tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN June 28, 2018 11:29am-1:29pm EDT
so i applaud the president and this administration for giving congress a chance to work with the administration to fill this gap through a bipartisan, bicameral legislative process and to not just leap into that void and try to do it unilaterally, perhaps causing more confusion and less predictability. so finally, the president said in conclusion, he said i applaud congress on its progress toward passing robust firrma legislation. i urge congress to send me a strong bill as soon as possible and look forward to implementing it to protect america's security and prosperity. the senate bill we passed takes a carefully tailored approach, and the house has passed a similar version earlier this week by a vote of 400-2. so i look forward to working with our colleagues on the senate-house conference committee to ensure that cfius review process is sufficiently strengthened and meets the goals that we and the president share.
the presiding officer: the president pro tempore. mr. hatch: mr. president, i come to the floor to speak on a subject of importance. it's a subject i know something about. one that will not only influence the senate aunderra in the -- agenda in the near term but will affect our democracy in the years to come. i speak about the supreme court. yesterday justice anthony kennedy, a great friend of mine and a wonderful justice on the court announced his retirement on july 31. he has served with the highest distinction. over his tenure, he has -- supreme court playing a pivotal
role in some of the most consequential court decisions. from mcdonald versus chicago to citizens united versus f.e.c. he rightly gained a reputation as the supreme court's swing vote. sometimes he sided with the court's liberal wing. other times he sided with the conservatives, but he always sided with what he believed to be the correct interpretation of the law. what more could we ask for from a judge in throughout his public service justice kennedy has mentioned a generation of jurists who went on to become -- he mentored a generation of jurists who went on to become aluminum ordinaries in their -- aluminum ordinaries in their own right. not least among them is justice gorsuch, a former kennedy clerk, and now serves as his equal on
the supreme court. with his one-time pupil now working alongside him and with dozens of former clerks now serving on the federal bench, justice kennedy leaves behind a legal legacy that is almost without equal. although he will be stepping down next month, his influence on our judicial system will be felt for generations to come. with justice kennedy's impending retirement, the responsibility now falls on us to confirm an able replacement. in the coming weeks the president will announce his nominee to fill justice kennedy's seat. in doing so he will seek the advice and consent of the senate, a process that entails confirmation hearings and extended hours of debate to fully vet the qualifications of the president's nominee. the questions we should ask during this confirmation hearing should focus solely on the
judge's qualifications. does he or she have the experience to adjudicate wisely from the bench. does he or she understand the proper role of a judge under the constitution? does he or she respect our constitution? and does -- is he or she committed to upholding its principles no matter the consequence? this process should be simple, straightforward, and most importantly, nonpolitical, but it rarely is. that's because we already know that democrats will do everything they can to politicize a process that should not be politicized. we already know that millimeter of -- that many of them will ask questions of the nominee with an an ultimatier -- you will tearier motive. how do we know the democrats
will do this? because we've seen them do it time and time again. it started with the character assassination of robert bork and and culminated with clarence thomas. tensions seemed to subside for a time but then came the unprecedented filibuster of samuel alito and the public flagellation of neil gorsuch. the nominee had -- but in every case my colleagues sought to drag these men into the partisan gutter, asking questions designed to parse their political positions rather than their legal philosophy. mr. president, in my 42 years of senate service, i have witnessed the gradual deterioration of the judicial confirmation process. as the former chairman of the judiciary committee and now its
longer serving member, i have taken an active role of every justice currently sit og and the supreme court -- sitting on the supreme court and those who retired. i participated in half of all article three judges who have ever served. throughout the process i have met some of the brightest legal minds that they have to offer. i watched as the on the other side of the aisle looked to undo their gain. this is merely a symptom of a much larger problem, the politicalization of our courts. in today's america republicans and democrats espouse two vastly different visions for the judicial branch. on the right we believe in the judiciary as outlined in the constitution, an integral but necessary branch of government
that interprets laws but doesn't make them. we believe in a judiciary filled with sober-minded judges who are committed to upholding the constitution as written, not molding it to fit their political preferences. on the left you have a starkly different vision. the left believes the judiciary should assume an activist role, stepping in to fill the gaps of legislation where congress fails. in doing so the judiciary become its own quasi legislative body, a congress 2.0 of sorts filled with hundreds of judges who are unelected and therefore unaccountable to the american people. this conception of judicial power is inherntly antidemocratic. it undermines the principle of representative government and creeds long- -- cedes the power
to powers, a clustered group of men and women who have no constitutional authority to make legislation but seek to do so any way through their opinions. given the left's radical vision of judicial power, it's no wonder the confirmation wars have escalated over the years and it's no wonder the democrats have made a circus of confirmation hearings. they seek to politicize the process because ultimately they seek political judges. mr. president, it's usual -- as usual what the left wants is not what america needs. america doesn't need political judges. it doesn't need an army of super legislators telling us what to do. it certainly doesn't need a second congress making laws on a whim. isn't the one we have dysfunctional enough? now, mr. president, what is best for america is wholly different from what the left envisions. america needs a judiciary
insulated from the corrupting influence of politics. accordingly we need principled judges that put the law before any partisan concern. as opposed to political judges, we need impartial judges, judges who understand their limited role under the constitution, judges who are content to say what the law is, not what they want it to be. judges who act as umpires calling balls and strikes instead of swinging at every pitch that comes their way. in short, we need judges who will interpret the constitution, not remake it in their own image. taking judge gorsuch as an example, i have every confidence that the president's nominee to the supreme court will be qualified, competent, and impartial in every way. and if the treatment of judge
gorsuch is anything of the way things will be, i believe they will do everything they can to politicize the nomination process. they will do everything they can to malign the nominee no matter what his background or c.e.o.'s dengsal -- credentials and depicting him or her as an extremist who is outside the mainstream. they will press, prod, and pry to unearth an political agenda. they will bring all resources in order to bring a principled judge from taking justice kennedy's seat. they will pull out all of the stops to pull out the politicalization of the supreme court. we won't let them. mr. president, it's up to us to preserve the integrity of the
judicial branch. we can begin by confirming a supreme court nominee who is committed to upholding the principles of the constitution at all costs and understands that the law-making power lies not with congress but with the courts. i look forward to working with my colleagues in this endeavor in the weeks to come. i have to say i have seen a lot of abuse in the area of picking judges and confirming judges throughout the years, and both sides have been explicit in some ways, but i've never seen more of a politicalization of the courts than that which has come from the other side. and i hope they won't do that this time. i don't know who the president's going to pick. i have a pretty good idea of the list of people that he's going
to pick from, and i know he'll chat with me about it, as he will with others, but i can guarantee you this, he will pick somebody who has the ability to go on that court and do the job from the beginning. it's not going to be pleasing, perhaps, to some of my democratic colleagues, it may not be pleasing to some of the republican colleagues. but the fact of the matter is i think we can rely on this president picking an excellent person to fulfill this responsibility. and, with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. heinrich: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague, senator tom udall and senator richard blumenthal, for joining me to visit the southwest border last week. we went to the border to seek
answers and demand accountability for the very real impacts that president trump's cruel and unnecessary policy of separating children from their parents. the permanent trauma that these policies are inflicting on parents and their innocent children, many of whom are refugees fleeing violence and seeking asylum is inhumane and horrific. taking thousands of children, some as young as infants and toddlers away from their parents, and detaining them as a form of punishment or deterrence is ineffective and it is morally indefensible. after all, under the rule of law, refugees fleeing violence have a right to request asylum. as of now, only about 500 children of the over 2,000 children in custody have been reunited with their families since president trump signed an executive order ending his
family separation policy last wednesday. there is still no clear plan for the white house to ensure that they will make sure that every child is reunited with their family. and this is simply unacceptable. this crisis was born in malice and, frankly, it was inflamed by incompetence. as an american, as a father, i will not just sit by. when we saw last friday along the border, which was ground zero for president trump's so-called zero tolerance policy had a profound affect on me. there were over 2,000 teenagers held in tornillo, texas. there was a family at a border patrol station and told me about the violence they are
desperately trying to escape. let me share the story of one of these families who was in border patrol custody. i met a father in his mid-20's who came here with his 2-year-old daughter garb -- garbriella. he fled his home country because it was violent and unstable and wanted a better future for his daughter. if he arrived before president trump's executive order, his little girl would have literally been torn from his arms. i can't tell you whether gariella and her father will be granted siem. -- asylum. but at least me we he was able to keep his daughter by his side through this difficult process. it is unforgivable that families
facing circles circumstances are still separated with no knowledge of where their children are and no knowledge of if or when they will be reunited all because of the trump administration. during our visit we learned troubling details about the process facing asylum seekers who are attempting to enter our nation legally at the ports of entry. at the port of entry in el paso, we witnessed how the trump administration's actions are creating unnecessary delays on asylum claims. what's more, the mixed messages and outright lies coming from the white house and administration officials are creating confusion and chaos on the ground for those actually responsible for carrying out the president's policies. there's not enough transparency from the white house or from federal agencies. there's not enough oversight of this administration. and we absolutely need to know
what is going on. that is why we are calling for immediate hearings on the trump administration's inhumane border policies and accountability and oversight of those responsible for carrying those policies out. anything short of accounting for every single child affected by this policy is unacceptable and, frankly, it's unconscionable. we must hold the white house accountable for adhering to our laws, to american values, and for executing a clear plan to right these wrongs. it is important for us to recognize that the intentionally cruel separation of families that we have witnessed in recent weeks and months is only one piece of a larger systemic campaign by this administration to dehumanize our immigrant communities. these inhumane enforcement policies follow president trump's discriminatory muslim
travel ban. they follow his refusal to welcome refugees from war-torn countries like syria. they follow his cancellation of legal status for immigrants who escape natural disasters and unthinkable violence in haiti and honduras and el salvador. they follow his unjust ending of the deferred action for childhood arrivals or daca program. and his repeated efforts to derail any efforts in congress to reach a bipartisan consensus on responsible immigration policies that would make smart investments in security at our borders, that keep our communities safe and recognize the dignity, the vibrancy of those border communities. despite president trump's continued determination to sabotage any good-faith efforts, i continue to believe that our nation desperately needs congress to pass comprehensive
immigration legislation. that includes a visa system that meets the needs of our economy, a fair path to earned citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in our country who are undocumented, and a plan that ensures security at our nation's borders. rather than stirring up division and targeting law-abiding immigrants that are working hard to support their families, paying taxes, we should focus our enfocht activities -- enforcement activities and resources on violent criminals. we must also act with a sense of urgency to find a responsible way forward for the hundreds of thousands of dreamers who are just as much a part of our communities as any of us are. they are americans in every way except on paper. i will not give up on them. none of president trump's callous actions on immigration represents values of the america that i know and love. the america that welcomed my
father and his family as they immigrated here from germany in the 1930's. when i think about immigration, i always wondered how different my life would be if america had turned my family away, had turned my father away, or broken that family apart. sadly, that is not an abstraction. it's not an abstract question for thousands of families still desperately hoping to be reunited now. just like my father's family, these families are mothers, fathers, and children who are overwhelmingly people seeking to come to america because of the promise that our nation represent, but i take heart in the ground groundswell of -- of the groundswell of decency that we have witnessed from thousands of americans who have made their voices heard. after we -- after we visited the
border on friday, senator udall and i joined hundreds of new mexicans for a community event in las crew -- las cruces. i want to share an image of a little girl i saw. her sign reads, i love my family and i need them every day. that's really what this is all about. i'm sure that the innocent children who have been separated from their parents and placed in detention facilities feel exactly the same way. at the root of this often difficult debate, i believe we need to reaffirm the humanity of these children and their parents. we cannot stop fighting for compassionate and responsible immigration policies that respect the disty -- the dignity of these families. we must turn our backs on the ideals and fundamental values
that made the united states both the most powerful nation on earth and a moral beacon of leadership. we must continue to make our voices heard and demand the reunification for all of these children with their families. and i want to assure new mexicans and all americans that i stand with you in saying that this is not what we stand for. and i will not rest until our country is once again seen as the moral leader of the free world. thank you, mr. president. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call: ms. cantwell: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i come up to join the debate this morning on the farm bill, making sure that we get the farm bill passed. it is so important to the state of washington and to our
country. i know many of my colleagues have been down here talking about agriculture, but in the state of washington, it is responsible for about 164,000 jobs, and while we produce ourselves about $10 billion plus of economic activity, our ports are responsible for exporting about $108 billion of economic activity. so chances are, if you're growing an agricultural product in the united states, there is a good chaps that you're -- good chance that you are shipping that product through washington ports. so to say that this bill is an important economic tool is an understatement. we know in the united states of america that a trade surplus in agriculture has also existed for 50 years. so when we're talking about making investments and opening up new markets and protecting agriculture from a trade war
that we're seeing, it's very important that this bill help recognize the hard work that the farmers in the united states of america have done in growing our economy and what we can do to continue to make sure that they have those economic opportunities in the future. since u.s. exports have gained access to markets like south korea morse than a decade ago, washington farmers in my state have seen increases in export up to 80% for potatoes and 200% for cherries. in agriculture, exports support more than millions of jobs, but they are around the united states so important in helping us with our trade surplus. so i'm proud to say that working with our colleagues, the chairman of the committee, senator roberts, and his ranking member, senator stabenow, we have worked to make sure that we are making improvements in increasing the map market assistance program, that these programs now bound together to
increase funding provide technical assistance and more flexibility for the secretary of agriculture to help our farmers increase access to new markets. this is so important at a time when we're seeing so much chaos in the marketplace. we want to make sure that we continue to have an aggressive attitude towards opening up markets, not closing them, opening up markets for our agricultural product. from 1977 to 2014, it is estimated that these programs produced an average return of investment of $28 for every dollar that was invested. that is when you're opening up a market to sell u.s. products abroad, we're spending a little bit of dollars helping us open the door to those markets and it's returning $28. so that is a huge investment for us to export our product into those countries. so i know that some of our colleagues have been working across the aisle to help make sure that map funding is more
secure and that we invest more. i'm one of those working with my colleague, senator crapo from idaho, to make sure that provisions are in this bill that give the secretary more flexibility to help us on things like our fruit products and potato products from the pacific northwest. so i appreciate his help on helping make sure that this bill represents at least some of us who want to increase those opportunities for the future. washington state is the third-largest exporters of food and agricultural products in the united states, and our agriculture sector accounts for 13% of our economy annually. and we're proud to grow about 300 different types of products, nearly 40,000 farms, and as i said 164,000 washingtonians employed in that sector. so we continue to work to make sure that the type of research that's represented in this bill,
in the r&d that's provided, in the great institutions in our state like washington state university providing good information for us our agriculture extension programs are funded and to make sure that conservation is an opportunity for our farmers so that they can continue to have resources within their farms and diversify on different products and rotation of -- in rotation. all of these things are important in moving a farm bill through the united states senate and on to the president's desk eventually. i'm very concerned that my colleagues in the house of representatives want to cut or limit the snap program. this has been an essential tool as part of ag for a long time and should continue. the notion that we are going to hold up an ag bill at a critical time when concerns about tariffs are impacting our farmers is wrong. what we need to do is move forward on giving the assurances to our farmers that we want them
to have the research and development, we want to have them -- hand them the tools of conservation, and we certainly want them to have the market access program to continue to market and reach markets all around the globe. our ag economy is so important to us in the pacific northwest. this bill is helping us make a down payment on it and giving us a little flexibility. but i'm going to take the secretary of agriculture at his word today when i heard him on television saying he's going to mitigate any kind of damage being done to farmers based on tariffs. i'm going to hold him at his word and, believe me, as we move this legislation through the process, i am going to make sure that every tool is available for the great products that we grow in washington state. i want them to reach market destinations. i don't want them to be retaliated against in a trade war. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
a senator: madam president, i ask for consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator from minnesota. ms. smith: thank you. thank you, madam president. i rise today to voice my strong support for the farm bill that the senate is currently considering. first i would like to thank chairman roberts and ranking member stabenow for their strong leadership on this bipartisan bill. when i first became a senator just six months ago, i asked for a seat on the agriculture committee, and i immediately formed a farm bill working group in minnesota so that i could hear from farmers and ranchers, foresters, researchers, rural community leaders, and tribes, as well as experts on nutrition and energy and conservation to make sure that minnesota's priorities were included in this farm bill. in the last few months, my staff and i in minnesota have convened over 30 listening sessions around the state, and i am very grateful for the input and ideas which we've gotten through the farm bill process.
the farm bill touches the lives of virtually every american, and it is vital to my state's economy. this bill will provide important stability and predictability to minnesota farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and indian country while also sustaining tens of thousands of minnesota jobs. the farm bill works when all three pillars of the bill work together -- traditional farm programs, rural development, and nutrition. if we remove one of these pillars, the farm bill is not able to stand. the nutrition programs authorized -- reauthorized by the senate farm bill are of vital importance. according to the agriculture department, in 2016 is over 41 million people, including millions of children across the country, live in food-insecure households. this is why when you talk to farmers and ranchers in my state, they know how important it is to support nutrition programs. and they understand as i do
that any efforts to weaken nutrition programs will ensure that this bill does not pass. i was proud to be able to participate in crafting the farm bill as a member of the agriculture committee. it was a truly bipartisan process and an example of how we can get things done when we work together. and i am very happy that this bill includes many of the provisions that i worked hard on on behalf of minnesota. for example, the senate bill maintains the sugar program, which is so important to minnesota's sugar beet farmers. the sugar industry employs about 29,000 people in minnesota and provides 142,000 jobs nationwide. sugar is a $20 billion-a-year industry, $3.4 billion in my state alone. the united states sugar policy runs at zero cost and ensures that american farmers are on an even playing field against subsidized foreign sugar. any amendment that threatens
this safety net for farmers could put many farmers into bankruptcy and should be opposed. this farm bill also expands gains made in the dairy safety net earlier this year. i pushed for these improvements to help minnesota dairy farmers who are facing falling milk prices, and i'm pleased that this farm bill will establish a new national animal disease preparedness response and recovery program. i heard about the need for vaccine banks and animal disease readiness at the poultry testing lab in wilmer, minnesota. when minnesota was hid hard by the aftian flu outbreak that resulted in the deaths of nine million turkeys and chickens, we knew this program was needed. i have as difficult he a also pushed for other programs. i worked had arded to make sure that this bill advances conservation programs so farmers have the opportunity to start new conservation plans and then keep them going over the long term to protect the environment
and increase productivity. i supported ranking member stabenow's timber innovation act. this bill encourages new and innovative uses for word and building construction, which is important for the timber industry in my state. i'm very proud that this bill expands programs i advocated for to help beginning farmers and traditionally disadvantaged farmers. we need to make sure that producers from diverse backgrounds are able to access usda services. in my state, this means native american farmers, mung, somali farmers and veterans farmers. today as our farmers face deep uncertainty around tariffs, this bill includes bipartisan provisions to increase funding for usda trade promotion activities. international markets are essential to the profitability of many farmers, including in minnesota. this bill also helps to protect
native food products from fraught lent imposters on the market. for example, some food businesses are trying to minimum mick or replicate unique food products like minnesota wild rice and then sell them on the marketplace as traditional food items. developing new international markets through frayed promotion is something minnesota farmers and leaders in indian country have been calling for and we do it in this bill. aboutas ranking member of the rl development and energy subcommittee, i am very happy that this bill has a strong energy title. i introduced legislation outlining a road map for this title in the map bill, and i led a bipartisan coalition of my colleagues urging the committee to fund and strengthen the many successful energy programs at usda. one example is the rural energy for america program which helps ag producers, local businesses, and rural communities develop energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that create
jobs, cut energy bills, and reduce greenhouse gases emissions. another example is the biorefinery and biobased products program. american farmers can provide the raw products that replace and improve on products typically made from oil. bioplastics are better for the environment than traditional plastics. another message i hear i hear all the time as i meet with leaders all across minnesota is the need for reliable internet service. broadband is the infrastructure of the 21st century economy. it is not just nice to have. it is necessary if we're going to build an economy that works for everyone. whether you are a he a student doing your homework, a business owner selling your products, a farmer using modern precision agriculture equipment, or a person who's trying to access health care, you need access to broadband internet service. so i'm really glad that this bill incorporates my community
connect grant program act to authorize and increase funding for this important effort. the bill also seeks to modernize speeds so that those living in rural communities don't get stuck with lower service quality than those living in urban areas. the community connect broadband grant program will create better broadband access to serve remote and tribal communities and help spur economic growth in rural america. it is a step forward and one of the many things we need to do to connect minnesotans and people across the nation with affordable, reliable internet service. i also hear from minnesotans about their love of local produce and the importance of supporting regional food economies. i'm happy to see that this bill creates a streamlined agriculture local market program to support developing local and regional food systems, and it increases mandatory funding for organic research, another priority of mine. i'm proud that this bill includes the rural health
liaison legislation, which i worked on with senator jones from alabama and senator rounds of south dakota. the rural health liaison will encourage collaboration between usda and health and human services to address the specific health care needs of rural communities. i'm pleased to see that the inclusion of my bill encouraging usda to assist veterans in joining the agriculture workforce after leaving service. this is going to expand access and job opportunities for returning service members. as we consider the farm bill on the senate floor, we also need to listen to all our communities, including leaders in indian country. we have many go good -- good provisions in the bill. in addition to addressing tribal food fraud, this bill requires the secretary of agriculture to support greater inclusion of tribal products and federal trade promotion efforts. it also expands eligibility for forest program funding to include the 1994 tribal colleges
so more students in minnesota and around the country can get involved in forestry research. i was glad to join senator heitkamp in supporting a new technical assistance program that will help tribes across rural -- access rural development initiatives and authorize the secretary of agriculture to designate tribal promise zones to further improve access to federal economic development resources. finally, i'm eager to see native farmers in minnesota take advantage of the improved resources for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in this bill. there are so many opportunities for success in agriculture, and it's important that usda resources are available to all communities. but there is a lot left to be done. we still need to access many more usda programs for native americans and empower tribes to make sure their programs, these programs work for tribal communities. we need more investment in
conservation projects, and we should allow tribes to develop their own technical standards for conservation based on their traditions and ecological knowledge. when i first became senator, i was asked to be a member of the -- i did ask to be a member of the indian affairs committee. as the newest member of that committee, i have picked up on a couple of themes. one is that virtually every program for indian country is underfunded. and two, we have to empower tribes to create solutions that work for their members. we need to listen to leaders in indian country and make sure that the farm bill works for them. i introduced an amendment to make sure tribes have the authority to administer the supplemental nutrition assistance program or snap. this is a top priority of the native farm bill coalition. over 360 federally recognized tribes participate in tribal self-governance programs at the indian health service and at the department of interior.
with a 30-year proven track record, tribal self-governance is widely considered by tribes and stakeholders as one of the most successful federal indian policies. approximately 25% of native americans receive some type of federal food assistance, and in some tribal communities, participation is as high as 80%. giving tribes the authority to administer snap will allow them to meet the specific needs of their communities to fight hunger. i am hopeful that this very important bipartisan amendment will get proper consideration. we need to pass this farm bill now to give farmers and ranchers certainty. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor.
mr. lee: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent to suspend the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the committee on the judiciary be discharged from further consideration of s. 2245, and that the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk
will report. the clerk: s. 2245, a bill to include new zealand in the list of foreign states whose nationals are eligible for admission into the united states as e-1 and e-2 nonimmigrants, and so forth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the motion? without objection, the committee is discharged, and the senate will proceed. mr. lee: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read -- that it be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. so ordered. mr. lee: madam president, it's an honor to be involved in the passage of this important legislation. the knowledgeable innovators and worthy investors act or kiwi act is a bipartisan bill that
legislativei extends e-1 and e-2 visas to citizens of new zealand. it does not increase the number of available visas. granting access to these visas to new zealand would increase both investment and trade into the united states and strengthen our relationship with new zealand. new zealand is, of course, a country that is critical, critical to our relationship. we have a critical strategic military and economic partner in the arab yeah pacific region with new zealand. this legislation will further strengthen america's presence in the asia pacific region. e-1 and e-2 visas allow qualified foreign nationals to engage in substantial trade or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the individual is heavily invested. the united states will benefit
from increased investment in trade with new zealand. new zealand citizens and businesses currently make substantial investments in the united states. these businesses have created more than 10,000 jobs. in 2017, $10.5 billion in trade passed between the united states and new zealand. allowing new zealanders to apply for e-1 and e-2 visas will affirm reciprocity and strengthen the united states' relationship with new zealand. again, this is a country that's a critical ally and a partner in the asia pacific region. it will also increase the united states' presence in that region. new zealand is the only five i's country whose citizens are ineligible to apply for these
visas while american citizens are eligible for reciprocal visas in new zealand. so i am grateful and honored to be involved in moving this legislation. i am grateful to my colleagues for consenting to this, grateful to have worked on this with my distinguished colleague, the senator from ru, who worked hard with me to put together this bipartisan piece of legislation that we have been fortunate enough to pass through the senate today. thank you, madam president. i see my colleague from hawaii is here. i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: first of all, i want to thank my colleague from utah, senator lee, for working together with me on the kiwi act that we just approved. mahalo. madam president, if this week has shown us anything, it is that courts matter. in three important decisions over two days, the supreme court majority endorsed donald trump's bigotry and handed him the power to exclude any group of people for any reason as long as he couches it as a national security matter. justice alito led a narrow majority in a concerted effort to destroy unions, in this case public-sector unions. and justice thomas told states that they cannot tell women what reproductive services are available to them. but we have also seen a federal trial court judge in san diego who combined his understanding of the law with his capacity for
humankindness and ordered that children who were separated from their parents at the southern border be reunited with them in short order. and we have seen the third circuit court of appeals rule in favor of transgender public school students being able to use the bathrooms that match their gender identities. the work that judges do affects the real lives of people living and working in this country. people are trying to care for their families, to serve their country, to earn a living, people who count on us here in congress to make sure that they are safe and that their rights are protected. in the judiciary committee, on which i sit, that responsibility is normally never greater than when we consider a nomination to the united states supreme court. these are not normal times. when we have a president who avows that the supreme court
should always be republican, ignoring the independent role of the court, the senate's advice and consent process is even more crucial. take a look at the president's tweet. he believes the supreme court is an extension of his political party. last march he reiterated, quote, we need more republicans in 2018, he said, and must always -- he likes to capitalize supreme court. any nominee from this president comes to us with this taint attached. the president is not the only one to politicize the courts. neil gorsuch would never have made it to the supreme court if not for the majority leader whose proudest achievement according to him is neil gorsuch's nomination to the supreme court. there is no qstns conservative n the supreme court to upend the
fundamental rights of millions of americans. it started in 2016 when he refused to even meet with the president's supreme court nominee, let alone grant him a hearing. the majority leader held this seat hostage precisely because he wanted someone who would serve as a rubber stamp for his radical conservative agenda. here's what mitch mcconnell said when he did this. he said, the american people should have a voice in the selection of their next supreme court justice. under the mcconnell rule, this vacancy created by justice kennedy's resignation or retirement should be treated no differently. if the people's voice should have been heard in 2016, it is no less important now because these are clearly not normal times. and on tuesday the same day that the supreme court ruled that the president could discriminate
against people coming to our country on the basis of religion, the majority leader tweeted this picture of himself with neil gorsuch. the message is clear, the twisted process got the republicans just what they wanted. and they want to do it again. they want to keep doing it, and we should not let them. democrats should do everything we can to ensure that the supreme court stays independent and protects fundamental rights and values. the american people certainly deserve no less. i yield the floor.
a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. rounds: thank you. i rise to discuss the agricultural improvement act for 2018 known as the farm bill which we are considering on the senate floor this week. the farm bill is a vital piece of legislation to the people of my home state of south dakota where our economy depends on agriculture to survive. with more than 31,500 farms across the state, south dakota
ranks in the top ten for ag production providing a $25 billion impact on our economy annually. stability and certainty for our farmers, which this farm bill helps to provide, is crucial as they do their part to feed and fuel a growing global population. i'd like to thank chairman pat roberts, ranking member debbie stabenow and all the other members of the senate ag committee and their staff who worked tirelessly to get this market-oriented bill to the floor for consideration by the full senate body. this bipartisan bill will provide much-needed certainty to our ag community at a very pivotal time when the ag economy is facing significant challenges. the ag economy is down more than 50% over the past five years and the numbers don't look much better for 2018. according to the department of ag's own economic research service, net farm income is projected to fall an additional
7% this year. to $58 billion. a five-year farm bill is necessary to give south dakota producers the certainty they need to help weather times of economic downturn such as the one that we are experiencing right now in ag country. additionally, the uncertainty surrounding trade and tariffs has created instability in the market which is having a significant be effect on our commodity prices. for example, in my home state of south dakota, soybeans are one of the top commodities and we rely heavily on experts to sell our soybean crop each year. a significant importer of u.s. soybeans is china who account for about 25% of all u.s. soybean sales and 60% of all soybean exports. while tariffs on soybeans have not taken effect yet they are
already having a real impact on the market prices. since the tariffs on chinese goods were announced in early march, soybeans are down $1.86 per bushel on the cash market, representing a $449 million loss in south dakota alone when you look at farmers' balance sheets. usda projected ag exports to be flat in 2018 before tariffs were levied on the ag industry, or at least before those tariffs were suggested to be added on to the ag industry. with so much uncertainty surrounding trade deals since tariffs were announced reauthorizing programs such as m.a.p. and f.m.d. are vital to regain new access for u.s. products and this bill does exactly that. these programs help encourage the development, maintenance and expansion of the ag export
market to foreign customers. i'm pleased this legislation also strengthens the crop insurance program with outlays projected to be approximately $7.6 billion annually. crop insurance is a highly effective public-private safety net that helps farmers customize protection for their individual operations. sometimes i don't think we emphasize that this is one of those safety net items where farmers and ranchers actually pay premiums to participate. crops in my home state of south dakota contribute roughly $10.3 billion to our economy. last year in south dakota alone more than 50,000 crop insurance policies were written to provide $4.8 billion in protection for over 17.5 million acres of crop land.
nationwide, more than 310 million acres were enrolled in crop insurance, backing more than $106 billion of crop value. it is vital risk management -- it is vital as a risk management tool for farmers across the entire country. by maintaining strong crop insurance provisions, this will help our producers weather these very tough times in ag country. additionally, this legislation provides a modest increase in the cap for the conservation reserve program, or c.r.p., to 25 million acres. that would be up from 24 million the existing farm bill. while we would have preferred a more significant increase in c.r.p. acres to the tune of 30 million acres or more, a strong c.r.p. program is an important tool to assist farmers and ranchers during these adverse times, such as like during a drought like we
experienced in south dakota last year or a possible flood damage which i fear we will be experiencing this year. this legislation also gives the secretary of ag the necessary authority to reorganize the usda. ag secretary sonny perdue introduced a plan to reorganize the agency, including the national resource conservation service, the farm service agency and the risk management agency creating a new farm production and conservation mission which would be under the under secretary bill northey. streamlining these programs will help sharpen the agency's focus on domestic agricultural issues providing farmers and ranchers with a one-stop shop so usda can better meet their needs. last year as the senate ag committee discussions on this issue took shape, i wrote to the
chairman and ranking member to combat economic food and national security concerns. a major outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease or f.m.d. would be financially devastating to our producers and this bill highlights an f.m.d. disease bank as a priority at the usda. the final thing i will mention is that it increases the gap for individuals seeking loans under the farm agency loan guarantee program. this program provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who want to expand and improve their operations. now under this program, the direct loan cap will go from $300,000 to $600,000 and from $
1.39 million to $1.79 million for operating loans. increasing both the individual cap for these rwandans and the -- loans and the total amount of money for lending will allow a greater number of producers to utilize the program. farming and ranching has become increasingly costly, this will reflect the inflation and make sure that lenders have flexibility during times of hardship. south dakota producers work hard every day to feed and fuel a growing global population. as in all businesses, some years are simply better than others. during those more difficult times, it's important that our farmers and ranchers have access to tools that can help them keep their operations viable. the certainty and stability of this farm bill will do that by allowing them to work to weather
this current economic downturn as well as strengthen the agricultural economy. i support the senate's efforts to provide certainty to our farmers and i will continue to work with our farmers to see this bill across the finish line so we can provide our ag economy back on track. let me also add, i believe we may very well see well-meaning amendments that make good sense, but these are amendments that might not be supported by enough of our members to where the actual bill itself would survive if the amendments are included. my interest is making certain that this farm bill is allowed to continue forward to be reconciled with the house and become law as quickly as possible. and i would ask the other members to seriously consider
the impacts of while we may very well have great ideas on how to make improvements, unless we have enough to maintain the 60-vote margin in the united states senate on a bipartisan basis, then we fail in providing that stability to the ag community in this time that they desperately need that reassurance. so with that, mawd secretary -- madam secretary, i thank you for the opportunity to talk about this very important piece of legislation, and i would -- and i would yield the floor. thank you, madam president. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. ernzensens -- mrs. ernst: i rief
in support of the farm bill. thank you, chairman roberts and ranking member stabenow for bringing this critical piece of bipartisan legislation to the floor for consideration. farmers, ranchers, and rural communities are resilient. some of the toughest in the face of adversity. but low commodity prices, trade tensions, and unpredictable weather have taken a toll on many of our folks back home. mrs. ernst: these are the people that americans rely on day in and day out to put food on our tables, clothes on our backs, and fuel in our cars. and in trying times, it is
essential that we provide farmers and ranchers with the certainty and the predictability they need and they deserve. these folks helped guide my priorities for this bipartisan farm bill which maintains a robust crop insurance, it makes improvements to commodity programs, and it promotes soil health and water quality. i'm thankful that several of my provisions and amendments can be found within this bill. long overdue reforms to the conservation reserve program will refocus the program's intent on highly erodable and environmentally sensitive land and provide opportunities for the next generation of american farmers to access land to build economically viable farm
operations. this bill also strengthens the arc county program, limiting payment discrepancies and ensuring farmers receive the necessary support they deserve. it also puts farmers first by providing critical support and mental health resources to those in need or those facing tough times. i do want to note one area of the bill where i think we need to do more, and that is on the issue of snap reform. most notably, the bill misses an opportunity to help able-bodied snap recipients rise up out of poverty. snap is a program that is relied on by children in addition to elderly american, people with disabilities, and many working families who are struggling to
make ends meet. no american should go hungry and snap provides critical assistance to our most vulnerable citizens. and we also have an obligation to ensure that this safety net does not perpetuate a cycle of poverty and is not abused by those who should not be taking this benefit. unfortunately, we have seen some shocking stories that show how snap has, at times, been misused. for example, i'm reminded of the 28--year-old lobster-eating, cadillac driving sufferer from san diego, california, who had
not worked for over a year and was receiving food stamps. he was unabashedly abusing the system and taking benefits away from those that need those benefits the most. suffering is a -- surfing is a pretty physically active sport. i think we can all agree with that. and it was safe to presume this young man was able bodied. we should not allow this type of behavior to continue and we should not allow more examples of people taking advantage of a safety net that is setup to help those that need it the most. while this example is an exception rather than the rule, i'm concerned that the ability to abuse the system could increase the number of folks
that simply choose to sit back and sit and decide they will also ride the free waves rather than get in the game and return to employment. we need to encourage those who can to start working again. getting people back to work is the most effectively way -- effective way to prevent poverty, both in the near term and for people's long-term stability. programs like snap should encourage able-bodied adults to participate in the labor force. according to the census bureau, 30.5% of adults who did not work lived in poverty in 2016. however, on the flip side, just
2.2% of full-time workers and 14.7% of part-time or part-year workers lived below the poverty line. folks who are employed are not only better off financially, they also benefit from the sense of purpose and confidence that comes from a job. as i always say, there is dignity in a job. take, for example, april, a missouri woman who was on government assistance from the age of 16 to the age of 30, receiving food stamps and housing assistance. when she was caught shoplifting, she was forced to do community service. she volunteered atwatered
guard -- at watered gardens, a rescue mission where folks living in poverty get the help they need while they are also working at the gardens. april was so inspired by her time there that she started a women's discipleship center in her community and is now living a fulfilling life. snap currently requires able-bodied adults without dependents to work, participate in training or volunteer for at least 20 hours a week to receive assistance. that's the current requirement. but, unfortunately, 35% of americans live in an area where work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents have been waived. they've been waived.
of the 1,200 areas where this has been waived over half have unemployment rates below 5%. over 500 of those areas are at full employment. these waivers were intended for states and communities that are experiencing economic downturns, not states like california which has a statewide waiver despite a record low 4.2% unemployment. our economy is boom be right now. we have a 3.8% unemployment rate. and for the first time on record, the number of job openings exceeds the number of americans looking for work. this is the best possible time
for us to encourage work among able bodied snap recipients. that's why i introduced an amendment that would strengthen the waiver process to ensure that areas with low levels of unemployment are not except from snap's requirement for ablebodied adults with depends to work, train, or volunteer. i plan to offer this amendment today. i'm not going to because i want to keep the farm bill moving for the sake of our farmers. but i do want to see this done at conference. despite its imperfections, we have a bill before us that will feed hungry americans, protect natural resources, mitigate risk, and support rural jobs. with heavy rainfall this past
week across northern iowa, some hardworking men and women are now facing even greater challenges. flooded fields have producers worrying about crop damage. this all underscores the need for a strong and reliable safety net and timely passage of the farm bill. the goal and absolute requirement is to provide the farmers and ranchers across our nation the certainty and the predictability during difficult times. i look forward to working alongside my colleagues to meet this goal by passing this farm bill. and i encourage support. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. i come talk to talk about the
fairm and an -- the farm bill and an amendment i filed along with senators cornyn and heller. first i want to thank chairman roberts for doing the remarkable job he does by bringing people together on the agriculture committee. for the first two years i was here in the senate beginning in 2015, i was on agriculture. i really enjoyed watching the way that he worked, trying to bridge the gaps between different interests. and in the agriculture committee, it's less along partisan lines and more along regional lines. the fact that we've got a farm bill before us that i believe -- that i will support and i believe is good for farmers is a testament to the leadership of the chair roberts and the ranking member stabenow. i do think it's important. in north carolina a lot of people probably don't realize although we're a relatively small state and populous state with large urban centers, we're also one of the top ten
agriculture states. we have over 80 commodities that are raised in our state and it contributes about $84 billion to our community or to our state in revenues. so it's a very, very important sector. in fact, i would argue the most important sector. so it's absolutely important that we get the farm bill right and that we have a fair treatment for all crops. and i believe that chairman roberts is working on that. and i'm going to do everything i can to help him as we work with the house members in conference. mr. president, i want to spend the remaining part of my time talking about something that's also very important. about 80% of the farm bill is dedicated to the snap program. we heard senator ernst talk about it in her comments. it's a very important program for nutritional assistance. but it's also important that we implement policies that make sure that it's sustainable over time and that those who are
reliant on it, we ultimately do everything we can for those who are capable to no longer rely on it. and how do we do that? right now there's a program for adults where if you don't have depends -- departments -- depen dents, there's an expectation about work requirements. we have to make sure we have people looking for work being trained for work as a requirement of getting the snap benefit. there will be a lot of people talking about the heartless nature of this program. but let's talk about what's really being proposed versus what you may hear in a floor speech and in the press. what this program is about is for people between the ages of 18 and 50 who do not have children under the age of 6. why 6? because at that point they're generally going to school so the day care issues are not as great. we're not talking about people who have a health problem or
someone who has a disability. they're exempted. what we're talking about is adults who may have older children, who are able bodied, and should be expected to work or do some sort of community service as a condition for getting the snap benefit. there's a lot of people that we think that we can provide the benefit, get them to work a minimum of 20 hours a week and ultimately maybe get them a job where they would no longer need the snap benefit and be free of any dependence on government to make their ends meet. there are also people that may actually not have skills that can get them into a job at this point. so that expectation, if you can't find a 20 hour a week job, at least perhaps get into a job training program so that you have the skills that are necessary to make a living wage. a couple of months ago i was visiting a senator down in --
city down in charlotte about 15 minutes outside of my hometown. it takes all comers. there's no means testing. anybody who wants new job skills, they can come to this facility. they can pursue certifications. they can do the prerequisite work there and then go to a community or university. what this program is about is saying if you don't have the skills you need today to get you into that job that will free you from government assistance, think i think it's reasonable to expect that maybe 20 hours a week you go to training programs like this so you're better prepared to do it over time. that's essentially the nature of the amendment that i've filed along with the support of senator cornyn and senator heller. there's a couple of reasons for why you want for do it. we need to make sure that we can get as many people to work, number one, so that they can be free of government assistance and number two, to make sure that the economic burden on the taxpayers does not become so great that at some point the
only way we can pay for the snap benefit is to cut the snap benefit. in other words, i want to make sure that these safety nets are always well funded and always there for people who need it. i think this amendment is the opportunity to talk about it and potentially make progress on this farm bill is something i'm excited about. i think we can do it in a way to make sure that people who genuinely need it will get it but those who genuinely have an opportunity to free themselves from government assistance over time do that, too. and i'll tell you, i'll leave you with this. from personal experience, back when i was 17 years old, i was supposed to go to the air force and i was discharged because of an automobile accident. mr. tillis: so instead of going to college, i found myself -- i moved out of home when i was 17. i found myself not going to college and actually not being employed. fortunately for me, there was a community college or a technical school back in nashville, tennessee, that i went to that gave me the job skills that over
a very short period of time gave me a job that ultimately led to my professional career. and i guess ultimately led to me being a u.s. senator. so i'm speaking from personal experience. if i had taken the path of maybe just looking for a program that didn't require a work requirement, didn't necessarily have the motivation to go down the path i did, then there are people out there that i think we're going to lose that could be some of the greatest business executives, plant managers, artisans, tradesmen and women that we've ever seen. that's why programs like this, that's why amendments like this i think require serious consideration and hopefully the support of the senate. mr. president, thank you. i yield the floor.
mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: he ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. mr. nelson: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i have some remarks to explain the two unanimous consent requests that i am making, and i understand, to accommodate the senator from wisconsin's schedule, i will go ahead and make the unanimous consent request prior to my remarks. i would ask, mr. president, that i be recognized upon the disposition of the unanimous consent request. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the committee of homeland security and governmental affairs be discharged from further
consideration of s. 2880, a bill to establish a pilot program for long-term rental assistance for families affected by major disasters and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. i further ask that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and the the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? the presiding officer: the senator from is with is with. mr. johnson: as chairman of the committee of jurisdiction, i reached out to the agency. according to the agency, fema has spent more than $430 million on the transitional program and provided rental assistance to families to help them find permanent housing solutions. 97% of those enrolled in the
program have success political transition the to more permanent housing. the remaining housing -- the remaining households in the transitional sheltering assistance program have either received rental or repair assistance from fema, have a habitable home with utilities on or are not eligible for additional assistance. partners will continue to provide assistance through disaster case management to those who still require long-term solution. so again as chairman of the committee of jurisdiction -- the committee with oversight and jurisdiction over fema, i believe it is important to support fema's objection to this. and for those reasons i do object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i have another unanimous consent request, but let me just say that the unanimous consent request that the senator from wisconsin has just objected to,
indeed fema does oppose this and that's the whole purpose of the u.c. request because people are about to get shut out of the temporary housing that they have, having evacuated from puerto rico, evacuated to florida, and that fema program runs out, according to fema, june 30. but, in fact, the law is on the books that fema could activate that program, just like they did after hurricane katrina for the poor people in new orleans that had to evacuate from their homes. in that case, most of them evacuated to a different state,
a lot of them having gone to houston, texas texas. and if pentagon president hears e-- and if the president hears emotion in this senator's voice, up deed it is there. i will address the remarks later, so my second unanimous consent request involves a matter of medicaid assistance and housing assistance to families affected by a major disaster. so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the finance committee, of which this senator is a part of, be discharged from further consideration of s. 2066, a bill to provide housing and medicaid assistance to families affected by a major disaster; that the
senate proceed to its immediate consideration; and that the the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the senate proceed to its immediate consideration and that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. johnson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. mr. johnson: i have been asked by the chairman of the senate finance committee to object on his behalf, so on his behalf, i object. the presiding officer: objection is is heard. mr. nelson: mr. president, both of these u.c. requests are
because there are a lot of people that are hurting in the aftermath of two hurricanes having hit puerto rico, with the island still in great distress, our fellow u.s. citizens on the island of puerto rico and, indeed, in great distress not only because of the slow assistance of fema, the lack of electricity, of which parts of puerto rico today going on ten months after the hurricane are without electricity; of the number of people fleeing the island and, therefore, the jobs are not available because the economy has been so crippled;
and naturally a number of those people have fled to where they can have safety and shelter and put their children in school -- and, by the way, there are a number of schools in puerto rico that are closed; where they have a decent opportunity to get a job and not just tens of thousands but hundreds of thousands of puerto ricans have fled the island to the states. and a good number of them are in my state of florida. now, there are in florida 600 families that have been in temporary housing.
it's called t.s.a., it's called temporary shelter assistance. about 100 of those families have moved on to other states. another 100 of those families have returned to the island, but 400 of those families are still in our state, and a good number of those 400 families are still in temporary shelter assistance. at least fema did not stop this assistance in march, and we got them to extend it to the end of may and then pointed out that a lot of these families in that temporary assistance had children in school and they
needed to complete the academic year, and so the assistance was extended to two days from now, june 30. they have nowhere to go. some of them have been able by working two jobs, both husband and wife, to be able to collect enough savings that they can afford an apartment. the problem is, the apartment rentals want a security deposit that is three or four times the monthly rent. and so many of these families do not have that much money saved as a result of them being able to find work.
and so it seemed to me the humane thing to do is to activate the part of the law which this senator just asked for unanimous consent and of which it has been objected to by the republican side, that the very same law still on the books that was activated after hurricane katrina hit new orleans, that in fact that law with activated again for the purposes of transitional housing assistance. that bill has been filed by a number of us and of which the only way to get action since fema -- and we just heard the chairman of the homeland
security committee say that fema said they're not going to extend it. they don't support it. well, if it was good enough for the people fleeing new orleans in hurricane katrina, why isn't it good enough for the people that are equally devastated now in florida, having fled the deplorable conditions in their native island, our fellow u.s. citizens of puerto rico? there are thousands of displaced families who are still unable to return to their homes in the wake of those hurricanes, and it includes hundreds of those families, and we estimate it to be about 400 families still just in the state of florida. and yet, despite that fact, fema
is still saying that they are ending this transitional shelter assistance. this decision to stop providing assistance to these families has many of them very scared. they're scrambling to try to figure out what they're going to do to find an affordable place. we've reached out to churches, we've reached out to other charitable organizations to try to help them to afford the deposit, even where they have the income now from one or both spouses working two jobs to be able to afford the apartments. and so what we've been trying to do with this legislation, now rejected by our republican frie i