tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN August 16, 2018 9:30am-11:31am EDT
nomination of marvin quattlebaum to be a judge on the richmond based circuit court of appeals. confirmation vote at noon and following that to limit the debate on julius richardson for that same court. later today the senate expected to begin work on a $857 billion spending package that would combine the two largest annual appropriations bill, defense and labor, hhs and education. live senate coverage now here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray.
holy god, lover of our souls, come into our hearts this day, bringing sweetness, contentment, and peace. lord, support our senators, enabling them to proceed in their work with total trust in you. may they remember with thankfulness the showers of blessings you send them each day. release them from sorrow, filling them with true faith and sacred consolation. as they strive to trust you with all their hearts, direct their steps, leading them to your desired destination.
today, may they live to please you. we pray in your precious name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our 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 majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senate is back in session this august for a simple reason. we have more to do for the families across america who count on us to work hard and to fight for them. that's why the next legislation the senate will consider is a pair of critically important appropriations bills that will fund our national defense along
with the departments of labor, health and human services. talk about subjects that are vital to the american people, at stake is a 2.6% pay raise for u.s. service members, the largest pay raise for troops in almost a decade. the equipment tools an training they need to complete their missions when the john s. mccain national defense act became law earlier this week. at stake are billions of dollars to fight back against the opioid crisis, hundreds of millions to support and retrain american workers who need a boost back into the labor force. hundreds of millions more for employment training, specifically for our veterans. funding for the centers for disease control and the national institutes of health, and federal funding for our nation's schools. i have only scratched the surface. there will be plenty of time in
the days ahead to discuss in detail all the ways this legislation will help our country, as well as to consider amendments. yesterday was a promising start. we agreed to proceed to these two important funding bills by consent after we wrap up the nominations that are before us today. now we need to keep up the collaboration. there is a reason why it has been quite some time since we have completed a full, regular appropriations process. there is a reason why, for example, it's been 15 years, 15 years since the senate passed the labor, health, education bill in time for the start of the fiscal year. this process is not easy. it's hard work for our appropriation subcommittees and full committee to craft this legislation. then here on the floor, we need cooperation from both sides to process amendments while resisting the temptation to turn the appropriations process into a free-for-all on all manner of
policy issues. but this year, that's exactly what we're doing. the senate has already passed seven of 12 bills. in the sex several days, we will consider number eight and number nine. once we finish them, they will encompass more than 87%, mr. president, more than 87% of the total discretionary spending. two more big strides toward avoiding another omnibus and appropriating the taxpayers' money in the right way. but first, mr. president, the senate is currently considering two well-qualified nominees, both for the fourth circuit court of appeals. yesterday afternoon, we voted to vons the nomination of marvin quattlebaum, a graduate of rhodes college and the university of south carolina who presently serves as district judge for the district of south carolina. and at noon, the senate will vote to confirm his nomination.
when he was nominated to the federal bench last year, judge quattlebaum received strong bipartisan support from the senate. the american bar association deemed him unanimously well qualified, their highest possible rating. and once we complete consideration of judge quattlebaum, we'll turn to jay richardson. mr. richardson is a graduate of vanderbilt university and the university of chicago school of law. he has held clerkships with seventh circuit judge richard posner and with the late supreme court chief justice william rehnquist. since 2009, he has served as assistant u.s. attorney for the district of south carolina. currently -- current and former peers in the u.s. attorney's office say he has, quote, a well-earned reputation for excellent preparation, good judgment, fairness, and hard work. in that role, mr. richardson led the successful prosecution of the gunman who murdered nine innocent people at emmanuel
a.m.e. church in charleston, south carolina, back in 2015. our colleagues on the judiciary committee have received a letter from jennifer pinkney, the wife of the late clemeta pinkney, one of the victims of that senseless violence. ms. pinkney wrote to enthusiastically support mr. richardson's confirmation. she said that he, quote, will make a fine jurist. i urge my colleagues to join me in voting to confirm both of these impressive nominees. now, one final matter. members were back in our home states meeting with constituents last week. i had the opportunity to visit a remarkable business in my hometown of louisville. callwell tax has been making -- tanks has been making large industrial storage tanks in kentucky for over 100 years. it's no secret they do good business. but when i stopped by on friday, they had some especially good news to share. in 2018, they invested $100,000
in upgrades to their fleet of cranes. there are 150 kentucky employees, along with hundreds more in other states and are seeing estimated wage increases up to 10% or more, and preload, callwell's sister company that makes prestressed concrete tanks, has invested a half a million dollars in new manufacturing equipment. the company's leadership states that all of these improvements, every one of them, are a direct result of the historic tax reform act this republican colleague passed last year. tax reform, along with all of our other pro-growth policies, has helped transform the overall business climate in our country. in the words of bernie fineman, callwell's c.e.o., the most important thing it has done is to provide hope, hope for the future. while these developments alone are remarkable, the conditions that made them possible are not a fluke. not in a state that's recently seen its unemployment rate drop
to a 42-year low. not in a country where the number of americans filing for unemployment benefits is about as low as it's been in half a century. the tax reform and regulatory reform help make this happen. they help to unleash free enterprise and give callwell's customers the confidence to fill up the warehouse's backlogs and drive up 2018 sales by 14% so far. callwell is just one case study in what's become a national phenomenon. nationwide, consumers are experiencing renewed confidence, retail sales are up 6.4% from july of last year. according to one industry survey, a majority of u.s. manufacturers say this favorable policy climate has been more likely, more likely to raise wages for their workers. bustling warehouses and rising wages weren't exactly what our democratic colleagues predicted when they rallied against tax reform last year or voted in
look step to -- in lockstep to oppose its passage. but one would hope that hindsight is helping our democratic colleagues see how tax reform and regulatory relief were exactly what the doctor ordered. how they have contributed to a healthy economy that is paying dividends for american workers and middle-class families. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. mr. heller: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heller: madam president, i come to the floor today to pay tribute and honor to one of the great nevadans of our lifetime, senator paul laxault. last week, senator laxault passed away at the age of 96, having forever changed the state of nevada and his country. the state motto in nevada is all for our country, and senator laxault exemplified that principle every day by giving his all through public service for every nevadan. paul dominique laxault was born august 2 of 1922. he grew up in my home hometown
of carson city, nevada. his parents had both emigrated from the basque region in europe. they brought their values and traditions to northern nevada. every day basque influence like lamb and sweetbread are still staples of life in northern nevada. as the son of a basque sheepherder, paul made his mark early in life by attending carson city high school, playing on the 1938 state championship basketball team, and as a student body president, which is significant, and i will share in a few minutes. paul would go on to serve his country in the united states army as a medic during world war ii, saw action in the philippines. after the war, like many americans, paul started a family. married jacqueline ross in 1946, had six children, gail, sheila, michelle, kevin, kathleen, and john paul. paul began his career in public service when he served as district attorney for what was
then orangeby county, nevada. he won his first statewide race serving as lieutenant governor from 1963 to 1967. and during his term, paul made the decision to run for the united states senate in 1964 and challenged then-senator howard cannon. in one of the closest races in nevada history, paul lost his bid for the senate by just 48 votes. a result like that could break a lesser man, but paul picked himself up, won the nevada governorship just a few years later. under governor laxalt, nevada turned into the state as we know it today. he helped establish the community college system and first medical school in nevada. under his guidance, nevada's gaming industry was transformed and his vision for our state's future is now enjoyed by millions of tourists each year
who visit nevada for world-class attractions, our services, and our entertainment. it was during that time that paul became friends with a famous governor in neighboring california, ronald reagan. together they worked to protect and preserve lake tahoe for future generations. the regional planning agency is the premiere by-state contract and will celebrate in 2020 its 50th year. after his work as governor, paul decided it was time to run for the senate again, this time he won, and he served the state of nevada from 1974 to 1987. as a united states senator he continued his faithful dedication to his friend ronald reagan, served as his presidential campaign chairman in 1976 and 1980 and 1980. he was chairman of the republican committee from 1983
to 1987. senator laxalt was famously called the first friend of president reagan. together they helped each other send our country down a new path of prosperity and freedom. senator laxalt was a friend and hero to me and many others who grew up in carson city. like paul, my mother, my children, and i also went to carson high school. i played on the basketball team and my daughter emmy was the student body president following in senator laxalt's shoes. before my daughter emmy took office, she reached out to previous carson high school body presidents to ask for their advice. senator lacks amount was -- laxalt told her the following. when i was elected as student body president, franklin roosevelt was president of the united states. with world war ii looming on the
horizon, my fellow classmates and i had no idea how dramatically our lives would be altered in the next few years. of course the school itself was much different. i doubt there were more than 30 students in my entire class. until my senior year, all classes, k-12, were in the same building. i'm not particularly comfortable offering advice, particularly to someone who knows more than me, i would just tell you to have fun and enjoy every single day, remember those who elected you, and always do what you, emmy heller, thinks is right. i know emmy has never forgotten that advice. senator laxalt set a high bar for all kids who went to carson high school but also showed us the possibilities of what could be achieved as nevadans. when i was sworn in this the house of representatives,
senator laxalt was there or dan one. he said, always stay close to families, friends, and constituents, they'll never lead you astray. having been a presidential campaign advisor to president reagan, president bush, his advice carried great weight and i knew i needed to listen to every piece of advice he was willing to give me. senator laxalt had a profound impact on many of my colleagues here in the senate. it didn't matter if you were a democrat or republican, senator laxalt would be your friend. in fact, on my very first day as a senator, i remember my colleague, senator leahy, telling me about all of his work and his fond memories of his friend senator laxalt. senator laxalt showed us all what true friendship is. his character and warmth that he shared with all of us will never be forgotten. i extend my deepest condolences to senator laxalt's wife carol
and to their entire family. madam president, i will miss my friend senator laxalt. his colleagues here in the senate will miss their friend and the people in nevada will miss their friend. madam president, thank you, and i yield the floor. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: thank you, madam president. as the senate to work on appropriations, i want to thank the chairman, senator sheldon and the ranking member, senator leahy. the work has been productive. both sides have worked to avoid poison pill riders. next up is the annual appropriations bills for labor, the department of health and human services. we've already achieved
substantial increases in funding for important priorities through the appropriations process, including significant new resources for the n.i.h., significant new resources to combat the opioid epidemic, significant new investments in infrastructure, child care, social security, and the v.a. that's a big victory for the american people who have waited too long for our country to invest in them. middle-class families are worried about staying in the middle class. people trying to get to the middle class are worried that the ladder is steeper and longer. these kinds of things help them, college affordability, helping with child care, building infrastructure, making sure social security is around. all of that helps the middle class. for years a hard-right group on the republican side just cut these things out, but this year we managed to restore them, and the american people will do a lot better because of it.
ndaa, i'm happy to report, that the annual authorization of the national defense was signed into law. i want to take a moment to thank a colleague who is not here today to celebrate that fact, senator john s. mccain, for whom the bill has been maimed. our dear friend senator mccain has been a stalwart champion for the men and women in uniform. he would be proud that once again congress has met its obligation to give the military support and certainly it needs to conduct missions around the globe, even from afar, senator mccain's influence on this chamber is considerable and strong, his presence hoaferred -- whoeverred -- moverred over to make sure that the defense bill was strong and voted on quickly. and he is so -- and so many of the bases in my state, including our niagara air force base,
including our fort drum are so much the better because of john mccain's great work. i wish him all the best and commend his staff, including senator inhofe and senator reed's staff for their work on the john s. mccain national against authorization act. on the supreme court, as we return from state work period, the republican majority continues to steam forward on president trump's nomination to the supreme court, announcing that hearings will begin on september 4. this is 12 business days from today, yet the senate cannot do its due diligence on the nominee because we have a tiny percentage of his records. why is this? senator republicans are in the middle of a blatant obstruction of the supreme court nominee's record. denying the senate and the american people critical information about this potential
supreme court justice. the entire record of judge kavanaugh's record for three years as staff secretary in the white house is being deliberately, deliberately withheld from the senate and from the public. the republican majority has unilaterally declared those papers irrelevant, even though judge kavanaugh has testified to the mornings of the -- importance of the position and the work he did there. the small amount of documents that the judiciary did get to see are being prescreened by bill burke, former deputy to brett kavanaugh when he worked in the white house. a deputy to brett kavanaugh is determining what records should be there, someone who was a lawyer for the notorious steve bannon, a lawyer for mcgahn, the white house counsel. mr. burke and his team have
started delivering documents to the judiciary committee but they are refusing to provide a privilege log. why are they giving us this document and not that one? aren't we entitled to know what their reasoning at least is? so the judiciary committee cannot understand how many documents are being held back and on what basis. a privileged log has always, always been provided in previous supreme court vetting processes. and without it, we have no idea whether the basis for mr. burke withholding all of these documents is legitimate. and where is our chairman of the judiciary committee? he says, oh, this is the best ever, then why aren't we getting such a log? what's his answer to that? i know he'll come to the floor and rail and rail, but the process, the actual facts are much worse than we have seen, and here's something new also being done by the chairman of the judiciary committee.
one-third of the documents that we are getting, which is a small percentage of the total documents, are being deemed as committee confidential by the majority and have not been released. stacking an additional lay yor of -- layerer -- layer of secrecy. why are the other senators not on the judiciary committee being denied the ability to review so many of these documents that have been given to the judiciary committee? what are the republicans on the judiciary committee hiding? the monitor committee confidential sounds like just another way to shield judge kavanaugh's record from the eyes of the american people and the senate. we have no knowledge of why these documents are being withheld. even the national archives, nonpartisan and neutral, felt compelled to release a statement about this process.
they are usually very quiet. they are archivists. they just do their job. but they felt what was going on was wrong. the archives clarified that burke's review of kavanaugh's records is, quote, a separate review completely apart from the national archives and the george w. bush's presidential library efforts. this effort by former president bush does not represent the national archives or the george bush presidential library. that's what the archivists said. they are separating themselves from such a secretive, nondemocratic process. for a down the middle organization like the national archives, very reluctant to comment on political matters to put out a statement like this goes to show how far the republicans, chairman grassley, have departed from precedent. the obstruction is shocking. everywhere you look republicans
are deciding what constitutes the proper review of a nominee chosen by a republican president. republicans have unilaterally decided what documents are rel the vant -- relevant to the senate. republican lawyers are combing through the documents and deciding unilaterally which can be released to the senate. the republican majority and the chairman of the judiciary committee is then deciding unilaterally which of those documents remain under the committee's lock and key. it's like letting only the defendant in a lawsuit decide which evidence is admissible. let me say that again. is this exactly like only letting the defendant in a lawsuit decide which evidence to admit. it would be a rigged trial. well, that's what's happening here. it seems as though the republicans are trying to rush judge kavanaugh through with his -- with as little scrutiny as possible because they know there are some troubling beliefs
in his history. judge kavanaugh has written opinions skeptical of our health care, reproductive rights, and even the contraceptive coverage requirement. on this issue he is far to the right of the american people. that's maybe why our republican friends don't want people to know his views. he argued that presidents should effectively be above the law, that they should be immune from criminal and civil investigations while in office, that presidents can decline to enforce a law they deem unconstitutional even if the court held it constitutional, that presidents should be able to reach into independent federal agencies to hire and fire the heads of those agencies at will. he rules almost reflectively against actions by federal agencies, whether it's net neutrality or dark money. that's another one, he seems to disagree with the citizens united decision. he seems to agree with the
citizens united decision and would seem to allow dark money poisoning our politics, leaving american people will little faith in government that they will have an influence to have greater influence than ever. this isn't just about allowing the senate to review documents for the sake of it. we need to scrutinize judge kavanaugh's record because his beliefs will matter a great deal in the decades ahead if he gets approved. on issues ranging from health care to women's reproductive rights, to executive power and accountability, rudy giuliani, the president's lawyer, just declared that the president may not decide to comply with the subpoena issued by the special counsel or whomever. a court case on this matter could reach the supreme court. so this isn't a hypothetical case. it's well within the realm of possibility the supreme court will have to decide whether president trump, who showed so
little respect for rule of law, will comply -- will have to comply with the duly issued subpoena. so it really matters what brett kavanaugh thinks about this. before we elevate someone to the supreme court who may have to rule on the issue of presidential subpoenas, don't the senate and american people deserve to know what the nominee thinks? this is just one of many reasons why the senate and the public must be able to review the nominee's full record. there must be a reason republicans are so intent on hiding this nominee's record and rushing through his confirmation. what are they hiding? what are they hiding? what are they afraid of? i think they realize that if the american people knew exactly how judge kavanaugh felt before he became a judge, they might not want him to be there. republicans demanded all of elena kagan posts documents and
democrats agreed to request them. again we have this hair-splitting argument by the chairman of the judiciary committee. he says we're giving more documents before -- it's the percentage of documents that matter. are you seeing the whole record or only part of the record? some people have bigger records than others. kagan, we democrats in the majority, when our republican friends, including the senator from iowa, asked, gave them the whole record. that's what we should be getting as well. in fact, republicans, including the distinguished majority leader, demanded all of judge sotomayor's records, including documents from her time as district attorney and even her records as a board member of the puerto rican legal defense fund. we agreed, but now they've totally changed the rules. and i understand, the chairman of the judiciary committee is a decent man, and when he has to do things like this, he doesn't
like it. but he ought to rise to the occasion. what they're doing is flat-out wrong. the american people deserve a methodical and thorough examination of a nominee who will wield immense influence over their lives for generations. the republican majority seems intent on denying the american people that basic right. i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cornyn: i rise today to discuss -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. cornyn: -- mr. hatch: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: i rise to discuss the confirmation process for judge brett kavanaugh. for the last few weeks democrats complained endlessly about documents. first they said there weren't enough documents. then when the judiciary committee released a record-breaking number of documents, democrats complained that there wasn't enough time to review them all. they then complained that the documents were not public. when we made the documents public, democrats were disappointed to find they contained no smoking gun. there's been much ado about documents, but in the end it's
much ado about nothing. one of the things -- i heard many of my colleagues say is that because we reviewed all of justice kagan's records from the time she was in the executive branch, we must review every scrap of paper that crossed judge kavanaugh's desk while he was in the executive branch. that just isn't so. when justice kagan was nominated, the senate did not ask for nor did it receive all of her records from the time in the obama administration. in fact, the senate never requested, and the obama administration never provided, any of justice kagan's records from her time as solicitor general, and they certainly did ask for every document from the solicitor general's office that referred to justice kagan by name, initials, or title. producing internal deliberations
and other documents from the solicitor general's office would have been strad ordinarily -- extraordinarily inappropriate and damaging to the executive branch which is why the senate did not ask for justice kagan's records. this decision was especially difficult because justice kagan had no judicial records to review. by contrast we have over 12 years of judge kavanaugh's rulings on the d.c. circuit. these rulings, which my democratic colleagues are reluctant to even acknowledge, let alone talk about, are the most relevant documents for evaluating what type of justice judge kavanaugh will be. judge kavanaugh's court decisions are highly relevant to understanding his legal reasoning. the same can't be said of his white house documents which more accurately reflect the conveyor belt process for presidential decision making.
those who argue that they need every document that even mentions judge kavanaugh are only realizing the absurdity of this request. at this point the democrats are stalling for time. they made no effort to make their requests any less reasonable and senator grassley rightly rejected them. by now americans are starting to see through the rouge. the ridiculousness of this these demands is to delay. delay. judge kavanaugh's hearing to delay his inevitable confirmation. last week senator grassley announced that the hearing for judge kavanaugh would start on september 4, immediately democrats insisted that the committee is rushing to hold judge kavanaugh's confirmation hear. but the hearings for the last three nominees, justice
sotomayor, sonia sotomayor, elena kagan, and neil gorsuch were held 48 or 49 days after the president announced that his nominations. by comparison judge kavanaugh's hearings will start 57 days after his nomination was announced. aprairntly the -- apparently the judiciary committee are in such a rush they gave the democrats an extra week to review the records. they are saying that republicans are -- progressives are doing this in an attempt to muddy the waters. they are hoping that the people will focus on the arts rather than diving into judge kavanaugh's record which is all unassailable. last week my colleagues tried to make hey out out of the fact tht they tried to receive some documents on a confidential basis. these colleagues said it was a
travesty they were not being made public. they knew then these doubts were being reviewed so important information like social security numbers and other personal information could be redacted -- could be redacted and removed. in the meantime, the senators and their staff were given access to the documents right away so that they could review them for the upcoming hearing. in any event, the criticism that documents were being kept confidential was quickly blown apart. chairman grassley recent made public more than 103,000 pages of materials from judge kavanaugh's time in the executive branch. and more materials are on the way. most laughable of all some on the left are now claiming because there's no smoking gun in the documents, surely the production process must be
nefarious. maybe this is too boring for judge kavanaugh's opponents to sit through or maybe they looked through the documents already and know the american people have nothing to complain about. consider the damming evidence already uncovered in these documents. judge kavanaugh goes to church on sunday morning. he appreciates pizza when he's working late. he thought the last play of a redskins game was, quote, a total disgrace, unquote. mr. president, -- madam president if these mundane are grounds for disqualification -- for qualification, then what is it. joseph stall inn without the mustache or as one colleague put it, a man who will, quote, pave the pave to tyranny, unquote.
if i could tell the american people one thing today, it would be this, judge kavanaugh may seem like the human incarnation of a vanilla ice cream cone, but he's actually something far more sinister, judging from the left, i'm convinced this mini-van driving car-pooling dad is the second coming of gangus kahn. madam president, if chairman grassley would give us a few more years to read over each and every one of judge kavanaugh's work e-mails and maybe even every handwritten note he passed back in grade school, i'm sure we will find something because there's no way democrats are just making this stuch up. i hope this isn't too much to ask. naturally i'm being facetious only to prove a point.
we have more than we need to determine judge kavanaugh's fitness for the supreme court. based on the number of documents alone, this will be the most thorough vetting of a supreme court nominee in our nation's history. i've only been here 42 years, but i can tell you this the most thorough vetting of a supreme court nominee in our nation's history. we should call this hub-bub about documents what it really is, a naked partisan ploy, a red herring meant to distract the american people from judge kavanaugh's indisputable credentials. watching this confirmation unfold is like watching the tortured last moments after blowout basketball game. democrats are down 30 with seven seconds left, but they get fouling to attempt to avoid that
his defeat. enough already. madam president, it's time democrats come home from their fishing trip. we could spend eons angling for scandal in the documents the judiciary committee provided us, but nothing will bite because there's nothing there. democrats know this by now and it's time they admitted it to the american people. the longer they wait the most desperate they look. to my progressive colleagues, and i really -- i really laugh at that word progressive. they are anything but progressive. they are regressive. but i'll call them progressive today. to my progressive colleagues, i say this, let's not waste anymore time. by now it's evident to even the most committed partisans that judge kavanaugh is supremely qualified for the supreme court. so stop playing politics and
join us in supporting his confirmation. now, madam president, on another matter. i would like to thank those who have worked with me on -- on the important issue of mental health and suicide prevention. this week president trump signed into law my national suicide hotline improvements act, a bill that stands to save thousands of lives. this legislation becoming law is the high point of an effort that began in december 2016 when i had a roundtable discussion at east high school in salt lake about the growing issue of teen suicide. the theme from that roundtable and many others subsequent conversations was the -- was the need for greater access to help. simply finding someone to talk
to. too many americans who are struggling with mental illness or who see their family or friends suffering do not know where to turn for help. but by making resources like the national suicide prevention lifeline system more accessible and user friendly we can truly save thousands of lives. i would like to thank all of those who helped to get this bill across the finish line, including utah state senator thatcher and congressman chris steward who introduced the bill in the house. most important, though, were the voices of so many utahans who felt the tragic effects of the suicide epidemic. i am heart brock ben -- heartbroken by their loss but hopeful that this law and their continued advocacy will turn the tide in the campaign against this epidemic.
this is important and i hope that we'll all get behind this and do what is right here. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. the presiding officer: would the senator with hold his suggestion? mr. hatch: i'll with hold. a senator: madam madam presiden. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: madam president, i come to the floor today to discuss one of the significant -- most significant responsibilities i have as a united states senator, and that's providing advice and consent on the president's nominee to the supreme court. i just had the privilege of hearing from my very distinguished colleague, senator hatch, chairman hatch, president pro tem of the senate hatch. i heard about the scandals. he drives a minivan, he goes to
church on sundays. for heaven's sake, he's a redskins fan? i applaud the chairman for sharing perspective around some of the ludicrous arguments by those on the other side to obstruct this outstanding nominee for the united states supreme court judge kavanaugh. confirming a supreme court justice is a lifetime appointment. laws come and go but judges stay on the bench for a lifetime so it's critical we confirm the right person to serve on our nation's highest court. the american people want a supreme court justice with impeccable academic credentials, someone who does not legislate from the bench but upholds the rule of law and follows the
constitution. a few weeks ago i had the pressure -- pleasure of meeting judge kavanaugh in my office. i can say without a doubt judge kavanaugh should be and is ready to be our next supreme court justice. judge kavanaugh is one of the most qualified people to ever be nominated to the united states supreme court, and you may hear from the other side that he is out of the mainstream. that is simply not true. in fact, the supreme court has adopted judge kavanaugh's reasoning more than a dozen times. this gives him one of the most impressive records of any federal appellate judge and hardly places him outside of the mainstream. during my meeting with judge kavanaugh we had a very thoughtful discussion about the
founders' vision and intent when they crafted the constitution. we discussed the separation of powers, we discussed the importance of the second amendment, and just as he does with his rulings on the court, judge kavanaugh did not focus on his personal opinions but rather he brought it back to the text of the constitution and the historical understanding required. that is exactly what we need on the bench from our highest court. i want to thank president trump for nominating such an outstanding and well-qualified jurist. i'd also like to thank chairman grassley for committing to a fair and transparent process for moving judge kavanaugh through this process so he can be confirmed prior to the supreme court's october term.
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: madam president, i'm here to call on the the senate leadership to bring up the wrda bill. it needs to come up soon for consideration, because right now in florida we are facing a
massive environmental and economic crisis, and it's so sweeping that it brings up the memories of the 2010 deep water horizon oil spill, the b.p. oil spill. because right now neon green slime is clogging the caloosahatchee river on the west coast and the st. lucie river on the east. madam president, i've been to stuart, stuart on the east coast. i've smelled the stench of toxic algae choking the waterways. i've talked to mothers and grandparents who are worried about exposing their children to the harmful toxins, and they're concerned about that if they get anywhere near. that's why we wrote to the c.d.c. asking for health care
guidance. i've the met with business owners who have literally had to close up their shops because of the algae. if they are a fishing boat captain, obviously that is what happens. if they are a bait and tackle shop, you get the picture. but if the stench of algae is so bad in the location of a shop, whatever it's business, they still have to close up. and it's not right. it's not fair for the hardworking fishing guides, the restaurant employees, anybody that has a business with regard to our beautiful beaches and people enjoying the natural bounty. all are being affected through
no fault of their own. and then that's on the east coast. on the west coast of florida, our white sand beaches aren't as crowded with tourists. but with what? the rancid corpses of fish. this is the puffer fish. this is on one of southwest florida's beaches. the turtles, the casualties from massive noxious red tide, and this event, a bacteria that occasionally appears in the gulf of mexico and moves. this year it's moved very close to the shore, but it's lasted for ten months and counting. hotels and restaurants are half full. boat captains are facing one
cancellation after another. madam president, look at this. this is on a beach also. 267 tons of dead fish and sea life have been removed from about 150 miles of florida's world renowned beaches. and that's just this year alone. these pictures are horrifying enough, but go there. it's even worse in person. the local governments have spent a lot of money going out and cleaning up the beaches. it's absolutely heartbreaking what has happened.
i'm a fifth generation floridian, and i've never seen it this bad. i've never seen our beautiful beaches covered like this. and that's why senator rubio and i are pushing so hard for the water resources bill. it includes a critical project to address the algae by providing additional water storage for lake okeechobee so that the army corps doesn't have to discharge so much to the east and west. and it also, very important, authorizes a reservoir south of lake okeechobee along with storm water treatment areas that can help clean up the water so they can send the water there into the reservoir that is in the st. lucie on the east.
this reservoir is on the west near la belle so that they can send the water in there, store it, start to treat it and then let it go as the natural flow going south to the everglades. this project in the water resources development act is part of the historic everglades restoration effort that so many of us have worked so long and so hard to advance. it's just one piece, but it's one that absolutely cannot wait. and if we don't act soon, i'm afraid there won't be much of an environment in south florida left to save. i urge the majority leader to schedule a vote on the wrda bill as soon as possible, and i urge my colleagues to support the water resources bill when it comes to the floor of the
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: may i ask that any pending quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: we are owe -- we're thought in a quorum call. the senator is recognized. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent because the time between now and is -- 11:30 is to be shared between me and the ranking member on the finance committee, senator wyden, that when senator wyden appears, i will yield the floor to him, that at the conclusion of his remarks, i be recognized to conclude my remarks, and that in the record, my remarks be
consolidated after senator wyden's remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. mr. president, it's terrific to be joined here today by my colleague from oregon, senator wyden, to address some of the devastating effects of a changing global climate. from the shores of rhode island and our beautiful narragansett bay to the forests of southern oregon. rhode island is looking at losing significant territory to storms and sea level rise. oregon is seeing ancient forests go up in smoke. for most of the country, this summer has been a scorcher. july was nearly 2 degrees fahrenheit above average and before that, the contiguous u.s. experienced its hottest may and third hottest june on record. its oceans, too, just last week the rhode island organization save the bay recorded ocean
surface temperatures in little narragansett bay off the coast of westerly rhode island at nearly 80 degrees fahrenheit, the highest in over a decade of data and perhaps the highest ever in rhode island history. the federal government's climate science special report released late last year warned that years without large fires in -- one second. the national -- strike that last paragraph. the national oceanic and atmospheric administration recently released its report state of the climate in 2017. the 500 scientists from 65 countries who contributed to this peer reviewed report published in the bulletin of the american need logical society reported ominous records broken.
the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere a new high. heat in the upper ocean a new high. sea level rise a new high. sea ice coverage in the arctic and antarctica both new all-time lows, all headed in the wrong direction. out west the noaa report called out 2017 as, and i quote, an extreme western wildfire season that burned over four million hectors, the total cost of $18 billion tripled the previous u.s. annual wildfire cost record set in 1991. right now in the summer of 2018, blazing temperatures and drought conditions have contributed to wildfire outbreaks worldwide. in the u.s., canada, australia, south america, europe, asia, and africa. the raging mendocino complex
fire recently became the largest fire in the history of the state of california, the previous record being last year's thomas fire. i see that my distinguished colleague from oregon has arrived and pursuant to the unanimous consent, i ask that he be recognized at the conclusion of his remarks i conclude mine and that mine be put in the congressional record at the conclusion of senator wyden's remarks. i yield to the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: senatorwidehouse -- senator whitehouse, thank you very much, not just for today when we're going to talk about wildfires but because you have year after year been on this floor prosecuting the consequences, laying out the consequences of the failure to deal with climate change. and certainly it is hotter and drier in the west. and what i'm going to do is
spend some of the short period we have together describing how these wildfires, they're not your grand father's wildfires. they are bigger, they are hotter, they're more powerful. in my home state, last summer we saw a fire leap the columbia river. columbia river has always been a break in terms of fire. fire just leaped over it. and we're seeing that around the country. it's getting worse and today the fires are so bad, the smoke is so thick, people in my home state are fleeing their communities to find pockets of breathable air. in portland residents are being
warned against spending time outside and advised to wear a respirator if they must. those without homes to provide safe air are being told to seek shelter from the smoke in public places, like libraries and government buildings. so i'd say to my friend and the presiding officer who's also a westerner, a friend, this is not the stuff of fiction. this is real life right now for communities across the west that are just getting clobbered by fire. this is climate change at work. there are more than a hundred large wildfires destroying homes and businesses across oregon and the west burning almost 1.8 million acres. farmers have watched as crops
are burned to the ground. families located in evacuation zones flee their homes. choking smoke throughout my state has left children and seniors afraid to go outside and schools canceling sporting events because of unhealthy air quality. i remember when i began in public service, westerners would prepare for individual fire seasons, and some would be a bit worse than others. but now we basically are in a situation where we have infernos raged throughout the year. in california, for example, the thomas fire set the all-time record -- wouldn't want to have it -- as the state's largest recorded wildfire in december. not exactly a christmas gift.
and the record didn't stand long. my colleague just mentioned mendocino last week. in oregon the tailor -- tail lore creek fire and garner fire led agencies to issue evacuation notices to more than a thousand people. this is the second year in a row that air quality in southern oregon has ranked among the worst in the nation. when i was driving to southern oregon recently to get a briefing if fire officials, the smoke in effect was coming north drifting a hundred miles north of medford. so in my hometown of portland, now this week air is at unhealthy levels. the fires have gotten so big that the flumes of thick, choking smoke are showing up on nasa satellite images from space my colleague and i served on the
intelligence committee together, and i think increasingly we are going to see folks at the forest service and weather agencies be interested in a lot of those kinds of satellite opportunities in order to better get a handle on the dimensions of the problem. a huge portion of my state is blanketed with smoke, and this is taking place when hikers, fishers, rafters and guides, along with countless tourists from around the country, ought to be enjoying the outdoors. talk about economic consequences, whitehouse. recreation has become a big economic engine in the west. i am very pleased to have been the sponsor of a bill with chairman rob bishop, who i think would be pleased if i called him one of the most conservative members of the other body.
our bill is called the r.n.r. bill, recreation, not red tape. just sensible suggestions for putting ring information online, this sort of thing. pretty hard to recreate in the west, senator sullivan, if everything is burning up. pretty hard to really tap the potential of of this extraordinary, new recreation engine. but dangerous fires and unhealthy smoke are blocking right now recreation opportunities for folks in the west to get outside. it is an economic nightmare in addition to being a danger to life and property. now, we don't remember wildfires this catastrophic happening 30 years ago, and people want to know why. my view is it is not a coincidence that the megafires now happen routinely and are
getting bigger, and a significant factor in this is climate change. according to research by oregon state university, our average temperature has increased by more than two degrees over the past century. last week the national weather service issued an excessive heat warning for the walamath valley advising that the meet could reaches degrees. this is not death valley. the president of the senate knows our area. we don't get roasted by triple-digit heat -- or we didn't used to -- but we are today. the national ocean nick and atmospheric agency reported that the contiguous united states experienced the warmest july in recorded history. the temperature dries out materials and they are magnets -- magnets -- for fuel for the infernos.
yet the white house seems to be working over-tomb to say that this isn't a problem. for starters, the president pulled the united states out of the paris climate agreement, which would make us the only country to reject it. and what i was particularly troubled about -- and senator whitehouse knows more about this than any senator -- is the arguments that they made weren't federal governmentered to the -- weren't tethered to the facts. they kept saying there were all kinds of mandates in the agreement. as i colleague knows, there really aren't voluntary. there is a wide berth for countries to pursue strategies that make sense for them. and it's not just pulling out of international agreements. the department of interior, secretary zinke is doing everything he can to roll back environmental protections. i say to my colleague, i was one
who voted for secretary zinke. he said he was going to be a roosevelt republican. the president of the senate would be interested in this. he said that nine times in his hearing in the energy and natural resources committee. and i thought, he's a duck. he said he was a football player. i am a basketball player. i'd give this a shot. i now consider that one of the worst votes i've cast in my time in public service, because he's doing everything he can to roll back environmental protections, giving oil and gas executives free rein to exploit public lands, and he's putting an end to commonsense regulations that curb emissions much methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas. the story doesn't get better. they're wasting taxpayer money
to prop up the coal energy. over at the e.p.a., the environmental protection agency, they're rolling back fuel standards for cars. that's a double loser, bad for the environment, bad for the consumer who is going to have to pony you have $1 trillion more at the at the pump. and while the federal government is abandoning leadership, they're also browbeating the states to do the same thing. the trump administration now threatens california's ability to set its own air quality standards under the clean air act, which affects 12 other states, including oregon. how many times, colleagues, have we heard senators come to the floor of the united states senate virtually pound on their chest and say, the states are the laboratories of democracy? basically, on climate change,
senator whitehouse, what the trump administration is saying is they're for states' rights if they think the state is right. that is their position on climate. so, it's clear we're not seeing any real movement from the trump administration. two weeks ago the president tweeted several times that water from northern california is being diverted to the pacific ocean rather than used for fire fighting. state officials and republicans, california veteran republicans, said essentially that this was nonsense. when the president asked his press office about the tweet, they really went completely silent. the megafires are the new normal, so westerners are going to have to embrace new cooperative and collaborative
ways of dealing with the effect of climate change p. our priority ought to be to work with the state. government at all levels should continue to develop more efficient, low-carbon energy technologies, renewables, energy storage. it's a winner all around for oregon, the westers and our country. -- the west and our country. not only are solar and wind cleaner. they're also cheaper than a number of the plants that burn fossil fuels. what we've said in our tax reform bill is that there are more than 40 separate breaks in energy, many of them just monuments to yesteryear. we proposed throwing them in the trash can. out they go. $40 billion worth over a few years. and substituting the 40 for clean energy, clean transportation fuel, and energy efficiency. that is going to be in line with
what senator whitehouse has said, which is america can get more green for less green for fewer taxpayer dollars so i very much appreciate my colleague coming to the floor today, and i want to close with just one point. more than any other factor of my time in public service -- and i think i've discussed this with both the president of the senate and senator whitehouse -- what i have been interested in finding is what i call principled bipartisanship. bipartisanship is not about republicans and democrats taking each other's dumb ideas. anybody can do that. and you can pat yourself on the back and say, oh, my goodiness, we're being bipartisan.
what it's all about is finding good ideas, and what senator whitehouse has done -- and, boy, do the fires in the west right now convey the urgency -- is he has tried to, in effect, take markets, marketplace forces, and fuse them together with the best environmental practices we know of. now, both sides ought to find that pretty attractive. conservatives can say, senator whitehouse is talking about using marketplace forces, and he's attracted some pretty prominent republicans to his ideas as well. and democrats can say, we're not going to dawdle in terms of trying to improve the environment, and we're not going to turn back the clock on environmental practices.
so i very much appreciate senator whitehouse's leadership. i'm going to have to run off to another meeting, and i will just say that i appreciate him including me. i would say to colleagues, it might not be that wildfires are happening in your state this morning, but climate change affects every single american in one way or another, and we've got to find a way to create a bipartisan path to address this growing harm p with thanks to senator whitehouse, i yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: i thank my distinguished ranking member on the finance committee, and i salute his years of passion on environmental issues and in the defense of his state that is now suffering so many fires, we actually have an answer to the question that senator wyden
proposed rather rhetorically haveness happening out in the mendocino fire, for instance. the assistant deputy director of cal fire, daniel berlin, has said this, let's be clear. it's our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires, end quote. climate change has doubled the area consumed by forest fires since 1984. according to a report by climate central, compared to the 1970's, the annual average western u.s. wildfire season is now 105 days longer, has three times as many large fires over 1,000 acres, and sees more than six times as many acres burned, and not only are these fires becoming larger, they're becoming more dangerous.
they burn hotter and more intensely. they spread more rapidly and shift unpredictably, putting firefighters at risk. a 2015 study in the solutions journal found that as compared to 1990, fires are now larger, three times as many homes are burning, and around twice as many brave firefighters are losing their lives. the federal government's climate science special report released late last year warned that years without large fires in the western u.s. will become what they've called extremely is rare years without these large fires will become extremely rare. the environmental protection agency warns that unless we curb our greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is projected to dramatically increase the area burned by wildfires across most of the contiguous u.s. the agency estimates for the western u.s. a more than 40%
increase in the area burned by wildfires by 2100 and the amount of land in the southwest burned by fires could go up by as much as 140%. these more frequent and more ferocious wildfires are leaving permanent scars on america's landscape. ordinarily wildfires are part of the natural life cycle of a healthy forest. but as senator wyden said, these are not our grandfather's wildfires. the intensity, frequency and scale of the fires we're now seeing reflect nature out of whack. instead of clearing dead trees to make room for healthy trees and rebirth of plant life, these superstrong wildfires are simply destroying these ecosystems. the national wildlife federation's 2017 report ominously titled "megafires"
says, and i quote here, if hot enough, extreme fires can even sterilize the soil by killing subsurface seed banks that normally aid in post fire recovery, end quote. some native environments are permanently lost to charred landscapes and invasive species. a 2017 study reported in the journal "science" found that, thanks to climate change -- i'm quoting here -- areas ravaged by wildfires may never recover, wiping out entire ecological communities forever, end quote. this review of areas ravaged by wildfires showed that -- and i quote them again -- the proportion of sites sites with o regrowth almost doubled after 2000 as compared to the 1980's or 1990's. and of course the consequences of these fires to human life are dire.
14 people died in last year's wildfires in california, mississippi, missouri, montana, new mexico, oklahoma, and utah. and the risk doesn't end with the flames. after last year's devastating fires in california, when rain finally returned to the area, but without trees and other plants to hold the soul in place, the downpours unleashed torrents of mud, rocks and debris, killing more than 20 people. the center for disease control estimates that 25 to 30 people die each year in post-fire floods and mud slides. and as senator wyden mentioned, air pollution is not consequence of these wildfires, and it can spread far beyond the burned out site of the fire. hundreds of miles downwind, cir can become unhealthy and even hazardous. i