tv U.S. Senate Sens. Corker Inhofe Rounds on Amendment Process CSPAN June 13, 2018 2:32am-3:01am EDT
tougher course. for the sake of our national security, our interest abroad, and the safety of the american people, the united states can settle for no less than the setter final -- mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: mr. president, i rise to speak on the ndaa bill that i before us today, and i
think most people know that we have been engaged in some tariff discussions with other countries through the administration. we have a trade act of 1974 and one of 1962 that hav ld out provisions as to how we would go about dealing with tariffs. in one section, section 232, there is a place where the president of the united states can declare something a national security issue, and when he does that, it keeps him from having to go through the normal processes that one goes through in dealing with tariffs. typically when the president chooses a section of that bill, the trade act, when he uses those, he has to go through a process when he decides he wants to put a tariff in place on another country. he's got to go to the i.t.c. or some other entity to show that somehow or another the united
states has been harmed, and the reason -- the reason that he would be putting in place taffs. what our predent has chosen to do in recent times is declare that almost everything that he's dealing with relative to tariffs is a national security issue. and when he does that, what thay down a grounds for having done that. he can just determine that it's in our national security intere put in place tariffs on other countries, whether it's automobiles, whether it's steel, whether it's aluminum, or whether it's somether issue. he can just wake up one morning without going through any of those processes and decide that on national security grounds he is going to put tariffs in place. article i of the constitution hates i the determiner on tariffs. we're the ones that, per the constitution, have been charged with the ability, actually the
responsibility to deal with tariffs, to deal with revenues, and that that is our responsibility. because i've been somewhat concerned that we are abusing this national security issue -- that we are using this natiol security issue so, just as an ordinary course of business, i have offered an amendment to deal with that, since this is a tional security bill that says that the president can continue to deal with these other countries, he can continue to try to work thr trade agreements, but at the end of the day, if he actually decides to inlace, he would have to come to congress to get an up-or-down vote. because we don't want to slow the administration's ability down too much in these, we've actually put in this amendment an expedited process so that the president would know that we're not going to drag this out forever, so that when this comes to a conclusion, we will have acted on it i a timely fashion
so, mr. president, i've done this because of another reason, and that is if we as a begin claiming that every single item is a national security issue, that mea that otherou wil do the same. and what they can then do themselvess avoid the processes that take place nerally in international organizations to have to prove that somehow or another their country has been damaged. we use the national security issue to put tariffs o automobiles, for instance. all of a sudden another country can do the same. so my amendment is one that, by the way, is supported by 14 senators. it's supported by senators on both sides of the aisle. let's take myself out of it. these are senators that are very well-respected senators with a wide range ever ideologies. as a matter of fact, this probably is the most cosponsored amendment that has been put
forth. i have been really proud to be able to work with senators who care deeply about our nation. they just want to make sure that we as a congress perrm our urt if a tariff is going to be put in place under this very unusual waiver that has never in try of our country been ud as it is now being used by this current president, that we have the ability to at least say, have a say in this. it's not unlik the president yesteroingda g to singapore and kphaoegt -- meeting with kim jong un. what they told us is they're going to negotiate through a process that hopefully cause them to be denuclearized. but when they complete that process, they pn to bring that to the united states senate to have usaty a tat they have been real clear about it. so it's exactly that same kind of process, except in this case it's even more so our
responsibility to make sure that if we're going to tariff people under this unusual section, that we vote up or down. so i'm going to call this amendment up. i appreciate the way the chairman of the committee has worked with me. i know there's been a lot of resistance to us having a vote on this amendment. i don't know why that is the case. but i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 301, h.r. 2372, that the text of h.r. 5515, the national defense authorization act for the fiscal year 2019, be offered as an amendment, considered andgrd to, that h.r. 2372 as amended be considered original text for the purpose of further amendment. that the text of inhofe-mccain 2282 as modified be made pending as a substitute to the text of
h.r. 2372 as amended. that mcconnell-toomey 2700 be made pending to inhofe-mccain 2282 as modified. that reed-warren 2756 be madende toomey 2700. that toomey 2700 be set aside and the corker amendment 2381 as modified with changes at the desk be made pending to amendment 2282. that lee 2366 be made pending as an amendment to the language proposed to be stricken by inhofe-mccain 2282 and that the senate vote on the corker amendment at 4:00 p.m. today. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. inhofe: reservi t ght to object. you know, you just heard a very lengthy explanation of an amendment that no one's seen until about an hour ago. at least i didn't. i don't know of anyone who has.
i think that the senator from tennessee has every right to do what he can to get his amendment heard. there are other opportunities other than the defense authorization bill. one of the problems that -- and i've been on niece defense authorization -- on these defense authorization bills for years and years, decades, is they know it's going to pass. it passed for 57 consecutive years. so a lot of people that want to put things that are nongermane and very often controversial, they want to put 0 on that because they know it's going to pass. senator corker isot t only amendment that is a problem amendment to this. there are two other nongermane amendments, one byator lee and one by senator paul. they say if i don't get a vote on my amendment, then i'm going to stop all other amendments from coming up, so nobody gets
to have an amendment. now at the same time they're saying that about the paul amendment and the lee amendment, we have other members, such as senator grassley and senator senator graham, graham and grassley are both saying if you end up getting a vote on that, we're going to makeur we'll make sure you don't get a vote on it. so you have opposing parties saying whatever the case is, if you get a vote on something i disagree with, therefore, i'm going to stop all amendments from coming forth. in a way they can do that. and i see that's happening right now. an would ask my friend, because i am going to object. i'm going to object not just because of the underlying bill but because it's an amendment that changes the underlying bill. i have had occasion to talk to two members of the house that will be part of our conference committee who strenuously object
not so much on the content of the amendment but the fact that force the house to go back in, reconsider their bill. that's according to our friend who justed us of that. so i don't want to do anything that is either going to jeopardize the passage of the defense authorization bill or delay the passage. you know, i just got back from afghanistan, kuwait, and places all over the world that, where our troops are there. and they're all, they all know that this is the week that help is on its way. we've suffered in this chamber for the last ten years during the obama administration. i don't say this in a negative way about him, but i will say that he didn't have a strong national defense as o top io and he had the policy. he said we can't do anything about sequestration in defense unless we do the same thing for the nondefense programs.
what does t tell you? it tells you there's noriority in defending america. now that's not what our constitution says. that should be a priority. as a result of that, we have a lot of systems that have gone down. as general dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said we are losing our competitive edge. we're losing it. he said that two years ago. so we lost it in some areas. artillery is a good example. right now artillery is measured by two means. one by rapid fire and one by range. both china and russia now have better artillery than we have in the united states. most people don't believe that. they don't know what's happened to our military. hypersonic, hypersonic is a new weapon that operates at five times the speed of sound. this thing is something that we've been working on, and we're racing against our peer competitors china and russia, and they're ahead of us.
they're ahead of us in the areas of a triad, the nuclear triad. we haven't done anything to our nuclear program in the last ten years, and they're ahead of us. so all these things are happening. the troops know it out there. they know that their pay raise is in this bill. they know their benefits are in this bill. they know it's a good bill. it shoulds unanimously in the united states senate. but if you start putting something on it that, number one, doesn't belong on it in terms of germaneness, and, number two, is one that is going to cause a pause that could be detrimental to our fighting troops and for our getting the bill done, then i wouldn't want to do that. so i would like to join senator corker until finding another bill, and i will do all i could to help him to get that on as an amendment, but not to the
defense authorization bill. i think this would cause a lot of damage. the house agrees with this. i can't let that happen. for that reason, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. corker: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: i'm going to make a few comments here. i want to thank senat inhofe for working with me. i realize there's a lot happening here. i know he's conducting to the best of his ability the progression of this bill. i'll just leave it at that. mr. president, i was asked to find a solution to this blue slip issue, and i found one that's used as customarily as waking up in the morning and drinking a cup of coffee. it happens all the time. this in noayas any effect on our ability to pass the ndaa in a timely fashion. but i am in no way countering the person who just spoke.
i'm not, and he knows i'm not. i am going to speak to a larger issue. but before i do it, i want to point out the ndaa usually passes each year in november or december. it usually doesn't pass in je. so even if there were something that needed to be worked out,e would be way ahead of schedule in dealing with this as we are between now and august. but, mr. president, if i could, these bills' germaneness has nothing whatsoever to do with our ability to offer amendments. nothing. that's something that happens postcloture. for the last year and a half, under leadership, under leader mcconnell, we have had one amendment vote. one amendment vote. and that amendment wasn't even really an amendment. it was a chairman who was
controlling his own bill, askind substitute his own amendment. so it really wasn't even a real amendment vote. so we've been here a year and a half -- we've been here a year and a half and because senators, united states senators that are elected by the people in their state don't want to cast a tough vote, they block everybody from voting. i have no idea why rand paul cannot get a vote on his amendment. it is ridiculous. he's been trying to get a vote on it for years. years. and we block it. why is that? i want to say for the record, i've held amendments this morning until we could work out the solution. i am not holding any amendments. none. zero. i'm holding no one's amendment. te senators, we're worried somehow that this gosh, almighty. i heard the senator from texas, the senior senator from texas saying the other day, well,
gosh, we might upset the president. we might upset the president of the united states before the midterms. so, gosh, we can't vote on the corker amendment because we're king rightly so, the responsibilities that we have to deal with tariffs and revenues. we can't do that bse we'd be upsetting the president, the president of the united states. i n't believe it. i would bet that 95% of the people on this side of the aisle support intellectually this amendment. i would bet that. i bet higher tha5%. and a lot of them would vote for it if it came to a vote. but, no, no, no. gosh, we might poke the bear is the language i've been hearing in the hallways. we might poke the bear. the president might get upset with us as united states senators if we vote on the corker amendment, so we're going
to do everything we can to block it. to block it. if people don't like it, they can vote up or down. bu no, the united stateswn. senate right now, on june 12, is becoming a by where, well, we'll do what we can do, but my gosh, if the president gets upset with us, then we might not be in the majority. and so let's don't do anything that might upset the president. so, lk, in no way -- i'm in no way upset, mr. president, with my frirom okloma. i'm not. i understand that he's doing his job, and he's actually filling in in a wonderful way for senator mccain, who happens to be ill at home, someone we all love. but, look, i kw there's not going to be a vote on this amendment. i know it. i'm not about to hold somebody else's amendment up from being voted on, because i tpho he that every -- because i know that every ounce of power possible is going to be used to keep f
voting on thi amendment because, well, my gosh, the president might not like it. and, therefore, we as senators might be offending som by, by the way, just voting on an amendment. vo on an amendment, up or down, and deciding whether we in fact want to assert some responsibility over a process of tariffing where we wake up ready, fire, aim. well, let's change this. ready, fire, aim. that's the process that is underway. that's the process that's underway on these tariffs. i haven't heard a single senator on our side that hasn't expressed concern to the president directlyut what's happening with tarif. our farm folks are worried about nafta. our auto manufacturers are worried about canada and mexico and what's happening in europe, our steel and aluminum folks are concerned. i haven't heard a person that hasn't had some degree of
concern. and all my amendment would do is say, look, mr. president, you go negotiate, but when you finish, come back, and as senators and as house members, let us vote up or down. again, i know that the pers to be here, i understand what's happening. i came up with another solution. there would be some objection. and my friend, i know knows that. there's going to be an objection. if we named this the, no matter what it was, there's going to be an objecs vote because people areoncerned on this side of the aisle, on this side of the aisle. some people, not everybody. we have some great cosponsors who want to assume our responsibilities properly. we have a lot of great cosponsors that understand we are abdicating our responsibility if we allow the president of the united states to the national security section 232 on ev tariff he's putting in place, not have to think about why he's doing it, not have to justify why he's doing it.
they know that's a problem and they have signed on. some o the most respected senators we have on both sides of the aisle have signed on. but i know there is a minority of people here who do not want us to take up issues of debate and responsibility here in the united states senate. i know that no matter what i do this is going to be objected to. i'm not going to object to rand paul, mike lee, or toomey having an amendment or people on the other side of the aisle having an amendment. i'm kiss a -- disappointed that we've had one amendment vote in the year and a half because the same cycle occurs every tim somebody wants to bring something up. i in no way take this out on my friend from oklahoma. i realize he is doing a job. i realize he has been asked to block this, and with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the
senator from south dakota. mr. rounds: mr. president, thank you. in listening tohi debate, and i wish this debate could go on in the united states senate. i think it's healthy. i wish there was a process in place so that everyingle amendment could have this kind of discussion and debate and those proposals could be amended on the floor to approve them. i will share with you that i thought what our friend from tennse trying to do was an honest attempt to pri back to congress -- bring back to congress section 1 or article 1 responsibilities that we have over a period of years allowed or delegated to the executive branch. i also shared with the -- i also share with the senator, i thought while the debate was a very healthy one, i felt at this stage of the game it w not be appropriate in that the president is orating with these tariffs and i probably
could not support his bill, but i thought he should hav an opportunity to have a debate. but let me now share what the chairman or the ranking member who was acting as the chairman in this particular case is doing is protecting the national defense authorization act and making it as -- as viable possible long term to survive both in the house and in the senate. for those w are wondering what we're talking aut in a nebulous sort of way, what senator coer triedo do was to have a debate about whether or not the tariffs, which the president had proposed for national defense purposes under a 1962 law, whether or n they were appropriately determined to be a national security threat. that was the language which congress had delivered to the president. the president has made his choice, and there's a number of members who feel that while they support the president, they
thinke overstepped with regard to whether or not they were actually of national security importance. senator corker wanted to have that discussion, and i agree that he should be able to have that discussion, however i had shared with him that i think it should be in a different order making it too tough for the executive branch to succeed and he wanted a 60-vote margin for the senator to proceed. that is the way he was going to produce it. but in doing, so i also, as the chairman here has shared, that the house sent over a bill to us, we were on the house bill, and that in order to get in this particular case a vote on this particular topic, the senator
from tennessee in a very innovative way and one that would normally be used earlier in the process where everybody had an opportunity to recognize it, would have to change the underlying bill, and in changing the underlying bill, it would have to go back tohe house and they would have to revote on the bill once again. and in doingo, it puts this very important bill in jeopardy. and so, as a member that's only been here for three years, i understand that is not always the easiest thing to do. i'd like to thank our chairman for taking what is a vy hard decision and stepping up to protect the national defense authorization act because of everything else which is in it while at the same time i would commit the same as the chairman has committed in this particular case to senator corker that his item of disssion, which is the appropriate use of tariffs for national defense purposes, tha is a healthy debate to have and
that it should be had in such a fashion that amendments could be offered on the floor of the senate and a very straightforwd debate could then determine the fate of that legislation on its own and not in connection with the ndaa. and so for that purpose i just simply would like to say what i think the american public is seeing here today is, number one, our commitment to making certain that the national defense authorization act move forward because of its itical -- because it's critical every single day that we improve our ability to defend our country while at the same time make a very hard decision, which the chamber did today, to suggest that even though we all want to have a debate on this particular issue, unfortunately this bill is not the place to do it. thank you, mr. president. i yield the