tv U.S. Senate CSPAN2 December 12, 2018 10:00am-12:01pm EST
president trump, will shut down the government. he said -- president trump said, i am proud to shut down the government so i will take the mantle. i'll be the one to shut it down i'm not going to blame you, meaning democrats, for it. i will take the mantle of shutting it down. it was astounding that any president, even this one, would say that. no president should ever say that he or she would be proud to shut the government down. no president should so glibly use the american government and the millions of workers who work so hard as a bargaining chip. but that's what president trump is headed -- where president trump is headed. president trump made clear he'll hold parts of the government hostage to a petty campaign pledge to fire up his base. that's all it is.
he never researched the wall. he talked about it on the campaign and he said, oh, mexico will pay for it. if president trump holds to this position that unless he gets his wall he'll shut down the government, who will suffer needlessly? the american people. of course leader pelosi and i had to spend much of the meeting trying to untie the knots and logic the president was tying himself in. president trump started by bragging about how great border security is going under his watch, and that, by the way, is with no wall. if it were truly the case, as the president said, that border security is better than it's ever been, what's wrong with another year of the same funding. if things are going so great, why does he have to threaten to shut down the government for his $5 billion wall? it makes no sense. and none of it is based on fact.
mr. president, there is no wall. mr. president, mexico has not agreed to pay for it. none of that is true, and it is difficult, if nearly impossible, to negotiate with the president in front of the press who peddles such blatant and dangerous falsehoods. and because leader pelosi and i simply didn't go along with him, president trump threw a temper tantrum and promised to shut the government unless he got what he wanted. evidently the trump temper tan trem -- temper tantrum continued, even after the meeting, with news reports saying that he threw papers around the white house in frustration. why did he continue? because someone finally spoke truth to power.
someone finally contradicted him when he throws around blatant falsehoods on such a regular basis. the president is so used to obsequious advisors who fail to dispel his false and made-up facts that he lives in a cocoon of his own truth. leader pelosi had to tell him, no, mr. president, that's not true. we had to puncture that cocoon, and he threw a tamper tantrum because of it. it's unfortunate that we've arrived at this point. the president's advisors should have been telling the president the truth all the long. and too many, unfortunately, of my republican colleagues here in the senate and in the house seem too afraid to tell the president when he's wrong, even though they know he's wrong. they find it easier to throw up their hands and wait for someone
else to solve the problem or capitulate and agree with the president. at the moment, senator mcconnell, the majority leader of this body and my friend, is staying as far away as he can from the year-end spending fight. we didn't hear a peep about it today. leader mcconnell says he doesn't want a shut down, but he refuses to engage with the president to tell him what's transparently obvious to everyone else. there will be no additional money for the wall. we need to pass a continuing resolution for d.h.s. or for all the remaining agencies to keep the government open. leader mcconnell has a -- has an obligation here as majority leader, and that is to help persuade president trump to take one of the two options we offered. the idea that senator mcconnell has nothing to do
with appropriations as majority leader of the senate who still is on that committee does not withstand the slightest scrutiny. and, if unfortunately, the president refuses to compromise, leader mcconnell will not be table to avoid this issue. in the unfortunate event that president trump causes a shut down, the democratic house will come into power january 3, and pass one of our two options to fund the government and then it will fall right back in leader mcconnell's lap. my view, for whatever it's worth him to, better to solve this now because you're going to be stuck with it two weeks from now after an unfortunate government shut down caused by your president if you don't act now. so if i were a republican, i would get involved right now and help pull the president back
from the brink. democrats have given him two reasonable options. we've made it crystal clear democrats are for keeping the government open. we have no demands beyond that. only the president does. so if president trump wants to continue his temper tantrum ahead of the holidays and cause a shut down, it is now so clear it's solely on his back. we hope the president chooses one of the reasonable options we gave him yesterday and we hope the country can avoid a trump shut down. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.j. res. 64. the clerk will report. the clerk: h.j. res. 64,
providing for congressional approval under chapter five of the rules submitted by the department of the treasury by returns of exempt organizations and returns by nonexempt organizations. the presiding officer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: let me enter into the record the test-wyden effort to challenge dark money into our political campaigns. unanimous consent to enter this into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: secondly, i would like to enter into the record a tribute to my colleague and friend bill nelson of florida. he is leaving the senate after an amazing career. we served in the house for eight years, a quarter of a century in the senate. he is an extraordinary man who represented state of florida so well. served as one of the few congressional astronauts in 1986 when he was on the space shuttle
columbia. he's a courageous hardworking man, his wife grace by his side. they have done so many great things. we went to haiti together. i respect his commitment to public service and his commitment to the people of florida. he will be missed. unanimous consent that -- i ask unanimous consent that my statement be entered into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: we are debating bored security and yesterday the commissioner of border protectionings appeared -- protectionings appeared before our committee. when he came to my office last year, i said him to, if i gave you a plank check for border security to make us safer in the united states, what would you buy? he said more technology, more people. you will note that he didn't say a wall. because he knows, as we do. that al wall is a 19th century answer to a 21st century challenge. we can make america safer and
should. with a secure border using technology, and well trained. this notion that we need to build a $5 billion wall came up yesterday during the course of the hearing. i noted for for the the fact for the first time in my life it was reported publicly that the life expectancy of americans has gone down, and you wonder why in this great nation that is the case, it is because of the drug epidemic, an epidemic which has been fueled by opioids and heroin and fentanyl, and some 30,000 or more americans lose their lives annually to this epidemic, more than we lose in traffic accidents, for example. when you look at the source of the narcotics, you find that the most deadly chemical, fentanyl, is coming into the united states over our borders, where it is then mixed with other chemicals and sold to those on the street, ultimately leading to their
death. i ask culls tomorrows what -- customs what we can do to stop the flow of fentanyl from china and other places. what i heard was not encouraging. it says it me he knows what can be done yet he doesn't have the resources to address it. let me be specific. he told me last year there is something called a z portal. this is a scanning device which can scan railroad cars, trucks, and cars coming into the united states to see if they detect anything suspicious, whether it's narcotics, and contraband or guns or individuals hidden away. currently almost 100% of the railroad cars go through the scanning before they come into the united states, but fewer one out of five other vehicles are scanned. i asked him, if we're going to put more money into border security, wouldn't we put money into these z portals? wouldn't you ask for more money to p fund this technology?
he said he would and he wanted to. i asked how much would it cost to make sure that we have border protection to stop the deadly narcotics from coming into the united states? his answer was $300 million. $300 million. put that up next to the president's outrageous demands for $5 billion for a wall that all of us agree, or at least most agree, is an ineffective and wasteful expenditure of taxpayer money. the president may think he has some campaign pledge he has to keep, but that also included the promise that mexico was going to pay for this wall. now the president wants us to pay for this wall. $5 billion for his campaign promise instead of $300 million to keep america safe from more narcotics flowing across our border? that, to me, is a ridiculous option that the president is demanding. if we want a safe border, if we want to stop this drug epidemic
which is killing so many people, let us put the technology in place that will keep us safer. that technology is not a wall from sea to shinning sea that the president demands. mr. president, i also ask consent to speak to another issue in a separate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, regardless of who is serving in the white house, democrat or republican, i have long felt that the constitution is very clear. the american people, through congress, and through congress alone, have a constitutional responsibility to declare war. whether i was holding president bush in the iraq war or president obama in syria or libya to the standard, it came down to the same basic thing. the constitution is clear, article 1 states that congress shall have the power to declare war. so what we're doing here later today in a debate over the future of the united states' involvement in the war in yemen
is long overdue and deeply important. it occurs as we are entering the 18th year of the war in afghanistan. that is an incredible fact. i was on the senate floor and voted some 18 years ago after the 9/11 occurrence to go after those responsible for killing 3,000 innocent americans whom we believed to be in afghanistan at the time. i voted with a clear conscience, understanding that no one can strike the united states and kill innocent people without being held accountable. i had no idea when i cast that vote that beyond osama bin laden that we would continue using that authorization against terrorism 18 years later to prolong the longest war in the history of the united states, the war in afghanistan. i don't believe anyone who voted as i did in 2001 for that authorization of force could have imaged that 18 years later we would be engaged in a war in afghanistan or that
authorization would be stretched beyond credibility to approve the u.s. military action in multiple countries around the world. which brings us to the war in question today. the disastrous and bloody saudi-led war in yemen is supported by the united states. does anyone here remember voting to authorize u.s. military involvement in that war? of course in the. did anyone who voted for the 2001aumf authorization for the use of military force dealing with al qaeda believe we were leading the saudi-led quagmire in yemen? it is led by a reckless, young saudi crown prince who i believe had direct knowledge of the brutal murder of journalist jamal khashoggi. not only was this never authorized by the elected representatives of the american people, it is a humanitarian disaster. an estimated 85,000 children have already died of
malnutrition in this war. and in a country of 28 million nearly half are facing a famine because of a war initiated by the saudis and supported by the united states. look at this heartbreaking photo. this is a photo of a seven-year-old yemeni girl named amal hussein. this picture was featured in "the new york times." this young girl died shortly after that photo was taken. my heart is broken, her mother said. i know this is a difficult photo to display in the united states senate but i believe it's necessary. it shows the consequences of this war and the failure of congress to speak out clearly to this administration and to take the actions necessary to stop our involvement in this war and humanitarian disaster in yemen. the malnutrition and innocent suffering that you see in this
photo cannot be ignored. some may have read on sunday "the new york times" columnist nick crystal's devastating piece, "your tax dollars help starve children." it's about his recent and courageous trip to yemen. mr. kristof writes about girls like amal noting how we typically think of war casualties as men with their legs blown off. but in yemen, he writes, the most common war casualties are children dying of starvation and that in conference rooms in riyadh, saudi arabia, and here in washington, officials simply don't fathom the human toll of their policies. maybe some think this war in yemen is justified, that the houthis of yemen are credible threats to u.s. security interests, but ultimately this is not about the merits of any such fight. it's not about soldier against soldier, combat against combat. it's the innocent bystanders who
are dying by the thousands. this is no way to vindicate the -- nor is it any way to indicate the houthi's troubling world of the horrible yemeni civil war or their likely support for iran. i don't try to do that and i won't. it's about our constitutional duty and responsibility to debate and vote to participate in this war or any war. our founding fathers were wise and knew that sending someone's son or daughter into a war must be made by a king or a supreme executive, but in our case the united states by the elected representatives of the people. just think how many battles of human history, how many deaths, how much blood and destruction have occurred to satisfy vanity or the narrow interests of a despot or unelected ruler. our constitution makes it clear we are different. the american people are given the voice and the responsibility to decide if their sons or daughters will participate in a war, and they do it through the united states congress,
including this very organization and body which i serve in. and we have utterly failed as a united states senate in this responsibility. so, mr. president, we're long overdue to have this debate which is coming up today or tomorrow, and a vote which will ultimately reflect whether or not we should continue with the war in yemen. i'll be voting against that war. i believe that we've got to put an end to this humanitarian disaster, and the american people, especially those in illinois, have sent me here to congress to express that clearly. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
debate on our proposal to throw out the trump prodark money campaign rule under the congressional review act. and at the outset, i'd like to start by thanking my colleague, senator tester, for his leadership on the issue of bringing sunshine to american elections. the fact is the state of montana is the poster child of campaign finance reform, a textbook case of the sort of transparency and accountability that american elections need to be all about. and no senator embodies that tradition more than montana's own jon tester. and if you know anything about the history of the state and the montana copper kings, you know why montanans and jon tester
always lead this fight. and that is why i am so glad as the ranking democrat on the finance committee to be able to partner with him on this critical issue. the trump administration's dark money rule makes it easier for foreigners and special interests to corrupt and interfere in our elections. senator tester and i have filed this congressional review act proposal because we want to make it harder. i believe deeply that when you're facing down secret money, secret money that is shifting between shadowy groups who want to buy our elections, sunlight is the best disinfectant. if you're concerned about foreign actors hostile to our country, illegally funding
candidates who will do their bidding, sunlight is the best disinfectant. if you're worried about anonymous political insiders' deep pockets tightening their grip on washington, d.c., sunlight is the best disinfectant. and today i hope we will prove that sunlight should not be a partisan proposition. but the rule change the trump administration pushed through this summer is not about sunlight. it's all about darkness. it's about secrecy. it's about giving the well-connected even more of a say in how american government works. and you can see that pretty clearly just by going back to the day the rule was announced,
because that alone shows how out of whack these policies are, how wrongheaded they are. july 16, 2018, monday morning the american people wake up to the news of the arrest of an accused russian spy in washington named maria butina. she came to our country years earlier and set out to infiltrate conservative organizations, specifically the n.r.a. she cultivated relationships with political insiders. she worked to organize back channel lines of communication for the benefit of the russian federation. she set up a shell company in north dakota with a very prominent n.r.a. political operative. and for months her lawyer claimed she was nothing more than a typical college kid enjoying life in the nation's capital.
mr. president, it's been a few years since i've been in college, but i don't know many students at portland state or southern oregon crossing state lines to set up shell companies and organizing lines of communication with the kremlin. most college kids in oregon are too busy being college kids to infiltrate conservative political circles on behalf of a hostile foreign power. hours after the vast majority of the american public heard maria butina's name for the first time, the trump administration dropped its dark money bombshell. it announced a new policy that's going to let even more untraceable dark money from foreigners and special interests find its way, infiltrate our elections. for those like maria butina who
want to secretly, fertively invade, twist and corrupt our democracy, the trump administration just this summer made it a lot easier. shadowy political spending groups used to be required under tax law to disclose the identities of their major donors after this rule was adopted, they don't have to disclose their donors at all. federal investigators are going to be blind to bad actors using dark money groups to do their bidding, even if the internal revenue service and state tax authorities suspect a particular spending group sl -- is guilty of wrongdoing, they won't know who provided the cash. now since this is a tax policy change, it falls under the jurisdiction of the finance committee where we do a lot of work on issues dealing with tax
exemptions. but let's make one thing clear, there was no debate on this issue in the finance committee. it got no debate on the senate floor. the american people had no opportunity to comment on the rule change, which is typical if you're talking about a major change in a regulation. so we're going to unpack that this morning, and i'm going to start by just spending a minute or two on some of the arguments i've heard from some who might not be inclined to support it. first, there's been an argument that disclosing these major donors is a violation of privacy. mr. president, we serve together on the select committee on intelligence. i think anybody who has followed that work knows that i'm a real privacy hawk. i don't take a back seat to anybody in terms of privacy
so why would anybody bother? others simply claim it will have no real consequence. i got two responses to that one. first, if the dark money rule change wasn't any big deal, then why did the trump administration work so hard to block congress from challenging it? they kept the rule change off the official books for as long as they could because they were hoping to run out the clock on our oversight. real gamesmanship to make sure that the american people couldn't find out about how there would be less sunlight with respect to big political donations. second, the argument that cutting off disclosure won't have harmful consequences is another one that has been trotted out in opposition to our
reform. if the existing rule requiring disclosure of major dark money donors to the i.r.s. wasn't casting enough sunshine, that's not a reason to bring on total secrecy. that's not a reason for bringing on darkness. it's a reason to say you want to be on the side of more sunshine. a number of other colleagues on the finance committee, senator mccaskill, senator whitehouse, a champion of disclosure, we're all in favor of more sunshine. to me, this argument as well just doesn't stand up. we think that making as much public information public ought to be the policy of our land. now, one thing that's clear to me from my conversation this election season is voters do not want more secret spending from
more anonymous wealthy donors and foreigners leading to more political ads. it's now impossible to escape all these ads on television. sort of pitching a tent and camping out in the woods until the second week of november, you can't get away from it. people hear all of these charged up political ads, but much of the time they have no way of determining who is behind them. you get to the end of the ad and a voice says it was paid for by an oddly named group you probably never heard of. something like americans united for patriotic priorities. grandparents for this and that. maybe the group is called families for stuff. that's the kind of nonsense that is offered up in terms of disclosure that senator tester and i, senator whitehouse and others who have been in this
fight think is ridiculous. by the way, there are real-life examples that actually demonstrate my point. some will remember don blankenship's mining company broke safety laws and lost 29 employees in the worst mine explosion in decades. a couple of years ago, he wanted more or less to buy a seat on the west virginia supreme court. so he set up a political spending group called, and i quote, and for the sake of the kids. then he dropped a mountain of cash on the election and his preferred candidate won. so let me repeat that in case anybody didn't sort of get the essence of what he was up to. an energy baron, a leader in the fight for more dirty energy started a political spending group to protect his dirty energy interests, and he actually named it for the sake of the kids.
the dark money rule change that the trump administration worked so hard to get, that they worked so hard to hide from oversight feeds right into what i have shown is a system of malignant, secretive politics that our people have had a belly full of. and it gets to the heart of a larger problem. across the country, our right to vote, our elections and our democracy are under assault. here is a few examples of what that means. since the citizens united decision, the amount of outside money spent by shadowy groups on our elections has gone into the stratosphere. congressional jurisdictions are gerrymandered to such an extreme that millions of democratic voters are in effect denied equal representation. in wisconsin, democratic got 54% of the vote but only 37% of the seats in the legislature.
republicans ignored the advice of trump's intelligence experts ringing the alarm bells over election security, and they ignored the cybersecurity experts who have clearly stated that paper ballots and risk-limiting audits are the key of the best way to defend attacks on our voting system. tens of millions of americans cast their votes on insecure, hackable machines by companies that buy off election officials and evade oversight by the congress. the trump administration and its allies have invented a fake crisis of voter fraud out of thin air, and they have used it as a pretext to purge millions of voters from the rolls and discourage americans from casting a ballot. state officials have targeted communities of people of color, shutting down polling places where they live and restricting
opportunities to vote early or absentee. and in the last few days, americans have learned more and more about what happened in one district in north carolina where republican party operatives schemed to confiscate and destroy mail-in ballots belonging to likely democratic voters if you read the press reports that are coming out daily. and in some states where democrats have won elections, look at wisconsin and north carolina, outgoing republican lawmakers have sabotaged the powers of incoming governors and the science of the voters who elected them. trump's dark money policy, the idea that it's okay to have more dark secret money in politics reinforces the corruption that i have just described. it concentrates power in the hands of special interests that can afford to cut a big check and buy the election results
they want. it takes power away from individuals, away from moms and dads who vote to give their kids a brighter future, away from seniors who vote for medicare and social security and away from young people who are saying it is long past time to fight the devastation of climate change and the rising costs of education. by the way, having more disclosure and more sunshine in elections traditionally has been bipartisan, and i hope the resolution that senator tester and i are offering will also be bipartisan. all we have got to do is have an outbreak of the legacy of the late john mccain. a few years ago, i introduced a bipartisan disclosure bill with our friend and colleague, senator murkowski. big bipartisan majorities passed campaign finance legislation in the 1970's.
that's what senator tester and i believe the congress ought to get back to, throwing out the trump dark money rule seems to us to be a good first step. this is an opportunity today to vote for sunshine in our elections, to say that sunshine is again the best disinfectant. there is none other like it for corruption in our elections. so i'm hopeful that once again this idea of transparency, disclosure, and accountability will be bipartisan in the senate when we vote a little bit after noon today, and i just close by way of saying that i come from a state where citizens have
insisted on open government. i have had more than 900 open-to-all town meetings. and the reason why people want them is because they see that as a path to accountability, and they don't want a politics driven by just campaign donations and big money. they certainly don't want it to be dark money. and we're going to know a little bit more about maria buttina here in the next day or so, but again when you have college students setting up shell companies thousands of miles away from going to college, that ought to be a wake-up call. the trump dark money rule makes it more likely. we will have more of those shell companies in the days ahead. i urge colleagues when we vote at 12:15 to support the resolution senator tester and i
with the support of many colleagues. senator whitehouse has been a champion on these disclosure issues. i urge colleagues on both sides of the aisle to remember that these issues have always been about bipartisanship and to join us in voting for our proposal that we will vote on shortly after noon. and i want to yield the floor to senator whitehouse and thank him for his help on all the issues over the years. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i'm honored to join the senior senator from oregon in support of this important resolution. as i think everybody on this floor has observed, there is a rot in our american democracy, and there is a shadow over the halls of congress. the rot is dark money, and the shadow is special interest influence empowered by that dark money. a lot of this goes back to the
extraordinarily misguided decision of the united states supreme court, or i should say five republican appointees to the united states supreme court in citizens united, which took the astonishing position that the integrity of our elections should receive a value of zero in their calculus and their solicitude should be exclusively for the wealthiest forces that bring their power to bear on american democracy, because after all, if what you are doing is unleashing the power of special interests to spend millions of dollars, you are by definition only powering up the group that has millions of dollars to spend and a reason to spend it. that is perhaps the segment of the american population entitled to the least solicitude in our
great american debate, and yet it was the exclusive interest of the five republican appointees on the court. it was an evil balancing of priorities, but sadly part of a long tradition going back to the balotti decision of republican appointees to the supreme court expanding the role and influence of corporations and special interests. in their foolishness, the five republican judges that gave us the citizens united decision claim that the spending they unleashed was going to be transparent. not so. i ask unanimous consent to append to my remarks at the end an article pointing out that secret political spending in elections in the united states of america is on track to hit a $1 billion milestone. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: not only is the
secret spending a menace, but once you allow unlimited spending, particularly if you allow unlimited secret spending, there is another dark problem, which is that if you are a big special interest who is able to spend unlimited money and perhaps secret unlimited money against a candidate, what else have you been given the power to do? you have been given the power to go to that candidate and say we're coming after you unless you do what i tell you. it opens threats and promises that are always going to be secret, so even where there are not east evil channels for dark money to pollute and influence our democracy, citizens united would still be misguided with respect to the darkness of the threats and promises that it empowered. and of course when you remove accountability for the advertising and the sleazy campaigns that this supports,
you get a lot more negative advertising, and that is why one of the consequences of all of this has been described as a tsunami of slime. so whether you want to rid dark money channels, whether you want to diminish secret threats, or whether you want to combat the tsunami of slime, there is every reason to take a stand against what has become of our democracy. and if you think this is just an academic pursuit, take a look at the climate change dispute. in 2007 and 2008 and 2009, when i was a new support, we did bipartisan work on climate change. every one of those years, we had bipartisan hearings, we had bipartisan bills. i think we had four of them in the senate. along comes citizens united, january, 2010. from that moment forward, bipartisanship was dead because the fossil fuel industry that asked for the citizens united decision and that got the citizens united decision from
the five republican appointees was instantly ready to bring that new power to bear, and they went to the republican party and they said anybody who crosses us on climate is dead. and they took representatives like bob inglis and took him out of his job to demonstrate their seriousness. from that moment, from the day the citizens united decision was announced, there has not been a piece of serious climate legislation that any republican has been willing to sign onto. if you doubt the effects of dark money, take a look at where we are on climate change. in this weird way, the pollution of our democracy is directly connected to the pollution of our atmosphere and oceans. and of course once you open a channel for a dark money influence and american dark money influence, exxonmobil, the koch brothers, big pharma, you name it, when you open a dark money channel for that influence to reap its power, you can't
wrol who comes through it. dark is dark. and there is every reason now to believe that foreigners are taking advantage of our dark money channels to exert influence in our elections. and i would like to ask at the end of my remarks be appended an op-ed in "politico," foreign dark money is threatening american democracy, written by former vice president biden.. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, today's congressional review act measure is a small act. it will only require that companies and entities that are using these dark money channels continue to report to the i.r.s. so there is not going to be an enormous difference made here, but there is an enormous difference in what side this body will choose to be on in this vote today on senator
tester's resolution. it is a very simple and very stark choice. we can choose, one by one, each one of us will make this choice today. we can choose to be on the side of dark money. we can choose to decide to be on the side of special interest influence. we can choose to decide to be on the side of whispered threats. and i will tell you that dark money and special interest influence and whispered threats have a disgraceful force in this building right now thanks to citizens united and the dark money channels that it empowered. or we can choose to to be on the side of america as a city on a hill. why do we call america a city on a hill? because everyone can see it. and a city on a hill does not do its business through the dark money sewers that run under the city. it does its business in the
plain market space and open spaces of that city and that, mr. president, is what we should be for. i ask, finally, that a report on this issue by a terrific bipartisan group called issue one be included as a third appendment to my remarks. i yield the floor to the senator from michigan. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. peters: i rise today to overturn the treasury rule that will allow even more dark money into our political process. this action by the -- it allows big corporations to inappropriately influence elections by contributing to outside groups in secret. it amounts to unlimited corporate political spending effectively silencing the voices of every day voters.
under this president, the internal revenue service is looking out for wealthy donors rather than hardworking middle-class voters. i strongly support today's action to overturn this rule. we need to reform our campaign finance system and prove disclosures and transparency and restore the voice of the people in the democratic process. michigan voters deserve to know who is behind the money being spent in our elections. we must take steps to improve transparency and restore trust in our electoral system. above all, we must ensure that every american has an equal say in our elections, regardless of their means. the right of every citizen to make their voices heard at the ballot box is the very foundation of our democracy. i will continue to fight to ensure that the voices of michigan families aren't being drowned out by big corporations
or wealthy individuals with limitless resources who are trying to buy elections and the outcomes. we should be working to bring transparency to our political system, not shielding special interest groups big donors. and this administration's political allies. i will support today's i.r.s. dark money rule c.r.a., and i urge my colleagues to join me in giving the power back to the american people. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. van hollen: mr. president, i rise in strong support for the resolution sponsored by senators tester and wyden to overturn the treasury department rule. we heard loud and clear from the american people that they are sick and tired of the hundreds of millions of dollars of special interest money going into our elections.
they are especially sick and tired of all the secret dark money going into our elections. what do i mean by that? i mean when wealthy individuals can contribute to organizations and the american public has no idea who those individuals are while those organizations go on to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to try to influence the vote of our fellow americans. we've all seen those commercials that come on tv that says it's sponsored by the committee for a better america, a committee to support mom and apple pie, and the public wants to know, and has a right to know, who is spending all that money to try to influence their votes. and, mr. president, the vehicle of choice for these shadowy dark money organizations has been organizing your entity under
section 501-c-4 of the internal revenue code. and we will soon, probably in january, but early on we will see a bill coming over to the senate from the new democratic majority in the house of representatives because their number one priority is electoral reform, including getting rid of secret money, making sure the public has that right to know who's bankrolling these entities. but what the department did was take us in the opposite direction. currently for 501-c-4's, they have to report to the i.r.s., but currently the i.r.s. keeps that information confidential. it does not share it with public. we should share it with the public and that's what the disclose act that the house will
pass will do. but what this treasury rule does is take us in the opposite direction. it says to those 501-c-4's that they don't even have to provide that information to the treasury department on a confidential bears. -- basis. so it heads in the wrong direction. and it is especially outrageous because it will take away one of the tools the treasury department has from preventing foreign money being spent in our elections. because right now that information is made available to the department of treasury. if you're a 501-c-4, you have to confidentially report who is giving you money and how much. and now the treasury department says we don't want that information. we don't want to see anything. we don't want to know if foreign governments are putting money into 501-c-4's. we don't want to know if the primary purpose of these funds are for electing or defeating
candidates as opposed to social welfare, which is the requirement for a 5 oo 1- -- 501-c-1. so i think, mr. president, a lot of people are wondering why it is that this administration, and now maybe the senate, wants to actually cover up for those who want to spend their money secretly to try to elect or qeet defeat candidates. we know that across the board, no matter whether they are republican, democrat, or independent, they have a right to know who is spending their money to try to influence their vote. let's pass this resolution to overturn the treasury rule -- that rule in defense of secret money when we need more transparency and more accountability. and i yield back my time.
mr. hatch: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: thank you, mr. president. for more than four decades i have had the distinct privilege of serving in the united states senate, what some have called the world's greatest deliberative body. speaking on the senate floor debating legislation in committee, corralling the support of our colleagues on compromised legislation, these are the moments i will miss. these are the memories i will cherish forever. to address this body is the experience -- is to experience a singular feeling, a sense that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.
a minor character in the grand narrative that is america. no matter how often i come to speak at this lectern, i experience that feeling again and again. but today, if i'm being honest, i also feel sadness. indeed, my heart is heavy because it aches for the times when we actually lived up to our reputation as the world's greatest deliberative body. it longs for the days in which democrats and republicans would meet on middle ground rather than retreat to partisan trenches. now, some may say i'm waxing nostalgic, yearning as some often do for the golden egg that never existed. they would be wrong. the senate i describe is not some fairy tale, but the reality we once knew.
having served as a senator for 42 years, i can tell you this particular thing, things weren't always as they are now. i was here when this body was at its best. i was here when the regular order was the norm, when legislation was debated in committee and when members worked constructively with one another for the good of the country. i was here when we could say, without any hint of irony, that we were members of the world's greatest deliberative body. times have certainly change changed. over the -- changed. over the last several years i have seen the abandonment of regular order and the full-scale abandon nation of the judicial process. gridlock is the new norm. and like the humidity here,
partisan permeates everything we do. on both the left and the right, the bar of decency has been set so low that jumping over it is no longer the objective. limbo is the new name of the game. how low can you go? the answer, it seems, is always lower. all the evidence points to an unsettling truth. the senate, as an institution, is in crisis, or at least may be in crisis. the committee process lies in shambles. regular order is a relic of the past, and compromise, once the guiding credo of this great institution, is now synonymous with surrender. since i first came to the senate in 1977, the culture of this place has shifted fundamentally, and not for the better in my
opinion. here there used to be a level of congeniality and kinship among colleagues that was hard to find anywhere else. in these days i counted democrats among my very best friends. one moment we would be locking horns on the senate floor, the next we would be breaking bread together over a family dinner. my unlikely friendship with the late senator ted kennedy embodied the good will that used to thrive here. teddy and i were a case study in contradictions. he was a died in the wool liberal democrat. i was a resolute republican. but choosing friendship over party loyalty, we were able to pass some of the most important and significant bipartisan achievements of modern times. from the americans with disabilities act and religious freedom restoration act to the ryan white bill and the state children's health insurance
program. these are really important bills and we were able to work together, even though we differed widely on politics. nine years after teddy's passing, it's worth asking, could a relationship like this even exist in today's senate? could two people with polar opposite beliefs and from vastly different walks of life come together as often as teddy and i did for the good of the country? or are we too busy attacking each other to even consider friendship with the other side. mr. president, many factors contribute to the current dysfunction, but if i were to identify the root of the crisis, it would be this. the loss of comity and genuine good feeling among senate colleagues. comity is the cartilage of the senate. the soft connective tissue that cushions impact between opposing
joints. but in recent years, that cartilage has been ground for a number -- to a number and -- to a nub and i think most all of us feel that we've actually seen it happen. all movement has become bone on bone. our ideas great against each other with increasing frequency and with nothing to absorb the friction. we hobble any bipartisan legislation to the senate floor much less to the president's desk. the pain is excruciating and it is felt by the entire nation. we must remember that our dysfunction is not confined to the capitol. it ripples far beyond these walls. to every state, to every town, and to every street corner in america. the senate sets the tone of american civic life. we don't mirror the political
culture as much as we make it. it is incumbent on us, then, to move the culture in a positive direction. keeping in mind that everything we do here has a trickle down effect. if we are divided, then the nation is divided. if we abandon civility, then our constituents will follow. and so to mend the nation, we must first mend the senate. we must restore the culture of comity, compromise, and mutual respect that used to exist here and still does in some respects. both in our personal and public conduct, we must be the very change we want to see in the country. we must not be enemies but friends, though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. the mystic cords of memory yet
swell when again touched by the better angels of our nature. these are not my words but the words of president abraham lincoln. they come from a heartfelt plea he made to the american people long ago on the eve of the civil war. lincoln's admonition is just as timely today as it was then. if ever there were a time in our history to heed the better angels of our nature, i think it's now. how can we answer lincoln's call to our better angels? in the last year i have devoted significant time and energy to answering that question. today i wish to put flesh on the bones of lincoln's appeal. our challenge is to rise above the dim and divisiveness of today's politics. it is to tune out the noise and
tune into reason. it is to choose a patience over impulse and fact over feeling. it is to reacquaint ourselves with wisdom by returning to core principles. today allow me to offer a prescription for what ails us politically. allow me to share just a few ideas that when put into practice can help us not only fix the senate but put our nation back on the right path. heading our better angels begins with -- heeding our better angels begins with civility. while our politics have always been contentious, an underlying commitment to civility has been important and held together the
tenuous marriage of right and left. but the steady disintegration of public discourse has weakened that marriage calling into question the very viability of the american experiment. as the partisan divide deepens, one thing becomes increasingly clear. we cannot continue on the current course. unless we take meaningful steps to restore civility, the culture wars will push us ever closer toward national divorce. we would do well to remember that without civility, there is no civilization. civility is the indispensable political norm, the protective law between order and chaos, but more than once that wall has been breached. consider recent events. the pipe bomb plot in the
mid-term election, the terrorist attack in charlottesville last year, and the shooting at the congressional baseball practice before that. these are stark reminders that hateful rhetoric if left to ferment becomes violence. restoring civility requires that each of us speak responsibly. that means the president. that means congress. and that means everyone listening today. we live in a media environment take favors outrage over reason and hyperbole over truth. the loudest voices, not the wisest ones, now dictate the terms of the public debate. for evidence, simply turn on the tv. be sure to turn down the volume. the media deserves some culpability in creating this environment by adopting outrage
as a business model. but we are complicit when we use words to provoke rather than to persuade, to divide rather than to unite. we only make the problem even worse when the object of our discourse becomes to belittle the other side, to own the lips, for example, or to disparage the deplorables. if you're looking to convert someone to your side, humiliating them is probably not the best place to start. who among us would make friends with the same person who would make him a fool? put simply, pettiness is not a political strategy. it is the opposite of persuasion which should be the ultimate game -- ultimate aim of our dialogue. our better angels call on us to persuade through a gentle
reason. they call on us to inspire and unite rather than to provoke and incite. in short they call on us to embrace civility. in addition to embracing civility, we must rediscover a forgotten virtue, one that lies at the heart of our nation's founding. pluralism. pluralism is the adhesive that holds together the great american mosaic. it is the idea that we can actually be united by our differences, not in spite of them. in a pluralist society, we can be polar opposites in every respect, yet still associate freely with one another. i can be white, conservative, and christian. my friend can be black, progressive, and muslim. we can be different but united
precisely because we are united by our right to be different. that in a nutshell is pluralism. pluralism is the alchemy that makes out of many one possible. it is the means by which we have been able to weave together the disparate threads of a diverse society more successfully than any other nation on earth. at the heart of pluralism is the understanding that our country was built not on a collection of common characteristics but on a common purpose. when we approach political problems from a pliewrist -- pluralist perspective, we recognize that the majority of our disagreements are not matters of good versus evil but good versus good.
pluralism acknowledges that there is more than one way to achieve the good. the good life, if you will. accordingly, it seeks to accommodate different concepti conceptions of the good rather than pit them against each other. the adversary of pluralism is zero sum politics which we embrace in our own peril. zero sum politics tempt us to view life through an absolutist prism, one that filters all nuance and recasts everything as an either/or fallacy. this distorted way of thinking renders every policy squabble as a ma nickian struggle for the --
for the soul of the country. if the republican tax bill passes, it will be armageddon. if a democrat takes the white house, it will be the end of america as we know it. funny how these prophecies never come to fruition. answering the call to our better angels requires us to reject zero sum politics in favor of pluralism. it will requires us to make room for nuance and to see our differences not as competing but as complimentary. nowhere is the pluralist approach more needed than in the fraught relationship between religious liberty and lgbtq rights. as my colleagues know, i've made religious liberty a priority of my public service.
of all of the hundreds of pieces of legislation i've passed, and i've passed a lot during my 42 years in the senate, the one that i'm most pleased with and the one that i hope will most define my legacy is the religious freedom restoration act. religious liberty is a fundamental freedom. it deserves the very highest protection our country can provide. at the same time, it's also important to take account of other interests as well, especially those of our lgbtq brothers and sisters. we are in the process now of working out the relationship between religious liberty and the rights of lgbtq individuals here in america. there are some who would treat this issue as a zero sum gain, who would make the religious community and lgbtq advocates
into adversaries. in my opinion, this is a mistake. pluralism shows us a better way. it shows us that protecting religious liberty and preserving the rights of lgbtq individuals are not mutually exclusive. i believe we can find substantial common ground on these issues that will enable us to both safeguard the ability of religious individuals to live their faith and protect lgbtq individuals from invidious discrimination. we must honor the rights of both of believers and lgbtq individuals. we must ensure -- in short find a path forward that promotes fairness for all. my personal religious beliefs require that.
and i surely want to live up to those beliefs. in my home state, we were able to strike such a balance with the historic utah compromise. a bipartisan antidiscrimination law that both strengthened religious freedom and offered special protections to the lgbtq community. no doubt we can replicate that on a federal level. that's why as one of my final acts as a u.s. senator, i challenge my colleagues to find a way of compromise on this crucially important issue, a compromise that is true to our founding principles, that is fair to all americans. our better angels invite us to walk the path of civility and to
embrace the principles of pluralism. but, above all, they call on us to strive for unity. before president lincoln beckoned us to our better angels, he warned that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. that warning is especially relevant in our time. today our house is as divided as at any time since the civil war. each year red and blue america drift further apart. as progressives move to the coast and conservatives retreat to the inner lands, to the center of the country, we're finding a lot of difficulties have arisen, and they're not easy to solve. we increasingly sort ourselves by geography. we also sort ourselves by ideology, with media diets
catered to quiet our dissonance. it is a sad consequence of the information age that americans can now live in the same city but inhabit completely different worlds. something has to give. the status quo cannot hold. these are -- or should always be -- the united states of america. while that name has always been more aspirational than descriptive, it at least gives us an ideal to strive for. to achieve the unity that is our namesake, we must reject the politics of division, starting with identity politics, identity politics is nothing more than dressed-up tribalism. it is the deliberate and often unnatural segregation of people
into categories for political gain. this practice conditions us to define ourselves and each other by the groups to which we belong. in other words, the things that divide us rather than unite us. when institutionalized, identity politics causes us to lose sight of our shared values. in time, we come to see each other not as fellow americans united by common purpose but as opposing members of increasingly narrow social subgroups. and this begins a long dissent into inner sectional hell. our better angels call us to rhea sun suh commit ourselves to the -- to recommit ourselves to the american ideal, the ideal that our immutable character sticks do not define us. the idea that all of us, regardless of color, class, or creed, are equal and that we can
work together to build a more perfect union. when we heed this call, we can achieve unity. and ideas, not identity, can achieve their rightful place in our public discourse. mr. president, this is the last request i will ever make from this lectern, that as a senate and as a nation we listen to our better angels, that we recommit ourselves to comity, that we restore civility to the public discourse, that we embrace wholeheartedly the principles of pluralism, and that we strive for unity by rejecting the rhetoric of division. when we heed our better angels, when we hearken to the voices of virtue native to our very nature, we can transcend our tribal instincts and preserve our democracy for future generations.
that we may do so is my humble prayer. now, mr. president, before i close, let me -- let my parting words be words of gratitude. there are countless people that i personally need to thank, but first and foremost i wish to thank the good people of utah. without you, i could have accomplished nothing. the landmark reforms that i have helped to pass in congress have always been a joint effort drafted by me under constant guidance from people like you. in that sense, the legislative legacy i leave behind is not mine but ours, and that goes for my colleagues here as well. representing the beehive state has been the privilege of a lifetime. thank you for allowing me to do so for 42 years. that's a long time, the longest service of any republican.
i likewise wish to thank my family, my dear wife elaine, and our six children who have stood by me through thick and thin. of course, i wish to thank my congressional colleagues, especially leader mcconnell and speaker ryan and the countless other public servants, including my friends on the democratic side as well. i have had the privilege of working with all these folks over the years. these are friendships i will treasure forever. i also wish to thank my protective detable, the 23-plus men and women -- detail, the 23-plus men and women who have worked day and night to keep my safe over the years. these officers are like family to me. as all ever you know, a senator is only as good as his staff, which is why i need to recognize mine today. my finance committee staff is unequaled. led my jeff race, it has helped me accomplish things i never could have accomplished on my own.
in particular, i wish to thank my personal staff, the count many men and women who have served alongside me over the years. because of you, i have been able to pass more bills into law than anyologicaller alive -- than any legislator alive today. thank you. i love you all. let me just take a moment to recognize them personally. thanks to my chief of staff mat sandberg. i am ending this term on a crescendo of legislative activity, having introduced more bills this congress than any other -- than at any other time during my senate service. during the last two years we've also enacted an historic number of bills into law. my staff has not let up in the fine -- final stretch, not one bit. i have got to thank matt sandbeg for his efforts in that regard. i have had many chiefs of staff
and i have loved all of them you by i this i saved maybe the best for last. my utah staff also played a critical role in my legislative success. a huge thank you to melanie bowan, sean ferth, chloe nixon, jessica reed, ron dean, matt herst, nathan jackson, and emily wilson, as well as others who have served with me. and here in d.c. a huge thank you to matt jensen, james williams, corey misrevy, sell left gold, sam lyman, brendan chestnut, christian mcclintock, jacob olidort it aally riding, nick clausen, jeff
finegan, rick james, bailey flinten, abdul katumby, karen lamontaine, norm pollas, jordan marcus, marco robins and samantha rouse. this truly is the best staff on capitol hill in my opinion. last and most importantly, i wish to thank my father in heaven who has allowed me to serve much longer than my detrackers who have hoped. each time i walk into this chamber, i am humbled by the symbolic significance of it all. i am reminded of the passage of scripture, one of my favorites, for of him, unto much is given,
much is expected. or much is required. truly god has given me so much. in return, i've tried to give back as much as i could. i hope he will accept my best efforts. before i get even more sentimental, i would note that this is a final floor speech, not a final goodbye. three weeks from now, i will no longer hold office. but i will continue to hold a special place in my heart for all of you. for all of my colleagues. i look forward to continuing these special friendships, even long after i've left the senate. i want to thank everybody in the senate, all of the staff members, all of the law enforcement people, all of the people who have provided us with
reauthorization of the children's health insurance plan -- we got plenty of finance members here -- you would be charged with hallucinating. people would say, no way, couldn't possibly happen. if you had said in the winter of 2017 that you were going to pass a major set of reforms on foster care, reforms that marian wright edelman of the children's defense fund have been dreaming about for decades, they would simply have said, impossible, couldn't possibly happen, you're hallucinate. if you had said -- and, colleagues, listen to this -- if you had said in the winter of 2017 that you were going to
start a transformation of medicare with over 50 million seniors, a transformation from a program that traditionally used to be about acute illness and now is largely about chronic illness -- cancer and diabetes and heart disease and strokes -- you told -- if you said in 2017 you were going to transform medicare to update the medicare guarantee to help seniors, once again they would have said, impossible. colleagues, that's happened in this congress because chairman hatch was willing to reach across the aisle. and now millions of kids, millions of seniors, families from sea to shining sea for whom the foster care system didn't
work were now going to be able to have a better path. and i'm just going to close my remarks because i know so many colleagues want to speak by quoting senator kennedy. senator kennedy, as you know, had a long friendship with orrin hatch. and in 1981, chairman hatch took the gavel of what was called the senate labor and human resources committee. and i'm telling you, the chairman remembers this, senator kennedy and/or run hatch -- and orrin hatch got down right away to duking it out. they were duking it out over labor law, all kinds of things. but they began to develop that mutual respect. and i'm going to close just by reading what senator kennedy said about orrin hatch. senator kennedy said, we're beyond the point where we let our differences get in the way of opportunities for progress.
question just learned it's a lot easier to work together than it is to fight each other. senator kennedy said, we have differences in terms of perhaps how we achieve the objectives, but i don't really feel i have a difference of orrin in terms of what the objectives ought to be. if you build upon that kind of understanding and respect, you get a lot of things done. colleagues, i'm telling you, if you look at 2017 and 2018, for the millions of kids who will benefit from the ten-year children's health insurance program, the scores of families that are going to benefit from the foster care dreams mile an hourian wright -- miriam and the millions, it came about because chairman hatch looked at those words of senator kennedy. he continued that tradition in the finance committee today.
i just want him to know how much we appreciate that work. it's going to matter, mr. chairman, for millions of people from sea to shining sea. and i thank you for the opportunity to pursue those opportunities with you. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. i look forward to hearing from my colleagues. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, it's with mixed emotions that i stand today to honor my friend, my colleague, my mentor, the senior senator, the gentleman from utah, orrin hatch. this year marks the end of an outstanding 42-year tenure serving the people of utah and the united states senate. in that time, senator hatch has made an indelible mark on our state, on the united states senate, and on this nation. people who follow washington politics closely know, of
course, what he has meant to this institution. but also to his party, to his state, and to the republic. but for those of us from utah, orrin hatch is more than just a prominent name in the news. he's a towering political figure not only of his generation but also of the generations that have come along in his wake and that will follow. many utahans can't remember a time before orrin hatch was serving, leading, and speaking out for us in washington. one of the great privileges of my young life was the opportunity to serve as his page when i was a teenager. he was then as now one of the leaders of the senate. not only a political role model but a role model, period. outspoken but always thoughtful, honest, always gentle.
tough when he had to be and kind even when he didn't have to be. one of my fondest memories of senator hatch was something that occurred a couple of years after i was his page. i was maybe 18 years old or so. i was in salt lake city attending the semi annual general conference of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints in the tabernacle at temple square. i happened to be sitting with my family, with my parents and siblings just a row between senator hatch and his family. toward the end of the meeting, it was time for senator hatch to catch his plane to go back to washington where he was representing our state so faithfully. when he turned around and saw me there, he stopped, recognizing me. he took the cuff links right off of his shirt. they had the seal of the united states senate on them. and he handed them to me as a gift. i felt like and was in that
moment the luckiest kid in the world. i felt just like a rock star had handed me his guitar after a sold out conference. -- concert. that's how i felt at conference that day. but of course the career of orrin hatch stretches back much further than that. in 1976, the political landscape of the united states was very different than it is today. we were plagued at that time with double-digit inflation, high interest rates, growing unemployment, and diminishing military. america was still reeling from the war in vietnam and from the watergate scandal. at the same time, congress was rapidly expanding the federal budget with little or no regard for the future debt it was racking up. washington was governed by the belief that government was the answer to every problem and that
ordinary americans could not be trusted to make decisions by themselves. it was in this environment that orrin hatch without any previous political experience, without having held previous political office, or according to experts, much chance at success stepped up and he stepped up in a very big way. as he wrote in one of his memoirs, quote, i could not escape the powerful and persistent belief that my state and country were in serious trouble. headed down a dangerous and destructive path and that if given a chance, i could make a difference. i felt it was my duty, my responsibility to run and at least give voice to my concerns and my ideas for remying what was -- remediying what was wrong. it was my obligation to give the voters another choice, close quote. so orrin, the son of a tradesman who grew up during the great depression in a ram shackled house build from recycled lumber
did just that. dede-- he defied the pundits and took the plunge. from his first campaign in 1976, orrin understood that utahans wanted the country to go in a different direction. and he was ready to offer his service and the full energy of his heart and devotion to that noble cause. against all odds and with a whole lot of work from orrin, from his family, from his faithful band of supporters, hatch beat the incumbent democrat by a solid margin. thus began his long and now famous career in the senate and his many years of striving to serve the interests of utah and the nation. for more than four decades, orrin has not only been engaging in the great debates of his time, he's been leading them. as i see it, the thread that
runs through senator hatch's politics is trust, his trust in the american people, his trust in the constitution of the united states, his trust in this great institution, that is, the united states senate. that trust of consumers, producers, workers, and families is why he's such an effective advocate for the free enterprise economy. it's why he sponsored a balanced budget amendment to the u.s. constitution some 17 times. and once his nickname mr. balanced budget from ronald reagan originated. in shepherding the historic tax reform law we passed last year, senator hatch adopted an inclusive open minded approach that success -- that succeeded specifically because he trusted his colleagues, because he
invited them into the process, and he allowed them to make their own mark on that legislation. he trusted his colleagues and it worked. his work in the 1980's helping to create the modern generic drug industry was based on the same principle, trusting the american people and the american economy to make good decisions for individuals, for families, and for their health care. we all know the honors and accolades. they include president pro tempore, they include being a recipient of the presidential medal of freedom, but orrin would be the first to tell you the real legislative legacy that he leaves behind is the work of a senator who has sponsored more bills, that have become law, than any other lawmaker alive today. look at the stamp he leaves on
the senate judiciary committee alone, for example. not just landmark legislation like the religious freedom restoration act which guarantees robust protections for all americans to live, work, and worship according to their beliefs. this legislation itself leaves behind a solid, proud legacy, one take will last for generations. senator hatch is also just within the senate judiciary committee alone been involved in the selection and confirmation of federal judges not just in utah but across the country and every current member and many past members of the united states supreme court. that, too, is a legacy that will far outlast his time in the senate still by many, many decades. and yet despite all the history orrin has made in washington, his story is even more impressive.
he's been a loving and devoted husband to his wife elaine for 61 years. together they have six children, 23 grandchildren, and 24 great grandchildren. they are his proudest achievements and he credits their love as his key to success. despite decades at the very pinnacle of american government, orrin believes the most important years of his life were the two spent serving as a missionary in the great lakes mission of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. as senator hatch mentioned in recent remarks, an article of our faith is that if there is anything virtuous, lovely, are of -- or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things and this is indeed how orrin hatch has lived his life. and the way in which he has faithfully served god, family, his country, and his state.
utah and the united states of america as a whole are better off for his service since he decided to run for the senate all those years ago. i'm grateful for all the time that he has dedicated to the state of utah and for the personal encouragement he's given me. and from the time that i was his page to the past years that i've also been his colleague in the united states senate, it's been an honor to serve with him. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: i have bad news and good news. the bad news is i was -- it was suggested to me that there is some type of a rule at a time like this where the senior person in the chamber speaks next and that's me. the good news is, it's short.
and the reason is because i didn't really think about this until i came down here to watch senator hatch. i can remember it so well long before i was in the house, orrin, long before that, you were the guy i always listened to. you'd get phone calls from some obscure state senator out in oklahoma who is complimenting you and you might even remember one time you and i put something together where we were going to balance the budget and pass an amendment that we knew would pass because we were going to confirm everything before we got it passed. and that was a brilliant idea that didn't work. but nonetheless, we talked quite often about things and you were the one that i looked up to. the same thing happened. you had a way, when i was in the house, that would see more than anyone else during the annual
national prayer breakfast. you'd be active on that from the house. i would be active from the senate, i would be from the house. so you kind of have a way of saying things differently, the things that you heard many times before that you don't realize you've been wrong all that time. you did it just a few minutes ago where you talked about lincoln. you talked about the house divided against itself and drew that relationshi relationship ws happening today. you're talking history and it meant something different -- or the scripture that you quoted, to whom much is given much is expected. and i didn't think about that and i just want to tell you that you have been given a lot, and a lot was expected and you surpassed all expectations. i'm going to kind of wind up here with an experience that i had a week ago today that was, i think, a violation of our rules.
but i occasionally do that anyway. and i remember my junior senator, james lankford, said something at the conclusion of your remarks a week ago today. he said, you know, i've been here -- i can't remember -- three or four years in the senate. and i don't remember one time when i have seen you, orrin hatch, when you didn't encourage me and tell me that was a very special person. when he said that, i got to thinking -- hey, i've been here 24 years and i can't think of one time when you haven't been an encouraging voice. so i would only come to the conclusion that there is a reason for this. you reflect, as much as anyone i think of, the civility and love of jesus. i can assure you that jesus is very proud of you this morning. i love you. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you,
mr. president. mr. president, this september at the height of yet another contentious campaign season, senator orrin hatch authored an op-ed for "time" magazine which we should all read. it's theme was reflected in the remarks that he delivered today in his farewell address to the united states senate and to our country. with his combination of eloquence and straightforwardness that have enlightened this chamber for more than four decades, our colleague from utah called upon all americans from embrace, as he put it, quote, the practice of true tolerance, respecting others' beliefs even, or perhaps
especially, when they differ from our own, end quote. senator hatch reminded us that our system of government crafted by the founders with great wisdom and understanding of human nature only works when we recognize that the majority of our political disagreements are not matters of good versus evil but good versus good, as he put it. he concluded his important essay with these words -- when we embrace these virtues fully, we can heal partisan divisions, reinvigorate the public discourse, and begin to realize the full potential of american democracy. to our friend and colleague orrin hatch, those are is not
just words. rather, they have represented his guiding philosophy throughout his 42 years of service in the united states senate. they are why he is such an admired statesman here in washington, throughout our nation, and around the world. and they are why he is one of the most effective legislators of modern times. as many of my colleagues have already commented, senator hatch's record of having passed more legislation than any senator alive today is one that demonstrates his commitment to bridging the partisan divide to achieve and advance the common good and to improve the lives of
americans. i have known and admired orrin hatch for nearly all of his time in the senate. i was on the staff of senator bill cohen, who joined the senate in 1979, just two years after senator hatch, and i saw from the start, as a staffer observing senator hatch, that this gentleman from utah was brilliant, he was kind, and he was devoted to his duty to serve others. he truly is one who leads by example. senator hatch has placed careful consideration and compromise above partisan politics time and again. from the landmark legislation to create the state children's health insurance program during
my very first year in the senate to the recent tax reform law to strengthen our economy and grow jobs, i've had the great pleasure to work with this remarkable leader. in fact, i remember my freshman year in the senate when senator hatch came to see me in my office, and he told me about his plan to expand health insurance for the underserved children of our country. and he said that he was offering the bill with ted kennedy, and i thought, well, that's a surprising combination. but then i learned that it was not; that he would work together with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to accomplish the goals that he set. and he invited me to be one of the early cosponsors of that bill.
and i was so flattered that this senior member of the united states senate would come to me, a mere freshman, and invite me to join in cosponsoring such significant legislation that has made such a difference for millions of american children. in addition to his accomplishments as a legislator, senator hatch holds another record that is unsurpassed. in 32 of his 42 years in the senate, he has been either the chairman or the ranking member of a major committee. he has held in -- he is held in very high esteem by his colleagues. the presidential medal of freedom that he was awarded in november acknowledges the gratitude that the american
people have for his many contributions. but there is another side of senator orrin hatch. he is also a wonderfully talent ed musician and successful songwriter. the beautiful song he cowrote for the 2005 presidential ininauguration called "heal our land" includes this line that describes the mission to which he has devoted his life -- quote, keep us ever on the path of liberty. of all of his accomplishments, senator hatch is most proud of his family, as he mentioned today. he credits their love and support as the key to his
success. and anyone who has met his wonderful wife elaine, will have to concede that orrin has a point. his wife of more than 60 years, their six children, 23 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren -- by last count -- have much to be proud of as well. orrin hatch has compiled an extraordinary record on issues ranging from tax reform, education, national defense, scientific research, criminal justice, and health care. in fact, it's difficult to think of an issue where he has not left his mark. he is a dedicated advocate of our senate traditions and a fierce defender of our constitution. his wide-ranging accomplishments
are united by a commitment to always move our country forward. orrin, our nation is so grateful for your service, and i am so grateful for your wise counsel, mentorship, and friendship over the years. i offer my best wishes you to and to elaine for many years to come. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, as this session of congress draws to a close, it does provide us with an opportunity to acknowledge and express our appreciation to the members of the senate who will be retiring in just a few weeks, and one of those senators who is retiring and whose leadership and institutional knowledge will be missed is my friend, orrin hatch of utah.
i have known orrin since my first days 22 years ago in the senate, and i have much appreciatived working with him over the years. his mentoring, his guidance, his love, and his sharing of his faith have made a tremendous difference to me. he comes from a state that borders on my own. we're neighbors. as a western senator, he has an understanding of what's truly important to the people in our neck of the woods and has fought to make this country better during his time in the senate. but before i talk about his many accomplishments in public service, i want to acknowledge some of the other things about him that have also been mentioned -- his life and role beyond the senate. so often it's easy to gloss over things that are important to senators personally. sometimes it's easy to forget the men and women we know have their lives that stretch beyond these halls. orrin has been married to his
wife elaine for more than 60 years. he's the father of six, grandfather of 23, and currently -- currently -- has 24 great-grandchildren. he is an author and a man of many talents. it's been mentioned that he is a talented composer and musician and has both a gold and platinum record from the recording industry association of america. he's been instrumental in the musical world and has been awarded an honorary gramm me. and he's been the main protector of cope writes. he's dedicated his life to serving the people of utah. he's always worked for the best interests of utah. that includes americans nationwide. he served in the senate since 1977 and since 2015 has been the president pro tempore, where he can be seen presiding during the opening of the senate for daily
business probably more than any other president of the senate. the numbers are in and they are impressive. he's served under seven presidents, been a part of both the minority and majority, and has served the people of utah in the united states senate for over 40 years. orrin hag served in a have a right of leadership roles and has helped america every step of the way. he's served as the chairman of three major committees -- the health, education, labor, and pensions, the judiciary committee, and most recently the finance committee while it did the tax bill. he's run for president, he's been considered as a potential nominee for the supreme court, he's played a role in confirming every supreme court justice currently sitting on the bench. orrin is eminently qualified for so many positions that america has been lucky to have his leadership through the years. the people of utah, our nation, and the people of all faiths
were fortunate to have him to rely on. orrin is a man of faith, one who defends others' right to worship in peace. he's consistently fought to rein in the felt federal government, has been a champion of government spending and a leader of states' rights. he authored a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget that received 66 votes, just one short of what was needed to amend the constitution. one of those votes was somebody who just run for election and said that that was the most important thing and no matter how many times it came up, he would be voting for it. and he voted against it, and that was the one vote that was needed. just by virtue of his legislative triumphs, he's helped to author some of the most consequential pieces of legislation in our time. many have been mentioned. he paved the wait for the sale
of generic drugs and helped advance innovation for patients with rare diseases. he's contributed to the protection of children's health and well-being as well as the rights of americans with disabilities. i know one of his proudest accomplishments is passing the religious freedom restoration act, which protects individual americans' rights to exercise their religion. most recently he had the honor of having the orrin g. hatch bob good let modernization act after him which overhauled music copyright law. we both have a strong touch of the west in our hearts that we express every day in what we do. that's why i wasn't surprised last year when orrin announced he would not be running for another term in the senate. he said, and i quote, i've always been a fighter. i was an amateur boxer in my youth. but every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves.