Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate 12122017  CSPAN  December 12, 2017 10:01am-12:32pm EST

10:01 am
that haven't happened, for the unseen angels who have guarded our nation and those we love. may our lawmakers remember that all efforts to defend ourselves will fail without your sovereign will and loving providence. may our senators not put their trust only in their ingenuity and courage but instead lean on you, the author and finisher of our faith. lead our legislators on right path, as they trust you to clear the road on which they travel. order their steps
10:02 am
and direct their way, training them in your school of humility so that they will strive to bring glory to you. we pray in your holy name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., december 12, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable ben sasse, a senator from the state of nebraska, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch,
10:03 am
president pro tempore. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday the senate advanced the nomination of leonard stephen grasz to be a judge on the eighth circuit court of appeals. mr. grasz has sterling credentials and strong support from the nebraska legal community. i proudly voted to advance his nomination and the senate will confirm him soon. next we'll vote to advance the nomination of another well qualified individual, texas supreme court justice don willett to serve on the sixth circuit court of appeals. justice willett respects the rule of law and foundational
10:04 am
legal principles and he will be a strong addition to the fifth circuit. his story is an inspirational one, adopted at a young age and raised by a widowed mother in a town of 32 people. he was the first person in his family to grad yate from the -- graduate from high school. as our colleague senator cornyn said at the judiciary committee committee hearing, his life will reflect the best of texas and the best of america. from these humble beginnings, justice willett has led a remarkable career. after graduating from duke law school he clerked for judge williams. he has now been nominated to the package to join. he spints a short time in private practice before entering public service and then -- and then governor george w. bush's administration as a legal policy advisor.
10:05 am
when president bush entered the white house, justice willett joined him as a special assistant to the president. in that role he helped shape the domestic legal policy of the bush administration, especially in the president's efforts to increase charitable activities in neighborhoods across the nation. the next year he became deputy assistant attorney general in the justice department's office of legal policy. there he oversaw both civil and criminal policy initiatives, including what became the protect act of 2003 which increased law enforcement's ability to prevent and prosecute violent crimes against children. justice willett returned to texas to serve as the deputy attorney general for legal counsel. as the top legal aide to attorney greg abbott, he advised the office on a wide variety of legal matters. in 2005 he was appointed to serve as the justice on the texas supreme court. elected to a full term in 2006 and reelected in 2012, justice
10:06 am
willett has served with distinction on the texas high court now for over a decade. during that time he has ruled fairly and impartially. four of his former colleagues on the texas supreme court wrote a letter to the judiciary committee supporting justice willett's nomination. here's what they wrote. his demonstrated belief is the courts should enforce both the constitutional rights and constitutional limitations and uphold the rule of law but not enforce a personal agenda. on occasion they continued, we did not agree with each other or with him or his disposition of an appeal but we respected don's opinions and never doubted his devotion to principle. in addition, retired texas supreme court justice wallace jefferson recommended justice
10:07 am
willett's nomination writing that he will be a thoughtful, hardworking, diligent and influential member of the court of appeals for the fifth circuit. justice willett has also been recognized for his excellence by the texas review of law and politics which named him its distinguished person of the year in 2014. so i'd like to commend president trump for nominating justice willett to the fifth circuit. under chairman grassley's leadership, the judiciary committee has done an outstanding job processing this nomination and many others. by joining the fifth circuit, justice willett will use his talents to continue to serve his state and his nation. i look forward to advancing his nomination and i would urge our
10:08 am
colleagues to joining me in doing so. i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to immediate consideration of calendar number 274, s. 447. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 274, s. 447, a bill to require reporting on acts of certain foreign countries on holocaust era assets and related issues. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the committee-reported amendment be agreed to, the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive
10:09 am
session to resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, leonard stephen grasz of virginia to be united -- of nebraska to be united states circuit judge for the eighth circuit. mr. mcconnell: i suggest th the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:10 am
10:11 am
10:12 am
10:13 am
10:14 am
10:15 am
quorum call:
10:16 am
10:17 am
10:18 am
10:19 am
10:20 am
10:21 am
mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, last week, the house and senate passed a short-term funding bill to keep the government open as republican and democratic negotiators continue to work on a long-term spending deal. the negotiations are advancing
10:22 am
well, but many issues remain to be resolved. first and foremost, we must resolve the issue of spending caps. if we do nothing, there will be painful and unnecessary cuts to both defense spending and programs that invest directly in jobs and economic development for the middle class in early january. we must lift the spending caps for defense and also those urgent domestic priorities in equal measure. that has been the basis of the successful budget agreements going back several years and as recently as april of this year. there was parity between defense and nondefense, and that's how it ought to stay. that's what brought us home into a good agreement, no shutdowns in previous years. as the opioid crisis continues to rage, dimming the bright future of so many americans, we have a moral obligation to step up our country's support for
10:23 am
addiction treatment and recovery. i have had parents, a father, cry in my arms because his son was online waiting to get into a treatment program but it was too crowded, he had to wait, and the kid died of an overdose before he could get in. we can't have that in america. so many of our young people, the flower of our youth, are dying or being hurt so badly, addicted, with this opioid crisis. we cannot just sit by, just as we cannot sit by with foreign threats that plague our country. as veterans continue to struggle to find the quality health care they deserve after bravely serving this nation, we should be making additional investments in veterans health care and veterans hospitals. just as we need to help our soldiers abroad, we need to help those who have fought for us, risked their lives for us, and now have health care problems.
10:24 am
as hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of miners, truck drivers, construction workers, and food service workers approach retirement age, we have to make sure that pension plans promised to them have enough in the bank to fulfill that promise. these people pay every month painstakingly into their plans. so did their employers. often they forewent salary increases so they could make sure they are taken care of when they retire. and now that the pension funds, in good part because of the crash of 2008, don't have the money they need, these people should not be left out. hardworking american families deserve to retire with dignity and security that they have earned. and if we don't meet these pension obligations today, they are going to cost the government a whole lot more tomorrow. that's why democrats are fighting for pension -- for a
10:25 am
pension solution in the year-end spending bill. so, mr. president, these are all urgent priorities. there are more of them. they can't wait another day. just as we must make sure our men and women in uniform have the resources and support they need to do their job, so let's do both in a bipartisan way. as democrats continue to push for desperately needed funding to combat the opioid crisis, improve veterans health care and shore up pension plans, we'll also be pushing to reauthorize chip, the children's health insurance program, and community health centers, as well as dealing with certain health care programs that have expired. we have to do more for the americans in texas, florida, louisiana, puerto rico, and the u.s. virgin islands who are still recovering from devastating natural disasters. we're in the process of negotiating with republicans to provide a significant investment in border security in exchange
10:26 am
for daca. these talks continue to progress, and i'm hopeful we can preach agreement on that issue as well. so, mr. president, we have got a lot to get done before the end of the year. we don't have much time to do it. but with a concerted effort of both parties, negotiating in good faith, i believe we can reach an agreement acceptable, not to every member of either chamber, but to large numbers of members on both sides of the aisle so we can pass by a wide margin our agreement. mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:27 am
10:28 am
10:29 am
10:30 am
quorum call:
10:31 am
10:32 am
10:33 am
10:34 am
10:35 am
10:36 am
10:37 am
10:38 am
10:39 am
10:40 am
10:41 am
10:42 am
10:43 am
10:44 am
10:45 am
quorum call:
10:46 am
10:47 am
the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. senate is in a quorum call thune i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, for more than two decades under both
10:48 am
republican and democratic presidents and republican and democratic congresses, the united states pursued a bipartisan, light-touch approach to internet regulation. the internet as we know it today flourished under this light-touch approach, much to the benefit of american consumers and the domestic economy. it also made america the world leader in internet technology and positioned us to continue that leadership in the years to come. in 2002, broadband internet was classified by the federal communications commissioner of the f.c.c., our nation's regulator, as an information service under title 1 of the communications act. this classification exempted the internet from burdensome regulations contained in title 2 of the communications act which were designed in the depression era for the old telephone monopolies. under the obama administration, though, we saw repeated attempts
10:49 am
to bring the internet under greater government control. finally, in 2015, at the explicit direction of president obama, the f.c.c. did as it was followed and reclassified broadband internet access service as a title 2 service subjecting broadband internet to onerous common-carrier rules and opening the door to further regulation, including price regulation. not surprisingly, with heavier regulation came a decline in broadband investment. indeed, we have seen private investment in broadband infrastructure decline over the past two years. this decline should not be mistaken as a sign that broadband infrastructure is not needed. in fact, the opposite is true as there are still 34 million americans who lack access to broadband services at home. in states like my home state of south dakota, encouraging
10:50 am
broadband deployment continues to be critical to ensuring that rural areas have the same economic opportunity as their urban counterparts. the federal government should not be putting up barriers to broadband deployment. it should be removing them. congress and the f. -- f.c.c. need to ensure regulatory framework is in place that protects consumers but doesn't stand in the way of investment and innovation. prior to the f.c.c.'s 2015 actions to bring broadband under title 2 and for more than a decade under the light-touch regulatory framework of title 1, we saw unprecedented growth that revolutionized our daily lives and allows us to stay better connected with our loved ones. the internet created new jobs and expanded opportunities for education and commerce. it became the greatest engine of innovation for our times.
10:51 am
and despite the fearmongerring and doomsday rhetoric that continues to plague this debate, when the f.c.c. moves forward with its order and restores the internet to its pre-2015 regulatory status, the internet will continue to thrive and serve as an engine for future economic growth. mr. president, i commend chairman pai of the f.c.c. and the commission for all the hard work over the last year that has gotten us to this point. i also commend chairman pai for his commitment to transparency throughout the process. for the first time in the history of the commission under chairman pai's leadership, the public was able to view the restoring internet freedom item three weeks prior to the f.c.c.'s vote. that is true of all documents to be considered by the commission, a major departure from the previous administration's actions which were often not made public until the very last
10:52 am
minute. as a result of chairman pai's commitment to transparency, the public has the benefit of not only viewing the item but also participating in the process. despite amendments by those more interested in politicizing the issue and distracting from this debate, this item resulted in the most well informed and exhaustive record of comments ever submitted to the f.c.c. the f.c.c. is now well positioned to move forward to ensure that the ger net is -- internet is open and free. regrettably, however, mr. president, the debate doesn't end there. the outcry from opponents of the f.c.c.'s proposal is that the internet will fall apart without adequate consumer protections. there is obviously immense passion that follows the issue of net neutrality. americans care deeply about preserving a free and open internet as do i and so many of
10:53 am
my colleagues here in the united states senate on both sides of the aisle. as i have stated repeatedly and i will say again today congressional action is the only way to solve the endless back and forth on net neutrality rules that we've seen over the past several years. if my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and those who claim to support net neutrality rules want to enshrine protections for consumers with the backing of the law, i call on you today to join me in discussing legislation that would do just that. while we are not going to agree on everything, i believe there is much room for compromise. so many of us in congress already agree on many of the principles of net neutrality. true supporters of an open internet should be demanding such legislative protections
10:54 am
today, not posturing while waiting for years during protected legal proceedings or waiting for the political winds to shift. if republicans and democrats have the political support to work together on such a compromise, we can enact a regulatory framework that will stand the test of time. i've stood willing to work with any and all supporters of net neutrality protections for many years now, and i continue to stand ready today. it is time, mr. president, for congress to settle this debate, and i welcome discussion on ways to ensure a free and open internet for decades to come. mr. president, it's been a good
10:55 am
week here in the united states senate. we're getting closer and closer to the finish line on tax reform. and that means we're getting closer and closer to real relief for the american people. our legislation is going to cut tax bills for american families. it's going to increase their wages, and it's going to give them access to new jobs and opportunities. the tax bill the senate passed december 2 would cut income tax rates for american families starting next month. it would double the standard deduction. it would double the child tax credit. that would mean a substantially lower tax bill for american families next year. under our bill, a family of four making $73,000 a year would see a $2,200 tax cut. but our bill just doesn't just provide immediate relief for families. our bill also sets families up for economic health for the long term by giving them access to
10:56 am
higher wages, new jobs, and better opportunities. and how does it do this? well, by improving the playing field for american businesses. in order for individual americans to thrive economically, we need american businesses to thrive. thriving businesses create jobs. they provide opportunities. and they increase wages and invest in their workers. but our current tax code has not been helping businesses thrive. for years now our tax laws have left businesses of all sizes struggling under the burden of high tax rates and an outdated tax system that has left american businesses at a disadvantage in the global economy. small businesses employ nearly half of american workers and create a majority of the new jobs in this country. but right now small businesses face high tax rates that can make it difficult for these businesses to even survive much less thrive and expand their operations. mr. president, our bill fixes
10:57 am
this. to start with, our bill imp mfntses a new -- implements a new deduction for pass-through businesses like partnerships, l.l.c.'s and s. corporations. this deduction would allow them to keep more of their money which would allow them to reinvest in their operations to increase wages and to higher new workers -- hire new workers. our bill also reforms current provisions in the tax code that frequently leave small businesses with little cash on hand. under our legislation, small businesses would be able to recover the capital they've invested in things like inventory and machinery much more quickly and in certain cases immediately. this in turn would free up capital that small businesses could use to expand and create jobs. our legislation also includes provisions that i helped develop that would simplify accounting rules for american -- or for small businesses, i should say, which would also help reduce their tax burden leaving more of their earnings to reinvest in their businesses and in their workers. mr. president, in addition to
10:58 am
providing relief to small businesses, another thing our bill does to boost american wages is to lower our massive corporate tax rate. our nation's corporate tax rate is currently the highest in the industrialized world, which puts the united states and our businesses at a major disadvantage next to their international competitors. reducing the corporate tax rate would enable u.s. businesses to compete on a more level playing field which would in turn free up money that u.s. businesses could use to create jobs and to increase wages. the white house counsel of economic advisors estimates that reducing the corporate tax rate to 20% would increase wages for u.s. households by $4,000. that's money, mr. president, that families could use to save for retirement, to help pay for a child's education, replace an aging vehicle, or invest in
10:59 am
their home. our bill would also boost wages and increase opportunities for americans by ending the outdated tax framework that is driving american companies to keep jobs and profits overseas. our nation currently operates under a so-called worldwide tax system. that means that american companies pay u.s. taxes on the profit they make here at home as well as on part of the profit that they make aprod once -- abroad once they bring that money back to the united states. the problem with this is that american companies are already paying taxes to foreign governments on the money that they make abroad. then when they bring that money home, they can end up having to pay taxes again on part of those profits and at the highest tax rate in the industrialized world. it's no surprise that this discourages businesses from bringing their profits back to the united states to invest in the domestic operations and new jobs and in increased wages of
11:00 am
the our bill replaces our outdated worldwide tax system with a territorial tax system. under our legislation, american companies would no longer face the double taxation that has encouraged them to send their investments and their operations overseas. instead, u.s. companies would have a strong incentive to invest their profits at home in american jobs and american workers. all in all, the tax foundation estimates that in addition to increasing wages, our bill would create nearly one million new jobs for american workers and boost the size of the economy by 3.7%. mr. president, this week, members of the house and the senate, myself included, are working on the final draft of comprehensive tax reform legislation. we hope to send a final bill to the president next week. i'm thankful to have been able
11:01 am
to be part of this tax-writing effort. the bill that we're finalizing, which is the product of years of work by members of both parties, represents a once in a generation opportunity to profoundly change the american people's lives for the better. our tax bill will provide real, immediate, direct relief to americans, and do it now, and it will give americans access to the kind of jobs, wages, and opportunities they need for a secure and prosperous future. mr. president, after years of economic stagnation, the bill that we're drafting will usher in a new era of economic dynamism in this country, and it will send a message to the world that america's serious about competing and winning in the 21st century. mr. president, i'm grateful to
11:02 am
my colleagues on the house and senate tax-writing committees for all the work they have done to put together this legislation, and i look forward to working with my colleagues on the conference committee to finish our final draft and to get this bill across the finish line for the american people. mr. president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:03 am
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip is recognized. mr. cornyn: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. cornyn: i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection.
11:04 am
mr. cornyn: mr. president, i approach this topic with a little bit of trepidation. ordinarily, when people make outrageous and outlandish and unbelievable statements, i usually think it's best just to get them go because when people make these kind of statements, i think they lose their own credibility, and maybe it doesn't bear any particular comment by anybody else or desire to or attempt to refute it, but on the subject of tax reform, there have been some incredible statements that have been made, and i'm going to mention a few of those because i think they really paint an ugly picture of the -- what's supposed to be a debate on a tax reform policy, but i think probably they bear more -- they relate more to -- for the nature of what passes for debate here
11:05 am
in washington, d.c. and particularly in the congress on parties of important public policy. in other words, there isn't a lot of debate. there is accusation. after accusation. they get repeated on social media. then the press picks it up. people just assume well it must be true since nobody has ever denied it or offered any contrary narrative. for example, the house minority leader apparently had the time to read every bill that has ever been written since the year 1789 because she felt comfortable calling this tax bill, which is still in the process of being written, reconciling the house and senate version. she called it the worst bill in the history of the united states congress. she has been busy if she has read every bill since 1789, but she went further because that
11:06 am
apparently wasn't enough for her. she said our tax bill isn't just poor legislation. she said it is an existential threat to the nation and possibly the entire planet. can you believe that? an existential threat to the nation and possibly the entire planet. you can see why perhaps i was reluctant to come address these accusations because anybody who would make those kind of accusations i think has lost all credibility. but acting either as a prophet or an amateur astrologist, we're not quite sure, she called the prospect of passing tax reform armageddon, armageddon. well, it's hard to say or know
11:07 am
what to say or do in the face of that sort of rhetoric because, frankly, this tax reform bill is a good thing, and i wish our friends across the aisle, the democrats, will join us in trying to make it better. that's what happened the last time we tried to do this or the congress tried to do it. in 1986, you had a republican president, you had a democratic senator from new jersey, senator bill bradley. you had dan rostenkowski, chairman of the house ways and means from committee, a democrat, and other members of congress come together to try to reform our tax code, and they were successful in doing it against all odds. but today you have an entirely different scenario. you have republicans seeing that the economy is growing at a very slow rate and that wages for most workers have been flat for
11:08 am
the last ten years and realizing that our current tax code is counterproductive when it comes to encouraging investment and job creation and wage growth in our country because we have the highest tax rate in the world for businesses that do business internationally. we thought we need to do something about it. and so we set about reforming our tax code with three goals in mind. one is to simplify the tax code. everybody knows how complex it is and how much money people spend hiring an accountant or h.r. block or somebody to help you figure it out. secondly, we figured that it would be important to give hardworking families a tax cut, and so we have succeeded in reducing the tax rate for every tax bracket in the tax code for
11:09 am
working families. for example, for low-income families, we have got a zero tax bracket now, joint filing, husband and wife, the first $24,000 they earn is no tax at all. and thanks to some great work by senator rubio and senator lee, we have doubled the child tax credit. those were good things, and we have doubled the standard deduction so fewer people have to itemize deductions to get the full benefit of the code. while maintaining the charitable deduction and the mortgage interest deduction in popular items like that. but we have also said that in addition to help -- for example, a family earning roughly $70,000 a year, the median income in america and family of four, they would see a benefit of roughly $2,200 less tax liability. so those i would think would be
11:10 am
good things that our friends across the aisle would want to work with us on. how do we simplify the code? how do we let people keep more of what they earn, more take-home pay, better standard of living, and how do we make america's economy more competitive since we have the highest tax rate in the world and we're seeing investment and businesses flee to other lower tax jurisdictions? you would think those would be the sorts of things that our friends across the aisle would want to work with us on, but apparently not. instead, what we get is these sort of reckless and really buffoonish sort of allegations that cause the speaker really to lose all credibility in any sort of debate that we might be having. and unfortunately, the media tends to pick up on some of this rhetoric and jump on the bandwagon. but the media's worst claims are
11:11 am
at least a little closer to earth than what i recounted earlier. for example, "the washington post" said that tax reform took place behind closed doors. well, that's a tired old rhetoric and talking point. you would think "the washington post" could come up with something a little better than that and actually that is a little more accurate than that. one columnist at the new york times sighs that the package benefits donors at the expense of voters. what does that mean? and it only modestly addresses the central socioeconomic challenge of our time. well, i wonder what this reporter or columnist for "the new york times" thinks. this is the central socioeconomic challenge of our time. i think one of those is for people to be able to pursue the american dream, to be able to find work, to be paid a decent
11:12 am
wage and to be able to keep more of what they earn, but yet that apparently isn't good enough for this columnist at "the new york times." certainly, these charges deserve a little more attention than the majority leader's asteroid attack that they, too, are misguided. when it comes to tax reform, the drafting process did not take place behind closed doors. i wonder what the washington -- why "the washington post" was so ill informed and ignorant of the legislative process that they didn't see the 70 senate hearings we have had on tax reform since 2011. they didn't apparently bother to turn on c-span to see the debate and the amendment process in the senate finance committee that produced the senate bill. and they apparently are not paying much attention to what we're talking about here on the senate floor as we're trying to reconcile the differences between the house and the senate
11:13 am
bill. so i guess they are just not paying much attention, which i thought newspapers and reporters were supposed to do. the second major allegation that we are ignoring working americans in the middle class is demonstrably false. many are wondering why tax cuts for families are temporary and ones for corporations are permanent. well, we know that businesses need long-term assurances about the tax environment so that they will invest and make plans. we wanted to make tax cuts for individuals permanent, too, but that requires 60 votes in the senate, and every single one of our democratic colleagues voted against the bill, and they refused to participate in the process. so with only 52 votes to work with, we were unable to meet that 60-vote threshold. so on one hand, they criticized us for not making those tax cuts for individuals permanent, but
11:14 am
then they deny us the votes we need in order to make that happen. it's not that we don't want to make these tax cuts permanent for the middle class. it's that the democrats are preventing us from doing so. now, i agree with my friend and colleague, the junior senator from florida, senator rubio, who has said when it comes to debating tax reform, republicans can't be the country club party. i certainly agree that's not who we are, but that's also not who we should be helping in this bill. we ought to be addressing low-income and middle-class americans first. yes, we do lower the corporate rate, but historically that's been something that democrats have called for. i remember 2011, president obama in a joint session of congress called for reducing the highest corporate tax rate in the world, and he called upon republicans and democrats to work together
11:15 am
to make that happen. we have had others like the ranking member on the senate finance committee, the senator from oregon, senator wyden, who cosponsored a bill that would have reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 24%. we do a little better than that in this bill. we take it closer to 20%, closer to the industrialized average on tax rates. but the senator from new york, the democratic leader, it's also called for lowering the corporate tax rate and making us more competitive in the global economy. and you know what will happen when we do that? we'll see investment come back to the united states along with the jobs that go along with it. who will benefit from that? will the businesses that create those jobs benefit? well, i suppose they will. but the people who will really benefit will be the people who perform those jobs and who earn
11:16 am
those wages. hardworking american families. a group of nearly 140 economists say that on balance they believe the bill will enhance economic efficiency and result in most households enjoying lower marginal rates. that's economics talk for tax cuts. but what about fairness and simplification? we all want a tax code, a fairer tax code and one that's easier to navigate? i believe once again our bill delivers. those economists i mentioned say fairness would be served by reduction difference and the tax treatment of individuals with similar incomes and simplification would be served by reducing the number of individuals who itemize for federal tax purposes. that's exactly what we do by doubling the standard deduction. right now about three out of ten individual taxpayers itemize. under our doubling the standard
11:17 am
deduction, only one out of ten will find it necessary to itemize. the simple truth is that the senate bill will lower tax bills on millions of working-class americans. it will lower taxes, not raise them, on the working class. again, by nearly doubling the standard deduction and lowering rates across the board and doubling the child tax credit, the senate tax reform plan will lower taxes for every income group. the senate tax plan was written with working families in mind. and the legislation reflects that goal. in fact, as i've said earlier, i'll say it again, a family of four earning a median income of about $ 0,000 will -- $70,000 will see a $2,200 savings in their tax bill each year. it may be easy for folks living in the rarefied area in
11:18 am
washington, d.c. to shrug that off and say $2,200 is no big deal to me. but to the people i represent, $2,200 tax savings a year is a big deal. it can make the difference between being able to save for retirement, help pay college education, maybe take a vacation for the first time in a long time. those -- that is the money they have earned and we're simply saying you can keep more of it under this bill. finally i want to mention the federal deficit. will the tax bill increase it? well, yesterday the office of tax policy at the treasury department released an analysis of expected tax revenue associated with the administration's economic growth initiatives. among the key findings is that $11.8 trillion of additional revenue would be generated over ten years based on expected economic growth.
11:19 am
the congressional budget office uses the baseline of 1.9% economic growth. that's because during the entire obama presidency, the united states government experienced an economy -- economy experienced an unprecedented low rate of economic growth since the great recession of 2008. but historically, dating back to world war ii, we've seen the economy grow at 3.2%. so why should we settle for 1.9% or 2%? we shouldn't. but our friends on the other side have suddenly become deficit hawks after seeing the national debt double during the obama administration. but let's not forget they've supported lowering these same corporate tax rates year after year after year, and embraced other parts of our plan which we've incorporated. that's why their attacks,
11:20 am
histrionics, screams of armageddon just are laughable, and they, frankly, insult the intelligence of americans who are trying to figure this out. it's hard to figure out what is actually happening when you have somebody crying like chicken little, that the sky is falling. it's hard for people to sort all of this out. well, as we continue to work on a conference committee report to reconcile the differences between the house and senate version of the bill, our focus will be on those hardworking american families that i mentioned earlier, people of modest income, people of average income. and, yes, we are going to make our businesses more competitive globally because that will benefit the same families that we're trying to benefit by the individual tax cuts. so, mr. president, you can see why i perhaps was a little reluctant to come address some of these histrionics and these
11:21 am
outlandish and unbelievable claims, but i've also learned that if you don't respond, if you don't counter falsehood with truth, some people are simply going to believe the falsehood. and so i thought it was important to do so. so let's remain clear-eyed and let's get this work done, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. i've come to the floor to talk about children's health insurance and community health centers, but i do want to take a moment to respond to my friend and colleague, the distinguished leader on the republican side, to just indicate that i can speak for myself and others, i know on this side, who very much want to see tax reform, very much
11:22 am
want to close loopholes that take jobs overseas, and support small businesses. but what's in front of us, what was vote incident on was a bill that when fully implemented would raise taxes on something like 87 million americans, middle-class americans, and that doesn't make any sense at all. and all of the rosy estimates on economic growth were not backed up in legislative language when i suggested that the $4,000 in wage increases that have been talked about as a minimum for people across the country to receive based on economic growth, i suggested we write that into law, that if in fact folks don't get their $4,000, that the tax breaks would stop and folks aren't willing to do that. so i just want to make sure folks in michigan get their $4,000 wage increase and we don't get another bunchl of promises with -- bunch of
11:23 am
promises with trickle-down economics where everything goes to the top 1% and folks in michigan are still waiting for it to trickle down. let me go to the subject that i'm here to talk about, and that is the fact that now we're on the 73rd day, 73rd day of the children's health insurance program and community health center funding having stopped. the federal funding stopped on september 30. and i'm very concerned. i was reading today that the house leadership has definitely -- has essentially been saying that they don't want to see this continued as part of a year-end package in two weeks. my assumption was that we were going to see the children's health insurance program and community health centers wrapped into the bill in a couple of weeks that would set the priorities for our country. and if it's true what was
11:24 am
reported, this ought to be an alarm going out all across the country. the children's health insurance program, which we call my child in michigan, covers nine million it children across the country. these are working families. these are working families who need some help to have insurance for their children, children that now go to the doctor instead of the emergency room. this actually saves dollars by children being able to have a regular relationship with a doctor, parents knowing they can take the children to the doctor instead of having to figure out how to address their concerns in the middle of the night at the emergency room. so nine million children right now are at risk because of inaction, and it's been 73 days. i'm very concerned that as soon as february, that the my child program will be running out of l funding. and in fact this month, this
11:25 am
month there are three states that are losing funding for the children's health insurance program: arizona, with over 88,000 children that receive health insurance, that are able to go to the doctor, that moms and dads know that at least the kids are going to be able to see the doctor for their juvenile diabetes or their asthma or simple things -- cold, flu -- or serious things like cancer. new hampshire, 17,000, almost 18,000 children. oregon, 140,000 children right now that receive their health care through the children's health insurance program. starting in january, if there's no action, we will see millions of children losing their health insurance. california, colorado, delaware, florida, idaho, massachusetts, pennsylvania, texas, utah, virginia.
11:26 am
and then each month we will seal funding that will be eliminated. and in total, we're talking about nine million children. this has been a bipartisan program. this came out of committee on a bipartisan vote in september. senator hatch, senator wyden, i was pleased to join them in putting together a five-year extension. it came out of committee strong bipartisan support. only one no vote. i assumed that it was going to be brought up on the floor before september 30 and passed. and yet, 73 days later children and families across the country are still waiting. the other piece of health care that's been so critical to families, to children, to individuals across our country is funding for community health centers which, by the way, also has strong bipartisan support. senator roy blunt and i have put in legislation with republicans
11:27 am
and democrats cosponsoring it. we have a letter from 70 different members -- signing, 70 different members signing a letter to our leadership saying they support extending community health center funding, and yet again no action for 73 days. our assumption had been that the children's health insurance program would come to the floor, we would amend it to add health centers, and get it done before september 30. it has not happened. so the community health centers serve 25 million patients. 25 million patients in every part of our country. 300,000 veterans rely on community health centers. 7.5 million children as well rely on community health centers. and at the moment -- and in michigan, i should add, we have 260 sites all across
11:28 am
michigan serving 681,000 people. and again, almost 13,000 michigan veterans use our community health centers. we have bipartisan support to continue l funding, but the funding ended september 30. so what happens? well, starting in january, michigan's community health centers will lose $12.8 million in funding because about 70% of the funding for health centers comes through the legislation that we are now offering with bipartisan support. about 20,000 people will lose their health care. by june michigan's health centers will lose over $80 million until funding and over over99,000 patients, almost 100,000 patients will lose health care. so this is critically important as well. we're talking about 25 million people across the country. this is something we've come
11:29 am
together on in a bipartisan basis over the years. community health centers and the children's health program. there has to be a sense of urgency about this. we cannot leave at christmas, can't leave for the holidays without having guaranteed that children and families, that individuals across our country will not be able to have the health insurance and the medical care that they have been receiving. they need to know the best christmas present, the best new year's present that we could give families is to guarantee that moms and dads can take their kids to the doctor who have their children's health insurance program, and that people young and old across the country who use community health centers will still know that they can count on them. let me close by just sharing a story from john, who's one of the more than 12,700 veterans
11:30 am
served by michigan's community health centers. john had always been healthy, didn't have health insurance. in fact, the last time he had seen a doctor was when he was still in the service back in 1975. last summer he started having symptoms. he tried to ignore them, but his wife knew something was wrong. they tried to get help but faced long waits to be seen. that's when they contacted the travers city health clinic. they were able to get him in and his wife's fears were confirmed, he was diagnosed with congestic heart failure. onwas admitted to the hospital, coordinated services with a cardiologist and got him signed up with health coverage. that's what community health centers do, connect people with the services they need, to be
11:31 am
treated, or to provide preventive care to stay healthy. in john's case, it changed his life. john said this, there are a lot of people like me who are doing fine and now they are not. there are a lot of people like me who need a place like travers health clinic. i am extremely fortunate. now i have a doctor. i am so grateful. on behalf of the 25 million people who use community health centers, the nine million children covered by the children's health insurance program, it is time that we act. they've been waiting for 73 days. we could do in a few hours, in a day, here on this senate floor. and i would urge us to get this done. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska's recognized. mr. sasse: mr. president, i rise
11:32 am
today in continued support of steve grasz's nomination to the u.s. court of appeals to the eighth circuit. some of those who have been attacking mr. grasz says that he doesn't have the ability to treat litigants fairly. in evaluating the claims, mr. president, i hope that my colleagues in this body will listen to the hundreds of nebraskans of all partisan and ideological stripes who have stood up in support of steve's nomination. i would urge everyone to listen to what those nebraskans have to say about his character and about his temperament. one nebraskan wrote to the senior senator of nebraska and me, quote, i was the plaintiff in a first amendment defamation and political speech action against the nebraska republican party. mr. grasz represented the nebraska republican party. i was not successful in my lawsuit, however i had an opportunity to meet and interact
11:33 am
with mr. grasz in that case and i found him to be a consummate professional. i believe his judicial temperament would be of the highest quality and i believe all parties would be given equal opportunity. i can think of no one better qualified or suited to be appointed to this prestigious judgeship than steve grasz. close quote. another nebraskan wrote to us. i know steve personally. steve was a formidable opponent. while he zealously sided for his clients, he did so in a lef-headed -- level-headed manner. another person. he demonstrates the utmost professionalism. i am a registered democrat and not a strong supporter of the current administration. as a practicing attorney appearing regularly in the material courts of appeals, i want intelligent, thoughtful individuals appointed to the
11:34 am
bench who will administer the law and apply existing precedent. i have no doubt that mr. grasz can do that very effectively. close quote. consider the words of this nebraskan. quote, steve does not allow an advocate to cloud his decisions, he let's rule and common law with a clear eye and applies those authorities to the facts presented to him. his respect for precedent and his high regard for the work of other branches of government show his dedication to following the constitution and our nation's laws as they are written. close quote. mr. president, steve grasz is a nebraskan through and through. as i said on the floor yesterday, steve bleeds husker red, but he is a guy well suited to take on the black robes of the judge. he understand that we do not have red or blue jerseys.
11:35 am
steve is well suited to serve as a judge on the eighth circuit and i think that not just nebraskans, but folks across the states in the eighth circuit will find a man of unbelievable temperament. the a.b.a. is a liberal advocacy organization. that is absolutely their right. what is not okay is for the a.b.a. to masquerade as a professional arbiter. because of the two reviewers from the a.b.a. cite anonymous sources of his supposed rudeness. we have seen none of that in nebraska, again, in the hundreds of people who have written to the senior senator and to myself and now to the judiciary committee in support of the president's decision to nominate steve grasz to the eighth circuit court of appeals. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record the specific letters that i here just cited. the presiding officer: without objection.
11:36 am
mr. sasse: and i urge all of my colleagues to listen to all the nebraskans, again, of all backgrounds and across the partisan spectrum as they urge us to confirm mr. grasz today. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:37 am
11:38 am
11:39 am
11:40 am
11:41 am
11:42 am
11:43 am
11:44 am
11:45 am
quorum call:
11:46 am
11:47 am
11:48 am
11:49 am
11:50 am
11:51 am
11:52 am
11:53 am
11:54 am
11:55 am
11:56 am
11:57 am
11:58 am
11:59 am
12:00 pm
12:01 pm
12:02 pm
12:03 pm
quorum call:
12:04 pm
12:05 pm
12:06 pm
12:07 pm
12:08 pm
12:09 pm
12:10 pm
12:11 pm
12:12 pm
12:13 pm
12:14 pm
mr. mcconnell: mr. president parthe presiding officer. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask not with stangd -- standing rule it 2 there be time remaining on the glasses nomination equally divided with between the leaders or designees, following the use or yielding back of that time, the senate vote on the
12:15 pm
confirmation of the grasz nomination and if confirmed the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i have nine requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. the clerk will call the roll. the clerk will call the quorum call mr. nelson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, there are all kinds of reports
12:16 pm
swirling around washington, and we're hearing those reports that the trump administration is about to give a huge early christmas present to the oil industry, because the reports are that the department of the interior is preparing to unveil a new five-year plan for offshore oil and gas drilling, one that would open up the entire atlantic coast of the united states to drilling. this new five-year plan which would go into effect 20919, would re -- 2019 would replace the current five-year plan which was finalized last year and doesn't expire until 2022. so why is the department of interior in such a rush to waste
12:17 pm
taxpayers' money to write a new one? because the answer is because the oil industry wants to start drilling in these areas now, and the trump administration is going to let them do it. while it hasn't been released yet, we are hearing that the administration's new plan will open up the entire atlantic coast to offshore drilling from maine as far south as cape canaveral. but, mr. president, let me show you why that's a problem. this is the east coast of the united states. this is maine. this is florida. this is cape canaveral. this is fort pierce, florida. look what happens in the atlantic coast off of the eastern continental united
12:18 pm
states. these are all military testing areas. every one of these hatched areas, every one of these blocks are places that have limited access because of military testing. so take, for example, all of this area off the east coast of florida. there's a place called cape canaveral air force station. there's a place called the kennedy space center. we are launching commercial and military rockets, and within another year and a half we will be launching rockets, american rockets with american astronauts that just like the space shuttle before them will go to and from the international space station
12:19 pm
carrying crew as well as the cargo that it already carries. well, when you're launching it to the international space station or in two years we launch the largest rocket ever from the kennedy space center, the forerunner to the mars program, taking humans to mars, where do you think the first stages, or in the case of the new mars rocket called the s.l.s., the space launch system, where do you think it drops its solid rocket boosters? precisely. out here, which is exactly why you can't have oil rigs out here. where do you think that all of the commercial rockets coming out of cape canaveral right now that put up the host of
12:20 pm
communication satellites, that is a constellation of satellites, how do you think we get our pinpoint g.p.s. here on earth? many of those rockets are coming right out of the cape canaveral air force station, and increasingly the commercial activity at the kennedy space center, which is colocated with the cape canaveral air force station. or what about all of those scientific satellites that are out there that give us precise measurements on what's happening to the climate so that when we then track hurricanes, we know precisely and have such great success in predicting the path and the ferocity of a hurricane. all of those rockets are coming
12:21 pm
out of cape canaveral, and they have first stages. and when the first stages burn out, they have to fall someplace. you can't have oil and gas production out here. and so the same would be off of norfolk, virginia. they also have a launching point there for nasa. wallop's island. but in the norfolk area, all of the military that does its training out in the atlantic, you're going to have a whole disruption. or take, for example, all of the military assets -- spy satellites that go into orbit rocketed out of cape canaveral, those first stages when burned out have to fall. and that's why you have a
12:22 pm
location like cape canaveral air force station launching from west to east to get that extra boost of the earth's rotation. therefore, less fuel to get to orbit. this is the prime location. you can't put oil and gas out here. you can't have oil rigs off of cape canaveral where all of these military nasa and commercial rockets as well as governmental payloads that are not military are going. so we have heard the loud opposition of the department of defense, chambers of commerce, fishermen and coastal communities all along the atlantic who weighed in against the administration's plan to allow drilling off their coast.
12:23 pm
we thought we had put this puppy to p -- to bed last year when the obama administration backed off its plans to have these drilling areas. they backed off because of the opposition. they also backed off when it came to florida. why? florida has more beaches than any other state. we don't have as much coastline. alaska has the greatest coastline. but last time i checked, alaska didn't have a lot of beaches. the one that is blessed with the beautiful beaches is florida. and when it comes to beaches, that means people want to go to the beach.
12:24 pm
that means there is a significant tourism-driven economy. well, we learned what happened when just the threat of oil on the beach -- remember the deep water horizon oil explosion off of louisiana? let me show you so that you don't get confused with all these colors, but in essence all of this yellow over on the other side of florida, the gulf of mexico, this area is off limits and it's in law. and it's a good thing, because when the deep water horizon spilled off of louisiana and the wind shifted, and that oil started drifting to the east, and it got as far as pensacola beach, and it completely
12:25 pm
blackened the white sugary sands. and that photograph went all over the world. pensacola beach is covered up in oil, and the winds kept carrying it forward, and some of it got into choptahatchee bay and the sands of dustin and got as far east as some of the tar balls in panama city beach. and then the winds shifted and carried it back. that was the extent of the oil on the beach. but for one solid year, a tourist year, the tourists did not come to the west coast of florida because they had seen those pictures of what had happened to pensacola beach. all the way down the west coast
12:26 pm
the tampa bay area, the sarasota, the fort meyers area, the naples, marco island, the tourists did not come. and so when it comes to florida, now let's go back to the atlantic. you start to do this, you are now threatening the lifeblood of florida's economy, its tourism-driven economy. it's not only a threat to the environment, but it's a threat to the multibillion-dollar tourism-driven economy. and so we lost in 2010 an entire season that the tourists did not come to the west coast of florida. and so that's why when i gave the list of all those entities,
12:27 pm
including the u.s. department of defense, they don't want it because of the military areas. but i also said chambers of commerce. well, they have awakened to the fact that oil on beaches is a killer of our economy. and thus, it's not unusual that you will start to see local governments, when this plan is announced later today probably, you will see local governments spring into action, like the broward county board of commissioners has already sent letters opposing drilling off of florida's coast. floridians understand this issue. that's why in the past we've had
12:28 pm
such bipartisan agreement all over florida. republicans and democrats alike to keep drilling off of our coast. but if big oil gets its way, every inch of the outer continental shelf is going to be drilled. we saw what happened less than a decade ago, and the scientists would say that we're still uncovering, for example, the full extent of that bp oil spill and its damage. so i urge our colleagues to take up the bill filed earlier this year with this senator, senator markey and others, that would block an attempt by the administration to open up our coasts to oil drilling. the stakes are extremely high
12:29 pm
for the economy of our states all along the eastern coast. georgia has a substantial tourism-driven economy. you know south carolina does. myrtle beach. what about north carolina? what about virginia's tourism-driven economy? but especially all the military concentration there. and you could go right on up the coast. mr. president, the stakes are streptionally high -- are exceptionally high. we simply can't risk it. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m.
12:30 pm
senate lawmakers will be back at 2:15 p.m. eastern. today the senate is considering a nominee to serve on the st. louis-based eighth circuit court of appeals. when they return will have live coverage on c-span2. coming up this afternoon sonny perdue is at the national press club. today secretary perdue is expected to talk about what he hopes to see in a new farm bill and efforts to increase agricultural exports. his remarks at the national press club will be live at 1 p.m. eastern on c-span2. coming up, results from a special election in alabama to fill the u.s. senate seat vacated by jeff sessions. starting at 9:30 p.m. eastern tonight on c-span2 we will have results of the race and speeches from the candidates, democrat
12:31 pm
doug jones and republican roy moore. >> watch c-span3 thursday at 10:30 a.m. eastern for live coverage of the vote on net neutrality. the vote is to roll back net neutrality rules pastoring the obama administration and it is intended to reduce regulation of the internet. live thursday at 10:30 a.m. eastern on c-span3, or with the free c-span radio app. >> yesterday three women have accused president trump of sexual misconduct held a news conference calling for a congressional investigation into the allegations. this is about 30 minutes. >> good morning. thank you all for coming. i am president of brand-new films. the video you just saw, of course some of you have copies of, is


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on