tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN July 17, 2019 11:59am-2:00pm EDT
the presiding officer: have all senators voted? any senator wish to change their vote? on this vote the yeas are 95. the nays are 2. two-thirds of the senators voting having voted in the affirmative the resolution of the ratification is agreed to. the majority leader of the senate. mr. mcconnell: the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the majority leader of the senate. mr. mcconnell: the democratic leader and i want to take a few minutes here to point out to everyone that our colleague, the senior senator from vermont, just cast a truly historic vote. of course the tax treaties are significant, but i'm talking about the fact that senator leahy just cast his 16,000th vote of his senate career.
we know of no single statistic that can begin to capture such tenure, but this figure comes close. 16,000 votes cast for his constituents. with numbers like that, senator leahy has already left towering figures like our late colleagues ted stevens and ted kennedy in the dust. now he's gaining on legends like danny inouye. i think it's safe to say that all of senator leahy's colleagues on both sides of the aisle are reminded every day why the good people of vermont made him the jungest u.s. senator -- youngest u.s. senator ever from vermont back in 1974 and why they rehired him over and over. he must be a hard act to follow too because he still, believe this or not, he's still technically the only democrat vermont has ever sent to the senate. i know we all admire the
senator's passion and perseverance. i remember him fondly from our time together as chair and ranking members on the senate appropriations committee for state and foreign operations. foreign ops is one of my favorite committee assignments and i'm proud of the investment senator leahy and i helped make in support of democracy, good government and human rights around the world. i think i speak for all of us when i offer congratulations to our good friend from vermont on this historic milestone. mr. schumer: i want to join my colleague, senator mcconnell, and offer my congratulations and my kudos -- that's singular we learned in our caucus lunch a few weeks agm vermont, senator pat leahy.
he's only the fourth person to reach this milestone out of nearly 1,900 men and women who served in this chamber. it's a great achievement, a great mark on history. his votes were so many of them, so significant. health care, education, declaration of war, international treaties, every issue foreign and domestic. they cover four decades. each vote in some small way impacting the trajectory of our great nation. just a little perspective, imagine taking 16,000 pennies and stacking them one on top of the other, they'd surpass the height of the washington monument. they more than double the height of the capitol dome. it's a reminder that a multitude of smaller actions and the accumulation of smaller accomplishments over a lifetime of quiet dedication can amount to a great monument of achievement. and leader mcconnell noted that senator leahy was the
youngest senator ever elected from vermont. he is still just as young in heart, at dedication, at conviction as he was the day he came to the senate. we welcome senator leahy and know that he will serve many, many more happy, productive years in this chamber. a senator: mr. president, i want to join the chorus here. this is a big day, as senator mcconnell and senator schumer said, for our friend and colleague pat leahy. mr. shelby: pat and i have been working together a long time. this is our fourth decade. he's just, as we were told, cast his 16,000th vote in the u.s. senate. i want to note that only three senators have ever hit that
mark. senator robert byrd, senator danny inouye, and senator strom thurmond. pat's got some time on his hands. this is an extraordinary achievement, as we all know, here in the senate. pat and i served together, as i said, for more than three decades. he was first elected, as senator mcconnell and senator schumer said at the age of 34, making him one of the youngest senators here. last work we worked completing our work together before the fourth of july recess on the appropriations committee. we're going to try to do this again this year working together. i just think if we work together as we have before, pat and i have given and taken from each other. i think it's good for the senate. and i want to congratulate senator leahy again on this rare and remarkable achievement,
16,000 votes. it's a first. he currently ranks first in seniority in the senate. first, folks, in seniority. he's our senior senator. it's been nothing short of a privilege to serve alongside him. he's an excellent colleague and he's been a class act, and i've enjoyed working with him and look forward in the future for a few more years. pat. mr. leahy: thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: that you -- thank yo, mr. president. i do want to thank the distinguished majority leader and the distinguished democratic leader, both very close friends of mine. my dear, dear friend, senator shelby from alabama, we have spent more time telling more stories and more days, i hope
the room was not bugged as we determined who best could vote with us on appropriations bills we've done it. we're doing it now with both a debt limit and appropriations. without going into such things, it's the friendships that mean the most both to me and to my wife marcelle. the friends we gathered on both sides of the aisle, the people i've traveled with around the world. i remember when my proud achievements was the war victims fund, but it was senator mitch mcconnell had it renamed the patrick leahy war victims fund. i knew that when senator schumer helped guide me into the committee assignments that made the most sense for vermont and for my own career, and i hope for the senate. my first vote was for the church
committee, to give oversight of our intelligence agencies. the intelligence committee came out of that. the two leaders of the intelligence committee, senator burr and senator warner, do such a great job with that. the first supreme court justice that i voted for was jean-paul stevens, a wonderful man. i voted for each member of the supreme court since then. and you go back to the 16,000 votes, i'm sure i could find some thinking what the heck was i thinking when i voted that way. but i'm proud to serve vermont, proud to be in this body. i'm mostly proud to serve with all the senators who are here on both sides of the aisle. some of the my closest friendships are there. i served with three wonderful
senators from vermont, and senator roberts' staffer no longer with us, a senior senator when i came here, he was mr. republican in our state and i wondered how he was going to react to this youngster, this democrat coming in. he and his wife ellen took marcelle and i under their wing. they taught us how best to form coalitions across the aisle with each other. i'll never forget that. i'm not going to hold up my colleagues here. i'll speak more about this at a a, at another time, but i think i might be the first vermonter to vote to end the war in vietnam, and we ended it by a one-vote margin at that time in the armed services committee. voting on others that were very
close votes and bipartisan votes, this means a lot. it is a privilege to be in this body, a body which has been at times and can be and should be the conscience of the nation. i would urge my friends on both sides of the aisle to continue to work together. as we've seen on trips that many of us have taken, that we've been, and i will close with mentioning just one trip that gave me the idea that senator hubert humphrey and republican leader leader hugh scott were going to go to moscow. they said you're going to come to moscow. i was 34 years old. i had just gotten through a campaign where nobody contributed to it. we were flat broke. and i blurted out what is the air fare to moscow, and he said we're going to take jerry's plane. i said jerry who?
jerry ford. he's the president. don't you read the papers? and both leaders, i would tell you, i learned we had an equal number of republicans and democrats on that, formed lifelong friendships and learned how to work together. and i would urge senators to continue doing that. and it was better than flying commercial. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and i thank my colleagues. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the next treaty. the clerk: treaty doc 111-8, patriots cole amending tax convention with luxembourg. the presiding officer: under the previous order the amendment to the treaty are withdrawn and the clerk will ratepayer the resolution of ratification. the clerk: resolution of the protocol of the tax convention
any senators wish to change their vote? on this vote the yeas are 93. the nays are 3. two third of the senators voted having voted in 9 affirmative, the resolution of ratification is agreed to. the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table. the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, clifton l. corker of tennessee to be united states district judge for the eastern district of tennessee. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that as if in legislative session, the senate proceed to calendar 153, h.r. 1327, that the bill be considered read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.
the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky paul reserving the rite to object -- mr. paul: reserving the right to object. it has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country. we have a $22 trillion debt. we're adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year. therefore, any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that will have the longevity of 70, 80 years should be offset by cutting spending that's less valuable. we need at the very least to have this debate. i will be offering up an amendment if the bill should come to the floor but until then i will object. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. mrs. gillibrand: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: i'm deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders. a bipartisan bill that just earned over 400 votes in the u.s. house of representatives and has 73 cosponsors in this
chamber. enough of the political games. our 9/11 first responders and the entire nation are watching to see if this body actually cares. do we care about the men and women who answered the call of duty? when our country was attacked on 9/11, 2001, an entire world looked on in shock and many people rightfully sought to get away as quick as they can as those towers began to crumble. there was one group of men and women, our heroes, the bravest among us who ran the opposite way. they ran towards danger. they raced up towers. they went into harm's way to answer the call of duty. and then in the days and weeks that followed, the months and months that followed, life
slowly began to return to normal for the rest of the country. but at ground zero, nothing was normal. the pile, it kept burning. it was smoldering. you could smell it. blocks and blocks, ten blocks, 20 blocks, 30 blocks away. men and women kept going to that pile to do the very hard work of first trying to find survivors and then, of course, just trying to find remains and doing all the hard work of cleaning up. they dove in. they got to work. they wanted to help our country heal. and now more than 18 years have actually passed and thousands of those men and women have
actually died. thousands more are getting sick. they're getting grueling, painful diseases like cancer and they are now dying. why? because they did the work at ground zero that we asked them to do and it made them very sick. the air they breathed, the smo smoke, burning metal, crushed glass, crurked electronics -- crushed electronics, toxics breathed in that the e.p.a. told them the air was safe. these heroes have since had to quit their jobs doing the jobs that they love, providing for the families they love because they're too sick. they've had to give up their income. they've had to give up their dreams. they've had to give up their future. they've had to face the terrifying reality that they are
actually going to die because what they did on 9/11 and the months thereafter. and as if that wasn't a great enough burden, they had to use their most precious commodity, time. time away from their families, time away from their friends, time away from their children, from their loved ones, from their community to do what? to come here. to come here to walk the halls of congress, to go to office after office to ask that this body and this government stand by them in their greatest time of need, to ask for the basic compensation that they have earned and deserve, to ask for
the health care that could actually keep them alive maybe another year longer and not have to go through bankruptcy. to have to come here week after week, spending thousands of dollars of their own money, sacrificing the time and energy that they've -- that they have left, i've seen first responders in wheelchairs, attached to oxygen tanks, spending their last moments here in congress just asking that we do the right thing. and almost a decade ago, nine years after the attacks, congress finally listened. we passed a health care and compensation fund for the people who got sick because of 9/11. but that compensation fund was
only designed to last for five years because you know how this place works and they wanted to make sure every i was dotted, every t was crossed. they wanted to make sure there could be no fraud, no corruption. of course there wasn't so it was limited. and these first responders, many of them sick and some dying, had to come back again and again and again and spend more of their time walking these halls. so eventually we passed another compensation bill, but again it was for another five years, even though thousands of 9/11 first responders are sick and even more will become sick. they still had to come back. even though some of these diseases are lifetime diseases, more will die and now, sadly,
the fund is running out. the five years aren't over yet, and the federal government is already having to tell these families who have gotten cancer and died since 9/11 that we've actually run out of money for them, that the compensation that they've earned and the need the families have will be cut by up to 70%. and once again sick and dying first responders are being forced to come here to knock on our office doors to remind members of congress what they did on that day and the weeks and mondays since, and to tell them their personal stories of how painful it is to lose everything you love. first your ability to work. then your ability to play with your kids.
then the ability to eat. and then the ability to breathe. so i believe we have a responsibility, a sacred responsibility that anyone in which chamber who has any sense of decency, compassion, or patriotism would listen to our first responders and give them what they need, a permanent compensation program so that these men and women never have to spend another moment in these hallways again. we could pass this bill right now, but instead my colleague has objected asking people to come back over and over. everyone loves to point fingers in this place where there's nowhere else to point that finger today than this chamber. the house has already passed the bill overwhelmingly, 402-12. it's about as bipartisan as it gets. and shame on those 12 members who voted no. the same bipartisan bill, the
one i just called on my colleagues to pass, already has 73 cosponsors. 73. when was the last time that happened? and i want to say how grateful i am to my republican colleague from colorado, senator gardner, for leading this bipartisan bill with me. mr. president, in these divided times, what other bill can you imagine would have so much support by both parties? enough is enough. we should pass this bill today. we should have passed this bill today, and i hope we can pass this bill with no further delay. i yield the floor. mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: first, let me thank my colleague, friend, the senator from new york, for the amazing work she has done to get this bill to this point. she has worked long and hard on this for years and years and
years with compassion, with dedication, with intelligence, with persistence, and the bill wouldn't be here today without her hard work, so i thank her for that. i also want to thank -- i know there are police and firefighters in the gallery over here. i want to thank them for coming. you are the people who got this done. you are the people who made this happen. more than any of us, more than anyone else. the heroes of 21st century america have names like zedroga and pfeiffer and alvarez, for whom this bill is named. three of the thousands who rushed to the towers bravely and lost their lives because of their bravery and selflessness. i would say to my friend from kentucky, throughout the history of america, when our young men and women and older men and
women volunteered in the armed services and risked their lives for our freedom, we came back and gave them health care, and we're still working on making it better. why are these people any different? they, too, risk their lives in a time of war -- risked their lives in a time of war and were hurt by it, by diseases they didn't even know they could get. how can we, for whatever reason, stop this bill from moving forward? we're going to have a defense bill on the appropriations floor. we're not going to offset it. it has pay raises for our soldiers. it has new equipment. we're not going to ask for an offset. why this bill? why is it different? it's not. this fund needs to be fully funded. i'd say to leader mcconnell
the house leadership hardly people who aren't careful with a dollar -- sometimes too careful -- kevin mccarthy and scalise, the freedom caucus leader, mark meadows, all voted for it. why are we holding this bill up? we put it on the floor today, we could pass it and be on the president's desk this week, and those brave people here and the many more who came would not have to come again. they should not have to come again. it's not that it's a joyous day when this bill passes. they're going to have to return to nurturing their brothers and sisters who are sick and to worry if they might get sick from all the gunk that was in the air that poisoned their systems, their lungs, their digestive systems, their kidneys and their livers. so the bottom line is very
simple. you can come up with 10,000 reasons not to do something, but you shouldn't come up with any reason why not to do something noble and right. i would urge my friend from kentucky to withdraw his objection. i would urge my -- senator mcconnell, the leader, to put it on the floor now, and we can let these folks in the gallery and so many others do what they need to do -- help their families, help their friends, and make sure their health is given the best, best protection possible. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: i just want to thank senator schumer for being such an extraordinary advocate for the men and women who served our nation. this bill would never have gotten this far without his leadership, without his dedication, and without his
absolute commitment to the men and women in the gallery, as well as the men and women in all 50 states throughout this country. and i just have to thank senator schumer for never giving up on this bill, for always bringing it across the finish line when we need his skills and his leadership and his tenacity the most. and i just want to thank him for the record for his undying commitment to the men and women who served this nation. i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. scott: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. scott: today is washington waste wednesday. it's a new series i launched last week to highlight all the ways washington wastes taxpayer dollars. unfortunately, there are a lot of ways. my belief is that you, the american taxpayer, can spend your money better than washington can. it's a novel concept up here in d.c. the way washington spends your money is oftentimes an embarrassment. as the governor of florida, my focus on responsible spending meant more money in the pockets of florida families and more funding available to pay down state debt and invest in what mattered most to our families. we paid down $10 billion in state debt over my eight years as governor. nearly one-third of total state debt. we cut taxes 100 times, giving more than $10 billion back to florida families and job creators. and we had record funding for education, for the environment, and for transportation.
right now, our national debt is impossible to fathom, much less sustain. $22 trillion. just let that sink in for a minute. we're already $22 trillion in the hole. that doesn't stop the far left democrats from opposing more debt for this country. medicare for all, which i like to call medicare for none. when not only -- will not only throw 150 million people off the private insurance they like, it is projected to cost as much as $32 trillion over a decade. that's $32 trillion with a t. the problem with our health care system is rising costs. it just costs too much. prescription drugs cost too much. hospital visits cost too much. obamacare drove up the costs of health care. that's obvious. then the government tried to hide that cost by providing federal subsidies to the tune of
$737 billion in 2019. $737 billion in 2019. and $1.3 trillion by 2029. instead of providing subsidies and proposing more wasteful ideas, we should be focused on bringing down the cost of health care which solves two problems -- first, it will result in more people having health care coverage, and second, it would ensure that health insurance result in actual health care. reduce costs and you solve both of these problems. but solving problems is a novel concept in washington. the democrats in washington just want to spend more money to solve every problem. on top of medicare for all, the democrats want a green new deal. the green new deal. i call it the green job killer. it will cost as much as $93 trillion. these two proposals alone would cost more than $100 trillion.
put that in perspective. that's more than $300,000 for every man, woman, and child in the united states. $300,000. you wouldn't run a business like this, so why are democrats proposing to run a country this way? we are turning this nation around. our economy is booming and wages are rising. we can't go wrong with this dangerous social playbook. higher taxes, more debt, more regulation. it will reverse our success and bankrupt our country. these ideas are the craziest examples of washington waste we have seen in a long time. thankfully, the american people won't go along with socialism. we can cut the waste and cut the spending, but we have to be thoughtful. we have to propose real solutions just like we did in florida to make washington work for all american families. i yield the floor.
mr. barrasso: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i come to the floor today to once again give the facts about the democrats' one-size-fits-all health care proposal. the legislation that many democrats are referring to as medicare for all. my focus said is what's going to happen to american patients if the government fakes full control of our nation's health care system. now, i speak as a doctor who practiced medicine for 24 years in casper, wyoming. it's so interesting as a doctor to take a look at what is being proposed because i know the
specifics of the impacts on the lives of patients, patients i have taken care of as part of my training and part of my practice in wyoming, and as a doctor also who has personally studied what's happening to health care in other countries around the world. we have no doubt heard about the worsening crisis of care in england. there are doctor shortages and of course there is rationing of care. british rationing has actually become the focus of a recent article in the magazine "the economist." the article's entitled "the front line of england's national health service is being reinvented." it says a shortage of family doctors leaves little choice but to try something new. and, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to submit for the record this article. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: the story opens with a simple observation, and
this is the first -- this is the first sentence. it is, quote, the national health service is free. the national health service is free, so it is also rationed. that's what we're seeing, and that's what people are living with every day in britain. under the guise of health care being free, they live in a world where health care is rationed. so how bad can that be? what would this mean with this one-size-fits-all medicare for all, which the democrats are proposing? so "the economist" writes that in britain today, quote, only patients with the most complicated or urgent problems make it to a doctor. because actually you today need a doctor's referral to see a specialist in england. but now in some parts of that country, a british bureaucrat must preapprove your visit to
the family doctor who will then make the referral to the specialist. i can't imagine people in our country tolerating that. s so ironically, access to the rationers is now itself rationed. according to the article, only half of british patients say they almost always get to see their preferred doctor. so only half get to see the doctor that they choose. remember that old line, if you like your health care, you can keep it, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor? in britain, only half to get to see their doctor, if they get to see it, if they get to go through the rationer, who is then a bureaucrat. and then what happens after you wait through all of this, wade through the morass of the bureaucrat and the family doctor to get to the special -- what does the article say about when you actually get to see a
doctor? the arming consultation time, it says -- the average consultation time, it says, is only nine minutes -- nine minutes -- on average. as a doctor, i can tell you nine minutes is one of the shortest consults i've ever heard of. i cannot imagine nine minutes after waiting all this time to see the doctor, nine minutes and then you're done and they're on to the next patient, who has also been waiting and waiting and waiting to see the doctor. so what does this tell us about what would happen to the united states, to patients trying to see doctors, if we followed this one-size-fits-all government-run health care program that senator sanders and so many of the democrats are supporting? well, if we adopt a government-run, one-size-fits-all health care system, which they're proposing, i would tell americans to expect to pay for, to wait longer for
worse care. that's what we would see. or to borrow the line from "the economist, request -- from "the economist," bureaucrats will outline what health care will mean for you. you may have seen the story about thousands of elderly patients go blind in britain. going blind. why are they going blind? well, it's because the british health service is rationing eye surgery. the president of the royal college of ophthalmologists has said that the rationing is part of the government's government-cutting drive in england, and people are going blind as a result. thousands of elderly patients desperately in need of eye surgery, but the bureaucrats, who must approve it, are denying the treatment. the number of denials has doubled in the last two years. do, to the royalty college of surgeons, a quarter of a million british patients have been waiting more than six months for
planned medical treatment. that is happening in england today, and the waiting times are getting longer. now, let's look at canada. according to "the new york times," senator bernie sanders likes the canadian system because he says it's free. now, of course he knows it's anything but free. the health care proposal that senator sanders is proposing would be a $32 trillion price tag. though the senator admits his plan hikes taxes on middle-class families -- he said it in a debate the other night -- the truth is that even doubling our taxes couldn't cover this huge cost. but yet a majority of the democrats in the house of representatives -- a majority -- have cosponsored what senator sanders is proposing. a majority of the democrat senators running for president today have cosponsored senator sanders' one-size-fits-all
proposal. apparently senator sanders approves of the canadian long wait time, because he says wait times are not a problem. well, maybe he should check with the canadians to see if wait times are a problem, because patients in canada typically wait three months for certain patients, much, much more. in some ways the canadian treatment system has been called trick-or-treat medicine because if you don't get your care by the end of halloween, you have to wait until the next year because they've run out of the money allotted for health care in that country in that year. as a doctor practicing in wyoming, i have actually operated on people from canada who came to the united states for care because -- and it's free up in canada, but they couldn't afford to wait for the free care they were going to get in canada, so they came to the united states to pay for the care here. but still that's what the democrats are proposing, a
one-size-fits-all approach so people will pay more through their taxes to wait longer for care that will be worse care, because even the congressional budget office, the people that looked at this in terms of the funding and looked at what it would cost to do a senator sanders-style approach, said it would be expensive, complicated, and the delays would be not just in treatment but also in technology. many democrat candidates for president have also endorsed, amazingly so, free health care for illegal immigrants. you saw the question being asked on the debate stage. every one of the democrats running for president standing there. they said, which one of you would have in your health care plan free health insurance, free health care for people in this country illegally. every hand went up. every hand on the stage went up.
when you take a look at what their proposal actually is -- this medicare for all, this one-size-fits-all approach -- it actually takes health insurance away from 100 million people who get it through work but gives it to illegal immigrants. so 180 million citizens will lose their on-the-job insurance while illegal immigrants will get it for free. the congressional research service recently reported that the sanders bill ends medicare as well as on-the-job health insurance, and what we'll be doing is all entering into a one expensive new government-run system. still the democrat senators running for president -- 118 democrat members of the house support the sanders legislation. they have cosponsored it saying,
let's the washington, d.c., bureaucrats call the shots. unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats calling the shots as they ration your care. they will micromanage your care, they'll delay your care, they'll delay your treatment, treatment you urgently need. and that is the difference, mr. president. people will lose the freedom to see their own doctor. we see that's happened in england. patients will wait months for treatment. keep in mind, care delayed is often care denied. and if they finally get to see a physician, the amount of time in consultation senior senator incredibly -- in consultation is incredibly short. that's why what's being proposed by the democrats in this one-size-fits-all approach, a british plan, a canadian mr. president, it is completely unacceptable to american citizens. you don't need democrats' phony promises of free care. what you need is to have the
freedom to get the indicator that you want, that you need from a -- freedom to get the care that you want, that you need from a doctor that you want. that's why republicans will continue to work on real reforms that increase transparency, that lower the cost of care, that lower the cost of what people pay out of their own pockets without adding these incredibly long wait times and the loss of the ability to make choices on your own. why should we pay more to wait longer for worse care, which is what we're seeing with a one-size-fits-all approach? let's make sure patients can get the care that they need from the doctor that they choose at lower costs. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president?
the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i have nine requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. these have been approved by both the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent that senators alexander and menendez be allowed to speak for five minutes each before the vote scheduled at 2:00 p.m. today. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, 50 years ago the world was transfixed by a grainy black-and-white image of neal armstrong descending a ladder preparing to take humankind's first steps on the moon. i was one of more than a half billion people, the largest television audience in history, glued to that television screen on that day. i was actually in high school. and like so many texans at the time, i was totally engrossed in
what was going on. staring at the television, it was hard to imagine that hundreds of thousands of miles away two brave americans were sitting on the surface of the moon. while their comrade remained in lunar orbit up above. i didn't quite understand what this development would mean for the future. i just remember thinking at that moment how proud i was to be an american. i looked up to these three men, and i still do, and i marvel add their courage, their intelligence, and their patriotism as well as that of tens of thousands of americans involved in getting them to the moon in the first place. we now know that this lunar trio had quite a sense of humor. michael collins was once asked in an interview what he was thinking about in the moments leading up to the liftoff, and
he joked, i was thinking of per deiem. we learned from buzz aldrin stepped off the ladder, he told them that he was being careful, not to lock the door behind him. when talked about the fact that most of the foes tows were of aldrin, neal armstrong joked, i've always said that buzz aldrin was the far more photo genic of the crew. there's one thing that is abundantly clear. that day, july 20, 1969, established the united states as the world's leader in human space exploration. it also put my hometown, the place of my birth, houston, on the map as the hub for
spaceflight innovation in the united states. we all remember the very first words uttered by neal armstrong after landing. he said, quote, houston, tranquility base here. the eagle has landed. of course, he was talking to the greatest minds of the generation who were working at johnson space center in houston, texas. the men and women at mission control center exercised full control over apollo 11 from the launch at canada space center to the landing on the moon to the splashdown in the pacific ocean. for more than 50 years now, the johnson space center has been at the heart of america's space program. the successful apollo mission marked a turning point in space exploration and folks across texas are eager to celebrate this momentous anniversary. you can do like i have and visit johnson space center yourself
and see nasa's mission control from apollo. it's redesigned to look exactly the way it did in 1969, down to the retrocoffee cups and glass ashtrays. you can watch the houston astros you can find space-themed menus and ask an astronaut events to educate our next generation of space travelers. to commemorate this historic mission in washington, i've introduced bipartisan, bicameral resolution with our colleagues, senator brown, congress congressman babin last month. i ask might fellow senators to join me in passing in this week. this resolution honors apollo 11's three crewmembers -- neal armstrong, buzz aldrin andal concollins, whose bravery and
still made this feat possible. in addition, it commends the work of the brilliant men and women who supported this mission on earth, including mathematicians like katherine johnson and the astronauts who lost their lives in previous spaceflight missions. to ensure that america remains the leader in human spaceflight, this resolution also supports the continued leadership of the united states. with this in mind, earlier in year i introduced a bill called advancing human spaceflight act with senator peters from michigan. to provide greater certainty and stability for our space program. this legislation will extend the authorization for the international space center through 2030 and launch the united states into a new era of space exploration. our future astronauts need spacesuits with advanced capabilities beyond what current technology can do. so this bill will also direct
nasa to directly the next-generation spacesuit for future exploration to the moon, to mars, and beyond. in order to make this dream a reality, this legislation will allow as soon as to partner with private space innovators, to ensure that we have the best and brightest working to achieve these goals. in addition, this bill will for the first time codify human space settlement as a national goal. i believe this legislation will help set the stage to launch the united states into a new era of space exploration, and there's no better time than this momentous anniversary to recommit ourselves to american leadership in space. in the years since that small -- that first small step, we've watched goal after goal being set and then met from viking 1 landing on mars to the
voyageer program exploring the outer planets to the international space station making human space habitation a reality. i have no doubt that the success of the apollo 11 mission made each of these victories possible and paved the wait for the future. for the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing today, we honor the brave and brilliant astronauts, physicists, engineers, mathematicians and scientists of all kinds who made our first, our nation the first to touch down on lunar soil. we're grateful for their courage, their sacrifices and their immeasurable contributions to our nation's space program. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor, and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
justice john paul stevens passed away at the age of 99. i just bought his book, most recent book. the subtitle of it was "my first 94 years in the law." justice stevens was a favorite born and raised in the city of chicago. he was a lifelong cubs fan. he was in the crowd at wrigley field as a very young man in 1932 on october 1 during a world series game when babe ruth did the famous called shot hitting a home run over the fence. he attended the university of chicago at northwestern law school. he graduated at the top of his class. and in between served as lieutenant commander in the united states navy during world war ii, was awarded the bronze star. after law school and clerkship with supreme court justice rut ledge john paul stevens became an accomplished attorney in chicago leading to his
nomination to the seventh circuit in 1970. 1975 he was nominated to the supreme court by president gerald ford. confirmed by the senate -- take note, confirmed by the senate 98-0. judge stevens served on the supreme court for nearly 35 years bringing to the court his midwestern blend of brilliance, courtesy, and humility. he leaves behind an enormous legacy. he was committed to safeguarding the rights and liberties protected by the constitution and he cherished the importance of the judiciary as an impartial guardian of the rule of law. those were his words in the famous bush vs. gore opinion where he said that was at stake in the majority opinion. the judging of the court as an impartial guardian of the rule of law. he was respectful at all times and respected by his colleagues at all times, by litigants and by the american people.
when he retired in 2010 at the age of 90, he was the third-longest tenured justice in the history of the supreme court. he was the last living justice to have served in world war ii. i want to extend my sympathy to justice stevens family including survivors daughters elizabeth and susan, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. today we bid farewell to a giant and we thank justice stevens for his decades of service to this country and for his profound contribution to american law. mr. president, i ask the next statement be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: years ago there was a senator from wisconsin named william proxmire. he he used to come to the floor every month and give what he called his golden fleece award for the worst example of federal government waste. earlier this year i launched a
new series dedicated to that tradition. floor speeches that built off the proxmire work with a focus on the most extreme cases of the pharmaceutical industry's greed. it's known as the pharma fleece award. i've highlighted price gouging for lifesaving insulin, the patent abuses that extend monopoly control over pricing of drugs, and the billions of dollars worth of medications that are thrown away each year deliberately due to the production of oversized, unnecessary drug vials. but this go month i want to focus on the pharmaceutical industry's role in another national disgrace, the opioid epidemic. we are in the midst of the nation's worst drug overdose epidemic in our history. there is no town too small, no suburb too wealthy to be spared the suffering and the death that
have been rocked by this problem. last year 2,062 people in my home state of illinois died from opioid overdosing. there's culpability with near all the stakeholders including the united states government, and there is no denying how this epidemic was ignited. for years the pharmaceutical industry wildly mischaracterized the risk of opioids, falsely claiming they were less addictive and less harmful, that these painkillers should be prescribed for common aches and pains even when the industry itself had information proving the dangers of such long-term use. in 2007 the manufacturer of oxycontin, purdue pharma, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of misbranding the drug by misrepresenting oxycontin's risks. this resulted in a modest fine as the company continued to flood the nation with their
deadly painkillers. new reporting thorn from the washington -- this morning from "the washington post" found big pharma saturated the country with -- listen to this -- 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills between 2006 and 2012. during a six-year period 76 billion pills produced by pharma. one sib -- subsidiary company put 28 billion opioid pills on the market during this time, this six-year period of time. 28 billion. downstate in illinois, a small rural county, hardin county has fewer than ten doctors patriotic prescribe controlled substances. population of the county 4,300 people, one of the smallest least populated counties in my state. in the year 2010 approximately 6
million hydrocodone pills and one million oxycodone pills were shipped to hardin county and surrounding communities. 4,300 people, 7 million pills. all of this data was captured and reported to a federal agency. the drug enforcement administration. that will come up again in my presentation. that means that drug manufacturers knew about this obscene volume of pills being produced and sold. the drug distributors knew exactly where and how this was being transported and law enforcement had its eyes on it all along. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record the list of the top opioid distributors and top opioid manufacturers to every corner of this country from 2006 to 2012. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you. this opioid epidemic wasn't started by some runaway virus. there were decisions made by
real people to flood america's towns and streets with a blizzard of prescriptions, as richard sackler of purdue pharma put it in his own words. in fact the pharmaceutical industry in the united states produced 14 billion opioid pills in 2016 alone, enough pills, opioid pills for every adult in america to have a three-week supply of opioids. who would approve the production of 14 billion opioid pills in one year, 2016? it turned out it was your government. the drug enforcement administration of the united states of america that's responsible for determining and basically giving a license for the production of a specific amount of opioid pills allowed to be distributed to the market
each year. it's the drug enforcement administration, of all agencies, that establishes annual production quotas for opioids that are effectively the gatekeepers for pharma. pharma of course wants to produce as much as possible, to sell as much as possible. but the drug enforcement administration is supposed to draw the line. for all of these years, while we face this epidemic, our government, the drug enforcement administration, was increasing the production quotas for opioid pills. between 1993 and 2015, the drug enforcement administration allowed the production of objectiony he could he done -- oxycodone to be increased, from three and a half tons in 1993 to 151 tons of opioids in 2015. it's the same story for
hydrocodone which increased 12 fold and fentanyl which increased 25fold. how did they reconcile their decision to flood america with these drugs at a time when they were being abused and addiction was leading to death all across our country. last year i passed bipartisan legislation, senator john kennedy, republican from louisiana and i, gave the drug enforcement administration more authority to set commonsense production levels. it was hard to believe we had to do that, to bring it to their attention that they were authorizing the production of opioid pills into an america that was facing the worst opioid epidemic in its history. previously, the drug enforcement administration could only look
at what pharma asked for when determining quotas. in other words, they believed they had officially statutory blinders where they couldn't consider the impact of pharma's annual impact of production. so senator kennedy and i required the drug enforcement administration to consider abuse, overdose deaths and the public health impact. now, between 2016 and 2019, finally the drug enforcement administration has lowered opioid quotas by an average of 46%. no longer can big pharma can away with producing the sheer volume of painkillers. the drug enforcement administration will soon enforce its 2020 quotas and i will send them a letter urging theming to
use the new authority which i put into law to pass with senator kennedy to rein in big pharma's demand. think about that. while we're going through the opioid epidemic, pharma, the people who make the pills, are coming to washington to the drug enforcement administration and getting permission each year to produce billions of opioid pills to be sold in the united states, enough for every adult american to have a three-week opioid prescription. the centers for disease control sent out a letter to doctors nationwide two years ago and said only in the most extraordinary cases should you prescribe for three days. and then watch them carefully because in a short period of time addiction begins. three days, pharma was asking for production of opioid pills so that each adult american
could buy three weeks worth of pills, and the drug enforcement administration was complicit. to hold all stakeholders accountable, major legal challenges have been brought against the pharmaceutical industry for all the suffering and deaths. over 1,600 lawsuits from states, cities, counties and victims have been consolidated into a case in ohio. this reminds me of another health scourge, when americans were given misleading information about the health risk of tobacco. it took the 1998 master tobacco settlement agreement to hold major manufacturers of tobacco responsible for the manufacturers that hooked youth and adults to a lifetime of addiction and death. that settlement was estimated to provide states with $
206,000,000,045 years ago, but sadly only a tiny fraction of that amount, only 8% of the settlement was dedicated to tobacco prevention. instead $145 billion from the tobacco settlement has gone to fill state budgets and pet projects, roads, bridges, stadiums, even a tobacco museum. should today's opioid litigation result in large monetary settles from the pharmaceutical companies and their distributors, it is essential this funding be dedicated to legitimate public health efforts to respond to the current epidemic and prevent the next one. mr. president, in the city of chicago, near an area known as greek town, there's a drug rehab facility that i visited many times, it's called hay market. it was started by a catholic priest who took on a ministry that no one wanted. it helped those addicted to
drugs and alcohol turn their lives around. he started the haymarket house as an refuge for them and an attempt to give them some help toward escaping their addiction and being rehabbed. can you imagine what it would be like today. he's gone today, sadly, but they continue the haymarket house. imagine what they face dealing with drugs, alcohol, and mental illness on top of it. they are dramatically understaffed. they don't have the necessary bed space for people who need a helping hand, folks who realize they need a helping hand. wouldn't it make sense to have this dedicated to places like that all over the united states? there are many more options in the city of chicago than in the more sparsely areas that i hail from. there are some counties that
wait six months once they realize the need for help, wait six months for any treatment and have to travel great distances for that to happen. senator brown and i recently wrote an opinion piece published in "the cleveland plain dealer," and i will say that those who have read it, where the consolidated court case is taking place, and we outlined what we think should happen if we have any input to a settlement. we need to make sure that money is spent for addiction, treatment, medication, residential and community treatment services, mental health counseling, which is a necessary adjunct to this effort, building our behavioral health workforce in the lock zone distribution and addressing childhood trauma. wouldn't it be great if there is a settlement here that it is dedicated to ending the drug
epidemic and turning lives around and saving people from addiction and death. this should be a cautionary tale that guides our efforts to heal from the opioid effort. if big pharma is held to account, their restitution should be devoted to making -- helping our nation heal. mr. president, this chart shows the dramatic increase in production of the two most popular products -- opioid products. i'll never be able to explain how the agency of the united states federal government dedicated to protecting us from drug crime and drug addiction ended up authorizing these enormous quotas of the production of opioid pills, but we know what happened. in tiny harden county in southern illinois, as well as the streets of chicago, they were flooded with opioid pills. and when the opioid pills became too expensive, they towrnd a cheaper -- turned to a cheaper alternative, heroin and then
heroin was being laced with fentanyl and today we have a deadly epidemic almost out of control. i can't understand what pharma was thinking, except looking at the profits and bottom line that would justify the production of that level of opioid pills into the united states of america. all i can promise is that a number of us, myself included, will be holding the drug enforcement administration accountable it make certain that this is not duplicated again in the years to come. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: mr. president, within a few minutes, the senate will be voting on president trump's nomination of clif corker to be the united states federal district judge for the eastern district of tennessee. i'm here to urge my colleagues strongly to support clif corker. clif corker has the respect of the people who know him best. he was selected to serve as magistrate judge by the district court judges of the eastern district of tennessee, a very high testament to his qualifications. when clif corker was appointed magistrate judge, this is what he said. it's a tougher judge to be the
decision-maker rather than the advocate. there's so much more responsibility in making the decision than advocating for your client because you really want to see justice done. prior to his nomination to be magistrate in 2015, judge corker had his own law firm in johnson city, tennessee. he handled a wide range of case comes from civil litigation to capital murder. he graduated from james madison university, received his j.d. from william & mary law school. the american bar association rated judge corker as unanimously well qualified. the highest ranking a nominee could receive. i'm sure that's because of his judicial and litigation experience. judge corker has big shoes to fill. he's taking over for judge ronnie grier, very well respected tennessean, friend of
mine for many years who has served as judge in tennessee's eastern district for the last 15 years. prior to that he was a state senator in tennessee. cliff corker demonstrates the qualities i look for in a judge, good character, good temperament, high intelligence, respect for the law, respect for those who come before the court. tennessee is fortunate that president trump chose to nominate such a well qualified candidate. i urge my colleagues toe support judge corker's nomination. thank you very much, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: i ask unanimous consent to speak up to five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: mr. president, i regret that i come to the floor to announce my opposition to one
of president trump's political nominees, miss lynda blanchard. to be honest i cannot even believe that we are considering her nomination on the floor of the united states senate. u.s. ambassadors are supposed to represent the best of america to nations around the world. and i challenge my colleagues, republicans and democrats alike, to look at this nominee's record and tell me with a straight face that lynda blanchard should represent the united states anywhere. look, i've made a good-faith effort to work with this administration to confirm a number of well-qualified individuals to state department positions that are vital to advancing america's interests around the world. i don't think anyone can deny that. but there are some nominees who just raise too many red flags. and i raise this to secretary of state mike pompeo in a letter i sent in june of 2018 shortly
after his confirmation. i explained that a number of nominees before the senate foreign relations committee had demonstrated histories of questionable temperament and judgment, of questionable conduct, of me to issues, just to mention a few. and i expressed my hope that we could work together to find qualified nominees to the u.s. department of state. i'm disappointed that that effort went unheeded. miss blanchard has a history of using facebook as a platform to post incendiary false articles and disturbing statements. for example, she once shared an article titled, quote, the clinton body count expands, five mysterious deaths in the last six weeks. resurrecting the vicious lie and preposterous conspiracy theory that president bill clinton and secretary of state hillary clinton have systematically
murdered political opponents and associates. then on election day of 2016, she posted on facebook, quote, may god our father paint this country red with the blood of jesus. inappropriately using religion as a blunt instrument in a political campaign. she has also chaired articles by the far-right tribune some that were taken down for failing to mete its editorial standards quite literally fake news. what is perhaps most disappointing to me is that two and a half years into the trump administration, none of this is particularly new. we have had trump diplomatic appointments call for putting political opponents in prison, such as kyle mccar thursday, president trump's advisor -- excuse me, ambassador to kenya who tweeted on election night 2016 hillary for prison. no, really. we have had trump diplomatic
appointments already at their posts make totally inappropriate and inflammatory forays into american politics which is taboo for the foreign service, such as in june of this year when karla sands, president trump's ambassador to denmark appeared to accuse former president obama of a, quote, attempted coup d'etat in america. the united states ambassador in denmark, june of 2019. and we have had trump diplomatic appointments embarrass the country by making false claims and then failure to take responsibility for them. pete hoss extra has claimed that there were, quote, no go zones too dangerous to -- muslim migration. when asked about the statements, he claimed they were fake news until he was confronted with footage of his own