we have become far too comfortable he united states engaging in military interventions all over the world. we have now been in afghanistan for 17 years, the longest war in american history. we have been in iraq for 15 years. our troops are now in syria under what i believe are
questionable authorities. and the administration has indicated that it may broaden that mission even more. the time is long overdue for the u.s. congress to reassert its constitutional responsibility of sending our men and women into war. it is the congress that makes that decision. it couldn't be clearer in the constitution. not the president of the united states. that is why i have filed a bipartisan amendment along with senators lee, murphy, warren, and several others that will put an end to the u.s. involvement of the war in yemen. mr. president, let me conclude by saying this. i think everybody in the congress believes and understands that we need a strong defense. no debate about that. but we do not nee a defense budget that is bloated, that is
wasteful, and that has in it many areas of fraud. i hope all of my colleagues remember -- and let meind me o my republican colleagues -- hard to believe b dwight d. eisenhower who led american troops in world war ii was a republican. he was a republican. and this is what he said as he was leaving office which is as true today as it was when h esaid it. that was in 1960. he said, and i quote, every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket signifies in the final sense a step from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. this world in arms is not spending money alone. it is spending the sweat of its
laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. this is not a way of life at all in any true sense. war,t is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. that is what dwight d. eisenhower said way back when, andor that i think we should remember today. thank you very much, mr. president. i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, some -- i'll wait til later to do
that, but i would suggest that the war powers act does specifically say that the president has the power, the very power to enter our troops into combat should it be necessary. what i'd like to do, people are asking me questions and calling up on where are we on t ndaa. i just want to make a few comments about that and give as an exact status as to where we are right now. we said it before but we can't overstate this. this bill, the ndaa is going to pass. we know it's going to pass. it's passed for 57 consecutive years. and it's one that has to pass because this is what -- the most important bill of the year. whrs night we adopted a manager's package of som 45 bipartisan amendments. this is on top of some 300 amendments that we already have gone through in the committee. and i want to say with my
counterpart here, senator reed, that we are in total agreement on the procedures that we should be following. we're in agreement on an open amendment process. the leadership, both the democrat and republican leadership are committed to an open amendment process. so anyway, we have been trying to set that up, and we have not been shortchanging o shortcutting anyone's ability to be heard on their amendment because we've already gone through 300 of these in committee and it passed unanimously to the floor. that's something that doesn't happen very often. and i hope that we can have more amendments throughout this process. we're working to get consent to do that. and i think we can make it happen. we want an open amendment process. everybody wants that. i recently got back from visiting with american troops around the word, afghanistan,
poland, kuwait, just to name a few. when i meet with these troops, i go and talk to the enlisted guys in the mess hall. you can find out a lot more sitting down and eating with the guys in the mess hall in afghanistan than you can having a hearing here in washington, d.c. one of the things iealast week is that our troops want to know if we're really doing all we can. the proper authorizations, reports, trainings, things like that we establish in this bill would be improved byn open-amendment process. the open-amendment process is a hallmark of our democracy. it's very significant, and it's something that we need to be doing. and we are all in agreement on that. now, the ndaa is also a message to our allies around the world. they don't want to have to hedge their bets. it wasn't too lopping ago we were in -- it wasn't too long
ago that we were in the south china seas. china is actually building all of these islands out there. i contend it's illegally building them because they don't own the land. it's almost as if they're preparing for world war iii. all of that is going on right now. so it is a very hostile world out there. we saw the progress that the president made yesterday with kim jong-un. that was nothing short of a miracle that they're sitting down and visiting, that they have agreed on certain denuclearization prospects and i think they have done a great job. i'm anxious to give this president the authority to continue to -- in his work. and while we continue to work out the amendment process, i want to ask my colleagues to come down to the floor. but let me just say where we are right now. senator corker is blocking the consideration of all amendments unless he receives a vote on his
amendment. well, i appreciate very much the friendly attitude that he's had toward this. he feels very strongly. but ther is a blue slip probl with this and that is that it's not going to even be considered by the house because it is at that revenue issue that we're dealing with, and that's why and i know that senator corker did want to correct that last night. he attempted to do it. i have not heard that he has been able to successfully do it, and i don't believe he has. there are several already who have said in any event that the corker amendment -- he's trying to bring it up for a ve, the will block that vote. so that vote would be blocked. senator paul and senator lee have amendments that are similar to each other. they each -- each one is blocking unless he receives a vote. so you have senator lee saying
that unless i get a vote on my amendment, we're going to block anyone else from having an amendment from getting a vote. in other words, no amendments. senator paul, same thing, no amendments. now, their amendments are similar to each other, but there's some slight differences. but that's where they are right now. however, senator graham and senator grassley hav said that in any event that senator paul or senator lee puts their amendment forward, that they will stop all amendments from - stop their amendments from coming up. so that's where we are. we have corker amendment, and it is one that has a blue slip problem. we have the indefinite detention amendment by paul, and that's -- and both graham andrassle have said that they would object if that comes up for a vote. so we can't have a vote on that. and there's nothing we can do except get them together to
decide. this bill that we're talking about is the most significant bill of the year. we can'tove on it until -- and i agree. there is a problem. i've talked to a lot of our members. they are fairly new members. they talk about the senate process. and that one person can stop everything from happening. well, it's been that way for a lopping time, and this is where we have to pay dearly for t but i have to say this also. because many times on legislation that we have here on the floor, it's democrat versus republican, republican versus democrat. both senator reed and i, we don't have any disagreement. we disagree on some. issues that we are going to be dealing with as we debate amendments, and that's going to happen this week, but we both agree that the other has thechae and try to -- his best case and try win on the issues. so that's going on, and this is one of the rare cases where i
guess all of the problems that we're having objecting to amendments are all coming from the republican side. ld hope that our republicans will get together with each other and determine what areas and what areas they would actually be objecting. so that's where we are right now. and let me one more time commend senator reed for the cooperation we're getting between the democrats and republicans on this, the most significant bill of the year. i'd yield the floor. mr. reed: mr. president? thpresiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. let me thank the senator from oklahoma for being very thoughtful and informative of all the current procedural status. we all hope to work throu another package of managers' amendments that could be submitted.
looking at the amendments that we've seen so far, they all, regardless of what position you take on their position, all seem to be serious, substantive and in our view worthy of a vote. we just have to work out the procedure to get to those votes. there may be something in the future that's offered that seems to be very difficult, and i won't say that we have not in the past on our side stood up and said, you know, we object. but at this juncture, we seem to be-enator inhofe and i -- in harmony in trying to find ways to vote for the proposals that we've seen presented to us and ask and request votes on those proposals by our colleagues. with that, mr. president, i know senator inhofe and i will continue to work to see if we can move this process forward. and i thank the senator. a sen mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts.
mr. mary:hank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor today to raise my concerns over the outcome of the summit nohor.n the united states and now, after witnessing heated rhetoric from both sides, the unexpected turn tds diplomacy by president trump and kim jong-un was, by all account, a very welcome development. as there is no military solution to the nth korean crisis, i was encouraged to see direct engagement and i have long advocated for this approach. however, i am concerned that the agreemen signed this morning does little to address the threats and challenges we face. first, the text of the statement was the most vague and least detailed of any signed by north korea over the past three decades. despite his claims to the contrary, president trump got a weaker deal with fewer commitments than any of his
predecessors. nowhere does the document explain what, quote, complete denuclearization of the korean peninsula means. for example, kim jong-un can easily interpret the language to mean that he will only relinquish his nuclear weapons once the united states does the same. after all, history shows us that north korea interprets the term c.e.p. korean peninsula to be any nuclear weapon capable of striking north korea. the loopholes in the agreement are big enough to fly nuclear missiles through. by contrast, previous agreements were much more stringent. the 1992 joint declaration signed by north and south korea, for example, included conditions such as, quote, south and north korea shall not test, manufacturro receive, possess, store, deploy, or use
nuclear weapons. and, south and north korea shall not possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrich. facilities. unfortunately, neither of those commitments appears in the latest agreement. the language, instead, suggests something worrying. as the administration must have realized that this agreement was not as strong as the previous ones, it appears that it was unable to convince north korea to adopt tougher, more detailed commitments. if true, we should take the hint that north korea has not yet felt the economic pressure necessary to compel it to accept our definition of denuclearization. one where the kim regime relinquishes its nuclear weapons and its means to produce more. it appears that kim jong-un, having stockpiled a wide range
of illicit and dangerous weapons, believes that he is negotiating from a position of strength rather than from a and while the trumps. administration says that it has imposed maximum pressure, the truth is that we haven't yet reached that level. that could be called maximum pressure. north korea must understand that even if china eases the pressure, we in congress are ready to step in to tighten the screws on theth korea economy.anpresident trump appeao have made a second unforced error. by agreeing to curtail our joint military exercises with south koreans, president trump let kim jong-un dictate our military activities with other countries by proclaiming that our exercises are, quote, provocative, he has adopted the
north korea propaganda. by proclaiming that our exercises are, quote, expensive, he showed that he does not grasp our alliance commitments. yes, some military exercises are cost, but as any businessperson should know, t more important indicator is value. if a high cost is outweighed by even greater benefits, then we should be willing to pay the cost. our military exercises improve the readiness of our forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat north korean aggression. will north korea be sufficiently deter without u.s. and -- deterred without u.s. andou korean forces standing shoulder to shoulder. will the chance of conflict decrease? it was telling that the south korean government needed to issue a statement asking the
prescription drugs to clarify its -- the trump administration to already its statement. it seems the blue house in south korea was not consulted what. signal does it send to china that our presence in the region, which has helped keep peace and stability for decades, may be sacrificed to se a bit of money? the trump administration might have unwittingly given a green light to china to pursue more aggressive actions in the region. now, i have been warning that we must watch out for the old kim family playbook, one that has been used throughout the clinton, bush, and obama administrations. well, the kim family playbook was on the field yetin last night, and president trump fell for all of the plays. as it has done in the past, north korea showed that it is trying to, number one,
front-load the rewardsndel concessions. as indicated by the post summit statement from china's foreign ministry, pyongyang and beijing already appear to be working together to remove sanctions despite the lack of tangible evidence of denuclearization. number two from the kim family playbook -- use sleight of hand to make irrelevant actns seem meaningful by supposedly demolishing the nuclear test site and a missile engine test stand, north korea is claiming it has made real progress despite not destroying a single warhead or missile. and number three in the kim family playbook -- exploit ambiguity. the trump-kim agreement is so vague that it imposes no clear requirements on north korea. what we should want is reconciliation, not repetition,
of what has happened decade after decade when the kim family uses its playbook to delay concessions. that they make while front-end loading the rewardsch the receive. we can all agree that we need a plan to stop north korea's plutonium production and unium enrichment that suspends and then eliminates its missile program, that permanently dismantles and removes all of its nuclear and biological weapons and that implements a strong inspection program. most of us agree on what a deal should look like, but the trick is figuring out how to get there. and the hard work lies ahead to successfully navigate the
hazards. number one, do not sell out our allies. we must not allow north korea to believe that the alliance framework, which has served as the foundation for regional peace and security, is anything other than unshakable. unfortunately, south korea seemed to be caught off guard by president trump's announcement on military exercises. number two, do not prematurely release the pressure valve. china, north korea's chief enabler, already is easing pressure on north korea. north korean goods already are becoming more abundant in china despite being banned by united nations security council resolutions. and immediately following the summit, the chinese foreign ministry suggested making adjustments to existing sanctions on north korea. if china wants to be taken seriously as a responsible global power, it cannot shirk
its duties to enforce sanctions on serial violators like north korea. and if north korea back slides at any point, china must be tougher on north korea, including cutting off all of the crude oil exports to the north korean regime which still flows in every day from china. three, focus on the threat at hand. north korea's nuclear warheads and other dangerous weapons and their delivery systems are real threats. the administration must not fall for north korea's inevitable theatrics and false concessions, as we cannot afford to be sidetracked. after all, nothing would stopped north korea from conducting another nuclear or missile test if it even believes its warheads and missiles need more testing.
and, number four, build american diplomatic capability and infrastructure. diplomacy is a team sport, and no matter what commitments leaders make, it is only through a well-staffed and resourced professional diplomatic corps that it becomes a reality. the state department must have the resources it needs to conduct american foreign policy around the globe, and especially with regard to asia and north korea. the outcome of this summit clearly indicates how much we need the advice of korean diplomats and technical experts. and, number five, come to congress to a chief a lasting solution to the crisis, the trump administration must work with congress to shape the contours of any future deal and anyinalgreement should take the form of a treaty to be ratified by the united states senate so as to increase its shelf life.
without following principles like this and without a clear understanding of our previous diplomatic efforts with north korea, we could fail. we owe it to our fellow americans to successfully reduce the threats we face because the threats for north korea are significant. unlike other countries with nuclear programs, north korea already possesses thermonuclear warheads and the ballistic missiles to deliver them. it has shorter-range missiles that cast a dark shadow over our allies, south korea and japan. pyongyang possesses some of the foulest toxins on the planet and it brutally impresses, imprisons, tortures and kills its own citizens. so we must address these myriad threats. and as it turns out, negotiating with north korea is harder than the president thought. so we must continue to squeeze the regime so that it cannot access the resources necessary
to maintain our expand its mili capab after all, the combination of direct engagement backed by pressure is the only solution to the north korean threat to the united states, our allies, and to the broader region. now, mr. president, i'd now like to spend a few minutes discussing amendments that i am filing to the national defense authorization act. my amendments would help reduce the nuclear dangers the world faces today and in the future by either canceling or redirecting funds that the tk*upld would use to -- that the trump administration would use to develop a new so-called low-yield nuclear weapon towards preparing for nonproliferation activities that will be essential to helping denuclearize north korea. i also want to thank my colleagues, senators elibeth warren and jack reed, who have been tremend leaders on the
armed servic committee and working to ensure that proper congressional authorization is secured for any new or modified nuclear weapons. there is no more important job for congress than stoppinghe spread of nuclear weapons, i ank senators warren and reed for their leadership and commitment to this important task. let's be clear, when the trump administration talks about a so-called low-yield nuclear weapon, they are still referring to nuclear weapons comparable to the nuclear bomb that destroyed hiroshima in the second world war. there is no such thing as a low-yield nuclear weapon. a nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon, and they are fundamentally diffe tn any her tool of war. they destabilize, they annihilate, they force others to do the same. this is where the term mad, mutually assured destruction, comes from. and for these reasons, they
should never be used and we should never falter in the ongoing struggle to reduce and eventually eliminate the danger nuclear weapons pose to the world. but instead, the tmp administration wants new nuclear weapons. and, unfortunately, its efforts to develop new, more usable low-yield nuclear weapons like the w-76-2 seem to be driven more by political requirements than by military requirements. our military commanders didn't ask for this or any other new nuclear weapo. instead the trump administration told them they were getting this new low-yield nuclear weapon in its nuclear partial review earlier this year which needlessly expanded our nuclear war-fighting capabilities and threatened new scenarios under which we might use our nuclear weapons to respond. the nuclear partial review called for new low-yield weapons like the w-76-2 for unretiring
old cold war era ones like the b-83 meg ton, gravity bomb, and expanding the scenarios under which we might respond with nuclear weapons. we already have hundreds of low-yield nuclear weapons, including the b-61 gravity bomb and an air launch cruise missile. and we will spend hundreds of billions of dollars to upgrade these systems as well as to develop a new stealth bomber and fighter aircraft to deliver them as part of the existing nuclear modernization program. given this current capacity, as well as the lack of any documents, reports, or studies justifying the sudden previously unrecognized need for a new low-yield weapon as part of the america's nuclear deterrent it's hard to understand why we need to spend more money to develop a low-yield nuclear
weapon that will add additional strain to a nuclear complex that is already operating at levels unseen since the cold war and could jeopardize the existing modernization program which enjoys bipartisan support and which our military leaders have said is the most important nuclear requirement for the military. it makes noen to spend more money to develop a low-yield nuclear weapon dangerously indistinguishable from a strategic one, especially when our military does not need it. they did not request it. and that's why i have fought this weapon from the very start and am offering an amendment to focus on funding activities that will be necessary to reduce the nuclear danger to the world. whether now or in the future, instead of adding to it b developing a completely unjustified low-yield weapon that adds to the risk that we
can actually contemplate fighting a winnable nuclear war. that makes no sense whatsoever. a new nuclear weapon which the pentagon did not ask for. we should be heading in the opposite direction. that is the signal that we should be sending to the rest of the world. and with regard to the summit, my hope is that there will be some details that indicate what the concessions have been made by kim to the united states and to the world. thus far there is no evidence of that, because i fear that the only thing that will last from this summit will be the photo because we will not have had the concessions made that on a verifiable basis can in fact be confirmed, that makes the korean peninsula, that makes the world a safer place to be. so today is a momentous day.
this will be a momentous week on the floor of the senate as well in the debating of this new armed services bill, and i'm looking forward to this incredibly important discussion. mr. president, with that, i yield back, and i question the presence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'd ask consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i rise today to mark an important milestone for our friend, senator mitch mcconnell, who has now become the longest-serving republican leader, surpassing bob dole from kansas. i was told by somebody in the press yesterday that senator mcconnell has done it the old-fashioned way.
he earned it. he earned this role as our leader and the respect certainly that goes along with it. he served as minority leader beginning in 2007, and i had the honor of presenting him wit a copyf hisden speech as the republican leader then. that was at the beginning of the 110th congress, and he has severned as either -- served as either majority leader or minority leader ever since. what an historic tenure his has been and what a privilege it has been for me to serve alongside him since i came to the senate in 200 especially in my role as whip i have had the too under the to work with the leader on a daily basis. it has been a highlight of my senate career. senator mccne is trusted. we all know he's whip-smart. he is an impressive strategist. he understands the senate better than anybody else here.
and time and time again he's demonstrated what leaders always need to demonstrate, and that's a remarkable agree of humility, sometimes preferring to work for the betterment of the conference and the country behind the scenes rather than enjoy the spotlight on the front lines. that takes a remarkable sense of self-confidence and team spirit that not everybody has. it is true that sometimes he's soft-spoken, but i can assure you that he's never afraid to take a hard line when absolutely necessary. but more than at that, he is a e example of what a senator ought to be, what a true public servant ought to be. as majority leader, senator mcconnell is a member of a storied group that includes the likes of charles curtis, the first official majority leader of the senate, who was fame use for his -- famous for his native
american ancestry and racing horses, i'm told. the group includes robert taft from ohio, who would work latest into the night studying the rules of the senate. it includes lyndon baines johnson from my state, who would go on to become president as well as mike mansfield fm montana, johnson's whip, who went on to serve as majority leader for 16 years. and in more recent times there's been greatsmen like bob dole, trent lott and bill frist. we all know that senator mcconnell is an avid student of history and he's learned a lot from all ever these -- all of these leaders, their example, their ups and downs, their successes and their cllenges, and in a sense he stands on their shoulders. the experience, the exahe eat leadership each of them demonstrated have benefited all of us, but nobody more than our leader senator mcconnell.
in today's world, the qualities embodied by all of these men is not really very widely understood. but we have to look no further than senator mcconnell to see what that leadership looks like. one thing it requires is recognizing your role b also respecting the role of other members in the conference. as i said, senator mcconnell deeply understands the nature of the senate and his position, and he illustrated this when he spoke at t beginning of the 114th congress. in his first speech he recognized that the american people were anxious about the direction of our country. he mentioned the decline in civic trust in our natna institutions. and he expressed concern about his fellow americans feeling as though government was somehow uninterested or incapable of
addressing their concerns. a government that seemed to be working for itself instead of for them. those were some of the sentiments and concerns he expressed at t time. sensing this unease, articulating the problem was just the beginning of senator co setting out to fix it. what americans wanted then is what they want now, and they want a government that works. they want, as senator mcconnell called it, a government of the 21st century, one that functions with efficiency and accountability, competence and purpose. that's the kind of government our leader has worked tirelessly to promote. and as he's told us time and time again, what he's interte in is not show votes. many of us from time to time have said, well, why we can't --
why can't we have a vote on this or that and he reminds us that what we need to produce is results, not theatrics. he has taken steps to return the senate to regular order, which means getting the senate back t work do, to its own rules -backs even rules and tra i guesses did. he's gotten the committees to work again. the senate does not work unless our committee structure works because then power is defused among all senators and they each get to contribute their piece of a solution to a problem. and he's committed himself and the senate to a more rational functioning aopenings pros process -- appropriations process, something we all can applaud. in my opinion, it's been his never-ending quest for this body he loves to function, not just ably but at a consistently high level, that has been his greatest contribution to the people he serves. leader mcconnell is concerned
about the policy priorities of our party, of course, and he worked doggedly to advance a conservative right-of-center agenda. but he also cares deey about this institution that he has committed so much ofis life to serving in. and the pivotal role that the senate has always played in american history. he cares about upholding the rules and tra i guess dids of this body -- tra i guess dids of th body, not for their own sake but because they have withstood the test of tim we've made great strides this congress under leader mcconnell's leadership. we passed the first overhaul of the t cn more than three decades and aloud americans to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. we reformed dodd-frank legislation freeing up banks and credit unions to better serve their communities by giving smallusesses access to credit they need in order to
start that business and grow. and we've rolled back overly burdensome regulations and confirmed 39 judicial nominees, including a supreme court justice and 21 circuit court judges. as senator mcconnell likes to remind us, these judges will serve long after this president's term o office and perhaps our time even in the senate. this spring we kept a solemn commitment we've made to our veterans by making sure they have access to the health care choices they need and which we have solemnly committed to provide. none of this would have been possible without leader mcconnell's deftly navigating around the stop science and roadblocks that naturally o. cur in a place like the senate. refusing to yield along to way to unprecedented levels of partisan obstion.
we m not forget that senator mcconnell is a leader that not only -- not only of our conference but he's -- alsorves re-merrell on behalf of the people of kentucky. he doesn't leave his full-time job behind when he puts his leadership hat on. he somehow has to balance the needs of bot h constituents in kentucky along with the larger needs of the senate and of the country as a whole. it goes without saying that balancing those competing demands is extraordinarily difficult. it's not for the faint of heart. but somehow senator mcconnell makes it look easy. he doesn't even seem to break a sweat, amazingly so. that's because people like senator mcconnell are versatile and energetic. on behalf of his fellow kentuckians he's championed the cause of international aoption dos. he's ensured a health care fix for more than 3,000 of retired
coal miners and supported military installations like family farmers campbell and rt kx. he's gotten more resources to strengthen kentucky universities ande's helped his state combat the scourge of opioid addiction. and even helped the mother get her child back after she was abducted and taken to west africa. these are the ways he has served histe. as we know, senator mcconnell joined the senate in 1984, so one would literally write volumes about his many other contributions over the past three and a half decades. he once said of the senatat is no less true all of us -- we're all imperfect at moments but we are permanently endowed with a high purpose. for those familiar with the story of his own life, the sense of high purpose was seen early
on. aftevercoming polio fat a young age, leader mcconnell went on a tend the university of louisville where he served as student body president and where he urge i had his classmates with march with martin luther king j he then became president of the student bar association at the law school. this man was clearly born to lead. and what was clear early in his life remains clear today. leader mcconnell is simile relentless. he never stops working and in his view we both as a conference and a country still have miles to go before we sleep. in addition to confirming the president's nominees, we have a packed to-do list this year that includes finishinghe defense bill this week, passing water infrastructure reform as well as a farm bill, combating the opioid crisis and reauthorizing the federal aviation administration and the coast
guard. none of this is easy, but one thing is certain -- with leader mcconnell at the helm and with the hard work of those of us here in the senate on a bipartisan basis hopefully, we'll continue to make steady progress on behalf of the american people we serve. so thank you, senator mcconnell, for your example. thank you for your mentorship and for your friendship. and congratulations once again on reaching this historic milestone today. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. . nelson: mr. president, while the senator from kentucky is here, i want to get his
io andt to say the very laudatory comments that the majority whip has said about the senator, i can add to the accolades of the senator from kentucky by pointing out that he and i have a common trait, a common denominator between us. we bh married above ourselves. and the fact that his wife, the honorable elaine chao, now our secretary of transportation, former secretary of labor, it is truly one of theemarkae couples in the nation's capital of political leadership. and i congratulate him on the comments from the majority whip today.
mr. president, i am wearing this ribbon becausehe orldo community is mourning once again. last night there was another shooting. a number of people have been killed again. and today marks two years since the tragic massacre at the pulse nightclub in two years since a gunman walked into the club with a sig sau ra. they were there celebrating latin american night at a gay
nightclub in one of the largest massacres in u.s. history only to be eclipsed by the massacre a year ago in las vegas of 59 people, eclipsing 49 deaths. but in that carnage, nber of people severely wounded. and of those who did not actually have the physical wounds, the mental and emotional wounds that are not unlike the ptsd that our soldiers suffer and have to be treated for years and years. well, that's true in the orlando community as a result of the massacre at the pulse nightclub. and so orlando is mourning again at this two-year mark. there were some incredible things that came out of this.
i' never seen the orlando community unite as it was with the leadership of entire community, regardless of their politics, wearing these kind of ribbons to point out the unity and the phrase "orlando strong." and today is a day to pause and to honor the victims and the survivors and to once again to thank the first responders whopt the lives on the line to save so many more. law enforcementas magnificent. the swat team was magnificent. i talked to the swat team. there was one of the swat
members that actually had stitches across his forehead. and but for millimeters, he would have been dea and that was one of the rounds from the assault rifle. iald to the trauma team the orlando regional hospital. ara unit just so happened about 10 or 15 blocks from the pulse nightclub. and but for that trauma unit, those trauma sgeons, and to see their courage in trying to get victims stabilized, but for them there would have been more deaths.
and this is a day to look back on what we've actually done to prevent another such tragedy from ever happeninggain. and unfortunately, not much has happened until a bold, very courageous group of students after the massacre in parkland, florida, at marjory stonema douglas high school, until theyt d up and said we're going to make a difference. an orlando community is once again mourning today because last night a gunman shot a police officer and then killed fouroung innocent children that he was holding hostage in
an apartment. so it's happened again. and these children all under the age of 12, and one was just a year old, were killed by a man who, like so many others, shouldn't have had a gun in the first place. and so when are we going to say ou is enough? at some point congress has to accept the fact that the only way to change the current path is that we as a society are going to have to take a step in the right direction to do the right thing. and yet, you can remember a couple years ago we tried in this body to pass a bl that said that if you were on the terrorist watch list, that it was going to be the law of the land that you could not buy a gun.
now, mind you, the terrorist watch list, we think they are potentially a terrorist, and, therefore, they cannot get on an airplane and fly on a commercial airliner. but we could not pass that to say that you could not buy or acquire a gun. and so what we see that destroys our communities, we're going to have to do more than just increasing security at schools and in some wrongheaded attempts to arm teachers. first of all, the teachers don't want to be armed in schools. and i'll tell you who else doesn't want them to be armed is the swat team that has to storm the school building looking for the shooter, and then they come upon a teacher with a gun and
think that's the shooter. so more than just increasing funding for mental health or expanding background checks, which we dperately have to do, universal comprehensive background checks that would pick up red flags, that would pick up the red flags about mental health like the parkland shooter. more than just rsi the mimu to buy a gun or banning the sale of bump stocks which make a semiautomatic assault rifle into an automatic, a true military weapon. at some point congress has got to start standing up for the people it represents. it's got to turn a deaf ear to the special interest that locked
down their votes here because they want to sell more guns. at some point congress stand the n.r.a. which represents the gun manufacturers, not the shooters, not the hunters. it represents the gun manufacturers to sell more guns. i say this as a fellow who grew up on a ranch having guns all my life, having hunted all my life. i still hunt with my son. but an sexual assault -- but an assault rifle like an ar-15 is not for hunting. it's for killing. and we've got to face the fact of banning the sale of the
military assault rifle types and the long clips of some 30 rounds of ammunition. the attack at pulse nightclub two years ago was an attack of both terror and hate. and it was an attack on our fundamental american values of dignity and equality. it was an attack designed to divide us as a nation of what we saw instead w an entire community and entire country come together united. and in theembrance of the victims today in orlando, you will see this ribbon worn by many, many citizens in the community. and on theearatf that
horrific event, i want us to come together again in the same way we did pulse in orlando, the same way that we did after but this time not to help each other just mourn, to get through the tragedy p-rbgs -- tragedy, but to require real change to make sure that it's going to be more difficult for this to happen again. ar't people beginning to realize that there's way too much gun violence in this country, and a lot of it ever since sandy hook elementary school in connecticut. just in my state of florida, just thi year we've seen 17 students gunned down at marjory stoneman douglas.
just in this year, one month after that, we saw another student shot at forest high school in ocala. and just last month a sheriffs deputy was shot a kil i lake placid. and then thisk wake to the news of an officer shot in orlando and the deaths of four young children who were held hostage. we should not allow these shootings to become the new normal in this country. this senator has been involved in a lot of bipartisan bills to prohibit known or suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms, to empower our family members and law enforcement to take guns away from relatives who pose a danger to themselves, and others who bring up these
so-called red flags. these are sensible bipartisan options to hel make our communities safer, and yet there has been little movement in the senate to proceed on these proposals. the student leaders of our march for our lives organization, they've said it. the parents of the children at sandy hook have said it. those who have lost loved ones to suicide have said it. two years after pulse, i resolvd gun violence must be stronger than ever. it time for us to act, and yet we realize that practical politics, that it's going to be very, very difficult to move
legislation, but we have to keep trying. so let's work on some real bipartisan commonsense solutions to make our communities safer. let's work on how w can prevent these assault weapons from getting into the wrong hands. let's work together on how we can stop massacres that continue to plague this country. we owe it to the victims of t massacre and their families. we owe it to every american who has the right to live without fear of this violence. just ask the students in the schools of america today if they fear that violence.
really, isn't enough enough? mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate the previous order, the senate >> health and human to human services secretary out a's are testified on president trump's prescription drug pricing plan before the stint health, education, labor and pensions committee. you can see that tonight at ten eastern on c-span2. >> an important issue to me and the state of utah is our use of
water. being a desert state we need to really focus on how we use water and what some of the dry winters we've had, it's been really important to me to focus on conserving water and passing legislation that helps conserve water. >> i live in salt lake city and one of the most important issues for us is air quality. we live in a basin, and what we need to do is more public transportation so that we can reduce emissions. >> important issue to me is wage inequality. there's lots of jobs out there but only part-time. i've been getting part-time jobs, but the wage is low and they keep you part-time. i was a manager for eight years, and they are always keeping wages low. i've been full-time but i see that wages for the wealthy are continually increasing, but those of us down at the bottom
are low, and being a college graduate now in the week i will now be going into a job mark where there's not a lot of jobs for me, and the congress needs to care about that. >> i i am a librarian at salt le community college library, and an important issue for the state of utah is overpopulation. i feel like overpopulation is the root cause of many of our societal problems. i don't know that they are easy solutions to the problem but i do feel like that is probably the most important issue facing our state as well as our city on a global scale, all of that. >> voices from the states, part of c-span's 50 capitals to work and are stop in salt lake city, utah.
>> sec commissioner robert jackson now on wall street, tax policy and corporate executives compensation plans. he kicked up a c for american progress befit featuring economist and tax evidence policy experts on the back of the 2017 tax cuts. this is about 90 minutes. >> good afternoon. my name is neera tanden and i'm president of the center for american progress and i'm so glad to welcome you to this really important event. the issues at the heart of today's discussion are absolutely critical for ensuring the long-term success of our country's economy and our workers. as with all the last years congress passed, plaster, congress passed a new tax law. critics of this plan including our team here at c.a.p. argue getting a a giant tax cut to corporations was not the solution for addressing the challenges facing so many middle and working class families. the corporate profits are at an
all-time high and corporations sitting o huge amounts of cash, many have predicted executors would only use the tax windfall to reward their shareholders, and often of themselves. and sure enough so for the shoe companies have announced more than $400 billion in stock buybacks. setting a record pace. now there's a lot of discussion of how this is actually going to be good f mom and pop invested 10 the truth is the wealthiest of americans own roughly 84% of our country's stock. so they can altogether the tax law and the trend towards corporate buyback is combined to further rate our economy in favor of the rich and special few. instead of using company profits to raise wages which is the critical issue of our time, how we get wages up or invest in their workers or make capital investments in their businesses, too many executives are making
decisions that do little else except raise share price. that's why we're really excited about this conversation today because at the end of the day we have to ensure that our companies, p sector is prioritingorkers and wages and investment. over just the needs of sheholders. so again that's why this discussion is so impornt and so timely. and to welcome, i'm really honored to welcome a panel of experts who will break downhe connection between the new tax law, the recent surge in stock buyback and a long-standing problem of stagnant wages in america. it before have the pleasure of introducing that panel, i'm excited to welcome one of the five commissioners of the security and exchange commission robert jackson. as a legal scholar and a senior advisor with the treasury department, commissioner jackson has devoted his career toward expanding transparency and accountability o