Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 5, 2019 9:59am-12:08pm EST

9:59 am
in 2006, the democratic leader himself and a number of our current colleagues and then colleagues like hillary clinton and barack obama, supported the secure fence act. but today, somehow, things are different. democrats refuse to come to the negotiating table, not because they're against border security presumably, but because their base, their political base dislikes demand sitting behind the resolute desk. that's right, this is not about the facts or the problems presented, this is about whether president trump will be defeated in his attempts to get additional money for border security. and as the president found out-- >> senator cornyn from credit in the senate he'll be joining his colleagues shortly as the senate is about to gooavel in. lawmakers will look at judicial
10:00 am
nominations and allison jones rushing to the 4th circuit set for 4 p.m. eastern today and of course, next week the senate will consider and vote on a resolution terminating the president's emergency declaration for the southern border. now to live coverage. u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. sovereign lord, you are our refuge and strength. we look to you for mercy and grace. send to our lawmakers the power and grace they need today to glorify your name in all they do.
10:01 am
lord, give them the purity of heart that will shut the doors to all evil. keep their feet in the path of integrity that they may walk securely. develop in them a perseverance which refuses to leave any task half done. empower them with a diligence to offer you no less than their best. we pray in your powerful name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible,
10:02 am
with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary. allison jones rushing of north carolina to be united states circuit judge for the fourth
10:03 am
circuit. mr. grassley: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask for one minute in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i'd like to make a point about the so-called green new deal. it's very obvious it's a reference to franklin roosevelt's new deal in the 1930's. the implication is that the new deal, what the new deal did for the depression should be a model for the environment. there's just one great big problem. the new deal in the 1930's didn't work. it didn't get us out of the great depression. the depression didn't end until we entered world war ii. just like the original, the green new deal sounds like really bold action, but it's really a jumble of half-cocked policies that will dampen
10:04 am
economic growth and will hurt jobs. everything our government ought to be trying to do is to encourage economic growth and to create jobs. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:05 am
10:06 am
10:07 am
10:08 am
10:09 am
mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: yesterday the senate voted to advance the nomination of allison jones rushing to serve on the fourth circuit court of appeals. as i noted yesterday, ms. rushing comes with significant appellate experience and has filed 47 briefs in the u.s. supreme court. it's clear to me, as it was to a majority of our colleagues on the judiciary committee, that she would mike a fine addition to the -- she would make a fine addition to the federal bench. so i'll support her confirmation later today, and i recommend that each of our colleagues do the same. following ms. rushing the senate will consider chad a. readler of ohio to serve on the sixth circuit court of appeals. mr. readler is a two-time
10:10 am
graduate of the university of michigan earning his j.d. with honors in 1997. following law school he held a clerkship on the sixth circuit and built a long-standing reputation in private practice as a consummate legal professional. million readler -- mr. reid letter is the be active in pro bono work including for the united way of ohio and his nomination earned a well-qualified rating from the american bar association. so i look forward to advancing yet another of president trump's impressive judicial nominees later this week. now on another matter this week the house will be devoting floor time to the democrat politician protection act. that's what i call the signature effort that speaker pelosi has given top billing -- top billing as h.r. 1. because this new house democrat majority's top priority is apparently assigning themselves an unprecedented level of control over how they get elected to washington along with
10:11 am
how, where, and what american citizens are allowed to say about it. that's their priority number one, over there across the capitol, more than anything else washington democrats want a tighter grip on political debate and the operation of elections nationwide. but, madam president, the democrat politician protection act is just part of a trio of massive unprecedented government takeover schemes that democrats have already rolled out just this congress. on its face, this proposal might seem less outrageous than medicare for none or the so-called green new deal. it wouldn't seem to impact the middle-class families as directly as making private health insurance plans illegal or sending the u.s. economy on a nosedive in the name of tackling carbon emissions while china
10:12 am
goes roaring right by. but here's the thing. those two proposals are just terrible policy, but policy can be stopped or undone through the political process. but h.r. 1 isn't just terrible policy, it's an attempt to rewrite the underlying rules of that political process itself and to skew those rules to benefit just one side -- that side. by every indication, the democratic politician protection act is a massive partisan solution in search of a problem. democrats want to convince everyone that our republic is in crisis, but when you scratch the surface of these scare tactics, there their two main complaints seem to be that democrats don't win enough elections and people democrats don't like also happen to have first amendment rights.
10:13 am
just look at the data. in 2016 turnout reached its third-highest rate since the 19 60's. turnout was very high. by the sheer number of presidential ballots cast, an all-time record was set. and these numbers were hardly a fluke. last november the midterm turnout rate set a new 50-year record for off-year elections. nevertheless, the democrats are intent on fixing our elections even though they aren't broken. their solution amounts to a hostile one-sided takeover of the electoral process without, without the input of both parties. in the democrats' view, our federalist system where state laws evolve to address unique challenges is old-fashioned and no longer to their liking. now it's time for sweeping new
10:14 am
decrees from washington. what each state has found works best for them to register voters or to maintain voter rolls, all that is now supposed to yield to what washington democrats want. it starts with a massive influx of government data to the registration rolls. in one sweep all of the duplicative and conflicting data from across state and federal government agencies as well as colleges and universities would flood the voter registration system. flood it. this isn't the slightly tested automatic voter registration some states have installed with the d.m.v. this is a massive data dump that is sure to invite risk of inaccuracy and a loss of privacy. it's especially concerning as the democrats want to mandate that agencies register 16- and
10:15 am
17-year olds. or what about things like one-size-fits-all online voter registration where the simple safeguard of signing a document can be easily sidestepped, or a mandatory new one-stop voting procedure in every state, without the assurance of identifying the voter's address before adding their ballot to the ballot box? if your state requires even the loosest, loosest voter i.d. right, the democrats' bill would undermine it. everything down to the type of paper your ballot is printed on is dictated by washington democrats under their proposal. the list, madam president, goes on and on. now, you might think that with democrats insisting that every locality subscribe to ever-looser registration standards, they must at least provide strong tools for verification and maintenance of the voter rolls.
10:16 am
well, think again. in fact, they seem more focused on taking away those safeguards. the bill leaves states with less ability to maintain voter records and ensure that people aren't registered in multiple states. in many instances, it seems democrats want more identification required to correct an erroneous voter -- listen to this -- more identification required to correct an erroneous voter entry than to register a new voter. it's harder to get off the rolls than it is to get on the rolls. what if we look at the problems that actually exist? what about the murky ballot-harvesting process that invites misbehavior? it was already illegal in north carolina where a congressional election result was thrown out recently due to fraud. but the practice throughout the election in north carolina just the other day remains perfectly legal in california.
10:17 am
where it seems to benefit, amazingly enough, the democrats. and somehow for all the other top-down changes that h.r. 1 would force on the country, somehow addressing valid harvesting didn't make the cut. imagine that. didn't make the cut. it's almost like democrats' purpose here is not promoting integrity but rather preserving the chaos that make close elections ripe targets for their d.c. lawyers to contest. the law itself suggests as much by creating new private rights of action -- listen to this -- new private rights of acts for trial lawyers to ramp up litigation when they are unhappy with an outcome. now, as i mentioned, elections aren't the only focus. democrats are also coming after america's political speech. under h.r. 1, a newly partisan
10:18 am
federal election commission would be empowered with sweeping, sweeping new authority to regulate speech that is deemed to be -- listen to this -- campaign related. new rules applied to the mere mention of a politician's name, new limitations on advocacy groups' ability to speak on substantive issues, and strict new penalties for when private groups of citizens cross the lines washington democrats have drawn. but it doesn't stop there. protecting democratic politicians is hard work, hard work indeed, and it requires a multipronged approach. so not only does h.r. 1 deploy stricter regulations on political speech, it also ramps up requirements when private citizens engage in it. even small spregz of first amendment rights could require
10:19 am
extensive documentation, and in many new cases, forced public disclosure of your private activities would be required. so, madam president, we are in a dangerous climate with a robust exchange of ideas. there is outright government bias like we saw from lois lerner's i.r.s. there are activist-driven online mobs that come after individuals' reputations and their livelihoods. this is not -- i repeat, this is not a climate where the people's representatives should be rushing to make more of americans' private information public. the aclu is not often an organization that would be described as bipartisan, not often, but here is what the aclu wrote in a letter to house democrats just a couple of days ago. this is what the aclu had to
10:20 am
say. there are provisions that unconstitutionally impinge on the free speech rights of american citizens and public interest organizations. it strikes -- the bill strikes the wrong balance between the public's interest in knowing who supports or opposes candidates for office and the vital associational privacy rights guaranteed by the first amendment. that's the aclu. they go on. h.r. 1, interferes with that ability by impinging on the privacy of donors to these groups, forcing the groups to make a choice. their speech or their donors, whatever they choose, the first amendment loses. this is the very issue that the naacp had to sue the state of alabama over way back in the 1950's.
10:21 am
they won a critical victory when the supreme court confirmed, confirmed that the first amendment is eroded when big brother forces private organizations to publicize the people who work to support them. naacp versus alabama in the 1950's. it was true in the 1950's. it remains true today. but that erosion is exactly what house democrats want to achieve. it's what they want to achieve. and their bill even supports a constitutional amendment to take away first amendment protections. and even if their proposal does chill the exercise of the first amendment, fear not. house democrats have a plan to make sure there is still plenty of activity come election season. it's a taxpayer-funded stimulus package for campaign consultants and political candidates. they are going to take your tax money and give it to candidates you oppose. to buy commercials.
10:22 am
buttons, balloons, bumper stickers with your tax money. democrats want to sign taxpayers up to a six-times matching subsidy for certain political contributions. it could total about $5 million in taxpayer money, $5 million in taxpayer money for every candidate that wants it. what a great idea. right into the pockets of political campaigns, your tax money. that's what these guys want to pass. middle-class americans would have the privilege of watching television commercials attacking their own beliefs and the exeants they support and knowing their own tax dollars bought the air time for candidates they oppose. all of this is what house democrats are debating on the floor this very week, h.r. 1.
10:23 am
all of this and more. i've only scratched the surface of the democratic politician protection act. running roughshod over states and communities' control of their own elections, regulating and chilling the american people's exercise of the first amendment, forcing taxpayers to indirectly donate to the politicians they don't like, and a dozen other bad ideas to boot. behold, the signature legislation of the new house democratic majority. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:24 am
10:25 am
10:26 am
10:27 am
10:28 am
10:29 am
10:30 am
quorum call:
10:31 am
mr. schumer: madam president. are we in a quorum, madam president? the presiding officer: we are. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: i heard my good friend, the republican leader, decry h.r.1. making it easier for people to vote, getting big money out of politics hurts the republican party and is good for democrats, what a sad commentary on the republican party that they don't want to see people vote and make it easier to vote that they don't want big money out of politics. a sad commentary on the republican party to be afraid of h.r. 1. now, later this afternoon, madam president, the senate will vote up -- to take up the nomination of chad readler to be a judge on the sixth circuit. mr. readler was the man behind
10:32 am
the curtain when the trump administration decided to side with texas and 19 other states republican attorneys generals in pursuing to repeal the health care law. he did not just work on the case, he was the lead lawyer who filed the justice department brief declaring that the administration would refuse to defend the laws of our country. his recommendations were so outrageous that many career justice department attorneys refused to sign it. mr. readler argued that protectses for americans with preexisting conditions should be eliminated. let me repeat that. the nominee up for a vote later this afternoon argued that protections for americans with preexisting conditions should be eliminated. and then a day after mr. readler filed this awful brief, hurting average americans, hurting tens of millions of average americans, he was nominated for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.
10:33 am
coincidence? i think not. you see, in the trump administration depriving people of protections of preexisting conditions is actually something to be rewarded. shame. shame on the trump administration. shame on anybody who votes for mr. readler. particularly those who claim they want to protect preexisting conditions. those who say that they want to protect them and vote for the chief cook and bottle washer who pulled them away and was given this nomination the next day, shame on them. during the past campaign, as i said, many of my republicans stood up and said rightly that they supported keeping preexisting conditions for americans. that's all well and good, but that's what's so typical of our republican friends in the senate. they talk the game that we do. they are for more health care,
10:34 am
they are for protecting americans with preexisting conditions, but their votes on the floor of the senate are exactly the opposite. it's all well and good to say you want to protect them but those promises and pronouncements mean next to nothing if they won't vote to reject a lifetime appointment for the man who played the starring role in the legal effort to take these conditions away. republicans who vote yes on mr. readler, i believe, will regret that vote in future years. a vote to confirm mr. readler is endorsement of the republican lawsuit to eliminate protection for preexisting conditions and repeal health care for millions of americans. now, on another matter. the national emergency. it seems with each passing day another republican comes out to oppose the president's declaration of a national emergency at the border. over the weekend, senator rand paul, who often speaks his own
10:35 am
mind, became the fourth republican to officially announces his support for terminating the president's emergency declaration, apparently guaranteeing enough votes for passage in the senate. i hope and expect that senator paul will not be the last republican to announces support because this should be an issue that transcends party. the president's emergency declaration naws at the very fabric of our democracy, particularly the separation of power. the president, this president, is trying to bend the law to his will to accrue powers that are not his. there's no evidence that some new emergency exists at the border. the president himself has said he, quote, didn't need to do this. unquote. an emergency by definition is something that you need to do. everyone here knows the truth. the president didn't declare an emergency because there is one.
10:36 am
he declared an emergency because he lost in congress through, threw another temper tantrum and wanted to go around it. that, my friends, is a gross abuse of our constitutional system. article 1, not article 2, the executive branch article, not article 3, the judiciary branch article, but article 1, gives congress the power of the purse, not the president. were we to permit any executive to declare this every time they lost in congress, what would be the point of doc -- congress? we would be trading this for. remember, back then, why did the colonists, the brave olonnists rebel? it was because of the overreaching power of king george and they said we need a government that's going to protect us.
10:37 am
-- protect us from the overreaching power of any individual, particularly one in power -- empowered to lead a nation. that's why they did it. well, it's relevant today. donald trump has shown more desire to overreach than any president. some people may like that, but it goes against 200 years of wisdom in this country, and i hope people will reject it. whatever you think of the policy of the southern border -- i suppose senator paul is very much for the wall -- no president should be allowed to discard the constitution at a whim and do an end run around the coequal branch of government. the vote on the resolution to terminate this emergency is not a vote about policy, it's not a vote about party, it's a vote about presidential power and the precedent that it will set which
10:38 am
will reach far beyond the current debate about the border. the debate about the border will be forgotten, bur the fact that this congress -- but the fact that this congress, this senate allows a president to so overreach and rearrange single-handedly the balancing blocks in our democracy will be regarded by historians as a bleak day. i say to my colleagues that doesn't just apply to how you vote. it applies to whether we have enough votes to override the president should he veto this resolution when it passes. climate. now, madam president, leader mcconnell has spent a great deal of time here talking about his version of the green new deal to the floor. everyone knows it's nothing but a political stunt. everyone knows that the same republican leader decried bills
10:39 am
to reopen the government because the president wouldn't sign them and he said those were stunts. now he's doing the same thing. it's amazing sometimes how there can be a 180-degree turn so quickly. so let's talk about some of the things that leader mcconnell could actually do to move the ball forward on climate change, which now more and more people, two-thirds of americans if you believe the polling, is a real threat to our planet that demands the senate's action, not stunts, not games. all 47 democrats have introduced a resolution that affirms three simple things. one -- one, climate change is r. two, climate change is caused by human activity. and, three, congress must immediately act to address the problem. now leader mcconnell could bring that resolution to the floor. he could say that he believes climate change is real and deserves our time and attention.
10:40 am
given the rampant denialism from some wings of the republican party, including so many in the white house, that would be notable progress. but i don't think it will happen. and you scratch your head and wonder why. why would they be so afraid to even say climate change is real? one possible answer that many people think is the cause or one of the main causes, oil money. oil money. the oil industry has such power around here and much of that money is dark, by the way, that republicans are afraid to admit the candid truth and say climate change is real. our resolution doesn't talk about what -- how you propose to deal with this very real issue. we're not locking people into this proposallor that proposal. we're simply saying let's start talking about it. and, actually, the one good
10:41 am
thing about leader mcconnell's stunt is we are talking about it and that's a good thing. i have news for the leader. we will keep talking about it throughout this whole congress and we will keep trying to use our leverage to make it easier to resist the bad forces of carbon dioxide entering our atmosphere. so we're going to keep at this. we're going to keep at this, leader mcconnell, and no stunt that you put on the floor is going to deter us. we're preparing legislation to defund president trump's attempt to create a fake climate panel within the executive branch. leader mcconnell could bring that legislation to the floor once it's ready so congress could tell the president we do not tolerate the intentional dissemination of disinformation
10:42 am
to the american public on any issue, especially climate change. democrats have also said any infrastructure bill must include substantial investment in green jobs. that is it something that senator mcconnell like new jobs. many on the republican side believe in wind and solar power. not many, but some. let's move forward on that. we need to upgrade our power grids. we need to make energy more available and cheaper and greern. let's -- greener. let's do that. there are many more things besides, but make no mistake, before and after leader mcconnell's political stunt on climate change, democrats will continue to focus on the issue, propose solutions, and try to get some of those solutions enacted into law in the places where we have some leverage even as a minority. there is enormous energy -- enormous energy in this country,
10:43 am
particularly among young americans to take bold action on climate change. they see the planet on which they live changing before their eyes not for the better. and they are absolutely right. it's our job to channel the energy of those young people, wonderful energy. i'm so glad it's out there, into bold legislation that addresses the climate crisis head on and that is exactly what democrats will do even if republicans continue to play these political games in their efforts to try to keep their heads in the sand and ignore that climate change is real. finally, on china. recent news reports have described an emerging trade deal with china that would see the united states ease up on tariffs in exchange for the chinese buying more american goods and making some -- some changes to its trade practices. as "the new york times" reports
10:44 am
this morning, the agreement does not appear to require the sweeping changes to china's economy that prompted mr. trump to begin the trade war. if the reports about the emerging agreement are accurate, i would say to president trump, you are heading down a precarious road. the president's instincts were right when he took a hard-line on china. i supported his hard line on china. china's killing us in terms of stealing our intellectual property, in terms of not letting american companies compete fairly in their large market while they are allowed to come here, in terms of not creating a level playing field for companies no matter what country they are from -- they are from. the president was right when he said we have to do something about it, and, in fact, he did
10:45 am
more than previous presidents, both president bush and president obama did less to get china to understand the seriousness of this problem than president trump did. he knows that. but now when you're getting close to a victory, to relent at the 11th hour without achieving meaningful, enforceable and verifiable and vuct ral reform to china's trade policies would be an abject failure of the president's china policies and people will say what did he begin this for if he didn't complete it? we need to put an end to the forced transfer of american technology and know-how as a ransom for doing business in china. we need to put a ransom to the theft of intellectual property. one was found out from china last month. our companies need the same unfettered access to chinese markets that we allow chinese
10:46 am
firms to have to markets in america. this may be our last shot. squandering -- for the president to squander his own efforts now will have lasting and untold consequences for generations to come. the president is too focused on trade imbalances. that's short term. those come and go. and the reason our trade balance is so bad is all of the structural things that china does to make it harder for us to export to china and easier for them to import here after stealing a lot of our know-how. a temporary narrowing of the trade deficit would be cold comfort to the millions of american workers who have suffered and will continue to suffer the abuse of china's policies. now when the president was headed to north korea, i said to him don't let march when it comes to north korea, go in
10:47 am
like a lion and come out like a lamb. i would say -- and the president did the right thing on north korea, and i got up here and said he did. he backed out when the north koreans wouldn't give him much, and resisted the opportunity which we know it's hard for him to resist, of a photo op. well, he should do the same thing in china. he got a lot of credit for backing out on north korea. the president will get a lot of credit if he stands up to china and will eventually win, because the chinese economy is hurting. they just reduced their own biased estimates on growth lower. so my plea to president trump is stand firm. we will win this fight that you correctly began. but don't back off for some temporary salve.
10:48 am
america's future defends on it. the income of our workers, the number of good-paying jobs we create all depends on a standing tough with china right now when we sort of have them where we want them and completing a strong deal. please, mr. president, don't back off. don't let march, when it comes to china trade and your actions, come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. i yield the floor. mr. thune: madam president. the presiding officer: republica n whip. mr. thune: madam president, last week we learned that the economy grew at a rate of 3.1% from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018. that's the strongest economic growth in over ten years. economic growth for the fourth
10:49 am
quarter of 2018 smashed market is expectations. in january the economy created more than 300,000 jobs. more than 5.3 million jobs have been created since president trump was elected. job openings hit a record high of 7.3 million in december, substantially exceeding the number of those looking for work. the department of labor reports that the number of job openings has exceeded the number of job seekers for ten straight months. unemployment is low. january marked the 11th straight month that unemployment has been at or below 4%. that's the long-term streak in nearly five decades. wage growth has accelerated. wages have now been growing at a rate of 3% or greater for six straight months. the last time wage growth reached this level was in 2009. median household income is at an all-time high. u.s. manufacturing has
10:50 am
rebounded. "the wall street journal" reported on friday, and i quote, america's factories are hiring again. after years of job losses, u.s. manufacturing employment has risen for 18 straight months among those holding production or nonsupervisory jobs, the long-term stretch of gains since gains since the mid 1990's. madam president, the list goes on. the economic growth we're experiencing is the direct result of republican policies. economic growth has accelerated over the past two years thanks to the lifting of burdensome regulations and an historic reform of our tax code. before we passed the tax cuts and jobs act, our tax code was acting as a drag on economic growth. small businesses faced heavy tax burdens that frequently made it difficult for them to expand and create jobs or even to get their businesses off the ground in the first place. america's global businesses faced the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world which put them at a competitive
10:51 am
disadvantage on the international stage. of course all that had real consequences for american workers. a small business owner facing a huge tax bill was highly unlikely to be able to expand her business or to hire a new employee. a larger business was going to find it hard to create jobs or improve benefits for employees while struggling to stay competitive against foreign businesses paying much less in taxes. and so we reformed our tax code to make it easier, easier for businesses to grow, create jobs, and expand opportunities for american workers. and now, madam president, we're seeing the results. economic growth, low unemployment, higher wages, a record high number of job openings, and more. and importantly, the benefits of this growth are being experienced widely. "the wall street journal" reports, and again i quote, racial minorities, those with less education and people
10:52 am
working in the lowest-paying jobs are getting bigger pay raises and in many cases experiencing the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for their groups. they are joining manufacturing workers, women in their prime working years, americans with disabilities and those with criminal records, among others, in finding improved job prospects after years of disappointment. end quote. again, from the "wall street journal." madam president, the obama administration was characterized by a weak recovery and years of economic stagnation. there were predictions that 2% growth would be the new normal. our republican economic policies have turned the economy around. now we need to focus on ways to extend the benefits of tax reform even further and to secure the gains that we've made for the long term. unfortunately, our colleagues across the aisle are more focused on dismantling the policies that created the growth that we're experiencing today. apparently it doesn't matter to them that workers are doing better after years of economic
10:53 am
stagnation or that jobs and opportunities are increasing. they're set on dismantling tax reform and raising rates to fund their socialist fantasies. they want to spend $93 trillion trillion -- $93 trillion, more money than the g.d.p. of the entire world -- to put the government in charge of americans' health care, energy usage, and more. madam president, i wish that i were joking, but democrats turn toward socialist insanity is all too real. the kind of tax hikes that would be required to pay for democrats' proposals would cripple our economy and severely downgrade american standard of living not to mention robbing americans of their freedom to make their own decisions about all the various aspects of their lives. it's mind-boggling that more and more democrats are embracing
10:54 am
socialism, and the less free and less prosperous future that it would bring. let's hope that their socialist fantasies stay just that, madam president. fantasies. because our economy might never recover from the reality of democrats' proposals. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: to hear my friend from south dakota describe the state of the economy it's amazing how political amnesia can take over on the floor of the senate chamber. do you remember the election of 2008 when barack obama was elected president of the united states? was there anything going on with the economy when he took office? oh, something that the senator failed to mention. we were facing the worst recession in the history of the united states. you had to go back to the great depression to see this impact of
10:55 am
this recession on the american economy, and it happened under a republican president, george w. bush. president obama inherited that, and most people will never forget it because in 2008 and 2009 many people saw their savings devastated by the drop in value in the stock market. they saw this economy teetering on the edge. financial institutions failing. this all happened on president george w. bush's watch, and president obama inherited it and had to turn it around without the cooperation of the republican party, i might add. a handful of them stepped up to join them in a bipartisan effort but most of them opposed him. he did everything that he needed to do to save this economy from the worst recession ever, and then started turning it around with job creation, unprecedented job creation throughout the eight years of his term. now of course along comes a new president who wants to take credit for all of it.
10:56 am
and as the senator from south dakota suggested, blame president obama for the state of the economy he inherited. well, history tells us a different story. as for this tax cut that the senate republicans are so proud of, i think you ought to ask american families paying their taxes now, take a look at your taxes and tell me how the trump tax cut helped you as a working family. for some, there's some value to it. but for most, none. up see, the vast majority of the benefits over a long period of time of this republican tax cut go to the people in the highest income categories. if there's ever a group that didn't need a break, it's people who are making millions of dollars already each year. and yet, this republican tax cut gave them the break. it added to our deficit trillions of dollars. it helped the richest people in america, and it forgot working families and left them behind, and still the republican
10:57 am
senators come to the floor and boast about it with regularity. there's a better way, a better way to approach this. yes, i want to give tax incentives and tax relief to working families because we know they're not getting the paychecks they need to meet their obligations, to save for the future and to make sure their kids have a better life. we should be focused on them, not the wealthiest among us. they're doing quite well, thank you. let's focus on working families instead. the trump tax cut forgot that. mr. president, i ask that the comments i'm about to make be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, millions of americans got up this morning and faced the challenge of diabetes. for most of them, it is now routine in their lives to measure their blood sugar and to inject insulin when necessary so that they avoid the terrible outcomes of untreated diabetes.
10:58 am
at the highest levels of government, the person that i think about immediately is sonya sotomayor, who is the associate justice of the u.s. supreme court. hers is an amazing life story. this woman from a puerto rican family went to law school and became recognized as a talented and brilliant lawyer and eventually ascended to serve on the u.s. supreme court. i got to meet her during a period of time when she was going through her nomination process. she slipped and fell at an airport in new york and broke her ankle and couldn't get around as much as she wanted to, so she parked herself in my office upstairs and invited senators to come in and meet her. between those meetings, i stepped in the room and got to know her and learned a lot about her. it turns out to no surprise, to this wonderful supreme court justice from the bronx, she is a passionate fan of the new york yankees baseball team, and we
10:59 am
talked about baseball, and i said to her occasionally the yankees play the cubs in wrigley field. would you join me there? she said sure, invite me. i wasn't sure she would show up but invited her. and a few years ago justice sotomayor came to wrigley field. she was a great sport. they had a cubs jersey for her to wear, which she didn't exactly, i'm sure, feel comfortable in, and she went out and threw the first pitch, and we had a wonderful time. the reason i tell that story is during the course of that baseball game, as we sat together at wrigley field, i noticed that several times she tested herself and her blood sugar because of the diabetes she battled with every day. that's not an uncommon experience among diabetics. but what is uncommon is what has happened to the price of insulin facing people with diabetes in america. you have toking back almost 100 years to the discovery of insulin. this is not a drug that just
11:00 am
appeared on the market. almost 100 years ago researchers in canada ended up discovering human insulin, and they ended up making it available to americans and everyone, for that matter, because they surrendered their patent rights. those who discovered insulin said we don't want to make money off this. this is a lifesaving drug. so over the years, insulin has evolved from human-based insulin to what is known as analogue insulin and synthetic insulin and different dosage, but the fundamental chemical that is saving the lives of those who suffer with diabetes has been known for almost a century. but what has happened to the cost of insulin? it's been around for so many decades. it has risen dramatically. last week, i took to the floor for the first fleecing, pharma fleecing award that went to the three companies that make insulin and sell it in america
11:01 am
today. those companies are novanordesk and eli little -- eli lily. i took them to task for the drug of insulin that has been around so long. they are reaching way beyond the reach of people who have to buy this lifesaving drug. i told the story of one man who when he reached age 26 was on his own, managed a restaurant, couldn't afford the insulin dosage that was required, rationed his own insulin and died as a result of that decision. and so i made that point on the floor of the senate, that these pharmaceutical companies are not sensitive to the reality of life and death and what they are charging americans for the cost of insulin. so yesterday, there was a news flash. eli lilly, a pharmaceutical company, one of the producers of insulin products, announced that
11:02 am
they were going to reduce the cost of a generic form of insulin known as humalog to $140 a dosage. that's bringing it down from $329 to $140. dramatic. but let's put this in perspective for one moment. we checked the records, and it turns out you can buy that exact product made by that same company for sale in canada for $38. so they are expecting -- i think eli eli lilly is expecting all of us to spend flowers to their corporate headquarters in indianapolis, to send flowers because they reduced the cost of their drug from $329 to $140 a dosage. i'm not going to send them any flowers, and i'm not going to express any great gratitude that they are charging americans under this new bargain approach almost four times what canadians
11:03 am
are paying for exactly the same product. four times. to the other drug companies involved in this that are producing insulin, america's watching. if you are going to continue to kite the costs of this lifesaving drug, pressure is going to grow politically, even to the point where the united states senate may take action. i think that day is coming. so for eli lilly, nice first step. when you bring the cost of insulin in the united states for the same products that you're selling in canada to the same level, then i'll send you some flowers. mr. president, i ask consent that this next statement be placed at a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: we have three judges before us on the floor of the senate this week. it turns out that the filling of judicial vacancies is the highest single priority of the republican leadership in the senate. senator mitch mcconnell, the republican leader, has gone to
11:04 am
extraordinary precedent-breaking lengths to fill vacancies. of course, the most notorious example was when senator mcconnell, then in charge of the republican majority, announced that despite the death of justice scalia and a vacancy on the highest court of the land, he would refuse to fill that vacancy for almost one year because president obama was in office. the man that president obama wanted to put in that position, merrick garland, from the d.c. circuit court, was widely respected by democrats and republicans alike, but his qualifications meant nothing to senator mcconnell. the end game in his mind was the chance that a republican president might be elected and fill that vacancy with a republican nominee. well, senator mcconnell's dream came true when donald trump was elected president, and he turned around and nominated justice gorsuch who now serves on the supreme court to fill the
11:05 am
scalia vacancy. that was the most extreme example that we have in the history of the united states senate of the defiance of tradition and precedent. a defiance by senator mcconnell with one goal in mind -- to make sure that the judicial branch of our government became a political branch of our government, to make sure that as many republican conservatives, some of the most extreme views, were appointed to the bench. that has been his goal, and he pursues that goal to this day. there are three nominations before us which amply demonstrate his efforts. when donald trump became president, senate republicans stopped their obstruction of judicial nominations and started moving nominations through at break-neck speed. during the last two years, republicans in the senate bragged about filling the courts with trump nominees at a record pace. the republican fill the if i when it comes to trump judges seems to be, in senator
11:06 am
mcconnell's words, quote, plow right through, throws quote. unquote. no matter how questionable the nominee's credentials or judgment. there are three more confirmation votes scheduled this week. let me tell you about these nominees that they want to put on the court. allison jones rushing is rump's nominee to fill the north carolina seat on the fourth circuit court of appeals. now, for those who are students of the constitution, you know that the circuit court of appeals is the highest court below the supreme court. allison jones rushing checks a lot of the standard trump nominee boxes. she is a member of the federalist society, an absolute requirement if trump is going to nominate you for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. and this is a recurring theme as well -- she clerked for a supreme court justice, clarence thomas. 36 years old, she has practiced
11:07 am
law for nine years. how many cases has she tried to verdict or judgment? four. has she been the lead attorney on any of those cases? no. she is not a member of the bar association of the state of north carolina, the state in which she would sit if she is confirmed. that is the most scant, weakest legal resume imaginable for someone who is seeking a lifetime appointment to the second highest court of the land. at her hearing, which, by the way, was held during a senate recess over the objection of committee democrats. we weren't even in town when her hearing was scheduled. senator kennedy of louisiana, who is becoming famous for this, started questioning her about her breadth of legal experience. senator kennedy is a real lawyer. on the republican side, he has
11:08 am
put some of trump's nominees on the spot, asking them some pretty tough questions about legal procedure in a courtroom. he asked her, he said -- senator kennedy said i think to be a really good federal judge, you have got to have some life experience. mrs. rushing struggled -- ms. rushing struggled to describe how her life experience actually prepared her for this lifetime appointment to the second highest federal court. senator kennedy made a valid point. just because a judicial nominee meets all the litmus tests of being a real loyal republican doesn't mean the nominee has the experience or the legal ability to be a good federal judge. it's inconceivable to me in the state of north carolina, they couldn't find a qualified and experienced conservative republican judge? the federal courts are critically important since the vast majority of cases don't reach the supreme court, the circuit courts are the last
11:09 am
word. this is a position where experience matters, and unfortunately ms. rushing doesn't have enough of it. i'm going to oppose her. the second nominee is chad readler, a 46-year-old attorney in the trump justice department. when he was nominated to another circuit court of appeals, the sixth circuit, it was a clear sign of the trump administration's strong negative feelings about the affordable care act and the fact that that act covers preexisting conditions. mr. readler filed the trump administration's brief in the texas versus united states case where he opposed the affordable care act's preexisting coverage requirement. remember that issue from the last election? it was a big one. it might have been the biggest one. he basically said we think health insurance should be available to you even if you don't have a perfect medical record, and who does? hardly any of us. and certainly, each of us knows
11:10 am
someone in their family who would struggle with a perfect medical record. and without a perfect medical record, you can be denied insurance or charged premiums you can't pay unless you have the protection of the law. the law is known as the affordable care act or obamacare. so mr. readler argued that this requirement of covering people with preexisting conditions which benefits tens of millions of americans had to be stricken from the law. the brief mr. readler signed was deeply controversial. our colleague, senator lamar alexander, republican, tennessee, called the argument that mr. readler made in his brief opposing obamacare, and i quote, as far-fetched as any i've ever heard, end of quote. thank you, lamar. two department of justice attorneys withdrew from the case when they were asked to sign the crazy arguments in this brief. and a senior department of justice litigator also resigned
11:11 am
in protest for the bizarre arguments that mr. readler signed up for. however, almost immediately after mr. readler signed this crazy brief, he was nominated by the white house for a lifetime appointment to a federal judiciary. what message is the trump administration sending with this nomination? they're doubling down on their attack on coverage of people with preexisting conditions. they are putting in a lifetime appointment a circuit court judge who will be watching for virgin vindication. -- for vindication. they will be rewarding those who look for the preexisting coverage requirement. he has also defended the trump administration's unconscionable family separation policy. remember that one? remember when in march of last year, attorney general sessions proudly came forward and
11:12 am
announced the family separation policy? do you remember then that 2,800 infants, toddlers, and children were forcibly physically removed from their parents and placed in detention? that these infants, toddlers and children, were then lost in the system? they didn't keep a computer check on where they were sent or who their parents were. it took a federal judge in san diego, california, to mandate and require this administration to account for these children. it is one of the most shameful chapters in recent american history, and of course mr. readler, this nominee, defended it. he argued in favor of the trump administration's efforts to end the daca program. 790,000 young people brought here as children to this country who went through all the hoops and paid the fees and qualified to have a chance to stay in america without fear of deportation. well, it turns out mr. readler thinks that's a bad idea.
11:13 am
he litigated against the rights of same-sex couples and opposed antidiscrimination protections for lgbtq americans. he advocated for making the death penalty widely available and applying it to children. argued for denying burn jag violence prevention funds to a city i represent called chicago. it is hard to imagine a more controversial, partisan nominee than mr. readler. yet his nomination is going to be rammed through this week. senate republicans have also scheduled a vote this week on eric murphy, a 39-year-old nominee to another ohio-based seat on the sixth circuit. mr. murphy is well known for his advocacy against lgbtq rights, including the landmark overfeld case in which he argued against the right of same-sex couples to marry. he has a lengthy record of defending restrictive voting
11:14 am
laws. he has fought for laws to make it more difficult for ohioans to exercise their fundamental right to vote, including voter purge laws and laws limiting the ability of poll workers to assist voters. i know a little bit about ohio's experience because a few years ago, i chaired a subcommittee that held a hearing in cleveland, ohio, discussing their decision as a state to start limiting the opportunity of people to vote in ohio. so i called as witnesses before my subcommittee election officials from both political parties, democrats and republicans, put them under oath, and asked them a basic question -- what was the incidence of voter fraud in ohio which led you to restrict the access of people to vote to require voter i.d.'s, to limit early voting? what were the instances which led to that conclusion? they could tell me none, not one. i asked them how many people have been prosecuted for voter fraud in ohio that led to this?
11:15 am
well, maybe one several years ago here or there, despite millions of votes being cast. let's call this for what it is. voter suppression authored by republicans at every level of government, even here in congress, is designed to fight demography. republicans understand they are not doing well with the emerging united states population so they are trying to restrict the limits of some groups that may vote against them to actually show up and vote so they go to ridiculous lengths. it turns out mr. eric murphy, a nominee which we'll have before us this week for a circuit court position greece with their -- agrees with their position on voter suppression. my republican colleagues are largely silent about this outrageous incident that occurred in north carolina last week. there was a glaring case of
11:16 am
election fraud and it involved their party, not the democrats. it involved a gentleman whose conduct was so outrageous and criminal they voided a congressional election. i can't remember that ever occurring. why would the republican party ignore that occurrence in their own ranks and then try to restrict voting for people -- people who, frankly, have a right, as all of us do, to legally vote in this country? why are they appointing judges that would defend that approach? well, i think it's because of the end game. the end game is to restrict the number of people who are going to vote in the future and limit those who might vote against the republican party. i'm troubled that mr. murphy, who is the nominee before us, has declined to commit to recuse himself from matters involving tobacco. as tobacco for kids node, mr. murphy represented r.j.
11:17 am
reynolds when he was in private practice. for example, mr. murphy was the attorney for r.j. reynolds when they tried to limit that tobacco company's liberty from a landmark lawtd. -- lawsuit. he refused to recuse to matters where he was paid for matters, his refusal to recuse himself from that raises serious questions about whether he can serve the cause of justice. the nominations of eric murphy and chad readler are being pushed through this week over the opposition of ohio senator sherrod brown. senator brown testified before the senate judiciary committee about the opposition to readler and murphy. he said i cannot support nominees who have actively worked to strip their rates of ohioans. no one has fought harder for the
11:18 am
rights and opportunities for ohioans than that senator. circuit court nominees like readler and murphy are being moved forward over the objections of their home state senators. each of us as senators know our state. we know when our state nominee lacks confidence. the blue slip is the measure we use for senators to speak as to these nominees. this last week when it came to a circuit court position in the ninth circuit, the two senators from the state of washington were denied their blue slip rights which have traditionally been given to them in the united states senate. that broke the precedent last week, it continues this week. the republican senate leadership will break every rule, every precedent, whatever is necessary to fill these vacancies. without blue slips, the white house can ignore home state interests and pick extreme judges like the ones before us
11:19 am
this week. it pains me to watch my republican colleagues systematically dismantling guard rail after guard rail in the judicial nomination process all for the sake of stuffing the court with their ideologs. the nomination process in the senate is breaking down before our eyes. our ability to fill full our responsibility of advice and consent is at risk of the that is a shameful chapter in the senate. mr. president, i yield the floor.
11:20 am
mr. lankford: mr. president. the presiding officer: i recognize the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, number 22 trillion shouldn't matter to us. $22 trillion, that's our current debt number in the united states. not to be confused we have debt and we have deficits. deficits, sometimes those numbers get thrown together, but deficit is the overspending in one year. debt is the collection of all of those deficits. our current debt, $22 trillion as a nation. to give you perspective on $22 trillion. if you take $2 -- 22 trillion miles, total distance, you would fly from earth to pluto and back 3,081
11:21 am
times. from earth to pluto and back 3,081 times to get to 22 trillion miles. this is a heavy debt. we're used to hearing about debt and deficits in relationship to a home mortgage. we think about -- it takes 30 years to pay off our mortgage. well, our national mortgage, this $22 trillion that we have, that national mortgage, for us to be able to pay it off, if we were to balance our budget, which we're way out of balance right now, but if we were to balance our budget and then have $100 billion surplus -- let's say next year we're balanced and $100 billion surplus, that would be very large. if we had $100 billion surplus, how many years would it take of
11:22 am
$100 billion surplus to pay off $22 trillion? the quick math of that is 220 years. approximately as long as we have been a republic, if we did that every single year for the next 220 years, had $100 billion surplus, we could pay off our mortgage. does anyone think for the next 220 years every single year we're going to both balance our budget and have $110 billion -- $100 billion surplus? the issues we face as a nation is we fumbled a lot of our past. we fumbled our spending. we fumbled how we handled federal tax dollars, and we've got to be able to work our way out of this. but climbing out of this is not going to be a one-year deal. this is not a short-term fix. this is an intentional long-term fix. the two things you have to have, you have to have economic growth. if our economy is stagnant, you
11:23 am
never catch up. the reason for that is when the economy is stagnant, more people in our nation need assistance. they need housing support. they need food support. they need other things to be able to help them in those scarce times. unemployment benefits go up significantly during that time period when our economy is down. when you have economic growth that happens, fewer people need housing assistance, fewer people need food assistance, fewer people are on unemployment benefits. and as a result, more people who have jobs, more people are paying taxes. this is essential to our economy. that's why the tax reform bill was so incredibly important to us to get a growing economy again. our economy had been stagnant for a decade. we would literally never get out of it if we stayed in a stagnant
11:24 am
economy. now i heard folks that have caught me and said, you know what, when that bill happened to the tax reform, it also blew a hole in the budget and had folks throw numbers around and say this is the giant hole in the budget. interestingly enough, we are a fiscal year through, our revenue for fiscal year 2017, was $3,315,000,000,000. our revenue after the tax cut in the tax reform for fiscal year 2018, $3,329,000,000,000. if you're doing the math in your head, that's $14 billion more after the tax cuts. in -- tax cuts in revenue. it means our revenue went up the next year. contrary to all the myths that
11:25 am
we're going to have a giant hole in the budget, our revenue went up after the tax cuts went into place. why? more people are more money to invest. more people invested. as they invested and had more money in their pocket, they bought more products, that stimulated more profit, that meant people get paid more. what happened in the past year? wages have gone up, especially wages on the low-income americans. their wages have gone up. unemployment has gone down. more people have a job. more opportunities to get a different job. all of those things are a great benefit, but that doesn't solve $22 trillion in debt. we have to have economic growth but economic growth by itself is never going to solve the issue. we also have to deal with our spending and our plans. each year for the last four years my office has released something we call federal
11:26 am
fumbles. it's ways that we believe the federal government has dropped the ball. and each year we take different areas. over the last four years we identified over $800 billion in ways that we could save federal tax dollars in specific problems that we laid out the problem, here's the solution. if we want to try to start attacking some of these things, here's our proposal. our goal from our office is very simple. we believe all 100 offices should look for ways to save the federal tax dollars. we believe everyone should look for ways to do efficiency. what we're doing is not unique to only our team, every team can do it. and, in fact, we believe that everyone wants to see the debt and deficit go down but it's now the next step of actually identifying how to do it. we identified in the last four $800 billion of ways to be able to save federal tax dollars.
11:27 am
that's a start. that's a beginning points of how to get us there. that would get us back to balancing our budget but we still have a ways to be able to go to get to a -- to a surplus in paying off our debt and deficit. we just released our report online. you can go to lankford online and download the report. we want to identify one of the major problems we have not only in overspending but we want to identify ways in how we are inefficient in how we operate. we begin with government shutdowns, as i think we should begin with. we just experienced the longest american disowrch in american history. it is not the first by far. people have short memories when people forget the times that we had shutdowns in the carter shutdown, the multiple shutdowns that have occurred on almost
11:28 am
every presidency in the modern day. it is not solving the problems that we have. last year there were eight republicans and eight democrats that talked about how to reform the budget process. i'm a firm believer we're never going to solve the problem of owg budgeting until we solve the problem of how we do budgeting. we don't budget in a way that actually determines more efficient spending, we determine how to spend more but not how to spend less. that's an issue we've got to solve. the 1974 budget act that's only worked four times since it was written in 1974 is not gospel. it's not constitution. it needs to be redone. there are proposals that we put into place specifically on how we can fix the budgeting process. again, until we get a better budget process -- a better budget process, we will never get a better budget product. so we identified some simple things, how we can do a two-year budgeting system, how we can
11:29 am
avoid government shutdowns. there are simple solutions that we put into place that will be effective. we released a bipartisan bill in the last couple of days on ending government shutdowns that we can get momentum towards and solve the shutdowns. we'll deal with the issue of the president's budget. not just this president, but every president's budget. it's been a problem there's never been a time since the 1974 budget act there's been been a new budget. let's figure out how to reduce the deficit. we have 12 bills that we put out every single year for spending, there is no mandatory bill for savings. so as simple as this sounds, why don't we add a 13th bill to our appropriations process, 12 designed for spending and one that's designed for savings that every time that would have to be a savings bill for every single congress. now that congress could choose how much they want to save, but every single congress would have
11:30 am
a mandatory savings bill to try to figure out what they are going to do to actually pull our deficits back. with $22 trillion in debt, i don't anticipate any time we're not going to need that 13th bill. we can do this. we can fix the way we actually make the law of the budget which currently is not law. it's a suggestion made by congress. that's blown past every single year. there's all kinds of budget games out that there -- out there that make the budget look better than it is. some are great cute names like chumps, changes in mandatory programs. they sound adorable but they make the budget look like it's closer to balance when it's actually even farther with a budget gimmick. we need to be able to send some of those. we lay our proposals for how to be able to do that. we lay out proposals on how to deal with the debt ceiling, on how to be able to resolve that. process reforms, we'll -- will make a big difference for us to get on top of the issue.
11:31 am
they may not be exciting. they may nod be headline grab -- may not be headline grabbing but until we fix this as a body, it will not get better. we deal with the senate rules of how we'll actually work together to be able to solve the issues. the senate has stopped working together in a lot of these things. and so we lay out some of the internal aspects of how to be able to solve them. we lay out some bills that be out there that we propose, one called the taxpayers' right to know. we don't have great transparency in our spending. if the taxpayer wanted to go find out how many government programs there were that were similar in function, they couldn't get it. the hard part is we can't get it as congress either. the only way that we can get a programatic list or go through the different programs of the different agencies is to make a request of the entity called the g.a.o. usually between 12 and 18 months later they will give us a report back. just to say what programs are out there and what those programs do. i met multiple times with the
11:32 am
director of g.a.o. with a bill proposal called the taxpayers right to know, a bill that passed the house of representatives last session unanimously, unanimously. and it's come to the senate and stalled. this bill does something very simple. it tells lawmakers and taxpayers what their government actually does. it's not trying to hide anything. it's trying to list every pam that we do, how much we spend on that program, if it's evaluated how it's evaluated. how many employees are dedicated to it. there's no gimmicks to it. it's just that simple. it's transparency. the great gift to our democracy is transparency and how we spend dollars. it would allow just this basic bill, would allow every single person in the country to be able to ask questions of their government. why do we have four programs that seem to do the same thing, why don't we have 18 programs in another area and 16 different
11:33 am
entities that seem to do something similar? why can't we combine that? why can't we crowdsource ideas? the reason is we don't pout transparent information -- we don't put transparent information out. we could crowdsource ideas on how to fix our government if only we allowed the taxpayer to see their government. the taxpayers' right to know allows us to do that. we deal with grant reforms, one of the areas we pushed on pretty hard in the last several federal fumbles books. but we lay out a set of ideas. there's a bill called the great act which passed in the last house of representatives overwhelmingly and, by the way, this house of representatives in this session led by democrats has also passed the great act and has sent it over to us to be able to reform the grant process and how that information gets out. now, it's a first step in getting information. i think there's more but it's a great first step for that.
11:34 am
grants always seem to be our issue. $600 billion a year is spent by the federal government just on grants. $600 billion. there's a great need for greater transparency in that. some grants are very large. some of them are small. some of them we can't figure out at all why we do it as a federal taxpayer. for instance, the last year the national endocument for humanities -- endowment for humanities did a grant to a california professor to use federal tax dollars to study soviet wine making. not current russian wine making. historic soviet wine making with federal grant dollars. now, i can kind of understand why california wine makers may want to be able to do a study of soviet wine making for some reason, but why is the federal taxpayer being asked to pay for a study on soviet wine making?
11:35 am
but we did. since 2001, we have a federal grant for a mariachi program in california. now, i kind of understand how a successful mariachi program working with children and youth may be something we would do in a couple of years to get started as a community program. makes total sense. but we've done it every year since 2001. at some point shouldn't the local entities pick that up? why is that a federal program that has to be done year after year after year? the grant issues don't have a lot of transparency. and there's a reason for that. because people don't want to be seen. they don't want to know that that program is out there. we want to just ask a simple question. let's do the grants but let's make sure they line up with federal priorities. let's make sure they actually line up with strategic things that actually help our economy and help expand our nation or protect our national security.
11:36 am
there are basic things we can do we lay some of those things out. we lay out some questions we think are practical questions on the renewable fuel and on ethanol in particular. the ethanol program was designed to be able to reduce emissions, but when it was designed to reduce emissions, it also grandfathered in all of the entities that produced ethanol currently at that time and none of those were required to reduce emissions. only new ones but what's happened? practically no new ones have come on board because it's a lot more expensive to limit emissions than it is to be an old facility that doesn't limit emissions. so you can't be competitive limiting emissions. so it really what the ethanol mandate does is protect the old ethanol companies to make sure they never get competition. why aren't we as a congress looking at that? you pay more at the gas pump
11:37 am
every time you fill up if you're not in the midwest because of the ethanol. now, if you're in the midwest, it may be a little cheaper for you, but if you're on the east or the west coast, your gas prices are higher because of the ethanol mandate. are you happy with that? we as a government need to able to look at that. we think it's a legitimate question to be able to ask about, not only on our debt and deficit but just for basic consumer spending and our g.d.p. and the growth of our economy. we deal with a lot of issues on federal workforce. we deal with regulatory reform. we walk through some of the hardest issues about how we're taking care of our veterans and what's happening to be able to take care of things like health care and transition them to vocational work because we feel it's important. we dug into small programs. for instance, an i.t. development program for veterans in muskogee, oklahoma, because if you're in the veterans service center in muskogee,
11:38 am
they're one of the largest veteran service centers? the country. you -- centers in the country. you handle a lot of different documents. as you go through the process for the great employees that are there and there are really solid people that are there, they have to log in multiple times and use a whole list of workarounds in their system that bogs down. each employee there spends 45 minutes a day just going through the logistics of logging in and changing around their system to make it work. 45 minutes a day of lost productivity in every single person there. well, the good news is, congress allocated $30 million to be able to fix their i.t. problems there. the bad news is it's still there. so we're asking the simple question where did that money go? how come the problem wasn't fixed? we can go on and on on these issues. we tried to lay out page after page sets of solutions, things
11:39 am
that we see as problems and inefficiencies in the way our government is working, the way our congress is working and to be able to establish what can be done. our goal is simple. laying out federal fumbles is a to do list for us. this is what we're working on right now along with a lot the other issues. we encourage every office to be able to glance through it. ask your staff to be able to glance through it and see what things they're working on in their office and see if we're not laying out ideas and let's find ways to work together. of all things we can do that we should be able to agree on, we should be able to agree $22 trillion in debt needs to be addressed. so let's strategize our we're going to solve it. let's find ways that our government's inefficient and let's find ways to be able to fix it. let me give you one more number. we met in a bipartisan group last year, eight republican, eight democrats trying to solve this issue on budgeting.
11:40 am
unfortunately, unsuccessfully. but the congressional budget office came and visited with us and we asked them a very specific question. our current level of debt, if we were to just try to stay at our current level of debt, not grow anymore, not get any worse, our current level of debt, how much would we have to tax or cut to be able to stay at our current level of debt? their response was $400 billion a year every year for the next 30 years, to just not make the problem worse, we have to either tax more or cut $400 billion a year every year for the next 30 years to keep it from getting worse. that's because as c.b.o. stated,
11:41 am
federal outlays -- that's how much we're spending -- are projected to climb from 20.8% of g.d.p. in 2019 to 23% by 2029. the aging of the population, the rise in health care costs contributes significantly to the growth of spending for the major benefit programs, such as social security and medicare and the rising debt and higher interest rates drive up the federal government's net interest cost. we've reached a tipping point in interest. our interest payments last year $325 billion just in interest on our debt. c.b.o. estimates within ten years our interest payments alone will be $928 billion. we've crossed over that tipping point we talked about before. now just to stay status quo because of the rising interest rates and interest payments, we
11:42 am
have to find $400 billion a year every year in new taxes or new cuts just to stay where we are. we're fumbling the biggest issue the americans have handed us. it affects our national security. it affects the future for our children. it affects how we take care of those that are in poverty. it affects those that are in their most vulnerable moments of life. it affects those in disability. it affects our transportation. we have got to have real dialogue about this. we're doing our part. we're trying to get the word out. let's have dialogue to try to figure out what we can do next together to be able to solve this. because none of us have plans for a $400 billion cut next ye year. so that means next year it gets worse again. and it will keep going until we solve it.
11:43 am
with that will i yield the floor. -- with that i yield the floor. the presiding officer: i recognize the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you very much, mr. president. i appreciate the remarks of my good friend, the senator from oklahoma. i look forward with working with him on ways we can try to come together to solve some of these big problems. i'm going to talk in a minute about the affordable care act which is probably the signature accomplishment of a democratic senate and congress, notable that the affordable care act for all its controversy reduced the deficit, did not increase the deficit. also notable that the signature accomplishment of the republican congress and the republican senate was a tax reduction bill that dramatically spirals the deficit out of control. $2 trillion of additional deficits in that provision. and so i share the concerns
11:44 am
about the deficit. i find it curious that this congress under republican control has chosen to dramatically increase deficits on pace for the biggest deficits in our legislative history and enormous additional new elements of debt as well. mr. president, i'm here, though, to talk about that affordable care act because one of the things we talk a lot about here in the senate floor is our mutual concern for people with preexisting conditions. these are the 130 million americans who are sick or who have a history of sickness. and if you'd listen to both sides of the aisle, you would believe that everyone is on board with the idea that we should provide individuals who are sick or have ever been sick with protections. and yet actions do not meet words when it comes down to it in the united states senate.
11:45 am
over the last two years my republican colleagues have spared no expense or effort to try to strip away protections for those individuals with preexisting conditions that were in the affordable care act. the repeal of the affordable care act is the most obvious example of that. but this week we will have a rare opportunity to take an up-or-down vote on this issue of whether we support keeping protections for people with preexisting conditions in this country. the reason for that is that we are going to vote on a nominee to the sixth circuit court who orchestrated, who directed the department of judiciary's attempts to take away protections for people with preexisting conditions through the court process. chad readler filed a brief in a
11:46 am
case brought by state attorneys general -- all of them republicans -- to strike from the affordable care act the protection for people with preexisting conditions. ordinarily, when state attorneys general come after the statutory , the generation whether it be a republican or democratic administration, defends the statute. this was an exceptional case in which these republican attorneys general generals were trying to take away protections for people with preexisting conditions saying that the a.c.a. was unconstitutional and an assistant attorney general by the name of chad readler stood up and volunteered to file a brief alleging that in fact the attorneys general were right. a rare, almost completely unprecedented example of the department of justice arguing
11:47 am
against the constitutionality of a statute that had been passed by the congress and signed by the president. interestingly, before chad readler decided to file that brief, others at the department of justice refused. in fact, one lawyer left the department of justice because he wouldn't put his name on something so absurd as the brief that chad readler filed. now, i'm not the only person who thinks that the arguments in his brief trying to strike down those protections for people with preexisting conditions was absurd. in fact, senator alexander read readler brief and said that the arguments were in it, quote, as far-fetched as any i've ever heard. that's a republican senator. the consequences of the judge following the recommendations of chad readler were catastrophic.
11:48 am
the judge struck down the affordable care act. that order has been held in abeyance temporarily. but the consequences of the readler brief would be that 133 million americans would lose their protections from higher rates because they were suck or had been sick, that 20 million people who had insurance would lose it virtually overnight. now, admittedly, the readler brief didn't agree with every single element of the attorneys general' lawsuit, but enough of it such that it was very clear the administration was weighing in on the side of the petitioners. almost immediately after filing that brief, he was nominated to serve on the appellate court, sending a very clear signal to all of those in the administration that if you take a leadership role on trying to strip away protections for people with preexisting conditions, you will be
11:49 am
rewarded. in this case, rewarded with a lifetime appointment. so we are about to vote on the architect of this administration's legal strategy to try to undo the most popular, most important protections in the affordable care act, and it represents this rare opportunity to understand where senators stand. it's super-easy -- it takes no political risk in order to stand up and say that you support protecting people who are sick and making sure that insurance companies don't jack up their rates. as it turns out, it's a little bit harder to actually back up your words with actions. but this one isn't that hard. voting against chad readler isn't that difficult.
11:50 am
in part because senator brown, who's the senator from ohio that did not sign a blue slip for chad readler's nomination, has made it clear, as early as 10 minutes ago, that he is willing to sign a blue slip for a mainstream conservative nominee. in this case, democrats aren't saying we want a nominee to the sixth circuit that isn't one that could be charitably described as a conservative nominee. we just don't want a nominee who has made his mark trying to tear down protections for sick people in this country. but that's what happens when you get rid of the blue slip. senator mcconnell and senator grassley have gotten rid of this decades' old protect to try to make sure that nominees to the federal bench, to the appellate
11:51 am
bench in this case, have the support of their home state senators. and when you do that, you tend to get a little more mainstream nominees. now that the blue slip is gone, now that senator brown has no ability to weigh in on individuals who are going to be making law in his state, you get a much more extreme nominee like this. so let's see what happens. i hope that there are some republicans who will stand up and decide that they're going to put their votes where their mouths have been on the question of protections for people with preexisting conditions, but at the very least, the american public will get to see where we all stand on this very important question in a matter of hours. i yield the floor. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:52 am
11:53 am
11:54 am
11:55 am
11:56 am
11:57 am
11:58 am
mrs. fischer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the chair recognizes the senator
11:59 am
from nebraska. mrs. fischer: thank you, mr. president. in the 116th congress -- are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the? is the in a quorum call. mrs. fischer: i would ask that it be vitiated, please. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. fischer: thank you, mr. president in the 116th congress, i am once again chairing the senate armed services committee subcommittee on strategic forces, which oversees our nuclear forces. over the coming months, i will be coming to the floor to discuss specific components of our nuclear deterrent and their contributions to the defense of this nation. today i rise to speak about the critical role that strategic bombers play in our nuclear triad. the triad is known for its flexibility and resilience, and bombers contribute to this flexibility in important ways. they are highly visible, and they can be forward-deployed. they can be used to signal resolve to our adversaries and
12:00 pm
commitment to our allies. this benefit is not theoretical. bombers have been used in exactly this way many times, particularly on the korean peninsula. bombers are also recallable and when armed withstandoff weapons, they can offer the president a variety of tailored-response options in a crisis. as the oldest leg of our nuclear triad, bombers have a long and distinguished history. in some way the story of the strategic bomber begins in the great state of nebraska. in the early 1940's, belleview, nebraska, was home to the martin bomber plant which was located on the land that is now the air force base. thousands of nebraska workers built and modified the nolagay
12:01 pm
and boxcar. the two b-29 bombers went on to deliver the little boy and fat man nuclear bombs over hiroshima and knac ushering in the nuclea. the horrific destruction of these attacks established the deterrent power that has prevented conflict on a global scale ever since. as ballistic missile technology evolved, the bomber continued to be the mainstay of our nuclear deterrent forces through the early 1970's. although bombers carry the heavy load for many decades, today we no longer rely on them in the same way. nuclear armed bombers have not been on 24-hour ready alert status since the end of the cold war in 1991. and the responsiveness alert
12:02 pm
status bombers provided now resides primarily with our icbm forces. the strength provided by the other legs of the triad have allowed us to take our nuclear capable bombers off alert and use them for conventional missions. when we send b-52 bombers to afghanistan to complete a conventional mission, we exercise the triad's flexibility. when u.s. b-2 bombers struck targets in libya, we utilized the triad's flexibility. these examples clearly demonstrate that the flexibility of the triad is not an abstract concept. it is something that our forces use every single day. our current nuclear bomber force consists of 46b-52 and 20 b-2
12:03 pm
aircraft. while we rely on this highly capable but aging fleet, we also look ahead to the future of the bomber force, and that is the b-21. as the b-21 development progresses, it is important to remember the lessons learned from the last time we developed a nuclear bomber, the b-2. as the cold war ended, nuclear tensions cooled and the need for an expensive nuclear capable stealth bomber seemed to diminish. even though the b-2 had already been developed and significant resources spent on research and the development, congress decided to reduce the final order from 132 aircraft to 20. in so doing the per unit cost of the airframe rose to $2 billion. the air force has said it plans to buy at least 100 b-21's but
12:04 pm
many in this chamber believe more are likely required to meet mission the nation expects. the nuclear triad is the bedrock of our national security and the airborne leg continues to contribute to the strej and -- strength and resilience of our nuclear forces. it is our responsibility to ensure this capability is modernized, particularly as the global security environment transitions to one of long-term strategic competition. thank you, mr. president. i would yield the floor. mr. president? the presiding officer: i recognize the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: mr. president, i have ten requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the
12:05 pm
majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mrs. fischer: i ask unanimous consent that the senate stand in recess under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate stands in objection, the senate stands in >> two more homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen will be heading to capitol hill to
12:06 pm
testify before the house homeland security committee. are remarks focus on border security and other issues. that beginning of life wednesday morning at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span3. you c-span3. you can watch online at or listen to the free c-span radio app. tomorrow the senate armed services committee holds a hearing on how military services prevent and respond to sexual assault. live coverage starts wednesday at 2:30 p.m. eastern also on c-span3. >> the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. >> asked not what your country can do for you. ask what you can do for your country. >> and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon. >> c-span's of newest book the president come noted historians rank america's best and worst
12:07 pm
chief executives. provides insight into the lives of the 44 american presidents, true stories with noted presidential historians. it's more of the life events that shaped our lives, challenges they faced and the legacies of them left behind published by public affairs, c-span's the the president wile on shelves april 23 at you can preorder your copy as a hardcover or e-book today at, or wherever books are sold here. >> remarks now from the pakistani ambassador to the u.s. he outlines his priorities for yours pakistan relations in the coming years. he talked about recent cross-border violence between india and pakistan in the disputed region of kashmir. this is just over one hour. >> i think we'll go ahead and get going. thank you for


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on