tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN December 19, 2018 5:59pm-11:01pm EST
consent the committee on homeland security and government affairs be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 4174 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 4174, an act to amend titles 5 and 44 united states code to require federal evaluation activities, and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the johnson-murray substitute amendment at the desk be considered and agreed to, the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, earlier today, i finished my year-end tributes to several of my fellow senators, but unfortunately there is still one more goodbye to a very
special member of my own team. it's know exaggeration at all to say that for the past four years, hazen marshall has stood squarely in the center of every consequential decision and piece of legislation that congress has taken up. just wrap your mind around the job. the policy director in the senate majority leader's office. every day that hazen is driven here to the capitol and parked his big pickup truck amid all the hybrids and hatchbacks, he's come ready to work. as a visionary strategist, a lead negotiator, a graceful manager, a constant resource to key players on both sides of the aisle, basically something like an air traffic controller for the united states senate. with a job like that it's no wonder that when my chief and of
staff and i set tout to lure hasten back to the? the in 2014, it didn't start out as an easy sell. for one thing he'd already served 18 years of hard time here. hazen started out as an inten for his home state senator, don nickles. the way i hear it, all these years later, he may or may not have missed the official deadline for submitting his internship application. but this agriculture and economics whiz when oklahoma state was exactly what the offings needed with a farm bill coming up, so they brought him on. by the time he departed the senate with don, for greener pastures, he had shot is up through the ranks and became staff director on the senate budget committee. everybody knew hazen and they knew that he knew everything. everyone loved working with him. he had become a part of this
institution in his own right. we knew we'd need some good luck to persuade him to write a sequel to all of that. but our fortunes turned out what he volunteered to come down to kentucky in the last days of my 2014 campaign. the atmosphere of public service, the camaraderie and old friendships already in place with so many of his would-be colleagues -- well, i think the old bug hit hazen again right then and right there. i'm sure it didn't hurt when we actually won the majority that year, too. so this policy mastermind and budget expert came on board. keep in mind, this is the guy that's only worked for two bosses in his whole life -- don nickles and his own father. i got to be lucky number three. just a couple of things that happened since then -- the early wins, like the 2015
highway bill, paving the wait for reconciliation with a quick turnaround on the 2017 budget, getting tax reform off the white board and on to the president's desk, walking the narrow bipartisan balance beam of this past winter's funding agreement and scoring a win for defense funding. during each of these battles and many oh, hazen was right there -- and many others, hazen was right there in the center of the action. but i think can't of a single time when he sought himself to be the center of attention. as far as hazen was concerned, his accomplishments were not hazen marshal's, they were the accomplishments of the leader's office, the conference or of the senate. his victories were all team victories. you couldn't succeed at a job like hazen has without having thoroughly mastered the machinery of congress. but you wouldn't be as happy
doing it or make nearly so much friends along the way unless you were in it for the right reasons. this is a town where many folks will try to parlay any proximity to power into black-tie invitations and jump at any chance to self-promote. not hazen. it didn't doesn't hurt that he'd rather be in the seats at nats' park any way or at his kids' performances or on the river than most high-society functions. but even more than that selfishness is simply not in the man's character. he's just rock-solid, completely competent, utterly reliable. when i or any other member or any staffer brought a question or problem to hazen, we knew we'd get a straight answer and we'd get it fast, and it was guaranteed to be right. in every meeting on every hard day, there was hazen at the end of the table reassuring me and
everyone else with a smile and his trademark encouraging words, it's all good. it's all good. one of the senior most staffers in the senate still totally humble, still trying too buck everyone -- still trying to buck everyone up and squeeze some smiles out of the work. and frankly, with hazen at the negotiating table, it almost always was all good. of course we'll miss more than just hazen's professional excellence, his humble hardworking spirit is one way he remains less of that beltway operator and more of a farm biofrom oklahoma. he may be one of the most connected guys in this city, but while colleagues would compare notes about the different trips they had taken over recess, hazen would grin ear to ear while describing the latest indy car race he had taken in. to be fair, this is also a man
of high culture. his affinity for music and theater includes the artistic pursuits of his children, madeleine and max, and practically everything else under the sun as well. so i don't suspect he'll have a hard time filling his days when the senate convenes without him in january. maybe he'll dive even deeper into his cross-fit habit and convert to two adays. he'll still face plenty of stressful situations with the nats come spring time but he'll be able to shoulder that burden with a cold beer in his hand. i can't wait at that see you in the stands, buddy, but i'll miss you here. thanks so much for your service to me, to your colleagues, and most of all to our country.
mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i'm pleased to come to the floor with my colleagues from massachusetts attend to address the -- and delaware to address the grave threat to america and to our planet from carbon pollution and it climate chaos. over the last two weeks, representatives from nearly 200 countries have gathered together in poland to continue the fight against climate chaos. they know that in each and every country we're seeing the impacts across this planet. more powerful hurricanes, like we've seen here in the united states; the more destructive wildfires, like those we see in
the northwest of the united states; record-breaking heat waves, air quality deterioration, loss of glaciers, bloc of arctic ice, insect-borne diseases that spread, coral reefs dying. we are in trouble. the scientists tell us we are now driving the sixth great extinction on planet earth and it is being driven by human conduct and a big factor that in a is our burning of fossil fuels. we're facing the greatest threat humankind has known on the planet. when you begin to damage your own home, you're really in a situation that needs to be immediately addressed. it was back in 1959 that edward teller, a famed scientist, gave a speech to the 100th
anniversary of the petroleum industry. he said, you know, this energy that you've unleashed, has done amazing things on the planet. given so much ability for humankind to magnify their efforts. there is a loss of positive in that. then the scientist edward teller went on to say, well, there's a couple challenges here. one of which is there's only so many fossil fuels in the ground so at some point we'll run out. of course, we know that there's a lot more fossil fuels in the ground now than we knew about in 1959. he said, but it that is a second problem. when you burn this stuff, it creates an invisible, owed orless gas. -- odorless gas. it doesn't sound like a check marks but it traps heat. because it traps here, it will melt the poles, it will raise the oceans and that will be a problem for humankind because
humankind lives along the waterways. he didn't go into more details than, but it was one of the first direct commentaries -- 1959 -- about how the age of fossil fuels was going to produce significant problems for humankind. that speech he gave was 59 years ago. what have we seen in the ensuing period? we have seen roughly 100-point increase in carbon pollution on the planet. or to take my lifetime, for example -- in 196556 we had about 12 parts per million of carbon. what we see here on the red is the rising line of carbon going back roughly to when i was born, about in here, 1956 until now. we see that it's accelerating, but essentially 100-point increase, 1 should parts per
million increase. we started at about 312. we're at about 412 now, at the very peak. that's a 30% increase in my single lifetime. just a little flash of time in terms of the life of this planet. a 32% increase in carbon in the atmosphere, and it's having a significant impact. the most obvious way to look at this impact is the temperature -- global temperature year after year. so here we see the ten hottest years on record. and we see that only one of those years -- 1998 -- was before the turn of the century. the rest of them have all been since the turn of the century. and, in fact, 17 of the 18 hottest records -- years on record have occurred since the year 2000. not only that, but look at the dramatic, dramatic change for
2014 and 2015 and 2016 and 2017, these last four years, how much hotter the planet is than it was just a few years before. that should trouble all of us. seen all this. global leaders came together in 2015 in paris, the largest gathering of world leaders in human history, and they said, we have got to put limits on what we're doing. we all have to apply a strategy of each reducing our carbon dioxide production. i'd like to say that they've been successful. but they have not. total global carbon production is still going up. and because of that, we're still in deep trouble. and if we didn't have it just from these bars of the hottest years on record, we could turn to a more complicated analysis or several of them that have come out just recently.
just back in october, we had the intergovernmental panel on climate change bringing the work of scientists across the planet together, and it paints a very stark picture of where we are right now. and how this will only get a lot worse in the years ahead. or we can turn to the trump administration's report that came out the day after the thanksgiving. on thanksgiving we give thanks for a lot of things. the day after the administration informed us that we here on the planet have a big problem. what did they say in that report? again, this is the trump administration speaking. earth's climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activity. or we can turn to a third report which just came out called the global carbon project, and it says that after plateauing for several years, in 2018 global
carbon emissions rose 2.7%. so we're back on an upward trajectory and we hit a record-breaking 37 billion metric tons. how did the u.s. do? similarly, our carbon emissions here in the u.s. went up about 2.5%. over the last two years, the trump administration has tried to do everything they can to make the situation worse. there were rules in place to cut methane leaks because methane is much more of a potent global warming cass than is -- gas than is carbon dioxide. so you never want it let it out of a pipe. but they worked to weaken that's rules. they worked to weaken vehicle emission standards so we get more pollution for each mile rather than less pollution. i did find one thing of interest, and that is judith
garber, the assistant secretary of state for oceans, international and scientific afarce went over to poland to give a report for the united states. she bragged about our carbon capture and utilization and storage technology and how one power plant in texas is capturing more than 90% of its emissions from its flu gas stream. she was holding this up. but what she didn't say is that the previous week on december 6 the trump administration issued a draft rule exempting new power plants from carbon capture. that would have been a much more complete story about the record of this administration. of the 20 nations represented at the recent g-20 summit in argentina, only the united states refused to sign a
nonbinding statement saying countries were committed to fighting climate chaos. all we had to do was say yes, we're aware it's a problem and we're committed to fighting it, but the united states turned that down. and over in poland, we joined with russia and saudi arabia and kuwait, three oil-rich nations, to weaken a statement recognizing the international report about the challenges we face. we need global leadership. and without our help, the countries still came together in poland to write a rule book to try to go forward without the involvement and leadership of the united states. they worked very hard on that rule book and it addressed things like transparency and accountability. it addressed issues related to carbon credits. it addressed issues that were designed to develop a strategy for technical experts and
exactly how you would count carbon in your country. it wasn't a perfect rule book, but we now have one. and we can make improvements on it in the future. but think about how much faster we would go forward in tackling this problem if we had american leadership. we need this leadership. the world needs this leadership to tackle climate chaos. it is not something you can do just as good a job now, ten years from now as you can now, or 20 years from now, because you can't get this carbon out of the atmosphere easily once it's in there. it stays for hundreds of years. it keeps adding to the trapping of heat for hundreds of years. so we need to act now. and we're facing the big challenge of feedback loops. what do i mean? well, up in the arctic when you have less ice, you have blue ocean, the sunshine goes into the water, and it heats it up
more than than if it was reflecting off ice. so it gets warmer and warmer and warmer. or how about this? just a couple weeks ago a picture was published of a lake in alaska that was boiling not with heat, but with methane. methane bubbling up out of the permafrost underneath the lake at such a rapid pace, it was a heavy boiling motion on the top of the water. that's a feedback loop that should scare us all because of the enormous heat trapping properties of methane. and all across the planet as it gets warmer, permafrost and peet start off-gassing this methane. so there we are, we have to move fast. we need american leadership to be fully engaged in the vision of mission 100, going to 100% clean and renewable energy in the fastest possible time. we have to quit subsidizing
fossil fuels and start subsidizing renewable energy, or at least put them on a level playing field with each other. we need a green new deal to completely rebuild our energy economy in the united states of america and create all kinds of jobs, all kinds of working america jobs. sheet metal jobs, electrician jobs, pipe fitting jobs, jobs of every kind as we rework the energy economy to build that vision of 100% renewable energy. think how many jobs you'd create if you just proceed to renovate your house. now think of the tens of millions of jobs if you renovate the entire energy economy of the united states of america. we need american leadership to work in partnership with other nations so that every nation holds each other accountable to this vision of transitioning to renewable energy. we need american leadership to say to germany, yes, you've done some things very well on
solar, but why are you beelding a nord stream 2 pipeline to bring natural gas from russia for the next generation, it dependence on fossil fuel? we need to say to japan you are putting your entire energy economy on to liquid natural gas. how can you meet your paris obligations and be a partner with the rest of the world if you're not willing to pursue natural energy? we need to say to australia you're doubling down on coal while your outback is burning in the middle of winter and your great barrier reef is half dead over the last couple of years from water that is too warm and too acidic due to climate chaos. we need american leadership to tell china, yes, you're investing in renewable energy at home. great, speed it up. but why are you financing 200
coal-powered plants around the world? that is not acceptable. shut that down. we have to have american leadership. now this is not a question between economic development and the environment. quite the contrary. in this case renovating our energy economy creates a strong environment. it allows us to go to the cheapest form of energy on the planet -- solar and wind. why is it the cheapest? because there's no fuel. the fuel for solar is the sun. we don't have to pay for that. the fuel for wind are the breezes that blow, and we don't have to pay for that. in fact, right now just a few months ago xcel energy did a request for proposals to renew electric generating capacity, and it came out at two cents per kilowatt hour for solar and
three cents for wind, less than burning coal in an existing fossil fuel plants. so if you believe nothing about the damage to our planet because it's just too terrifying and you don't want to hear that bad news, then turn at least to the economic opportunity of taking america forward to the cheapest, cleanest energy we could possibly have. wells griffith, the administration's top advisor cop said we strongly believe no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability. that is the big lie. that is the big koch brothers lie to the planet, that somehow we will sacrifice our economy in order to pursue cleaner energy when in fact the opposite is true. american leadership has helped take the world forward in all
kinds of technology. some of those famous moments was our leadership in splitting the atom and creating atomic energy, putting a man on the moon, creating the internet, taking on significant diseases and leading the world in wiping them out. diseases like polio. we need that kind of leadership today, leadership to work in partnership with the world to save our planet. thank you, mr. president. i yield to my colleague from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i have been listening to our colleagues with rapt attention at the excellence of their presentations. the depth of their understanding of this problem. i couldn't help but notice on the senator from oregon's
charts, often the source was noaa or nasa, two agencies that we have had to worry in the last two years about the attempted muzzling of science, of scientists, and the seeming putdown of science. not by the agencies themselves, because they are of such great experts. as a matter of fact, when i have held several hearings at ground zero, which is south florida where we are seeing the effects of climate change in the rising of the seas and now seeing at high tide the water sloshing over the curbs of south florida cities, having these hearings there, it is often the
nasa scientist and the noaa scientist that are testifying. so i want the senator from oregon, the senator from delaware that preceded him, and several others, the senator from massachusetts, to know how much i appreciate them taking up the banner and keeping on this banner. i also want to say that if we do not change, our processes of putting a lot of carbon into the air, and as the senator said it's often methane, it's often carbon dioxide, the earth will continue to heat up. and if it gets heated up to something over 4 degrees farenheit more than the average annual global temperature, that
is the point of no return. and at that point you can't stop the earth heating up. and if we know the disaster now that we see in the sea level rising, the greater costs to government with the additional infrastructure, the moving of water wells further inland to keep away from the encroaching seawater, salt water intrusion, if we know that, why in the world would we not contemplate the ultimate destruction of the planet if it gets too hot? i'd love to hear the senator comment. mr. merkley: i appreciate so much the comments of my colleague from florida. i had the chance to go down to florida just at the end of october, and it was a rally to
address the challenge of red tide, algae that was growing in the ocean that produces a toxin, and the toxin is so powerful that it was causing a lot of respiratory problems for people who lived along the gulf coast, and it was killing a lot of animals. and people were talking about manatees, dolphins, turtles and fish washing up on the beach. and then not only did they have the toxins from the red algae, they had the stench from the dying sea life. and the sense of people who gathered to talk about this was that dramatic action is needed. this was completely compromising the quality of life, the health of the oceans, the ability to harvest food out of the ocean, people were actually saying they were taking inland vacations.
that is leaving the coast until the air would get better. and they said that unfortunately the circumstances had been in that bad condition for ten months of the last 12 months, meaning they might not actually want it to go back, at least not keep a home there. and i thought of the parallel from your state in florida to my state in oregon, because we have an area in southern oregon that has been deeply afflicted by fire smoke the last two summers. and the smoke has tainted the furniture being sold. it has shut down the outdoor events. it has stopped people from hiking. the cascade trail. it's affecting the economy. house prices are changing. people are thinking twice about booking for -- different set of economic impacts. and these are only the indirect impacts. there's the direct impact of the
panhandle of florida that i just saw those pictures of complete devastation when the hurricane came across it early this year. of course we saw the pictures of complete devastation for some of the communities that the forest fires on the west coast burned to a crisp. so our two states, our citizens know there's a problem. not everyone wants to face the underlying cause of methane and carbon pollution, driving in it. but everybody knows there's a problem. we're fortunate to have your scientists, your noaa scientists, your nasa scientists and all the satellite information they're feeding us so that we can study it and stand here on the floor of the senate and say we do know the cause. and it's our responsibility as leaders in this nation, leaders here in the senate to proceed to make sure we act aggressively in partnership with the world. and i just want to say i thank
you so much for your service here in this chamber, and your knowledge about the scientific facts and willingness to never look away from them and to confront what those facts mean for the policies we need to adopt. mr. nelson: mr. president, i will conclude my remarks by just bringing you back to the vision that i had in the window of a spacecraft. orbiting the earth every 90 minutes. an hour of that in the daylight of the sun, about a half-hour of that in the shadow of the earn, which is the night-- in the shadow of the earth, which is the night time. in looking at how beautiful the earth was and yet it looked so fragile, you could look at the rim of the earth, that bright-blue band, but right underneath of it, you could see
that that -- that very thin atmosphere that supports all of our life. with the naked eye, from that altitude in the spacecraft orbiting the planet, you could actually see how we're messing it up. you could see this flight 34 years ago -- as a matter of fact, our first launch attempt 34 to date. it took us five times to get off the ground. but once we did, you could see with the naked eye how we're messing it up. coming across madagascar, the island nation off the southeast coast of the continent of africa, they had cut down all the trees. you could immediately see the effects because at the mouths of the rivers, because when the rains came, there were no
vegetation to hold the topsoil and the topsoil was all running down. and from that altitude looking down, you could see that silt going out into the bright-blue waters of the indian ocean. with the naked eye, you can see that. it is such a beautiful planet. we best take care of it. and indeed that was an effect upon me of having gone into space. i decided i wanted to be a better steward when i came back to earth, and here we are 34 years later still fighting -- fighting and fighting to try to get people to understand what we are doing to ourselves. and so i thank this senator. i thank all the senators who
have spoken here. and i want your voices to keep strong and keep consistent and keep at it because sooner or later -- hopefully not after a catastrophe -- but soon or later the world's population is going to come around and understand we have to be better stewards of our home. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. rubio: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, this morning the administration announced the intent to remove all american troops -- not a large presence, but all american troops from syria. i want to be clear, as i've tried to be all day, about this. i believe this is it is a catastrophic mistake that will have grave consequences for the united states, for our interests
and our allies in the months and years to k i wanted to make -- to come. i wanted to take a moment to come here and explain y the rationale we were given today by the administration is that there is no longer a need for a u.s. presence in syria because isis has been defeated. but just a week ago the president's own envoy to the global coalition on isis said this, and i want to get to from his statement that he gave last week. he said, the end of isis will be a much more long-term initiative. nobody is declaring mission accomplished. we know that once the physical space is defeated, we can't just pick upped and leave. this was a quote from the president's own envoy to the global coalition on isis, not six months ago. six days ago. and we don't have time here -- or i could take up all the time of the senate to outline statement after statement after statement from military and diplomatic officials in the administration basically echoing
the same point. and the point that we're make something this -- isis still controls territory, particularly in the ufrayties river valley of syria and from the territory new england still control, they generate money and they control the population and they produce propaganda individual. and even if that is taken away, isis is on its way to turning into an insurgency, meaning no longer an organization that controls vast spaces of land or has a capital city. an insurgency like we what we saw in iraq, an insurgency like what al qaeda used to operate like and continues to operate like. and insurgencies in many ways are harder to defeat because they don't wave a plague and tell you where -- wave a flag and tell you where they are. i'm not here to deny that there hasn't been true progress made against isis. there absolutely has. when you look at what isis had,
what isis controlled when this administration began and where they are today, this has been a substantial achievement. but we have to finish the job, and the job is not finished. and why has isis' presence in syria been degraded? it is because the united states, with a very limited military presence -- we're not talking afghanistan here it tens of thousands of troops. we're not talking iraq here with a massive urge. we are talking about a very capable but lightfootprint of american trainers and people there to assist, although they can fight and have done so in the past, working alongside a ground force made up of the syrian democratic forces, primarily air abc, and the -- air be as, and the -- and the arabs. and they have been on the ground fighting with our assistance and our direction and sometimes our direct involvement against isis
in the ufray tees river value chicago. they are the reason why isis' control has rapidly degraded. but that's right ones fighting. that has been a difficult thing to achieve because the number-one objective of the kurds to protect kurdish cities and towns in northernia. ness a long-standing -- there is a long-standing dispute between the kurds and turkey. there is a kurd organization in turkey and there is one affiliated with them housed in northern syria in cities that are kurdish cities. the number-one priority is maintaining their cities and getting them to actually take time out from that interest and confront isis was not easy. it has been an enormous achievement to partner and collocate with them in fighting and degrading isis in that area. but as i said, it has not been easy because isis is not their top priority their number-one priority is maintaining control
of the kurdish towns and cities in northern syria and, more importantly, preventing turkey and the turkish military from taking it from them. so they've been threatening to pull out of this isis effort for a long time, most recently when erdogan went around saying i'm coming in. i'm going after the kurds in syria. we know if in a happened, many would abandon the fight on isis and immediate lay be pulled into defending the kurdish seas. but now that we're pulling out, now that we're retreating, adonning this effort -- abandoning this effort, i can guarantee you that the kurdish forces are going to leave. they are going back to the kurdish areas to prepare to confront thish military -- the turkish military activity that they have announced and that could be coming at any moment. that means that there will no longer be anyone on the ground in the eupmrates river valley
attacking isis. now the pressure is off from isis. now they can really regroup. now this is going to give them an enormous propaganda victory as they take more and more victory. they're going to brag about it and it will help them recruit more fighters and resurrect themselves. it will give them more territory, more access to money. all that have is going to allow them to expand their insurgency plan. they are going to have more people, more money, and more territory to do it from because the kurds are going to leave. now that we're leaving, they are leaving and no one will be fighting isis on the ground in the valley. in fact, isis might even be able to restart its specialized military training in that area. we are allowing isis to come back and before long we are all going to be talking about isis again producing videos, kidnapping people, beheading
people, taking territory, terrorizing people and doing it as an insurgency, which is even harder to fight, as i said earlier. so why is this happening? who are the winners here of all this? let me tell you, i think the one winner here has been erdogan. he has absolutely played us on this. it's truly stung. he has spent months pressuring the united states to abandon the kurds, diplomatically in phone calls to the president, to others. he's spent months and he's been doing that pressure on the one side while also threatening military action on the other. in essence saying, i'm coming into syria, the turks, and i'm going after the y.p.g., the kurds, and i know u.s. troops are embedded alongside them. we're coming in. he has been doing this for months. the goal it the whole time was to separate the united states from the kurds, to get us to break up this arrangement that we had with them to fight isis. it worked. he has achieved it.
it's truly unbelievable that he has been able to get us to back down. and i want everyone to think about this additional complication. turkey is a member of nato, and article 5 of nato basically says, if a nato member is attacked, you all have to come to their defense. an attack on all of us. while there is some wiggle room, the bottom line is that the turks have in the past threatened to invoke article 5. think about this for a moment. think about if after being attacked, the kurds both in turkey and in syria decide to fight back. turkey is going to say, we're under attack from kurdish forces in the y.p.g.. we invoke article 5. i want you to think about what position that now puts the united states in. we now have a choice. we can stand behind our article 5 commitment to nato, but if we do so, we are going to have to help defeat the turks -- meaning kill -- the very people that we were just collocated with today
and yesterday and for months, the very people we have been working with to defeat isis for over two and a half years, are now people that if we follow article 5 invoked by turkey, we're going to have to join them to try to defeat -- meaning kill. the other alternative is to not respect article 5 and not come to their defense. then you have placed the entire nato alliance in doubt because it will have been invoked for the second time in history and the u.s. didn't respond to it. we lose either way. we either help them kill the kurds, our partners as recently as today, or we ignore article 5. that sounds pretty dramatic, and there's some wiggle room as to what the response will be, but erdogan is the kind of hard ballplayer to trigger this sort of response and he has threatened to do it in the past. truly unbelievable. who is the other big winner? russia. in fact, their embassy in the u.s. has already put out a
tweet, celebrating the decision. why? well, first of all, because america is now out. at some of the point people are going to have to sit down and decide, what is the future of a post isis syria and you know who is going to be at the table? the turks are going to be at the table because they'll have a military presence in northern syria. the iranians will be in syria. assad have been at the table and putin will be at the table t guess who won't be at the table? the united states of america. and so vladimir putin, of course he is celebrating this decision, because america basically walked away, gave up its seat at the table. we have no presence there any longer and we have just turned over this country and its future and its meaning in the region to vladimir putin and iran and assad. another reason why putin is a big winner is because you can just imagine those meetings now. when putin goes to the middle east and meets with the
egyptians and the saudis and jordanians, frankly even the israelis, us know what he's going to say? i don't know why you are counting on america. i don't know why you are relying on america. they are unreliable. vladimir putin is going to say, look at me. i stood by assad, even after the whole world came after him. i stood by him. i didn't retreat. look at america. they abandoned these kurds to be slaughtered by the turks and maybe by the regime, and you are going to put the future and security of your country in the hands of an unreliable and erratic partner like the united states? it is a huge victory for putin in that regard. and, by the way, put yourself in the position of the kurds, facing an onslaught from the turkish military. you have now given them two kois. they can partner up with russia as their protector against turkey or they can partner up with the regime and iran. that's the choice we've left
them with. who's the other bigger winner in all this is iran and hezbollah. for a long time assad has allowed iran to use syria as a transit point to arm hezbollah in lebanon so lebanon can threaten and attack israel. they will now be able to step up those efforts. there is no u.s. presence in syria. there is no u.s. seat at the table. and you can fully expect that iran is going to step up their engagement in syria with hezbollah. let me tell you why that's a problem. i'll get to that in a moment. it has to do with israel. but here's the bottom line. you can fully expect now that iran is going to step up its own presence through the irgc and through hezbollah and through the militias they have empowered in the region right on the border with israel. iran now has the ability to put weaponry and killers right across the golan heights, right on the border with israel. the other big winner in all of
this of course is hezbollah. as i said, they now have expanded their area and their supply realm. i'd be remiss if i didn't mention that with all this talk of isis there is still an al qaeda presence in syria. they can change their name all they want. it's al qaeda. they have operatives in syria, and al qaeda spends a lot of time planning external operations. we thank or men and women in homeland security, in the military, in our security systems and intelligence systems for protecting us, but al qaeda spends all day long plotting and thinking about how to strike the united states around the world and here in the homeland. and the lack of a u.s. presence in syria means that the syrian branch of al qaeda hora al dean has the ability to operate in a space that's even more desirable than what they have today. the last winner in all this, it's surprising because you may
say what does it have to do with syria is china. you have all these countries in asia who see this sort of growing conflict between the u.s. and china, and they're trying to figure out how do we stay out of this fight, but if we're forced to pick which side do we pick and they prefer us. we're more reliable and capable, we believe in human rights. but china in those meetings is going to say america is a power in decline. america is unreliable. america is erratic, the same argument putin is going to use in the middle east and europe is the argument china is going to use all over the world. those are the implications of these kinds of decisions. they will increasingly go to places like japan and south korea and others and say do you really want to put all your eggs in the american basket because they are an unreliable ally. look what the they did to the kurds in syria. of course there are losers, and
obviously israel in this part is one of them. the statement from the prime minister of israel is pretty telling. he said it's an american decision. i'm not going to interfere with it. but we are going to do whatever it takes to protect our interests in this area. translation: they're going to step up their attacks. they're already conducting strikes inside of israel. every time they see a dangerous rocket system moving towards hezbollah, any time something that looks like it could threaten israel from syria they're going to step up. as those efforts increase they're going to have to get more aggressive. they are going to have to kill iranians eventually and the iranians and hezbollah will respond. they will probably eventually respond by vast rockets from lebanon and israel will have to respond to that and suddenly we
have the next israel-lebanon war. now hezbollah has more rockets, better rockets with longer range and precision in their guidance. even if if israel has this incredible defense system it can be overwhelmed by volume. such a small country. and what do you think is going to happen when population centers in israel cannot be protected from these attacks? israel is going to respond as they always have had to in their self-defense with disproportionate force and we're going to have an all-out war potentially between israel versus iran and hezbollah. and who knows where that leads. but i assure you, the united states is going to be called upon to help in that regard at a minimum by supplying israel and maybe more. who -- this is not a game. this is serious repercussions if you think forward about what could happen next and how quickly this could destabilize the region and how quickly the pullout of a small american presence could lead to a much larger one down the road.
ultimately israel is an enormous loser here because by the united states retreating we have given the green light for iran to expand its presence right on their border. this is the closest, other than lebanon and hezbollah this is the closest iran has been to israeli territory. think about it. you're israel with problems in judea and samaria with palestinian authority, iewfer got issues in gaza, hezbollah in p lebanon and now iran with a growing presence just north of syria. you are encircled. this is the predicament that this helps create. by far the biggest loser in this deven is the united states of america. we have lost -- we have surrendered our influence in the outcome of this conflict in syria. at some point nations are going to sit down and figure out what syria looks like moving forward, and we will have zero role to play in it. it will be decided by the turks and the russians and primarily the iranians and assad and we
will have no role to play in it. we have also undermined other nations' trust in the reliability of the american alliance and the implications of that are extraordinary. if you think about the world today and nations like japan, south korea and saudi arabia and egypt, these are countries that either can immediately or may in the future decide that they need nuclear weapons to protect themselves. south korea from north korea. japan from china. saudi arabia from iran. egypt from iran. and the reason why many of these countries have been willing not to develop nuclear weapons is because the united states has in the case of south korea and japan, directly assured their security. and that has kept the peace. what happens when more and more nations develop weapons of mass destruction the way india and pakistan have about each other? you have more weapons of mass destruction. and then it creates the possibility of miscalculation or
even worse, that a government, for example, in saudi arabia or in egypt is overthrown and some radical regime takes hold and they have nuclear weapons. or they proliferate and sell it to people and that's used. this is far-fetched for some people. this is reality. this is how foreign policy should be made. not just thinking about what's in front of you today, but what could happen in the chain of events that could be triggered by a decision. this is not a game. this is serious stuff. and on top of all that, losing the trust of our allies and nations around the world, losing our influence in a solution in syria, isis is going to reemerge. it's not going to be the same isis that it was before controlling vast amount of territory. but i'll tell you what, al qaeda never controlled a vast amount of territory and operating from caves and hideouts throughout the middle east, they carried out 9/11 and other threats against the united states in the homeland that were
thwarted. isis is going to reemerge now. they're once again going to be able to recruit people. they're going to have an insurgency that's going to be able to strike and perhaps externally plot. they're going to be able from that presence they have in syria to influence their affiliates everywhere from the philippines to central africa to other countries in the region. and that's why i'm here to tell you that this is a catastrophic decision. forget for a moment about no one being notified, it was just announced at the last minute. i haven't heard a single member of the administration, not one, not the secretary of defense, not the secretary of state. who is going to own this decision? who is willing to step forward and tell the american people or congress here's why we're making this decision, and here is the strategy? someone explain that. the american people deserve to know it. i haven't heard that today. we haven't heard it before. we thought we had the outlines of some strategy here. all that has been taken away.
why are we doing this? what is the rationale and what comes next? and what's the plan to keep isis from reemerging? and what's the plan to keep iran from growing its presence in southern syria and threatening israel? and what's the plan to deal with the al qaeda element that already exists in there and what's our role and what role are we going to play in a postisis and postal qaeda syria? and particularly as it relates to whether it can be used as a base of operations against our interests in our men and women in uniform stationed in the region. none of that has been outlined. the -- is anyone in the administration going to own this and explain it because so far we haven't heard it, and this is a n important public policy decision. i hope i'm wrong about all of this. i hope it all works out but it's not going to. i'm telling you, these are the kinds of decisions that define presidencies. these are the kinds of mistakes
that end up haunting a nation for years and years and years thereafter. it is the lesson, the hard lesson of iraq. it is the hard lesson of decisions made at other times in our history. i hope this can be reversed. i hope that this can be reexamined because i honestly believe -- put politics aside. i honestly believe that this is a catastrophic decision for america's national security interests. and if this stands, we in this congress and we as a nation are going to be dealing with the consequences of it for years to come and we'll remember this day as the day that started it all. we'll remember this day as a major blunder in which by ignoring the advice of every diplomatic and military official who has spoken about this publicly for the last two years, we made a decision for reasons that have not yet been explained that triggered, that
triggered a series of events that no one foresaw at the time. but proved to be much more dangerous and much costly than anything we're doing there now. and so i honestly and sincerely hope that someone in the administration is listening and that there is a chance to reverse this or amend this decision before it is too late. mr. president, i yield the floor.
on the national liver allocation policy made by the organ procurement transplant network made on december 4. this sounds like it's something that's far away and perhaps no real consequence, but the decision that was made has huge consequences on every american and should be receiving more attention than it has to date because the number of organs that are available for transplant and where those organs will be available is being determined by this small group of people. the decision that they made throws aside expert advice from transplant surgeons and hospitals on best practices. it also carries the risk of decreasing organ donation rates as donors find that their organs will not be used in their own communities but will be shipped someplace else across the country. places in the country today have donor programs and designed to
encourage donors to donate their organs, and part of that is the understanding that those organs are going to be available for your family, your friends and neighbors, people within your community. this decision limits the availability and access to donated organs in areas that currently have low wait times and damages the ability of our major transplant hospitals to perform these services for patients. in december of 2017, following two rounds -- this is back in 2017, there were two rounds of public comment periods and extensive deliberation by the optn board. that board approved a compromise allocation policy that served the transplant community's best interest. this served as a policy reform that was worked out over years to better benefit the entire country based upon compromise by transplant experts, patients, and stakeholders. however, the next year, in
2018, a lawsuit was filed based upon the allocation policies and the face of that single voice of criticism, they disregarded years of work and compromise that was reached the year before. it's unfortunate that the basis of this policy change was litigation, not a determination on how best to improve our nation's organ transplant procurement and allocation process. hersa rushed to respond to this lawsuit by abdicating their duty to implement good policy, instead allowing a single case to divert liver allocation policy across the entire united states. in november i had a meeting with dr. george segunis, the administrator of hrsa. he described to me the importance of comment period on these policies and how seriously
his agency would take them, especially considering that they were the very institutions and doctors who would go on to perform these transplants. shortly thereafter, i was disappointed to learn that these comments were not comments made by the public, by these institutions, the doctors who perform transplants; that these comments were not even considered by the individuals tasked with crafting and advising the latest policy. in fact, sue dunn, the president of o.p.t.n., has informed a number of commenters in the transplant community that their concerns over new follows were not even read by the board that approved the new policy. the reason these comments weren't considered was due to the fact that optn's comment system was so overloaded in the days leading up to the decision that it caused a complete shutdown of that process. so many transplant hospitals, surgeons, and medical professionals had deep enough concerns that they took the time
out of their day to express them, and these are the people who are tasked with saving the lives through the transplants each day, every day. yet their opinions, in essence, were deemed invalid. so many of the comments that were submitted that the entire system shut down and optn's response was simply to ignore them. further, optn did not consider to reconsider their policies in the widespread face of opposition from the medical community. optn continued to push forward against all common sense in their pursuit of a radically altered way that organs are distribute across the united states. decisions on national organ allocation should be grounded in the expert opinions rather than in a response to a single lawsuit. hrsa and optn are making a grave mistake in pushing this damaging policy that carries a significant cost in human lives.
in that meeting that i had with dr. segunis, he told that me these comments should not just be comments but present actual suggestions of what the policy should be. i know of institutions, organizations that did that and to learn that they were disregarded causes me to have great concern. the senator from missouri, senator blunt, and i have probed secretary azar, the secretary of health and human services, on this subject and we are eagerly awaiting his justification for what appears to be a major significant error. it appears that hrsa and optn making policy in such a wreckless passion -- reckless fashion has become the normal state of affairs. additional oversight may be needed to ensure that that policy is protected and that some common sense prevails in the future. i know there are a group of senators working on legislation to do just that.
i am very disappointed in the actions of hrsa, optn and thunos. this action has been guided by how to sidestep a single lawsuit. organ procurement and allocation policy is too important. it is about life and death, and it is too important to be simply decided by a lawsuit and countersuits, which i fear will now become the way of addressing this issue. i will continue to work to protect our hospitals, our doctors, and particularly our patients americans, from this policy hazard all input from -- policy that disregarded all input. this is far from over and i remain committed to finding answers, changing the tide and putting patients and providers first in these life-or-death scenarios. mr. president, i thank you and yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. ten years ago this summer we lost a longtime friend of mine and colleague, a remarkable public servant, congresswoman stephanie tubs jones. when marcia fudge, then before that mayor of war reinsville heights, a cleveland suburb, when marcia won the special election to represent the 11th congressional district including cleveland and including the home where connie and it i live, she had big shoes to fill. but marcia rose to the occasion. for the past decade she's been a fighter for my hometown of cleveland and east side suburbs into akron and all the ohioans she serves. on the education workforce committee, she has become a senior leader who knows thousand get things done. she stands up for ohio's teachers and students and families. marcia also joined the agriculture committee. perhaps not initially seen sasse
a natural fit for someone with an urban district like hers, but she understands that farm bills are not just about crops. they're food bill, they're economic development, conservation, nutrition bills. i am the first senator in half a century to be on the agriculture committee. for some of the same reasons congresswoman fudge is on the committee. this year we both served on the bill's conference committee when we fought house republican efforts to erect more bureaucracy to gut nutrition programs in ohio that families rely on. these are programs for people making $8 and $10 and $12 an hour and don't have enough income to feed their families. we won that fight. tomorrow the president is scheduled to sign the bipartisan farm bill that we passed and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. in both houses. congresswoman fudge and i worked
to write a century-old wrong and get central state university the 1890 land grant states that they deserve -- i'm so, the 1890 land grant status that they deserve. that designation is not just retter to cal hadn't. it means more opportunity for partnerships with industry. marcia is a leader among her colleagues. as head of the congressional black caucus, she led the fight son so many issues, including working to ensure all americans have a voice in their government. a few years ago we held a field hearing in cleveland on the one hand the barriers that too many ohioans face to exercising their most fundamental right, the right to vote. marcia was the star at that hearing. it came in the wake of a despicable ohio law and frankly years of attempts at voter suppression by ohio republicans, a despicable ohio law that cut the number of early voting days in half. we know who these laws are aimed
at. marcia testified about how these tactics hurt communities of color. unfortunately it that is gotten worse. voters purged from the polls, limiting absentee balloting, restricting provisional balloting. and the supreme court, a court that puts its thumb on the scales of justice in support of corporations over workers, a court that puts its thumb on the scale of justice to support wall street over consumers, and a court that the rubber stamps all these restrictions on voting. i look forward to continuing our fight with marcia -- alongside marcia against these tactics straight out of the jim crow leader. i know marcia will continue to be a leader. even before her election to congress, she was a force be reckoned with, a former chief of staff, a former national president, is as important as anything she is a done in her mind of delta sigma theta. she still leads efforts for
delta days. hundreds of driven, ambitious, smart, committed, pathetic talented black women come to our nation's capital to make their voices heard. they have an incredible role model in marcia fudge. i am proud to call you a colleague and a friend. mr. president, i ask that the next -- the following remarks be are different place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: before i do that, mr. president, i noticed today news reports from bloomberg that the year 2017 is shaping up to be likely the most profitable year in wall street history. and so what's congress' reaction to that? what happens in the majority leader's office? more special interest legislation, more breaks for wall street, more tax cuts. so this congress, this congress has decided that wall street never quite has enough, that the richest people in this country
are never rich enough, that the most powerful people in this country are not powerful enough. so what happens down the hall in the majority leader's office? what happens way down the hall in the speaker's office, although voters this year decided to eject him and his staff and his cohorts and his fellow travelers, if i can use a phrase like that, from that office and elect a whole different group of people. but what they've done is meet behind closed doors and help the oil companies, and help the drug company, and help the gun lobby, and help especially wall street. in fact, not only are there all kinds of wall street lobbyists in that office down the hall day in and day out, and tobacco lobbyists and gun lobbyists and others, but the white house itself looks like a retreat for wall street executives. and, mr. president, we know that. and that's -- that's why i guess why wall street has had such a great year in 2017. mr. president, i want to honor the career of patricia rugala,
who has been with my office our entire 12 years in the senate and my 14 years in the house before that. pat is the model of a dedicated public servant. after more than 25 years serving ohio, pat is retiring at the end of the year. her first day on the job in cleveland, congress was in the middle of a fight -- sounds familiar -- a quarter century ago -- a few years ago, i'm some of the congress was knit middle of a fight over health care. local activists sent an elvis impersonate to her office singing a health care care song to the tune of "it's now or never." pat was thinking, what did i get myself into? fortunately, she stayed. as our ohio scheduler, she sent me all over our state. she is helped me put more road miles on our made-in-toledo jeep chair key. she's made sure i'm able to serve ohioans. and in plant visits, she juggles the senate schedule, which
changes, as we see tonight always at the last minute. she ensures that this office serves every corner of owe ohio and she works directly in coordination with diana baron in our washington office. it is a tough job. pat makes it look easy. one of our colleagues in our office wrote this week that pat has been a true friend and such a wonderful coworker. what a loss we'll feel come monday when she's not sitting in her office hard at work. it is a loss for all of us. we'll miss you, pat. you've had an incredible impact on your colleagues and made such a difference serving ohio for the people of ohio. but after a quarter century, you've learned -- you've earned a long and happy retirement. your family needs you and your family loves you so. thank you, pat. mr. president, i ask to -- that the following remarks be inserted in a different part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to honor the career of margaret mulnar, a dedicated
public servant who has made a difference in the life of thousands of ohioans. she joined my ohio staff the very first year i came to the senate. after a long career at legal aid, her entire life she's dedicated to helping those people in need. in this decade-plus, margaret has worked on more than 10,000 cases, 10,000 ohioans whose lives she has touched. many of these were seniors trying to navigate bureaucracy and get the social security and medicaid which they have earned. margaret went above and beyond the call of duty for them. she worked on one case for five years, a complicated one -- helping an ohioan who was taken as a baby from lithuania, brought to a displaced persons camp in germany after world war ii, then finally brought to america. they were having trouble finding the documents he needed to prove his eligibility for social security and medicare, two federal programs, social
insurance to which he had paid in -- to which he had paid -- to which he had paid n the case at times seemed hopeless but she never gave up. this year she was able to track down the documents this ohioan needs to secure the benefits he had earned. she worked on another case for a constituent who had been lying to get someone to intervene regarding her mother's medicare coverage. the woman's daughter wrote that margaret's caring expertise and knowledge of the medical system and federal programs cut through all the gobbledygook i was facing -- i think that's spelled right, mr. president -- and pointed us in the direction of help when not one or another agency or politician, would unquote. our office received so many letters of praise and things like that for margaret. you and senator brown, someone wrote, have accomplish what had i was beginning to believe was impossible. the social security back pay was indeed transferred to my account yesterday. i think can't thank your office enough. i can't begin to explain what a
christmas gift this was. -- s i truly was beginning to wonder and worry how i was going to make ends meet for the next several months. again, par for the course for margaret. another woman wrote after her brother passed away, margaret helped in the last years of his life. she wrote, i'll never forget how much you helped enrich robert's life while he was with. u.s. forever we will be grateful. he immediately responded to my e-mail and got the ball rolling and never gave up on robert. you are like family. another woman wrote, i do not know how to fight this issue. it seemed bigger than life to me. you truly have done a wonderful job. i appreciate your stepping in for me. your office truly cares about people. and a last note, another couple wrote i hope senator brown knows how fortunate he is to have you on his staff. i know that and ohio knows that. mr. president, i -- i ask one more time that the following remarks be inserted at a different place in the record. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i rise to honor the career of an indispensable member of my staff, elizabeth timms. beth has been with my office -- has been with my office for over 20 years. 12 years in the senate and a number of year -- and for that about a decade in the house before that. now after serving the people of ohio for these 20-plus years, beth retires at the end of the year. she joined our office after working as an editor at "the chronicle telegram." for from being an enemy of the people, beth knew what journalism was, how important it is, knew to tell stories to help people, to comfort the afflicted. beth sought out stories that mattered to the communities she served. she brought that same spirit to our office. she helped our office connect with the community in northeast ohio and around the state. she writes down the name of every single ohio indiana we meet together so we can better
serve them. her work has had an amazing impact on the people of ohio. at meetings and roundtables and community events, she listens, she learns about problems, she understands what lincoln was talking about when he said go out and get your public opinion bath. she listens to people who don't often get listened to. she is a voice for people whose voices are often not heard. in 2012 and 2013, she began hearing more and more about infant mortality. a huge problem in our state, particularly for african american babies, and frankly state government didn't seem to give a damn. constituents would bring up this issue over and over, but no one was doing anything about it. she started calling around. she met with anyone who would talk to her about what the state and federal government could do. she called arthur james, a doctor on the faculty at ohio state and a nationwide children's hospital. he was sounding that alarm. he met with beth. he told her how bad things were. a crisis at the time ohio --
ohio, a generally wealthy state, ohio which could do so much better were it not for corrupt state government. ohio had the third highest infant mortality rate in the country. it ranked last for african american babies. beth started this conversation before many people were paying attention. she pushed every level of government to take this seriously. she talked with public health departments, with home living programs, with hospitals, with nurses, with doctors. she started conversations with legislators and lookingive staff about what we could do on the federal level and the state level and the local level. because of her, we passed and president obama signed the bipartisan sudden unexpected death data and awareness actions. because of beth we wrote to the consumer product safety commission, got them to add warnings to crib bumpers to promote safe sleep. it's because of beth's hard work that then-secretary of h.h.s. sylvia matthews burwell visited my hometown of mansfield, ohio,
to see the great work that the doctors reading, husband and wife, two doctors were doing in mansfield, ohio, my hometown to see the great work that they and community health workers were doing to help moms have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. the change was dramatic in the number of healthy babies that were born as a result of the work of all of them. we have more to do, but all of beth's efforts have given our state important tools to pay attention to monitor this, to figure out how to solve it. and for beth, of course it wasn't just infant mortality. any time she heard about an issue at a meeting or a roundtable, any time she heard about how our office could look and search for and find problems and find ways to be helpful, she was. she would call agencies and offices. she talked with legislative staff. she always tried to find a solution. she heard from veterans about the challenges of using g.i. education benefits. this year she spearheaded our
first student veterans conference. we have had two this year. we are planning to spread these around the state to help connect student veterans, soldiers and sailors and air men and women and marines who come back after serving and integrate into classrooms in a difficult situation where they are around college students who are usually younger than they and didn't have their life experience, so she connects those student veterans with resources that allow them to get the most out of the benefits they have earned. for all of her efforts, beth never sought recognition. she is generally quiet as a person. i can imagine her right now telling me to stop, she doesn't need all this fuss. this fall, the naacp gave her an award, something i think she hoped i wouldn't talk about, the unsung hero award. that's beth. by the end of a long career that touched so many lives, i can't let her go without giving her the recognition she deserves. beth timms, thank you for what you have done for our state. thank you for what you have done
for our country. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. mr. crapo: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come here today to talk about an issue that has been talked about quite a bit here on the floor today, and that is the situation in syria. now, i know there has been a lot of debate today about the -- what's happening there and what happened today in syria, but i bring to the floor today something that i think should get the unanimous consent of everyone. the house passed this resolution some time ago. it was by voice vote, no recorded no votes. so essentially a unanimous consent bill. when i am through with this, i'm hoping that everyone who is here would agree with me that this is the right thing to do, it's
something that will actually address the situation that is taking place in syria. this bill declares that it is u.s. policy to use all diplomatic and economic means to compel the government of bashar al-assad to stop the slaughter of the syrian people and work toward a democratic government. now, the use of sanctions are a critical tool of u.s. foreign policy, and that's what we're talking about here today, is the implementation of additional sanctions. they often allow the united states to have a strong impact on a country and assert united states national security interests without having to implement military measures and put u.s. troops in harm's way. i believe and most of us believe that h.r. 1677 helps meet those interests. now, how does it work?
here's how it works. first of all, it i am poses fresh sanctions on entities conducting business with the assad regime and its military and intelligence agencies. mr. risch: a number of regime-controlled industries, including in the airline, telecommunications, and energy sectors will also be targeted. it aims to encourage negotiations by allowing the president to waive sanctions if the parties are engaged in meaningful negotiations and the violence against civilians ceased. the bill also authorizes the secretary of state to support entities that are collecting and preserving evidence for the eventual prosecution of those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in syria from march, 2011, to the present, and requires the president to report to congress on the identity of those who are responsible for or complicit to gross violations of human rights of the syrian people.
now, there is no doubt that we're going to get to that point. it's not going to happen tomorrow and it's not going to happen until the next day, but no one on earth can do the kinds of things that assad has done to his own people. we all know that there has been poisonous substances used, weapons of mass destruction used by assad against his people. this eventually, eventually those who are responsible are going to have to face the music for that, and they are going to have to be prosecuted for that. and so this bill helps preserve the evidence and the identity of those -- of those who are involved in that. as i noted, the house passed this some time ago and virtually without resistance. on november 30, the administration issued a white house statement supporting h.r.
167 -- excuse me, 1677. the administration said, quote, the bill would add to a robust set of tools at the administration's disposal to help bring to an end the heart breaking ongoing -- heartbreaking ongoing tragedy in syria and hold syrian officials accountable for the slaughter of civilians and other atrocities. this bill will help provide additional leverage to achieve the united states government's objective to de-escalate the military conflict and support the u.n.-led peace process in a transition to a government in syria that honors the will of the syrian people, respects the rule of law and human rights and peacefully coexists with its neighbors in the region. the bill effectively targets the assad regime and its supporters with additional financial sanctions and some crippling economic tools. we've all seen some very recent examples of how well our
sanctions have worked because of the united states position in the banking industry and indeed in the world economic structure. in order for us to get the iranians out of syria and help bring a permanent defeat for isis, we must pursue a politically negotiated solution that will have a major change in current syrian regime structure. the syrian people are a noble people. their culture has been an organization that has existed since biblical times. these are a noble people, a good people as a population, and they do not deserve this. from a humanitarian perspective, this legislation expresses the long overdue outrage for the 500,000 syrians killed by the syrian dictator, iranian forces, and their allies. dictators are evil, whether they
are religious or secular, royals or oligarchs. they are evil. so with that, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 620, h.r. 1677, that the committee -- that the committee-reported amendment be agreed to, the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: reserving the right to object, today president trump announced that we have won the war against isis and syria. our troops are coming home. thank you, mr. president. the syrian civil war is largely over, but syria's a mess and desperately needs reconstruction. these sanctions will delay and possibly prevent reconstruction
of syria and the beginning of a healing time. now is the time for diplomacy. there are many actors, including russia, iran, turkey, the u.s., and others, but this is the time for diplomacy, not for sanctions. so i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from idaho. mr. risch: mr. president, if i could respond briefly, with all due respect to my friend and colleague from kentucky, i wouly urge that this is exactly what is needed to encourage the diplomacy that he wants, that i want, that all of us want. and as far as discouraging that, this resolution actually gives the president the authority to grant waivers when and if they finally get to the debt limit track. so with all due respect, i disagree with that. i understand he has the right to object to this.
it's unfortunate. we have the 435 members of the house. we'll hotline this here. there are 99 members here who signed off on this legislation, and it's very unfortunate. the syrian people do not deserve the treatment that they're getting from assad. this resolution is aimed directly at stopping it. thank you. mr. risch: mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: i ask the chair to lay before the senate the house message to accompany s. 943. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate the message from the house. the clerk: resolved that the bill from the senate, s. 943, an act to direct the secretary of the interior to conduct an accurate comprehensive student count and so forth and forefor
other purposes do pass with an amendment. mr. lankford: i move to concur in the house amendment. the presiding officer: the motion is pending. mr. lankford: mr. president, i know of no further debate. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, question is on the motion. all those in favor, say aye. those opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to.
mr. lankford: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the motion be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, the federal government awards more than $600 billion in grant awards. the current system is riddled with outdated reporting mechanisms, burdens the grant recipients. the bill, h.r. 4887 -- that is what's called the great act, great reporting efficiency and agreements transparency act, tries to be able to put some sense into this process. this is a process that's worked with all the grant-requesting
agencies, whether they be universities, whether it be entities for research. they will all gone through this for the past couple of years. they have give an tremendous amount of input because they have a struggle actually requesting the grants and all the chaos of those grants. o.m.b. and other entities are not getting the data information to the american people so there's no transparency in that process. so for the past couple of years we've worked very hard to establish a good process of getting transparency and of also helping the grant-requesting entities to get a more efficient process. the great act would require within one year o.m.b. and the leading grant agency to establish a government-wide data standard for information related to federal awards. within two years guidance must be issued for grant-making agencies on how to apply those standards and implement into the existing reporting practices. within three years agencies must ensure that all grants and cooperative agreements use the new data standard for future
information requests. this is exceptionally important to be able to get through the process so that we are not squandering $600 billion in grants. but let me tell you what this process has gone through. h.r. 4887 passed unanimously out of the house oversight and government reform committee in the house in february. then it went to the calendar for the house, and it passed unanimously in the house on september 26. every democrat, every republican in the house voted for this. subsequently, senator enzi and i passed our amended matter is companion. it passed unanimously out of the homeland security and government affairs committee in september. the bill being considered today is reflective of bipartisan support from both the house and the senate.
h.r. 4887, this bill, cleared the republican hotline weeks ago. every single republican has already cleared this, wanting the transparency in the grant process, and also wanting a better grant process for all the grant requesters. but it has not cleared the democratic side yet. so my simple request is this -- and this request doesn't just come from me; this request comes from the grant professionals association, the national grants management association, the association of government accountants, the american library association, the scholarly publishing and academic resources is coalition, and leading universities around the country have just asked to improve this grant-making process. every single democrat in the house has affirmed this. every republican in the house and every republican in the senate has already cleared it, and we're just asking for this
bill to move forward and to be passed. so i ask unanimous consent that the committee on homeland security and governmental affairs be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 4887 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. i further ask that the johnson substitute amendment at the desk be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. brown: i reserve the right to object. mr. president -- the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. these are not mick mulvaney's or whatever job mick mulvaney happens to be in this week. these are not his decisions to make. these are not alex azar's decision to make. this is congress needs to do its job. so on behalf of the minority leader, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i am a little confused when every grant-making requesting organization, all the universities around the country are all requesting this, every
single democrat in the house has already affirmed this. there doesn't seem to be a great fear of mick mulvaney in the o.m.b.. since by the time this is implemented, it will be 2022. so it's a little bit confusing to me why getting more transparency in grants and help grant-requesting organizations would be controversial. with that, i yield back. ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota p. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i rise today to speak about some of our colleagues who are leaving the senate. but before i do that i wanted to address what happened on -- late on friday, the friday night about, i think, nine days before
christmas when a texas judge basically threw out the affordable care act. this latest decision comes more than six years after the supreme court in an opinion written by justice roberts already upheld the law's constitutionality, and that opinion also found that parts of the law can be severed from the rest of the legislation. it comes after the administration has stated emphatically that they would not defend the law. so basically instead of going in there and helping out to save health care for millions of americans and protect them from being thrown off their insurance if they have a preexisting condition, instead of going into that burning building, the administration has told to basically stand down and throw lighter fluid on the fire. that is exactly what happened. if this ruling takes effect, the
consequences would be devastating. to start, protections for people with preexisting conditions would be gone. about half of all americans have preexisting conditions. this isn't just rare diseases. it is also asthma and diabetes. and the ability to keep your kids on your insurance plan until they're 26 years old would be gone. the work we've done to close the medicare doughnut hole coverage gap which makes it easier for our seniors to afford pharmaceuticals and drug prices, that would be gone. the provisions to help people buy insurance on the health care exchanges would be gone. minnesotans would see loss of $364 million in premium tax yesterdays and roughly 272,000
people in my state would lose coverage. we can't allow this to happen. the judge must issue a stay immediately until the appeals are completed, so these protections can stay in place and this decision can be overturned. it's time to stop trying to start from scratch. the american people spoke in this last election across the country. do they want improvements to the affordable care act like making pharmaceuticals less expensive and doing something about premiums? yes, they do. but they don't want to start from scratch. we have already seen what kind of health care proposal we get what when you start -- when you start from scratch? the ones that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle put forward. the legislation that we saw earlier this congress would have hurt people by kicking millions of people off of medicaid, by letting insurance companies charge people more when they get sick, and by jacking up health care costs.
every major group that you trust when it comes to your health -- the largest groups of doctors, nurses, seniors, hospitals, people with cancer, alzheimer's, heart disease and diabetes -- said it was the worst repeal bill yet. so we cannot spend the next two years going backwards and fighting old fights. we need to focus on building on the work we've done and strengthening and improving the affordable care act. i've always said that the affordable care act was a beginning and not an end. and we all have heard from those on the front lines -- doctors, patientsers seniors, and those working to combat the opioid epidemic -- saying that repeal is not the way forward. we should now be governing from opportunity and not from chaos. that means passing reinsurance programs like the legislation that i'm proud to cosponsor that -- the bipartisan legislation that senator alexander and senator murray put forgot, using
-- put forth, using ideas that have worked in minnesota, taking thiemia on a national basis. it means doing something about sigh rocketing pharmaceutical prices and my bill has over 30 co-force allow medicare to negotiate for less expensive drugs under their medicare part d. literally lifting the ban that says that the 41 million seniors of this country should be allowed to get a better deal. it means passing my bill with senator grassley that we just improved upon just today to limit anticompetitive pay-for-delay deals that delay more affordable generic drugs from getting out on the market. and it means allowing less expensive, safe drugs coming in from other countries so that we can have true competition. you could even put it to a trigger so that if there wasn't perfection then you could allow the -- competition, then you could allow the other safe drugs
to be purchased from other countries. what we need to do is to work together on the many bipartisan proposals that have been put forward to actually it improve the affordable care act. not tht and not throw people off their insurance that have preexisting conditions. now, mr. president, i turn to another topic, and i have already given speeches in this chamber about my four friends, departing democratic colleagues senators heitkamp, mccaskill, nelson, and donnelly. and now i rise to recognize my republican colleagues who are leaving the senate. let me start with orrin hatch who is truly one of a kind. out of 100 senators, none of us can say that our great grandfather founded the town of vernal, utah, home of the dinosaur roundup rodeo. none of us can say that we served as a mormon bishop or that we started off working as a
janitor to pay for school and then went on to become the most senior republican in the united states senate. and none of us can say that we moonlight as a singer, songwriter, and famed lyricist whose catalog includes the classics "heal our land,"" eight days of hanukkah," and his ode to month, "skating with my baby." orrin hatch's songs have been featured in the movies "oceans 12" and" stuart little 2." i know senator hatch is proudest of his family, his wife elaine, six children, 23 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren. senator hatch and i have worked together for a long period of time. he was first elected to the united states senate in 1976, and i also got my start in elected life that year as the secretary-treasurer of my tenth grade high school class.
"washingtonian" magazine once named us the two senators least likely to get into a scandal, which i assume includes with each other. we're both members of the senate prayer group, and one time i will never forget when he was speaking at the national prayer breakfast and his phone started ringing and he had to improvise in front of the entire national prayer breakfast and he said that god was calling him with prayer advice as he answered the cell phone. and most of all, we have teamed up on many issues that matter to the american people. we're cochairs of the rare disease caucus. we have helped to make our schools safer by just this spring adding $1 billion to improve school security. we led a bipartisan bill that was passed unanimously in this chamber and signed into law. and we have worked together to restore the integrity to our patent system. he also has been a supporter of
comprehensive immigration reform, something that we need more of in this chamber. i will always be grateful for the opportunity i have had to work with senator hatch, someone who has dedicated his life to serving his state and country for more than 40 years. i also want to honor the service of my colleague from arizona, senator jeff flake, who i have truly enjoyed working with during our time together in the senate. so jeff has never invited me to travel with him to a deserted island like he did with senator heinrich, but we did once stay with jeff and his wife cheryl at john and cindy mccain's ranch. and let's just say it had maybe a few more amenities than he had on the island with senator heinrich. during that memorable visit to sedona, i saw firsthand how dedicated jeff is to his family. i remember how early he got up one morning to travel to his son
tanner's track meet. that afternoon, he actually sent me a photo of tanner taken after he had won the event. i also have seen how much he loves his home state. at heart, he is a fifth generation arizonan, one of 11 kids who grew up on a cattle ranch in the town of snowflake. that land had first been owned by his great-great grand father who had come there in 1878 and passed down from generation to generation. i learned a lot about the flake family history through jeff's book which i once read in its entirety on christmas day. what i most remember from that book was that growing up, jeff's family had a card on the refrigerator, and this is what it said -- assume the best, look for the good. it's that unshakable sense of optimism and faith in the decency of other people that senator flake has brought to the
united states senate. he has been willing to work across the aisle to do what he thinks is right, even when it has sometimes meant breaking with his own party. jeff knows what is at stake, for instance, with immigration reform. he wrote with his book, from a very young age in ranch country, you get to know immigrants intimately and honestly, and you know how indispensable they are to making things work in america. it is clear that those lessons have stayed with him. i have seen it as jeff has worked to build bipartisan consensus on immigration issues, reaching across the aisle to find a solution to try to be protect our dreamers. i have seen it when we join together to introduce a resolution, the two of us recognizing the contributions of muslim americans. that resolution passed the senate because jeff flake was willing to cosponsor it with me. and i have seen these values as senator flake has worked with a
bipartisan group of us to normalize relations with cuba. this commitment dates back decades to his earlier experience building democracy in namibia. so when president obama took up the cause of cuba, jeff did not hesitate to lend his support, and together senator flake and i led the bill to lift the embargo on cuba along with senator enzi, leahy, and many others. jeff's voice has been particularly needed lately in the face of grave threats to our democracy and the rule of law. he has been a strong advocate for this bipartisan legislation that the senate judiciary committee passed to simply protect the work of the special counsel, and he has taken a stand to try to ensure that the bill gets a vote on the senate floor. as the daughter of a journalist, i always deeply appreciate senator flake's leadership on behalf of a free press, which is essential to our democracy.
at a time when journalists are under attack, when reporters are risking and losing their lives and the president is calling them the enemy of the people, it has never been more important for us to speak out for the first amendment, so when jeff flake took to the senate floor in support of freedom of the press earlier this year, i was proud to speak after him. while jeff will be so missed in the senate, i have no doubt that he will continue to use his voice, his strong voice on behalf of the issues he cares about, on behalf of his state and our country, that he has served so well. also, senator corker. senator corker and i were elected to the senate at the same time in 2006. he was the only republican senator in our incoming class. i see senator cardin here in the chamber was also a member of that class. we have remained friends with senator corker over the years. i will tell you that senator corker never missed a senator
mccaskill class annual chili party. he has been very good to us, and we have worked together for years. before becoming a senator, bob corker had two previous experiences as an elected official. he was the mayor of chattanooga and the president of his high school class. now he claims that he did not even have to campaign for that job. here is what he said. i just woke up one day and was president. that's not how it usually works in politics. it turns out bob's roots were actually, of course, in business. he saved up $8,000 to start his own construction company at age 25 and then expanded it to 17 other states, and he has brought this commonsense business back ground and tackles difficult problems head on while always calling it like he sees it. we've seen that in his chairmanship of the foreign relations committee where bob has spoken up to defend the values that define americans, including strongly stating that
he felt that this chamber and that the administration had to do more in response to the murder of journalist jamal khashoggi. we've seen it as senator corker has worked to strengthen our alliances. i can tell you when i was having trouble getting the nominees to be ambassadors to sweden and norway through the senate last congress, something very important in my state with its scandinavian roots, i knew that i could count on his support. and we have seen it in his efforts to combat human trafficking, an issue i also care deeply about. bob has so much to be proud of at the end of his chapter of public service and begins another back home in tennessee. finally, i want to recognize my friend and colleague, senator dean heller of nevada. dean has dedicated so much of his life to public service on behalf of his state, in nevada's legislature, as secretary of state in congress, and of course in the united states senate.
his family moved to nevada when he was only 9 months old as the son of an auto mechanic and a school cook, he has often said that he is likely one of the only senators who can change your oil and fix your transmission. nevada is obviously a state with no shortage of tourism. dean has worked with me as cochairs of the tourism caucus to promote tourism across our entire country. he understands that when we increase tourism, we not only create jobs and strengthen our economy, we also strengthen our alliances and export our values. it's the same philosophy that is behind his efforts, along with senator flake who is here in this chamber, to normalize relations with cuba. dean and i traveled to cuba along with senator flake with president obama, and i have deeply appreciated his commitment and senator flake's and others to improving relationships between our countries and opening up new opportunities for american businesses. i valued our time together on the commerce committee where we
led bills that passed and were signed into law regarding more women, getting them into science, technology, engineering, and mats and nasa. we're proud both bills were signed into law. i have enjoyed serving with dean heller in the u.s. senate, and i thank him for his service. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, i take this time to talk about the recent court decision concerning the affordable care act, but i see that senator flake is on the floor. i was listening to my colleague, senator klobuchar, talk about the four colleagues on the republican side that will be leaving. i have already had a chance in the senate foreign relations committee to talk about senator flake. i want him to know and i want the american people to know there is no finer senator than senator flake. the integrity that he has shown on foreign policy issues, on decency issues, on his
principles, and i will never forget our visit to the southern part of africa where senator flake was a missionary when he was a little bit younger, his passion for the people and their needs has never stopped. that's just one example. i can name many, many more examples for senator flake and how he's inspired all of us of the courage that he has shown has been an inspiration, and i just wish him the best as he moves on to the next chapter in his life. mr. president, i rise today to discuss america's access to health care and the patients' protections that are currently being threatened by president trump and his administration, specifically his decision to not uphold the patient protection and affordable care act of the law of the land. last week, judge reed o'connor of the u.s. district court for the northern district of texas ruled that the affordable care act was unconstitutional and that the law is not severable
from and cannot stand without the individual mandate penalty which republicans eliminated in their december, 2017, tax bill. while this ruling is being appealed, president trump has the opportunity to stand up for the american people. over and over again, we have heard president trump promise to lower prescription drug prices for seniors and the opioid -- end the opioid epidemic, improve the availability and affordability of health insurance. yet for any of his proposed policies to succeed, president trump needs the affordable care act even though he won't admit it. without the affordable care act which closed the doughnut hole for seniors, many older americans would likely spend around $2,000 more in out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs each year rather than helping our seniors lower costs, the loss of the protection under the affordable care act with benefits they will end up paying more.
furthermore, the affordable care act created a centers for medicare and medicaid innovation, which is the basic infrastructure for the trump administration to test the recently released drug pricing proposals. without the a.c.a. and the centers for medicare and medicaid innovation would not exist. president trump would need congressional approval to implement such a sweeping national test on drug prices. mr. president, we all should be committed to reducing the cost of prescription drugs in this country. the president ran on that when he was candidate trump. we know that as americans, we pay so much more than people from other industrial nations for the same drugs, many of which are manufactured right here in america. the a.c.a., the affordable care act, helped us move in the right direction. we need to build on that, and let us work together to preserve the progress we made under the affordable care act and to pass additional legislation allowing us to use the collective
bargaining power of our consumers so that we can pay lower prices than our friends from canada because we have a bigger market, we should be paying lower, not twice as much. president trump says he wants to end the opioid epidemic by getting rid of the affordable care act he will cause millions of americans to lose their current health insurance. this is because any rollback in medicaid coverage, the biggest payer for behavioral health care, will result in roughly 1.2 million people with addiction and mental health issues losing access to affordable treatment. if you don't have insurance protection for behavioral health or addiction, you are going to be much less likely to be able to get access to that needed treatment in order to deal with your addiction. we know we need a comprehensive approach to deal with the opioid crisis. yes, we want to stop the dangerous drug fentanyl from
coming into this country. yes, we want to stop the distribution of illegal drugs. but we also have to deal with the reality of people who have addictions, and they need to be able to get help. and part of that is having access to care and having coverage. the elimination of the affordable care act will move us in the wrong direction. we need to continue to build on legislation we've worked on together, bipartisan, that provides additional resources to our state and local governments to deal with the opioid crisis. part of that is the expansion of coverage under the affordable care act. scrapping the health care law will not only leave medicaid expansion enrollees high and dry, it will hurt very vulnerable populations that were unable to buy affordable comprehensive coverage because of the affordable care act, including more than 130 million women, children, and other people who have preexisting conditions. let us remember prior to the affordable care act, many
americans, millions of americans were denied full coverage because of preexisting condition restrictions. the maryland health benefit exchange estimates that in maryland there are approximately 2.5 million nonelderly marylanders with preexisting conditions. 320,000 of whom are children. they're at risk with this court decision in texas. current law would also eliminate strong patient protection. insurers would be once again be able to impose annual and lifetime limits, discriminate against women and charge higher out-of-pocket costs. adults would no longer be able to stay on their parents' insurance until they turn 26. we're talking about tens of millions of americans who are at risk by this court decision. it is absurd to move back and tell these people they're going to lose the protection that they now have under our health care
system. it's simple. president trump must take this opportunity to stand up for the american people and defend the law. that's what the president of the united states should be doing. that is why i join senator manchin and many of my democratic colleagues in a letter urging president trump to direct the department of justice to defend the law of the land. yes, we should defend the law. it's our responsibility to make sure we protect the people of this nation, and let's build on the progress we've made together. we know we need to improve our health care system. we know that the cost of prescription drugs are too high. we can do something about that. we know the individual marketplace needs improvement. we want to make sure there's affordable insurance, quality insurance for everyone in this country. and, yes, we need to build on the progress we made to make improvements. but what i urge us all to do let's maintain the protections we have today. let's not go back to the time
when being a woman was a preexisting condition and you couldn't get full coverage. let's not go back to the day that if you have a heart ailment you're not going to get coverage for what you need. you're going to get exclusions. let's build on the affordable care act. let's work together, democrats and republicans. let's defend the progress we made. i hope the president will join us, but let's take that responsibility and build on that, work together democrats and republicans, to build a stronger system for all. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: i appreciate that, from the s. from arkansas. i want to thank you. we're at the end of the year. oftentimes in this body things happen at the end of the year that we're not too proud of. but we've got an opportunity to do something that we can be very, very proud of and that's pass a public lands bill. this public lands bill would
permanently reauthorize -- permanently reauthorize the land and water conservation fund. this is the most effective conservation tool we have in this country right now. whether it's establishing a park in one of your cities or towns or whether it's setting land aside so we can get better access to public lands, this is a critically important fund that i hope we can get done as part of this land package that is moving forward and hopefully before this congress ends. the land and water conservation funds invested over half a billion dollars in montana alone. then there's another component of this bill that i am particularly fond of, and it's a bill that will protect the yellowstone park and the headwaters of the yellowstone river called the yellowstone gateway protection act. it's a simple bill, it's a bipartisan bill. it's a bill that will help support the hundreds of small businesses in the paradise valley and it's called paradise valley for a good reason, because it's paradise and we
need to keep it a paradise by preventing large-scale mining in that region. i'm just asking congress to act. i'm asking my fellow members and fellow senators to answer common sense to the negotiations that are moving on here and pass this lands bill because it's critically important for our kids and for our grandkids. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. mr. perdue: mr. president, here we are again, the end of a quarter and the end of a calendar year, not the end of our fiscal year. but here we are again, late-night sessions, people running around in a very unprofessional manner, in my opinion, talking about how to get our government funded. let me put this in perspective, mr. president. this is the end of december.
october, november, and december is the first fiscal quarter of the fiscal year 2019. we are already one-fourth through this fiscal year, and we're still talking about the completion of the authorizations and appropriations to fund the government for this year. not next year. this year. now in 2018, the senate did something we haven't done in a long time, and indeed congress, and that is in the first time in 22 years we did get 77%, 75% of the federal government discretionary spending funded. by the way, that's only about 25% of what we spend as a federal government, but that's a comment, a conversation for another day. on july 31 this year, and earlier than that we started the appropriation process early this year and had an opportunity in the appropriation committee,
the subcommittees and the committee did a fabulous job this year. democrats and republicans got together in closed doors with no cameras and really argued the points and came to compromises on most of the issues, that by july 31 we had funded 12.5% of this year's federal budget or discretionary spending. we decided as a body, with the leadership's approval, to stay here in august of this year. and because of that we went from 12.5% to 75% of discretionary budget being appropriated and approved. indeed, the appropriators did their jobs this year and would have gotten 100% had we not had the disagreement over border security. let's be clear, as we sit here at the end of this quarter, the u.s. senate should have already fully funded the federal government's discretionary budget, by september 30 of this year. that was three months ago, mr. president. instead what we're about to do is have a vote in the next day
or two on a continuing resolution for the remaining portion of this year's federal budget, the 25%. this will be the 186th continuing resolution that congress, this congress and other congresses have used to continue to fund government in a temporary manner. mr. president, i have a major problem with that. first of all, it's an admission that congress can't do its job. the number-one responsibility of congress is to make sure the government is funded. it's one of the reasons 13 colonies got together in the first place to form this country. but this continuing resolution, as bad as it is, it should not be used, but even in its current potential existence is so bad for a couple of other reasons. number one, it does not address the border security issue that the president and the democrats had prior agreements on.
even we just a few weeks ago had agreements on some numbers for border security that are not being honored right now. so it's like you negotiate to a point, and then one size says we're going to back up from that, we'll agree to this, then they back up again. mr. president, the american people are not fooled. this is not an immigration issue any longer. it is clearly a national security issue. the president is right. over 85% of the illegal drugs coming into this country illegally across that are border, almost 100% of the fentanyl that comes into this country comes across that border on the southern border of the united states illegally. but there's a second reason why this is such an insidious thing to do right now with this continuing resolution. it's incredibly dtion pointing that this -- disappointing that this continuing resolution does nothing to address disaster relief funding for the people of florida, georgia, the carolinas, alabama, nor california, who have been devastated by historic wildfires
and hurricanes. mr. president, the reason this is so critical right now is that this hits agriculture in these states in a way that is so insidious. the reason is is that it height at exactly the -- it hit at exactly the harvest time when the crops were being harvested or potentially going to be harvested. it just devastated entire regions of that portion of the united states. now in january -- in december and january, what these farmers are typically doing is they've taken the money from the crops, paid back the planting loan this year to the banks and now in january will start the negotiation for the loans for next year for the plantings season. so what this continuing resolution does is it kicks the can down the road until a thee rhett particular date. somebody -- theoretic date. somebody picked february 8 as an arbitrary date.
this devastates farmers and small-town bankers trying to fund next year's crop because they have no way of paying this year's. mr. president, i am absolutely convinced that president trump wants to help these farmers and the people in california who have been devastated by these fires. he said so repeatedly. in fact, in october on a trip to georgia and florida where he saw the devastation from these, from the hurricane and the tornadoes that came with it and all the damage that came from that event, this is what the president said, and i quote, farmers really got hurt, especially here in georgia. but we're going to get it taken care of. end quote. there's no question the president of the united states wants to make good on that promise. the problem is he's dealing with another party that's not being genuine in their effort to find a solution to that funding issue right now. the democrats in the house want to clearly push this out into the new year for an obvious reason. and that's what we're pushed to tonight and tomorrow and the
next night. mr. president, i fully believe the united states senate should be back here the day after christmas, frankly, to debate this, to get to a resolution, to some compromise, to get the benefits that we've identified are necessary to protect this strategic industry of ours called agriculture. it just seems to me, mr. president, that most people in the real world, i remember during my career, we would work a half a day on christmas eve. i remember that. it hasn't been that long ago. we might take christmas day off, and then the next day most people in america are back at work if they're not taking vacation. but here in the senate, right now we won't be back until sometime in january. and we've given ourselves until february 8 to resolve this issue. that's unacceptable. i believe it's unacceptable to the president. it's certainly unacceptable to a person who comes from the real world and is an outsideer to this process. plps, here's another drive --
mr. president, here's another derivative negative to kicking the can down the road. it not only affects the funding this year, it affects the planning and budgeting for fiscal year 2020 which starts october 1, 2019. there are right now from january 8 until july 31, there are 19 weeks or 57 work days in this, and only 57 the way the senate operates today. what that means, mr. president, is that the senate and the house have to appropriate 12 appropriations bill, i believe, before july 31 in order to fund the government before september 30 of next year and here's why. the august break is a work break that people in the senate and the house go home and work in their states during the month of august. if that happens this year, then when we come back in september, we have 12 working days in september. there's no way you're going to get any appropriations bill and the conferences necessary to get that done in september.
mr. president, it is very clear that this continuing resolution is improper. it should not be done, and it puts the peement who have been devastate -- it puts the people who have been did he have state offed at risk. mr. president, i t -- i think we need to be very serious about one thing. that is going forward, we need to find a way to create a politically neutral plan to fund this government on time, every year, without all this drama. mr. president, i yield the floor.
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you very much, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor today to speak briefly about the president's announcement today that he is going to be withdrawing 2,000 american troops from syria. now, let me be clear. i thought this was a bad idea from the start, primarily because our troop presence in syria is not authorized by congress. we have had that debate in many forms here, but i believe that this congress has never
authorized the united states military to engage in hostilities against isis. it is, i think, an extrapolation of the 2001 aumf that simply belies common sense. so we should never endorse military activity overseas, no matter what we think about the merits if it's not authorized by this body, but we have also seen over and over again that our relatively meager military presence in the middle east has never been enough to change the political realities on the ground. the training mission was a disaster. the weapons we gave to the rebels ended up in the hands of the people that we were fighting. and ultimately we never had enough firepower there to be able to meaningfully change the balance of power. but i will concede that the way that the president went about making this decision makes our country an even bigger laughingstock than it already is in the region. and frankly that's pretty hard,
because everybody is asking questions right now about why we pretended that we were going to protect our kurdish partners in the region if on the eve of the turkish offensive against the kurds we decide to pull out. it makes absolutely no sense to pretend for literally months and months and months that we were going to be the bulwark to protect the kurds against the turks, and then right on the precipice of the turkish offensive, we leave. why would anybody believe us in the future if we give them our word? and again, i'm speaking as someone who didn't support the intervention in the first place, but once you have made that commitment, why not follow it through? second, why pull the rug out from under our diplomats in the region? it's very clear that neither jim jeffries nor brett mcgurke knew anything about this. in fact, they were just making plans and suggestions weeks ago to increase our military
involvement in the region. now they are having to explain why 2,000 troops are leaving. if you're going to make a decision like this, make sure the people who are working for you know about it. and first third, why announce ts pullout without answering any questions about it or announcing a pullout strategy. total darkness from the national security team. an announcement, a statement made on twitter and no rollout of a plan for how the united states is going to continue to try to keep the peace. so i agree with many of the criticisms that my republican friends who have come down to the floor have complained about. this was done in a ham-handed manner that makes us weaker in the world. but forgive me if i have a few questions about why my republican friends chose to speak up only now with questions about the president's syria policy. where was this outrage when the president of the united states
froze millions of dollars in humanitarian funding that could have saved lives on the ground in syria? if you care so deeply about the future of syria, why aren't the republicans lighting up social media down on this floor complaining about the fact that the president refused to forward badly needed humanitarian dollars to the region? where was the outrage when the president effectively pulled the united states out of the peace process. remember, the united states under the obama administration, whatever you think about obama's strategy, was in the peace process. it was a partner to try to figure out a way forward for syria. donald trump, as has been his strategy internationally, pulled us out of that diplomatic conversation, left the diplomatic playing field to the iranians, to the russians, and to the turks. where was the outrage when the united states walked away from the negotiating table? how about the shutdown of the refugee program? once again, if your focus is on
the cataclysm of humanitarian disaster on the ground in syria, why aren't there all sorts of members of the republican party coming down to the floor and complaining when the president decided to not allow any more syrian refugees, those fleeing terror and torture to come to the united states? what about outrage over the fact that the president proposed cutting the state department by 40%, the state department that's going to be in the driver's seat when we eventually get to the point of putting syria back together politically? why is there outrage only today? well, here is the answer, i think, and it worries me. i think there is outrage today because many members of the republican party still cling to this outdated, empirically disproved fantastic notion that the american military can solve complicated, convoluted political problems in the middle
east. now, we have amazing men and women in the armed forces, but there are limits to what they can do, and history, especially the history of the last 15 years, tells us that big u.s. military presence in the middle east often creates as many problems as it solves. and the republicans who were complaining about this make it sound as if we had a couple divisions in syria. we didn't. we had 2,000 troops. we had 2,000 troops compared to the hundreds of thousands of troops fighting on behalf of the syrian regime, the iranian militias, the kurdish forces, the rebel forces, the remnants of isis's forces. 2,000 troops isn't enough to bluff. it isn't enough to gain a negotiating foothold. it is frankly just enough to keep faking it in syria, doing
just enough militarily to say that we're doing something to be able to sleep at night while never actually doing anything sufficient to change the balance of power. that has been the story of both president obama and president trump's policy in syria. we do just enough to convince the rebels that they should keep going but never enough to actually tackle bashar al-assad. all we have done is keep the civil war running and running and running. and i have really terrible news for y'all. assad is going to win this war. he was always going to win this war because the folks that were on his side had much bigger equities, russia and iran, than the folks that were on the side of the rebels. now, that really stinks that bashar al-assad is going to win, but you have to make policy
based on the real world, not on some world that you imagine. and these neoconservatives, they are still even after 4,000 americans were killed in iraq and 30,000 were wounded, they are still clinging to this notion that a couple thousand u.s. troops are going to be able to solve the problems in syria. listen, i get it. restraint in the face of evil is really hard stuff, but hubris in the face of evil is worse. and so what should we be doing? i won't spend too much time on this, but we should get out of the civil war. we should admit that we have just prolonged it instead of trying to end it. we should keep working with our partners and keep using air power to keep isis on the run. we should rescue syrians with a generous refugee program, both helping our partners in the
middle east, rescue syrians and bringing them to the united states when they pass our vetting program. and we should stop angering our allies all over the world, but particularly in that region and get back into the diplomatic game. and finally we should stop believing that our only leverage in syria or anywhere else in the world is military force. put up a promise of massive investment in syria after a peace deal is signed, likely frankly costing a fraction of what we spend in iraq, and you will discover that you will quickly get a seat at that table again. but it's time that we give up on this notion that these brave, capable american soldiers can fix these complicated tribal, political, economic, and religious problems in the middle east. they are brave and they are capable, but there are things they can do and things they can't do, and every time that we put our troops in situations where they are doomed to fail, when we are not prepared to give
them the resources to succeed, as was always the case in syria, spare me this notion that 2,000 american troops are going to be able to fix syria. every time that we put them in situations where they can't win, we undermine american influence, and we undermine the power of our military. i don't agree with how the president did this. once you have made that commitment, boy, it doesn't make a lot of sense to pull the rug out from under our partners right as the tough stuff starts to come. i don't agree that he didn't do it in consultation with anybody in this place or anybody on the national security team. i think his announcement today is ham-handed and embarrassing, but his instincts aren't entirely wrong. on the question of what american troops can and can't do in the middle east, -- i can't believe i'm saying this -- i think the
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina is recognized. mr. graham: i ask unanimous consent to be recognized along with my colleague from new hampshire, senator shaheen relating to a colloquy on a resolution. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mrs. shaheen: i'm distressed to be on the floor of the senate today with my colleague, senator graham, to express our deep and profound disappointment in president trump's decision to withdraw u.s. troops from northeast syria. we had the opportunity to visit syria this summer, and we saw
what a difference our troops made there in the fight against isis, in stabilizing northeast syria along the turkish border. we saw the response from the syrians we talked to, both the kurds and the arabs, as we drove along the road we saw children and people in the area flashing a victory sign at our troops. and you can see from this map the land that is controlled by the syrian democratic forces, our partners in syria. this is the united states and the syrian democratic forces. we have a significant piece of syria that is now peaceful and stabilized, and isis has been thrown out of that part of syria. but the president's decision which was announced by a tweet
is dangerous, premature, and wholly inconsistent with the facts on the ground in syria and our own military's advice. i was listening to senator rubio earlier today talking about what's the plan, what's the plan if we withdraw. well, i'll tell you what the plan is. there is no plan. there is no follow-on what are we going to do if we withdraw from syria. what we know is that the work of our combined joint task force operation inherent resolve and its partner forces, the syrian democratic forces, is truly remarkable. again, we can see it. we can see it in this brown section of the country where we have control and there is peace and stability. senator graham and i, when we visited this summer, we went to
mambidge which was controlled by isis for three years. we walked through the market there without any body armor, with no guards. we talked to people in that community about what life was like under isis. i talked to one woman who told me that she did not go out of her house in the entire time that isis controlled mambidge for three years. she went out of her house once to visit the doctor. we saw women strolling through the market. we saw children playing. we saw people who were happy to be back in their own community, and they said to us please stay. we are worried about what will happen if the americans leave. we also went, flew over kavani up here on the turkish border. i remember all of the tv
coverage of the fight for kabhani and what it looked like. and we could see it was being rebuilt not with money from the united states, but with money from the region. we could see all the building going on. and we flew over a center where they were holding some of the most dangerous foreign fighters that had been captured in the fight against isis, being held right here in kabhani. then we went down the ianisa where we saw the dimps the democratic forces -- the difference the democratic forces made in helping to guard our outpost where our troops were stationed. we saw a detention facility where they were holding again fighters from syria who had fought for isis. then went over to al asaka where
we saw a prison that was being built to hold the most dangerous of the foreign fighters. those foreign fighters who we don't know what will happen if we withdraw our troops. there will be nobody there to support the syrian democratic forces who are holding hundreds of those fighters. what happens? do they get released? do they come back to the united states? to europe, where they can engineer terrorist attacks? do they go back into the villages and restart another terrorist group? there's no -- we don't know what's going to happen there because there is no follow-on plan. again, we heard from people everywhere we went, how important it was to have american troops stationed in
syria. about 2,000 american troops who have made such a huge difference there, they serve as a vital shield against isis cells that are operating, still operating in northeast syria. and while the president claims that the threat of isis within syria has dispated, the conditions on the ground paint a very different picture. so working with our partners, we've achieved gains against isis. because we have partnered with the syrian democratic forces who are parliament -- who are partly curd, partly arab, and if those syrian democratic forces lose the support of the united states, we run the risk of a resurgence of isis and the possible capitulation or all-out destruction of kurdish resistance in the region, and what does that mean? that means that those isis elements are emboldened.
they may go underground but they may reemerge. if we don't remember history, we are destined to repeat it. and that's what happened in iraq. we left, al qaeda moved to syria, and they reemerged as an even bigger threat. if we leave, it's not at all clear what's going to happen. these are hard-fought gains that are critical to ensuring that we win the fight against terrorism in the middle east. if we leave, we are going to cede influence in that region to russia, to iran, to assad. in fact, just moments after this decision was announced this morning, we heard the chair of russia's state duma, the chair of nature -- of their defense
committee who said, and i'm quoting, u.s. plans in syria have failed. and he added that we, meaning the united states, had decided to make this move in order to avoid a shameful end. make no mistake, they are celebrating in moscow tonight after the president's announcement. just like they're celebrating in tehran tonight because of the president's announcement, because we are going to leave the field in syria to those countries who are aggressors against the united states. i urge president trump to listen to his military and diplomatic advisors before he goes any further on this shortsighted decision. it's important to understand that u.s. leadership is essential to completely defeating isis and to bringing it into the violence in syria.
it's also important to reassure our allies that america keeps its word, that when you partner with us, we are there to support you. if we leave now, what does that say to anybody else in the future who may want to partner with the united states on any conflict? it says you can't count on the united states because we may just pull out on you tomorrow, if the president suddenly thinks it's in his interest. not in the united states' interest, but in his interest to withdraw. this is a reckless decision and it's undoubtedly going to have consequences for years to come for our military and for its ability to partner with others internationally. and the only person who's, the only ones who are going to benefit from this decision are our enemies. so i'm pleased to partner with senator graham on a resolution
that would express the sense of the senate that we should not be withdrawing our troops from syria, that there is too much at stake here for us to take this reckless action and send the wrong message to our partners in the rest of the world. mr. president, i'm pleased to join my colleague, senator graham, and we will do everything we can to urge the president to reverse this reckless decision. mr. graham: i want to thank my colleague from new hampshire and maybe just ask a question. when we went to syria and iraq together, did anyone in the military suggest to you that withdrawing in the foreseeable future was a good idea? mrs. shaheen: absolutely not. in fact, they talked about how pleased they were with the gamee partnership, with the s.d.f.,
with what they were seeing in terms of stabilizing those communities, people coming back to their homes, rebuilding, and how important it was for us to stay there. mr. graham: did they also not say that the syrian democratic forces were some of the best allies we've had since 9/11? mrs. shaheen: without a doubt. and we saw that firsthand, as you remember, when we saw them as sentries guarding our outpost, when we saw them in the communities, when we saw them in the dpengs facilities trying to abide by international standards with respect to the foreign fighters they were guarding. it was very impressive. mr. graham: did anyone suggest to you that the war against isis in syria was over and had been won? mrs. shaheen: not at all. in fact, if we look at this map, we can see this orange color, that's one of the pockets that remains of isis
right down in here. we have not yet eradicated isis. that doesn't account for some of the cells that still exist throughout this area. mr. graham: do you remember being told that thousands of isis fighters have gone back into the fabric of syria and they will reemerge under the right conditions? mrs. shaheen: absolutely. it's what we saw in iraq. gray gray i --. mr. graham: i want to say the following: this has been a long struggle. most americans, all things being equal, would like to get all of our troops home. the mideast is a very complicated place. i share the president's desire to withdraw our forces when it makes sense. and as to the public at large, i want to stress to you that having been in the military for quite awhile, i'm very aware of the sacrifices required to go
overseas and serve in iraq, syria, and afghanistan. i've come to conclude that a presence over there is still necessary to keep us safe here. now there's a division in this body about whether or not we should have a wall as part of border security. i think we need a wall as part of border security to secure our southern border. every democrat that's for border security would maybe have a different way of doing it. what i tried to tell the president with apparently very little effect, that you're right to want to secure our border because drugs are coming across, criminals are coming across, and illegal immigrations are a problem for our country and securing the border is part of the is solution. but i told him that i don't know of any way to defend the nation
from radical islam by building a wall. there is no law we can build between us and the forces of radical islam that reside in africa and the mideast, places like syria and iraq. and i tried to convey to him that our four deployed forces in partnership with others is a virtual wall. it is the best hope we have of stopping another 9/11, protecting ourselves and our allies, that a forward deployed presence gives us eyes and ears on the groundworking with others to protect the homeland and to destroy over time this scourge called radical islam. the partnership between us and the syrian democratic forces which have been mostly kurds has been very successful. and i want to compliment my colleague from new hampshire for taking the floor and expressing
a resolve to maintain a fairly small military footprint in syria and having connected that to our own national security interests. maybe the good news, if there is any from today, is that democrats and republicans, after 16, 17 years of looking at this war, beginning to come together, that troops are necessary sometimes in some places, that military action alone won't win the war, but it is certainly necessary. that partners are a good thing. so i have come to conclude when it comes to the war on terrorism, i would rather fight it in the enemy's back yard than ours, and i would rather have partners than do it alone. so the decision today by the president -- and i think it was his alone -- i think is disastrous to our own national
security and those 2,200 that senator shaheen talked about and the great job they have done, that by withdrawing them, we are basically taking a part of the law down and have now an open border policy when it comes to isis and syria. that the consequences of this decision make it far more likely there will be a corridor from tehran into iran, into hezbollah, and our presence there makes it more difficult for the iranians. as to who would be celebrating this decision, everybody that we hate likes what's going on. the russians are up to no good all over the world, and their statement says everything you need to know about this decision. the only reason they're not dancing in tehran and isis camps is they just don't believe in dancing. they are as happy as they will ever be, and they are not into being happy.
so to the president, you win the election, you beat me and many others. you have the right to make this decision, but the congress has the duty to hold you accountable. i wish we had done more of this in a bipartisan fashion than president obama drew from iraq. if i am nothing, i am consistent. i want this president to be successful. i will help him at every turn. generally speaking, i'm very pleased with his domestic and most of the time his foreign policy. i am shocked by this. i think this is a decision that is against sound military advice. i intend to do our part as a congress to make sure that history records how this decision was made. there is a clear record that president obama's decision to withdraw from iraq and not leave the residual force proved to be wrong and was against military advice at that time. i have yet to find one person in
the administration, the national security team that thinks this decision was a good decision. this was made against sound military advice, and i don't think general trump is going to be any better than general obama. i don't think general graham is the answer to this problem. i think those that are in the fight that have been doing it for 17 years, the national security team the president has, they're the experts. mr. president, if you don't like them or trust them, fire them. so what you have done, in my view, is set us back. the chatter out there is pretty disturbing. i talked to general mattis today. it's pretty clear that the ripple effect of this is going to be as bad as we think it will be. to our kurdish partners, i am sorry. i don't support this decision, and i am hoping it will change. president president trump, leads
about adjusting, being able to change your mind when circumstances warrant. i'm not saying we need to be in syria forever. i am saying now is not time to leave, and senator shaheen made a very compelling case about the conditions on the ground. so the winners, russia, iran, isis, and assad. the losers, the kurdish people who came to our aid when almost nobody would, the aishes who were spart of the -- the arabs who were part of the syrian democratic forces, they are big-time losers. i can only imagine what it's like tonight in menvich. i saw in the eyes of the people that we were partnering with hope and trust. america's here, america's good. maybe our suffering is over. and when i look at the flag and the soldiers who wear it on
their sleeve, we're not a perfect country, but we're a damn good country. what makes us a good people is that we do the hard thing. we're not the policemen of the world. i understand that. but we are the glue that holds this world together. we have betrayed our kurdish ally if this decision stands. if it's reversed, i will be the first one to applaud the president because that's true leadership. to those who say we have defeated isis and syria, that is a -- an inaccurate statement. they have been hurt, they have been degraded. i give the president all the credit in the world for changing our policies regarding the fight against isis, but i will not buy into the narrative that they have been defeated in syria, iraq, and i just got back from
afghanistan, haven't slept in two days. really appreciate the chance to go visit our troops and talk to our generals, but they sure as hell isis is not defeated in afghanistan. so to say they are defeated is an overstatement, and it's fake news. it is not true. they have been severely damaged, but they will come back unless we're there to stop them. and i don't intend to outsource our national security to any foreign power. and this idea that turkey is going to be the good guy, that turkey's going to come in to syria and protect us against the rise of isis, that's just crazy. what turkey is going to do is unleash holy hell on the kurds. in the eyes of turkey, they are more of a threat than isis. so this decision is a disaster
on multiple fronts, and i hope it can be changed. there is a resolution urging the president to make a withdrawal decision based on conditions on the ground after a vigorous interagency process. mr. president, i, too, want our troops to come home, but i don't want to tell the american people that we're secure when i don't believe we are. and what's odd is that the troops who are actually doing the fighting believe in this more than anybody. they were proud to be partners with the kurds. most of them had been to iraq and afghanistan numerous times and were heartbroken when we left iraq and all the gains lost. and many of them wept back to the fight to take it yet again. so to the body who loves the troops, that's good. the american people respect our troops. if you truly love them, let them
win. they are not asking to come home. they do this voluntarily. they understand why they're there. they understand the benefits of being there. so i know it must be tough as commander in chief to write a letter to the family of the fallen. i know that's a hard decision for any president to make to put people in harm's way, but i just want the president to understand the troops who do this embrace their mission, believe they are defending their nation, protecting their families they accept the risk. and if we do follow through thi, i'm afraid americans all over the world here at home are going to be more at risk, not less. and i can't imagine winning this war without allies. and if this decision stands, i can't imagine being able to sign
up many people in the future to serve with us to defeat enemies that threaten us after today. what hurts so much is to have been on the ground, see it get bad, see it get better, look into the eyes of the people who are willing to fight with us. see the hope they have that we're finally here. it hurts so much to know that everybody that we talked to in menvich, many of them are going to get killed. they did the honorable thing to come to our aid to help destroy a common enemy of mankind, isis. we have been dishonorable. this is a stain on the honor of the united states. i hope and pray the president
will reconsider this. i know that every national security advisor understands that the time is not right to withdraw, that the situation described by senator shaheen as to what will happen is more likely than not. if he does not decide to reconsider, then it will be incumbent upon the congress to speak and hold them accountable. so if you're concerned about today's decision as a member of the senate, please join this resolution. it's very evenly worded. we all want the troops to come home, but we want to make sure they come home with honor and the conditions warrant them leaving right now. we are withdrawing in a
dishonorable fashion. we're putting our own nation more at risk, and just as sure as i'm on the floor of the united states senate, isis will reemerge and all those who helped us are going to be in jeopardy. it will be harder to get allies in the future. and these 700 prisoners that were captured on the battlefield , we'll hear from them again. mrs. shaheen: will the senator yield for a question? mr. graham: yes. mrs. shaheen: you talk about those 700 prisoners. a number of them foreign fighters, a number of them isis fighters from syria and iraq. what do you think will happen to those detainees who are being held by the syrian democratic forces if we withdraw and there is no support for what they're doing? mr. graham: well, one of two things will happen. number one, the syrian
democratic forces had a very ethical view of treating prisoners. i was astonished at the compliance with law and their desire to -- to take their enemies and treat them better than they were treated. the jail was, quite frankly, very impressive. here's what's going to happen. they're going to shoot them or they're going to get out. if assad takes over before turkey gets there, they will kill everybody in the jail. so what does it matter if a bunch of isis fighters get killed? it's about us. once they're captured, it matters how we treat them. i want them tried. i want them held off the battlefield. we're not executioners. but the most likely scenario is that isis reemerges and they break out. and i promised the president this, and i told president obama the same thing. if you will stick with it, and listen to the generals, no matter whether it hurts me or not, we will be with you.
we'll give you the political support a republican can give a democrat to see this thing through. i promised the president one thing. i will help you where i can, but i'm going to hold you accountable. i'm going to do everything in my power, if you don't change this decision, to make sure you own it so the next president will learn from your mistakes. with that, i yield. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senior senator from texas is recognized. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i have a number of consent requests, and wrapup, as we make our way toward the conclusion of the 115th congress. i would first ask unanimous consent that the presiding officer be authorized to sign duly enrolled bills or joint resolutions during today and tomorrow's session of the senate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the committee on homeland security and governmental affairs be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 6400 and
the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 6400, an act to require the secretary of homeland security to conduct a threat and operational analysis of ports of entry, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i know of no further debate on the bill. the presiding officer: is there further debate? if not, all in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill is passed. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask
unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 6893 which was received from the house. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 6893, an act to amend the overtime pay, protective services act of 2016 to extend the secret service overtime pay exception through 2020, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and thatd motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask further unanimous consent that the committee on veterans' affairs be discharged from consideration of h.r. 1162 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the clerk: h.r. 1162, an act to direct the secretary of veterans affairs to carry out a pilot
program to provide access to magnetic eeg-ekg guided residence therapy to veterans. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask the chair to lay before the senate the message to accompany s. 2248. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate the following message before the house. the clerk: resolved that the bill from the senate, s. 2248, entitled an act to amend title 38 united states code to authorize the secretary of veterans affairs to provide certain burial benefits for spouses and children of veterans who are buried in tribal cemeteries and for other purposes do pass with an
amendment. mr. cornyn: i move to concur in the house amendment and i ask unanimous consent that the motion be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i now ask unanimous consent that the small business committee be discharged and that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of the following bills en bloc: h.r. 6347 and 6348. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate will proceed to the measures en bloc. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the bills en bloc be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. cornyn: i know of no further debate, mr. president. the presiding officer: is there further debate? if not, the question is on the passage of the bills en bloc.
all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. and the bills are passed en bloc. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i now ask unanimous consent that the committee on veterans' affairs be discharged from further consideration of s. 3523 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 3523, a bill to amend title 10 united states code to require a full military honors ceremony for certain deceased veterans and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the committee on agriculture be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 5923 and that the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: an act to direct the secretary of agriculture to exchange certain public lands in wichita national forest and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the committee on environment and public works be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 3383 and that the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 3383, an act to designate the flood control
project in kansas commonly known as the wichita valley center flood control project as the m.s. mitch mitchell floodway. the presiding officer: without objection the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. cornyn: i'd ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i now ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the en bloc consideration of the following bills received from the house: h.r. 1850, h.r. 5205, h.r. 5475, h.r. 6059, h.r. 6167, h.r. 6335, h.r. 6930, h.r. 7230, h.r. 7243. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the
measures en bloc? without objection the senate will proceed. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the bills be considered read a third time and passed and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. res. 737 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 737, recognizing the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the united states cadet and nurse corps and expressing the appreciation of the senate for the contribution of the members of the united states cadet nurse corps during world war ii. the presiding officer: without objection the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. cornyn: i ask further that the resolution be agreed to and that the preamble be agreed to and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i now ask unanimous consent that the committee on environment and public works be discharged from further consideration of s. 3456. s. 3456, and that the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 3456, a bill to redesignate hobe sound national wildlife refuge as the national p. reid hobe national wildlife refuge and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent the bill be considered a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would note the absence of a
with rudolph responding present. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: could we have order? the presiding officer: the senate is not in order. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the pending motion to refer be withdrawn, amendment numbered 4164 be withdrawn, and the senate vote on the motion to concur with further amendment with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. the question is on the motion to concur. with further amendments. all in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to.
ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. ms. murkowski: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent on behalf of chairman hatch that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of the lands package bill. i further ask consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed, that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, reserving the right to object, we've got a bill here that we received at 10:00 this morning, 680 pages long. i've spent many hours reviewing it. this is a bill that came out of a committee on which i serve. i've been trying for weeks, many weeks through the chairman of that committee and her staff to
get language or at least get an outline of this. we weren't able to do that until today at 10:00 a.m.. even after we got that we asked at least for an outline -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. lee: at least for an outline of this bill. the presiding officer: the senator will hold. will you please take your conversations out of the floor. the senate will be in order. mr. lee: i asked you for an outline for a summary of the bill text from the committee staff, from the chairman's staff. they didn't respond to us. they wouldn't give it to us, just as they haven't for weeks. we got this, the closest thing to a summary, from a lobbyist. we had to wait to get it from a lobbyist. now, this is of great impact to my state. this bill creates 1.3 million acres of wilderness, about half which is in my state. this bill permanently reauthorizes the understand that and water conservation fund, an entity that's been used to acquire more federal land. coming from a state where
two-thirds of the land is owned by the federal government, where we can't do anything without leave from the federal government, this hurts. coming from a state where we've had about 2 million acres of federal land declared as monuments through presidential proclamations, this hurts. i've made what i consider a very reasonable offer, and i ask that it be accepted. it involves two words. i want the inclusion of two words to this bill, two words. add the words "for utah" to the antiquities act. i will accept this bill and agree to its adoption if these two words are added to the antiquities act, the words "or utah." i ask that my colleagues accept this. the presiding officer: will the senator so modify her request? ms. murkowski: mr. chairman? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: excuse me. mr. president, i think it is important to recognize that
while the text, in fairness to my friend from utah, was just laid down this morning, these are bills, these are measures, these are matters that have not only been before our committee but before the subcommittee upon which the senator is the chairman and has an opportunity to have heard many of those public lands bills. this was a very highly negotiated process by the four corners, not only senator cantwell and myself on this side but our colleagues on the house side, to see what could be put together by way of a package in terms of the contours of that package. colleagues will remember that around this body, unfortunately, when it comes to public lands matters, many of these are very, very parochial in nature. whether it is a conveyance that allows for a water utility to be
able to proceed or a conveyance that will allow for a school to have a facility there, it's pretty parochial. these don't warm to the floor for debate and -- these don't come to the floor for debate and panel. traditionally, it might not be a perfect process, but we bundle them up at the end of the year. so what we have done is we've provided to not only members of the committee the bills that we have had an opportunity to have heard, we have outlined that universe is -- outline what had that universe is and in fairness to my colleague and his comment, it wasn't until the very end that we knew exactly what was going to fall in based on negotiations with our house colleagues and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. but what i would offer up to members is that this has been an
extraordinarily collaborative process in terms of those priorities that we see represented within this bill. just on our side of the aisle alone, there's some 43 members that either have bills that they have authored or are the cosponsor of. matters that are important to their states and then matters that are perhaps more globally important, whether it is lwcf -- and i understand the senator's position on that -- but we also recognize that there are a great number of members on the republican and democratic side that are very supportive of some form of reauthorization of lwcf. we have a sportsman's package in here that many, many of us have been working on. in fact, this is the fourth congress now -- the fourth congress that we have tried to advance these priorities for many of the sportsmen and women in the country. so we have attempted to work through some of the issues that my colleague from utah has raid.
we have offered to withdraw very significant legislation that our president pro tempore himself has offered. that's not something that i really willingly wanted to do, but in an effort to try to get a broader lands package that recognizes the needs of so many, we've made some significant offers. now, my colleague has asked for a simple two words. i happen to believe, as one who comes from a state where we have said no more to the antiquities act without some limitations, i understand the concerns and i understand the effort that he has made repeatedly. i also understand that the politics on this side of the aisle and in the other body are such that it was not an acceptable offer or an acceptable amendment. and so we are where we are now
where i come before you to make the offer to the allow us an opportunity to vote on this lands package, to move it over to the house, and to finish this off. i understand that we do not have that consent. what -- what we have come to this evening is a recognition that there is a desire amongst members in this body to see this package through. and so the leader has committed and the minority leader has committed that when we return in january, this will be, if not the first order of business, it will be a matter that will be before this body within the first couple weeks, and we will turn to it, and it will be a package that we will not have begun all over but something that members can look to tonight. so this will be an opportunity to study every single page that
you want, because you'll have an opportunity to vote on that thumbs up or thumbs down in early january when we return. but this is something, again, that i wish that we had been able to resolve. i wish that we had been able to, in fairness, to be able to provide for greater opportunity for members to review this before these final hours. in fairness, this is just wednesday night. we've -- we've now continued until after the new year. but we probably had another couple days that we could have worked on it. that didn't work in our favor. i regret that. but i want to thank those who have worked doggedly on both sits to try to come to an agreement so we can resolve this finally and fully. so many of these issues that are so important to people back in their counties, in their
municipalities, in their burroughs in their states, and we're going to put it it on hold for yet another month. but we will be back in the first of the year and we will continue to address these issues that are so important when it comes to our public lands, our waters, our conservation priorities, as well as the priorities of our sportsmen and women. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: does the senator modify her request? ms. murkowski: i believe there is an objection to the request. the presiding officer: is there an objection to the original request from the senator from alaska? mr. lee: yes, i object. the presiding officer: the senator from utah's objection is heard. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, i find it unfortunate that the addition of two words is somehow unacceptable to the members of
this body. two words, two without objection, so orders which, by the way, would put utah in the same category as alaska and wyoming. what do those states have in common? they've been repeatedly been victims of the antiquities act. you see, in every single state -- colorado and west of colorado, the federal government owns at least is 15% of the lan. in many of those states, it is much more than 15% of the land. in my state, it is two-thirds of the land, about 67%. what that means is that we have to get permission from the federal government to do just about everything. what that also means is that our schools are underfunded, everything from fire, search, rescue, education, local governance -- all of these budgets are underfunded as a result of the fact that most of the land is owned by the federal government. we can't tax that land. we receive pennies on the dollar through a program called payment in lieu of taxes. pennies on the dollar, mr. president, because most of our land is not ours. most of our land cannot be
developed privately. most of that land cannot be taxed by the states and localities, which makes it harder for us to educate our children. for us to secure our streets, for us to put out fires -- firings by the way -- fires, by the way, which become far more expensive because of federal landownership, which kills people and results in devastating losses, not only to property but also to the health of the environment. because bad federal land management policy is at the root of this. you know what's interesting? people like to talk a lot about these wildfires. a lot of them occur in the west. why? because there's a lot of federal public land in the west. yes, there are parts of the country where they have forests where these things don't happen. when they do, they're put out much faster, in things called private forests. privately owned forests are much less prone to wildfires and when they do occur, they put them out more quickly.
they're not hobbled under a mountain of regulation which prevent us from putting them out quickly. this is devastating to our states. it is a burden on our states. and in our state in particular. many of you come from lands if you live east of the rocky mountains, you come from lands where federal public lands are almost unheard of, where they're rare. where you have private land left and right. a lot of those same states used to be mostly federal, states like illinois used to be overwhelmingly federal. many, if not most, of the states added since the louisiana purchase have had language in their enabling legislation anticipating that in time federal public land within a state's boundaries would be sold and that in the case of my state and many other states that a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of that land would be put into a trust fund for the benefit of the state's public
education system. those promises were honored in the dakotas, in states like indiana and illinois. they were honored as we expanded west ward. for some reason when we got to the rocky mountains, they stopped honoring it. some of it has to do with what we were doing as a country at the time. some of it has to do that our land was regarded as suggested and somewhat undesirable at the time. but the understanding was still there just like it was in states like indiana and illinois. the effects are still there. we're still impoverished. our ability to expand economically is impaired and the health of our environment is significantly degraded as a result of this excessive, unnecessary federal landownership. now, make make no mistakes. i'm not talking here about national parks. people like to caricature those who complain with excessive
landownership i suggest the absence of a quorum as if we're going to put -- and suggest as if we're going to pull -- that's not what we're talking about at all. i'm talking about garden variety federal public land. land that's sitting faleomavaega for the most part -- that's sitting fallow for the most part. it's a result of poor federal land management policies. why? because these decisions are made by federal land managers who live and work and make decisions many hundreds and in many cases many thousands of miles from those most affected by those decisions. how then does this relate to the antiquities act? a state like mine that has a lot of federal public land, like alaska does and like wyoming does, is particularly uniquely vulnerable to predatory practices under the antiquities act, allowing a president of the united states, under a law passed over a century ago, to utilize his discretion to set aside land as a national
monument. it's already federal. this is putting it into a new classification, a classification subject to even more restrictions. eligible for even less development, less human activity, less access for recreational -- for agricultural or religious or cultural purposes. when you put it in that category, it makes it even more difficult for those people surrounding it, those people living in and around the federal public lands in question. so utah, like wyoming, and like alaska, has had a whole lot of presidents declaring a whole lot of federal public land national monument land. now, fortunately for the state of alaska and fortunately for the state of wyoming, they have had congressional delegations that in the past have said no more, have demanded relief, and have said they have had enough. now in the case of a state like mine that's had a couple million acres roughly of federal public
land declared monument by presidential proclamation, this is important. if it's good enough for alaska, if it's good enough for wyoming, why not extend the same courtesy to the state of utah? why in a bill that's 680 pages long, which i received at 10:00 a.m. today on what may well be the last or penultimate day of this legislative session of this congress, why are we receiving this just now? especially in a senate during a term of congress when it was originally believed that we might be adjourning by december 6 or 7 or 13 or 14? here it is on december 19. my daughter's 18th birthday, by the way. happy birthday, eliza.
december 19, we're just getting this bill for the first time today. what does that mean? if we had adjourned when we were originally thinking we might adjourn, would this never have happened? we have had it suggested to us by some members and some staff that had we been adjourning earlier, this would have just been released perhaps on the last day of the session. now, i -- i can't get into anyone else's head. i can't peer into anyone else's subjective intentions, but this makes me kind of nervous, the fact that, yes, i sit on this committee from whence this bill originated and yes i chair the public lands subcommittee, and yet there are a whole lot of these that the chairman and the ranking member know darn well that i oppose, that i voted against in committee. there are other provisions that they know i have had long-standing concerns with. i wonder if maybe, just maybe that's part of the reason they wouldn't tell me what was in it.
now, i understand it's difficult negotiating a big piece of legislation. i sympathize greatly with that. i'm not suggesting that short of receiving the entire 680-page document exactly as it has been submitted that i would irrevocably have bound myself to voting against it. i'm not suggesting that at all. it would have been nice to have a road map, to have some clue as to what might have been in there. and i know from conversations i have since had with members today that they have known for weeks if not months that they were putting permanent lwcf reauthorization in this bill. i don't believe it was a coincidence, mr. president, that i wasn't informed of this. i don't believe it was a coincidence, mr. president, that even after this bill was released at 10:00 a.m. today that the staff of the committee refused even to give me an outline, an outline of what was in the bill even after they had filed it. we had to get this from a lobbyist. this is wrong.
and it's wrong that the state of utah is treated the way that it is. it's wrong that you won't give us that language. it's wrong that you won't treat us the same way that alaska and wyoming are treated. this, mr. president, is wrong. we can do better. and i implore my colleagues to make this simple change. two words. two words, mr. president. add the words "or utah" to this bill and i will wholeheartedly support it. if not, i will continue to oppose it. thank you. mr. gardner: mr. president, as my colleague from utah knows, we offered the chance to vote on those two words tonight. the two words that you are asking for tonight we offered a chance to vote on. mr. lee: will you yield for a question? mr. gardner: let me talk about it because i am pretty darn upset. the people from colorado who are worried about whether or not they can protect themselves from fire lost the wildfire technology act in this bill. that was in this bill. a bill that our committee has
heard, that our committee voted on, that voted on bipartisan support probably unanimously. that was in this bill to protect our communities from wildfire and to protect our firefighters from injury in this bill. the other thing in this bill, a city in colorado who has a water system over a wilderness area that has for years been trying to fix it and they can't because it's in a wilderness area, so we have to have an act of congress to allow a city to fix their water system. rejected tonight because we weren't allowed a vote on it tonight. and you bet, you bet, you bet the permanent land water conservation fund is in here tonight, because guess what? it has the majority support of this body. if we had a vote on it tonight, it would have passed. republicans and democrats would have voted yes. it would have passed. not only that, we have boundary adjustments in here because people died, they wanted to gift it to the national monument. that's not controversial. somebody wanted to do the right
thing. and doggone it, we can't even vote on it here. i give compliments to the chairman of the energy committee who struck a deal, yes, it was yesterday. we got the bill as fast as we could. and so many of these doggone pieces of legislation we have already heard. we had committee hearings on. we voted out unanimously. bipartisan support. we offered deal after deal after deal to try to get a deal arranged and made. so that we could have a vote tonight. go tell the people of minturn, colorado, that they don't have a water system they can fix because congress has decided we're not going to allow that to come to a vote. sportsmen back home, tell them we're not going to have a sportsmen package abuse we decided not to bring a bipartisan bill to the floor for a vote. when we come back to this body next year, we have an agreement. i believe that's correct. defer to the chairman of the
energy committee, that this will be one of the first actions that this chairman addresses. and when that happens, there will be a chance to file cloture. there will be a chance for open debate, and we will have that vote. we'll have it next year. there will be different leadership in the senate so different negotiations will have to take place, but i have no doubt that we will get this done. it's frustrating to me that some of these bills have languished for year after year after year after year. that received unanimous support out of committee. i remember coming to this floor a year ago offering a unanimous consent agreement. it was objected to because somebody didn't get what they wanted, somebody didn't get what they wanted and somebody didn't get what they wanted, so everything was objected to. it created a whole domino effect. said just wait for the lands package. so here we are waiting for the lands package. had a chance to do it. and we tried and tried and tried to make offer after offer to get
something agreed to. i have great respect for my colleague from utah. we're a public lands state, too. and yes, our agencies need to make better decisions about how they conserve that planned. people in colorado -- that public land. people in colorado have great support for the land and water conservation fund. i would like to see it made permanent. my guess is next year it will be made permanent. why can't we do that tonight? why can't we have a vote? why can't we have people who don't like it vote no, people who do like it vote yes? there is plenty of opportunity to do that tonight. the people of colorado expect this place to get its work done. the bills we've had have been through, negotiated house and senate. many out of committee with bipartisan support, not unanimous, and i guess the folks
in minturn will just have to wait one more congress to get their water system fixed because this body couldn't agree to allow a vote. you wonder why people are sick of this place? because of tonight. mr. president, i yield. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, all i'm asking is for the language that i have asked for, two words. the words "or utah" to be added to this legislation. i'm asking to be treated on an equal footing as the language proposed by the senator from colorado, the senator from alaska, the senator from washington, the senator from montana, and others. equal footing. we have equal representation in the senate. it's the one type of constitutional amendment that is preemptively unconstitutional.
you can't modify the equal representation of the senate. that's what makes this place unique. each state is represented equally. and i will defend my state, the state of utah, to my dying breath. as long as i'm here, breathing, and holding an election certificate, i will defend it. now, my distinguished friend and colleague, for whom i have great affection and respect, has just pointed out that the people of colorado might be disappointed about this water measure that was in there or this or that other provision of colorado. do they have reason to be concerned? you bet. do those people in colorado have objection to the idea that utah might be treated equally with alaska or wyoming? i think not. i think most people in america look at a state that's had a couple million acres of monument declared that just wants to be treated the same way as alaska and wyoming. that's not unreasonable.
this is a sovereign state, one that has been mistreated by federal land managers. we don't want to continue doing that. this is a generous offer. it's a reasonable offer. as to the suggestion that because it was offered that this receive a separate vote -- it's really not equivalent at all. what he is saying is split this out. everything else sinks or swims together. all of theirs passes and ours stands alone. if we're going to consolidate this many bills at once, he is right. some of them passed unanimously, a bunch of them didn't. i voted against a number of them. some are new. others are old but have been modified. one provision involving my own state involved 450 or 500,000 acres of wilderness and has since it moved through the committee been modified to include an additional 200,000 acres of wilderness.
that's from my state and i sit on the committee and i chair the subcommittee that is supposed to review these things. this is the first i have seen of him. so yes, i say to my distinguished friend and colleague for whom i also have great respect and admiration and affection, yes, there are a lot of parochial matters that are addressed in these public lands bills and appropriately so. what i'm asking is for my state to be treated like your state. that's all i'm asking. it's not unreasonable. it is not unfair. so if you're going to put 640 pages worth of legislation, including some legislation that has some significant ramifications for my state, i ask you to take those two words into the bill. that is not unreasonable. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i come first and foremost tonight to thank the staff who worked so hard on this package. i mean not just in the last few weeks but for literally years work to try to get to an agreement on something we could
vote on. ms. cantwell: it's not a surprise to the united states senate that it's december and people are voting on a lands package. my colleague from colorado outlined it very well, that when you have these bills that deal with water, that deal with public lands, that deal with giving federal land back to communities so they can improve their communities and, yes, designating some special places so they can preserve for the public, that, yes, not all your colleagues care about the details of that, and you are never going to get the leader who's in control of the united states senate to give you floor time on that bill. so every december, we're here with a lands package to be considered. and it's a package that has a lot of input from a lot of people, negotiated in this case with the house and the senate, with democrats and republicans, a four-corner negotiation.
so the missed opportunity tonight, as my colleague from colorado said, is that we don't get to vote on it. my colleague from utah is not being correct in that he was offered a chance to have that vote. he was offered a chance to have this bill brought up and to have his ideas voted on, and he knew he was going to lose. and he knows he's going to lose in january, but he wants to insist tonight on prevailing -- i'm not sure why, because as my colleague from colorado said, why continue to hold up these small communities from getting the resources they need? and trust me, communities like yakima, washington, want answers to the challenges of changing conditions that impact water and the fact that fish and farmers and tribes and environmentalists all have to get together to solve those problems. so when they work for years on coming up with a solution, collectively at a local
community, and then put that before the united states senate for hearing and for consideration, that proposal passed the united states senate and i think -- on a 85-12 vote two years ago. as did permanent reauthorization of the land and water conservation fund two years ago. passed the united states senate. so my colleague, who is somehow from utah imagining that somehow the land and water conservation fund being made permanent is not going to pass the united states senate, he's just dreaming of something that is really going to take place and become reality in the very near future. but what you've done is tonight made it a lot harder for us to make sure that we're moving ahead. this legislation that he refused to allow us to vote on tonight also includes important, i would say one thing -- the one thing
that maybe you could say hasn't had constant, constant attention over two years but certainly has grown in importance is new technology to help our firefighters fight fires, locate where the fires are happening, g.p.s. systems to help make people pour safe. that was in this package and probably has gotten enhanced a great deal over the last six months, as we've seen the tragic, devastating impacts of fires throughout the west. so, yes, that was in here and part of consideration. and, yes, there were legislative action, 90% of this package either saw legislation passed by the house of representatives or passed by the united states senate. legislation that basically passed out of a committee either the senate committee or house committee. so it's not like these ideas came out of nowhere. they are, as my colleague from colorado said best, parochial
issues that we find it very hard to get the rest of the our colleagues to ever want to pay attention to and ever want to pay attention to the details. so this has been the tried-and-true fashion by which the united states senate has passed land packages as long as i've been here for 18 years. that's what you do in december. you pass a lands package. i wish it was different. my colleague from colorado made a good suggestion about seven or eight months ago, why don't we do some right now? well, thanks to his initiative, we actually bundled together 15 or 20. but he was right. guess what? everybody came and said, oh, well where's mine? where's my package? where's this? i'm not going to let you do this. and we were in the same boy. so the best answer to all of that -- and we were in the same boat. so the best answer to all of that is that in december we'll do a lands package. so the notion that people didn't know this was coming is a little
bit facetious. everybody knows that these the time and these are the package and these are the proposals. to my colleague from utah, i get t he's not necessarily in agreement with some of his own delegation, who pushed things for utah that are in this package. i get it. he has a different philosophy about what should happen. and i guarantee you, utah is going to have a lot more debates about what it wants to see for its future. and i think that's ultimately healthy. i can just answer for my state, who has three national parks and generates millions of dollars from them. i can just answer from my state, who thinks that the outdoor economy is the number one reason we attract and keep high-skilled and unbelievably manufacturing jobs in the pacific northwest. why? because businesses want to locate there because their workers want to have access to that.
my constituent knows that the outdoor -- my state knows that the outdoor economy, because it has companies like r.e.i., is more than ads 800 billion annual economy. when you invest in public lands, you get more access to hunters and fishers and people who want to go and enjoy and recreate for our veterans. and so guess what? it's a great economic development tool. so the notion that a state who has public lands doesn't have economic opportunity is not telling the whole story. we all get it. we all represent counties that have nothing but an outdoor economy or public land, and then they want to know how to build a school or a fire station or keep the lights on for basic services. we get that complexity, too. but our colleagues did consider these ideas. and our colleagues did consider the notion that there are
diverse opinions. it's just that at the end of the day, you have to have a vote. you have to be able to come here to the united states senate on this subject -- that is, land packages -- and have a process. listen, if my colleagues who care so much about this want to create a new norm in the united states senate that the first week of december will be the deadline for all lands packages and then by the end of that session we will have lands packages always considered in the united states senate, i'm all for it. i'm all for that right now because i see devastation happening on water writ large. i see unbelievable problems happening throughout the west just on water. now, you can say we're going to do nothing and we're just going to let the courts and the lawsuits and everything play out. but, guess what? that's where we were on fire -- until what happened? until the gentleman from montana
and the gentleman from idaho and the gentleman from oregon and the gentlewomen from washington, we all got altogether ton a fire bill and we said, this is what we think would be great for the west to do to move forward. that's what we were trying to do tonight on water and on other fire measures and on public lands and helping veterans and native americans in alaska who never got a fair deal on access to their own land. so these solutions i get may take a few pages to print out and for people to read, but they are important public policies that need to have this body's attention, and you are doing nothing but shortchanging the public debate if you won't even allow the bill to come to the floor for that debate.
we are always, always going to get sidelined as individual bills as not being important enough to take up the time of the senate. it's only collectively in a bundle like we saw tonight that they can be considered. but i guarantee you, i guarantee you they are not going to grow into a package that becomes less important with time. they're just not. they're just not. they are going to continue to be amplified as important public policies where a local government, a county, or a city and the forest service and b.l.m. and a school district and a community are going to have to work together. they're going to have to work together. they're going to have to work together on water, on fire, on public access, on conveyance, on
how we're going to preserve open space, on how we're going to recreate. it is going to be demanded, and i know my colleague from tut doesn't agree with all of these philosophies, but i guarantee you, there are lots of people in utah that would have just loved to have a vote tonight to see how those issues would have played out. so i just -- i just want to thank staff. they have worked night and day literally, literally, literally for months, if not years, on these policies. they have worked so hard to try to find the common good in a place to move forward. and i so appreciate that our leaders are now committing to us to help move this forward in january. we're definitely going to take them up on it, even though it will be a new congress and a new house of representatives. we are going to take it up. and i'm sure that our colleagues
-- congressman grijalva and congressman bishop -- will be there to work with us. but there will never be an easy day to vote on public lands -- never. it's just never going to happen. so we better own up to the responsibility and get the commitment to these cities and communities that need us to help them hold federal agencies accountable, make the investments our constituents with a tonight see, and solve these problems so our communities can continue to grow and thrive. i believe these people are bubbling up some of the best ideas how to move forward. that's what they did in various parts of the west, whether that was in montana with what to do at yellowstone or whether that was in alaska, what to do with this native issue, or yakima on what to do with water. they're bubbling up the ideas.
at least what we can do is give them the courtesy of having the vote so that they can be considered. i thank the president and i yield the floor. ms. murkowski: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: mr. president, i know that my colleague from montana wishes to speak, but before the senator from washington departs, i also want to the acknowledge the good work of both of of our staffs. and not just our staffs but working with our colleagues on the house side and with so many members. when you are going through the volume that we're talking about -- some 114 different bills on house side, on senate side -- it's extraordinarily tedious work and difficult work. and i think we owe them all a great deal of thanks. but i also want to rise and thank senator cantwell because in this next congress she will be moving to another position as ranking member, and i won't be
working side by side with her as we have. and i think it's important to note that on the difficult things that came before us, we -- we didn't always start off in agreement. but we slogged through it and our teams stuck with us and sloughed through it and we got to where we are tonight. and while it's not a good ending from my view in that we weren't able to provide these counties, these communities, these people that have worked so hard the satisfaction that they are seeking, the commitment to continue this until we are done is real, it is in place, it is intact, and it was agreed to tonight, and we're going to be moving forward in those first few weeks of january. i want to thank senator cantwell for the working relationship that we have had over these past couple years, moving through important matters for your state, for my state, and really
for the good of the country when it comes to energy. so i just appreciate your courtesies and opportunity to work together and that of of our staff. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i just want to thank the gentlewoman from alaska for her great work and working in such a collaborative way. certainly not leaving the energy committee and certainly not going to back away from any of these big issues, but certainly as she said won't be working as closely as the ranking member to her as the chair but certainly definitely going to work in a collaborative way. so i thank her for her kind comments and really look forward to what we can do in the new year. mr. daines: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: mr. president, i want to share some comments on what we saw happen here tonight as it relates to this public lands package. we saw a glimpse here tonight of
on one hand how this institution can really come together, years of bipartisan work, years of collaboration on the ground back in our respective states to come together, to put together a lands panel, and asking for a simple up-or-down vote tonight in the united states senate. and i'm very confident had we had the opportunity to have voted here tonight, you would have seen this lands package pass the united states senate by at least a 2-1 margin. it would have gone to the house. it would have passed. it would have gone to president trump's desk, and i'm confident he would have signed it. the reason we've been fighting for permanent reauthorization of the land and water conservation fund is because of what happened right here tonight. it is the uncertainty of this institution, where 98 senators can say let's move ahead for a vote, two senators say no, and
we weren't able to have a vote tonight. it's okay to oppose legislation. that's the american process. for each of us to come down here and express our respective opinions. some is will say yes, some will say no. what we're asking for here tonight is let's have that debate on the floor. let's have the vote on the floor. and let the senators respectively speak on behalf of the people that sent them here in the first place to represent their interests. but the land and water conservation fund, the reason we permanently authorize it is because tonight you can see we didn't get it done. in fact, it expired on septembe. and here we are halfway through december and we still do not have the reauthorization of lwcf. that is why we need to make it permanent, because you can't depend on this institution. and so often