Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 27, 2018 2:16pm-6:35pm EST

2:16 pm
then maybe we can set up a situation where they can vote on those amendments as long as we get to an outcome that leaves us something other than indicated. but i don't want to do is wait. this week and go back home to texas as a failed to do anything to try to address these tragedies. let's do we can. >> this will continue. we will show you this later but the senate is gaveling back into session with more work on the judicial nomination with the vote at 4:00 p.m. eastern.
2:17 pm
2:18 pm
2:19 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, i'd like to talk today about two brave ohioans who were tragically killed while serving their community and all of us. on saturday, february 10, ohio lost two of its finest, when anthony morelli and eric durly were fatally shot while going to a 9 is 1 call. officer du ring was killed at the scene. officer morelli was a 29-year veteran. he leaves behind his wife and son. officer during was a k-9 officer and partnered with his dog sam. eric loved working with sam, but
2:20 pm
what he really loved was his kids and wife. his most important job, he said, was being a husband and father. he was survived by his wife and two daughters. both men are loved and respected members of the westerville community and both will be sorely missed. i had a chance to talk to their colleagues over the weekend and heard many stories about them and their bravery and commitment to service. i also had the great honor to meet with the families of both of these fallen officers over this past weekend in columbus, ohio. linda morelli and jamie joe ring are incredibly strong women and mothers. i express my thanks to them for their husband's service. i had a chance to talk to the four of the five children about
2:21 pm
their fathers' exemplary service. this u.s. capitol has flags flown for special ee indications and two -- occasions, and two flags were flown in honor of these two good men. throughout the tragic situation, i will say, the people throughout central ohio, and frankly across the nation, have stepped up to support and assist these two families. there has been kindness and generosity. i want to take a moment to say these two brave oafsers, tony mor -- officers -- officers were the best. today we hold their families up in prayer. mr. president, i also want to address a critical issue today to westerville, ohio, and, frankly, every community i represent in my state and
2:22 pm
communities all over the country. today i want to talk about the opioid epidemic that is gripping our country. every state represented in this chamber has had too many communities devastated, lives taken by the opioid overdoses. the centers for disease control tells us more than 63,000 americans died from drug overdoses. it looks like it was worse in 2017. more americans are dying from drug overdoses than the total number of casualties during the vietnam war. every year more americans are dying from drug overdoses than the total number of casualties from the vietnam war. think about that. it's a staggering statistic. on average, more than 174 americans die every single day from a drug overdose in 2016, that's up from 143 americans in
2:23 pm
2015, and 105 americans in 2010. 2016 was the deadliest year. and 2017 it is estimated to be even deadlier. opioids, prescription drugs, heroin, synthetic forms of heroin are increasingly the reason why. opioids were the reason for over two-thirds of overdose deaths than is five times higher than in 1999. in the past 17 years, we have seen a five-fold increase in these overdose deaths. it's a national epidemic. it started with prescription drugs. overprescribing of prescription drugs, pain pills, the pill mills that we saw in southern ohio and around our state.
2:24 pm
this exploded 20 years ago. next, the heroin deaths. heroin moved in and spiked as people moved to less expensive and more accessible alternatives than prescription drugs. and now, i hate to tell you, there's a new dairng and -- danger and threat and it is deadlier than ever, it is the synthetic opioids, fentanyl, car carfentanil and the results have been deadly. it is a crisis that does not discriminate. opioid addiction affects everybody. in ohio drug addictions and acts to support it have become the cause of the -- is the cause for the number one crime. employers are pointing to the inability to find workers who can pass a drug test. they cannot fill vacant positions. there is no data who are not
2:25 pm
showing up on the unemployment rolls. there are nine million men between 25 and 55 who are considered to be able bodied who are not looking for work. there are troubling statistics where maybe as much as much where those individuals are taking opioid abuse on a -- opioids on a daily basis. this is affecting all of us. everyone has a role to play in overcoming this epidemic. there is an urgency to come up with better strategies to turn the tide on addiction. although progress has been made recently and starting to be made in my state and other states, much more needs to be done and done urgently. part of that starts with understanding that addiction is a dees and that it is -- disease and it is treatable. the appropriate response should include much more aggressive prevention and education, absolutely. more aggressive law enforcement.
2:26 pm
keeping deadly fentanyl out of our community through the stop act, of course, but we also have to get more effective treatment strategies. we have a couple of,000 people in ohio -- a couple of thousand people in ohio who are addicted. we need detox and longer-term recovery. with the right kind of therapy and right kind of support and help, that people can get into recovery, get back to their families, get back to work, and get back to being productive citizens. we know that recovery results are a lot better with that kind of continuous support. closing the gaps that occur is key to overcoming addiction. there's a gap between the crisis response, which is often a first responder, like the two brave officers i talked about earlier, finding someone who has overdosed. often it's firefighters as well
2:27 pm
providing narcan that reverses the effects of an overdose. narcan is not sufficient. the key is to get those people into detox and dreement and -- treatment and longer-term recovery. the dwap -- gaps between n.r.a. kap r- -- narcan and going to treatment is part of the problem. i can't tell you how many people i met. i met a couple of thousands of recovering addicts in the last few years, and what they tell me is, yeah, i tried treatment, but it was for six, seven, eight weeks, and then there was nothing for me. it didn't work for me. or people who overdosed, not once, twice, but several times, and they were never then in detox and treatment. one young man i spoke to last weekend has been an addict for
2:28 pm
seven years. finally, his brother convinced him to seek help. and the last time he overdosed, he did go detox and treatment and through a facility where the gaps were closed, where there was no waiting time, and he was able to get the help rather than going back to his community and his old friends and a situation that was going to lead him back into more use and more addiction. the key, again, is to get those who have overdosed into the treatment they need. overdose reversal provides a second chance at life. let's face it. some of these people who are overdosing come out of this after narcan is administered and they've seen their life flash before their lives and they are ready for something. we have to be ready for them. overdose reversal provides a second chance for life, it is
2:29 pm
treatment and longer term recovery that allows them to live addiction free and get back to work, family, and productive life. it takes a comprehensive solution because it's a comprehensive problem. that's what led some of us here in this body, including my colleague, senator sheldon whitehouse and me, to introduce the kara act. we developed that bill by relying on experts in the field and those most affected by addiction. beginning in 2014, when we were in the process of putting together the legislation, we hosted five national forums here in washington, d.c. we brought experts and practitioners in from around the country. prevention, treatment, law enforcement, recovery community. we wanted to get the best practices to find out what was working and what wasn't working and what role the federal government could play in all of
2:30 pm
this. we have forums focused on the science of addiction and evidence-based strategies that worked, treating babies who were born drug dependent. there is nothing more heartbreaking than to go into the hospitals in my home state and see it these -- see these babies going through the painful withdrawal process as infants. every neonatal unit in our country has seen this. if you go to your own hospital, they will tell you this is an increasing problem. we had veterans come in and experts on how to help veterans make that transition because sadly the use of opioids among veterans is also increasing. sometimes using opioids for injury, for accidents, for ptsd, they become addicted. how do you build support around those veterans? we also had people come in and talk about longer term recovery,
2:31 pm
over housing, and how you can over time get better results if you provide those kinds of services. our goal was to leverage the expertise and perspectives of everyone involved in this epidemic, to find best practices and to create an evidence-based education treatment and recovery bill that works. with strong bipartisan support, we move from hearings to a unanimous committee markup to senate passage of this legislation. by the way, it passed with a vote of 92-2. that's not typical around here, certainly not for something so comprehensive. yet everybody has experienced this back home and is desperate to figure out strategies to help. in july of 2016, president obama signed kara into law. it was the first checks addiction reform in 20 years and the first time congress had provided any long-term support or help for this recovery piece. it targets long-term education resources to prevent abuse before it even starts, the most effective way. it helps first responders
2:32 pm
reverse overdoses to save lives. it devotes resources to evidence-based treatments and recovery programs. it expands prescription drug takeback programs to get addicted pain pills off the bathroom shelves. it authorized more than $180 million to assist communities in these efforts to combat this epidemic. and frankly, because of this crisis, the appropriation bill that then spent that money decided, you know, we need this so badly, we're actually going to appropriate more than the $180 million. they appropriated $267 million this last year, as an example, almost $100 million beyond our authorization. and again, i think it's beginning to make a difference. i see it back home in ohio. i see some of these strategies beginning to work. it's going to take some time, and we need to do more. in ohio, we have received about $4 million, and i say we. it's groups, it's people who are in the trenches doing the hard work. we have also made progress in this fight with separate opioid
2:33 pm
legislation that was part of the 21st century cures legislation. this is for substance abuse and mental health. many of us thought successfully to help secure a two-year commitment there of $500 million a year, $1 billion. this goes directly to the states, states that are hardest hit, allowing states to decide how to spend that money. the first installment of that legislation awarded my state of ohio with $26 million, and we're using every penny of it. i was at a facility over the weekend that gave me hope. it's called the mary haven addiction stabilization center in columbus, ohio. we talked earlier about the gaps where people overdose that are provided narcan and they go back to the community and in the same week, in the same day in some occasions, there is another overdose and the revolving door continues without any treatment, without any solution.
2:34 pm
mary haven stabilization center is a response to that. they use the cures money we talked about. they use some cara funding from the county. the county is a broader strategy of where the cara money went. they said let's put together an institution where we have an emergency room that focuses on overdoses. in columbus, ohio, i have been to other emergency rooms and seen what they do with the overdoses. they save lives. that's fantastic. but frankly, these emergency rooms are equipped for everything. they have to be, for gunshot wounds, for car accidents, for trauma. this emergency room was focused specifically on overdoses, which makes it much more cost-effective but also much more effective for those recovering addicts, those addicts who were coming in. but most importantly, then, in that same facility, there is a detox center. in that same facility, there are 50 beds for treatment. whereas the typical case is somebody overdoses, goes to the emergency room and ends up going
2:35 pm
back to the community, back to home, back to the gang, back to the family, in this case, 103 people have gone through in the last month -- it's only been open a month -- 80% of them have gone into treatment. i got to meet someone who had been through that process and talked about the difference this makes. you literally walk through the door into treatment, and there is a strong encouragement to do it, and it's working. so these are the kinds of things that are going to make a difference in our communities. it seems common sense but frankly it's not happening in other places. programs like this is what is going to help us overcome addiction and are examples of how federal funds can be used more effectively to leverage, in this case, a lot of private dollars, some state dollars. both of these landmark laws, the cara act we talked about and the cures act, are providing increased resources to local communities, but again, this problem is not getting better. it's getting worse. one of the problems is the availability and the low cost of
2:36 pm
these highly addictive, even more dangerous drugs coming in that are synthetic opioids. fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin on average. it's coming in through the mail. again, we need to do more to stop it through law enforcement but also we need to acknowledge it's being sprinkled in other drugs and creating a lot of these addictions, overdoses, and higher rates of death. the degree of damage it's causing our communities, our families, our budgets locally, our criminal justice system requires us to take a more aggressive stance, to do more, to figure this out. we need to strengthen our resolve. and again, we made progress recently with the bipartisan budget agreement that president trump just signed into law a few weeks ago. there we included an additional amount of funding, $6 billion over two years to help combat the opioid epidemic. so instead of the $500 million a year and the $260 million a year i talked about, it would be $3 billion a year, and then $3 billion the year after.
2:37 pm
i believe that the evidence-based programs we set out in the comprehensive addiction and recovery act provide a good framework as to how to spend that money effectively. that's why i'm pleased to stand here today as we introduce the next stage of this, cara 2.0 to help provide a framework for how these funds to combat opioid addiction can be spent wisely. it's a road map for congress to build on cara's successes since becoming law. the bipartisan cara 2.0 act is being introduced by sheldon whitehouse and myself again but also six other colleagues, shellary capito, maggie hassan, bill cassidy, maria cantwell. it's a bipartisan group of four republicans and four democrats who are passionate about this issue. it authorizes $1 billion a year for specific evidence-based drug prevention, education treatment, and recovery programs. look, it's very important to have this $6 billion in funding over the next couple of years. we need it.
2:38 pm
but we have got to be sure it's spent wisely. it's not just a matter of throwing money after a problem. it's a matter of being sure that we are effectively addressing the real issues. as i mentioned earlier, the longer term recovery programs are what really helped those gripped by the adicks to overcome this disease. that's evidence that we have. i have certainly seen a lot of evidence of that firsthand and countless examples of this where this longer term recovery and the support networks is what gets people back on track, back with their families, back to work. we need to expand access to them, to those communities that are in need and to give everyone a second chance of living up to their own god-given potential. that's why in this new cara 2.0, we do increase the funding for recovery. in addition to expanding the reach of cara's evidence-based programs, this bill puts in place new policy reforms to strengthen the government's response in so many ways. we take what some will consider
2:39 pm
a pretty dramatic step, and that's to limit opioid prescriptions to three days for acute pain. some will push back against that, but this is based again on good evidence and good research. when someone goes in for a simple procedure, say a wisdom tooth extraction, and that young person is given a bottle of opioids when he or she leaves, too often that leads to addiction. i don't want more parents coming up to me and saying my kid when he or she was a teenager was given these opioids by a doctor, a dentist, so we thought it was safe. our child then turned to heroin because the pills became too expensive and less accessible, and then to fentanyl and overdosed and died. i have had two such parents come to me and tell me their story from ohio. you probably know others. we need to be sure these prescriptions are limited. for those who have chronic pain, those who have cancer, it
2:40 pm
wouldn't apply. and after those three days, you can go back to that doctor and say why you need it and explain it. experts say about 80% of those who overdosed from heroin started on prescription drugs. i'm sure the same is true with regard to fentanyl. so four out of five heroin addicts who overdose in my state of ohio started on prescription drugs. we do need to deal with this overprescription problem. by the way, the evidence is that after that fourth day, fifth day, sixth day, that's when you get into the bigger risk of becoming addicted to prescription drugs. as i mentioned, this epidemic started with an explosion of pain pill use 15 to 20 years ago. we need to stop the addiction at the source. for those people, that begins with prescription drugs. by ensuring clinicians prescribe the appropriate strength and supply of paper pills for nonlife-threatening injuries, we can help so many more people
2:41 pm
from becoming addicted. the bill also includes legislation very similar to that which passed the senate in 2015 but was dropped out in the house-senate conference. it requires hospitals and doctors to use the drug prescription monitoring programs to be sure we're not overprescribing opioids for certain individuals. it helps us identify where the problems are, get them into treatment. it also gets states to share data with other states to get people from crossing state lines to get their prescriptions. one of the problems is people can cross state lines in west virginia or kentucky or other states and get their prescription filled even though it's already been filled once in ohio. we need to have across state lines prescription drug monitoring programs that work. cara 2.0 is going to help turn the tide with this epidemic. the bill increases federal funds for specific evidence-based programs to better protect vulnerable groups, including infants, young adults, pregnant and postpartum women, veterans, as well as resources for community programs, medication
2:42 pm
assistance treatment and first responders. as the title indicates, it's a comprehensive solution. every aspect of our communities are affected so every aspect of our communities need assistance. the opioid epidemic is one of the most urgent challenges we face as a country. ultimately, this crisis, by the way, is not going to be solved here in washington, d.c. it's not going to be solved by legislation we pass here. we get that. it's going to be solved in our communities. it's going to be solved in our families. it's going to be solved in our hearts. but this is a national crisis, and the national government needs to be a much better partner with state government, local government, communities, nonprofits, those who are out there doing the hard work. this $6 billion commitment that has been made over the next few years is a real opportunity to help turn the tide. again, not by just throwing more money at the problem but by being sure that money is well spent on an epidemic that's taking too many lives and
2:43 pm
devastating too many communities. cara 2.0 will build on our accomplishments and continue to give communities the resources they need to address this issue. yes, we have made some progress around here, and that's good, but we need to do much more. cara 2.0 gives us that opportunity. it represents the next step towards helping our communities address this epidemic and helping our communities heal. thank you, mr. president. i yield back. a senator: mr. president.
2:44 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, we are not in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. thune: mr. president, tax reform is working. tax cuts -- the tax cuts and jobs act has been the law of the land for just two months, but it's already helping american workers. when it came time to draft tax reform legislation, we had one objective, and that is to make hardworking americans' lives better, and to accomplish that, we focused on two important priorities. first, we focused on immediately increasing americans' take-home pay. we lowered tax rates across the board. we nearly doubled the standard deduction. and we doubled the child tax credit. all of those provisions went into effect on january 1, and by the end of this month, 90% of the american people should see lower paychecks according to the i.r.s.
2:45 pm
while immediate relief for hardworking americans was crucial, we wanted more than that. we wanted to give the american people access to the kinds of jobs, the kinds of wages and opportunities that would set them up for long-term security. the kind of jobs and wages where they wouldn't be forced to choose between sending their kids for college and saving for a secure retirement or between paying the mortgage or paying medical bills. and so in addition to lowering the tax burden on americans directly, we set about improving the playing field for american businesses so that we could make things better for american workers. needless to say, in order for american workers to thrive, the american economy has to thrive, and that means that american businesses have to thrive. it's prit hard for a -- pretty hard for a small business to hire a new worker or to raise
2:46 pm
wages if the owner can barely pay the tax bill. it's unlikely that an american company is going to have a lot of spare cash for investing in its workforce if it's struggling to compete with foreign companies who are paying far less in taxes. it's unlikely that america's global companies are going to focus on reinvesting in the united states if they face a tax penalty for bringing forward earnings -- foreign earnings back home. so, mr. president, we lowered our nation's massive kormt tax rate -- corporate tax rate which was the highest in the developed world. we lowered tax rates across acre board for owners of medium and small and farms and ranches. they i allowed them to free up cash that they can reinvest in their operations and in their workers. we brought out the u.s.
2:47 pm
international tax system into the 21st century by replacing our outdated worldwide system with a modernized territorial tax system so that american businesses are not operating at a disadvantage next to their foreign competitors. the goal in all of this, mr. president, was to free up businesses, to increase their investments in the american economy and in american workers, and that's exactly what businesses are doing. the list of tax reform good news just keeps growing. wage increases, new jobs, increased investment, bonuses, benefit increases, and the list, mr. president, goes on and on. take utility bills. lower utility bills might not be the first result you think of from tax reform, but tax reform
2:48 pm
is saving utility companies money and they are passing those savings on to consumers. washington, d.c., radio station wto p reports, and i quote, in a flip-flop related to tax reform, utility company pepco now says it wants to cut rates instead of raise them. in december and january the utility announced plans to raise rates in d.c. and maryland respectively, but the sweeping federal tax bill signed into law late last year meant a significant savings in utilities and as a result pepco is asking the maryland public utilities commission to approve a rate cut. enquote. that's right, mr. president, they were talking about a rate increase but now they are talking about a rate cut in
2:49 pm
their utility rate. take this story from the daily regulator insider, rate increase in massachusetts. the "daily insider states," many electricity companies in massachusetts who expected to see a rate increase this year instead will see a rate deduction because of the recent federal corporate tax cut. what was expected to be a $60 million annual rate increase has turned into a $20 million annual rate decrease said the massachusetts department of public utilities. in south dakota, black hills energy is working with regulators to pass tax savings on to south dakotans. utility companies in 39 states are passing tax savings on to consumers, and that can be a real help to family budgets.
2:50 pm
everybody knows how much gets spent out of every family's budget on utilities, on energy, and certainly in my part of the country in south dakota with the cold winters, that is even amplified. it can be a real help to families, mr. president, especially those living from paycheck to paycheck. florida light company announced thanks to the new bill, they not need to pay a surcharge for hurricane irma restoration. they plan to apply federal tax savings toward the $1.3 billion cost of hurricane irma restoration which will save customers an average of approximately $250. mr. president, thanks to tax reform, good news for american workers seems to just pour in
2:51 pm
daily, whether it's lower utility bills, new jobs, bonuses, or as blue cross and blueshield of north carolina announced last week, lower rate increases on health insurance. i'm proud that tax reform is a accomplishing our goal of making life better for hardworking americans. and i look forward to seeing even more benefits for american workers in the weeks and months to come. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
2:52 pm
2:53 pm
2:54 pm
quorum call:
2:55 pm
2:56 pm
2:57 pm
2:58 pm
2:59 pm
3:00 pm
quorum call:
3:01 pm
3:02 pm
3:03 pm
3:04 pm
3:05 pm
3:06 pm
3:07 pm
3:08 pm
3:09 pm
3:10 pm
3:11 pm
3:12 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. daines: mr. president, as chairman of the senate western
3:13 pm
caucus and as a montan montananm here to urge the swift confirmation of two nominations who are outstanding to serve the department of interior. the first is ryan nelson, a native of idaho falls, idaho, as solicitor of the department of interior. the second is susan combs, a rancher from big bend, texas. she's nominated to be assistant secretary for policy, management, and budget. both of these positions are critical to managing our public lands and our wildlife. yet these two well qualified individuals have been waiting in a bureaucratic limbo. mr. nelson was first nominated over 209 days ago and miss combs received her first nomination over 231 days ago. mr. nelson, he's a great choice to serve as solicitor. he's a westerner. he spends time fishing and hunting with his family in idaho. he understands our western way of life.
3:14 pm
and he has the work experience to make sure our public lands are managed and protected in the right way. his service includes serving as clerk of the u.s. court of appeals for the d.c. circuit, serving as special counsel for the senate committee on the judiciary, and as deputy assistant attorney general in the department of justice, environment, and natural resources division. the department of justice he worked to defend vital federal programs and oversaw many complex cases involving our natural resources, wildlife, and our environment. he also compelled polluters to limit harmful emissions into the air and worked with then-solicitor of the department of interior david ber bernhard n the listing decision for the polar bear. like mr. bernhard, ryan is capable of upholding the law and the science even when that's not easy. if you want someone who values
3:15 pm
conservation, who knows the appropriate use of laws like the antiquities act and endangered species act, then ryan is your guy. the department of interior needs ryan's expertise to help make the best decisions possible for benefit of our natural resources and the people and the wildlife living around them. his confirmation must be prioritized. now, ms. combs is also exactly the right person to serve the job as assistant secretary for policy management and budget. ms. combs has had a long and successful career both in business and in public service, including as a member of the texas house of representatives, as texas agriculture commissioner, and as texas comptroller of public accounts. her proven management track record in public service and in business are crucial to making
3:16 pm
the department of the interior more efficient and effective helping to ensure responsible stewardship of western lands. both mr. nelson's and ms. combs' nominations have been pending lorne -- longer than any of their predecessors -- listen to this -- over the past 25 years. this is not just bad governance, it's a complete lack of governance. and here's the problem. when you have qualified individuals, when you have qualified individuals like mr. nelson, like ms. combs, waiting in this bureaucratic limbo for this long puts them in a position that they need to find other employment. we need to find the best people who are willing to serve in these positions, and we need to give them the respect of moving them through quickly so we can keep them with their thoughts of
3:17 pm
entering public service. colleagues, it's time we get the job done and move these critical nominations across the finish line. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. joycelyn elders -- mr. sanders:i. mr. president, this morning i had the opportunity to meet with some extraordinary young people. these are students from parkland, florida, who attended the school where the mass shooting took place two weeks ago. and what was amazingly impressive about these young people is that in the midst of their grief, in the midst of the
3:18 pm
unbelievably traumatic experience that they went through, seeing their best friends shot in cold blood or wounded, their teachers killed, they resolved not just to mourn and grieve their friends and neighbors, they resolved to stand up and fight back and come to washington, go to tallahasee, florida, go around the country to do everything that they can to make certain that no more children, no more young people are mowed down and slaughtered in schools. mr. president, nobody thinks that the issue of gun safety is going to be an easy issue to solve. there are literally hundreds of millions of guns throughout this country. there are five million assault weapons throughout this country
3:19 pm
today. and tragically, there are many thousands of people, i expect, in every state in this country who are walking our streets, who are at their wit's end emotionally, who are suicidal, and who are homicidal. and many of those people have access to guns and guns of mass destruction. mr. president, i think that in some respects, the slaughter at the high school in parkland, florida, was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back. several months ago the american people were stunned to see some very sick person in las vegas break a window and start mowing down people, killed some 58
3:20 pm
americans, wounded 500 people within a period of a few minutes. that comes on top of sandy hook. it comes on top of so many gun slaughters that i think what has finally happened, maybe because of the extraordinary efforts of these young people from parkland, where the american people are saying enough is enough, that we have a difficult problem and we may not be able to solve it completely overnight. but we have a moral obligation to do everything that we can to make certain that no more children, no more people in this country are mowed down by some sick person with a weapon. and that is not just me talking. it is not just the young people from the high school in florida.
3:21 pm
it is pretty much what the american people want. and, mr. president, let me refer you to a couple of polls that were conducted fairly recently. quinnipiac poll was done on february 20, just a few weeks ago. this is what that poll showed. it showed that 97% of the american people support universal background checks. not a radical idea. but the american people are saying what gun owners are saying is we should keep guns out of the hands of people who are not responsible and should not own guns. universal background check almost universally supported by the american people. in that same quinnipiac poll, 83% of the american people indicated support for a mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases.
3:22 pm
you don't want somebody who's angry, who's upset, who had something terrible happen running into a gun store, buy a gun and then go out using it. 75% basically want the congress to address the issue of gun violence and to start taking action. 67% of the people polled by quinnipiac support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons. and they believe and i believe that assault weapons are designed as a military weapon to kill human beings. that is what those weapons are designed to do. and i believe, and have believed for 30 years, and a majority of the american people believe that we should end the sale and distribution of those weapons.
3:23 pm
that was a quinnipiac poll. a cnn poll done more recently, just a few days ago, february 25, 70% of the american people want stricter gun laws. and this is the highest number that cnn has registered way back since the brady bill was passed in 1993. according to cnn, 87% support laws to prevent convicted felons and the mentally ill from owning gun. 63% support a ban on the sale or possession of high capacity magazines. 57% support an assault weapons ban. 56% say that stricter gun laws would reduce gun-related deaths. so, mr. president, we have a
3:24 pm
difficult issue which is not going to be solved overnight. nobody thinks that it will. but the american people are demanding that we have the courage to stand up to the n.r.a. and finally take some action which will move us in the right direction. and let me just suggest some of the ways that i believe we should go forward in a bipartisan way. once again, the american people believe, i believe universal background checks -- and that means, among other things, ending the so-called gun show loophole. because background checks don't mean anything if somebody can go into a gun show or through the internet and buy weapons without
3:25 pm
undergoing any background check. overwhelmingly, the american people say that before somebody is able to purchase a gun, we need to know is that person a killer? is that a person who has engaged in domestic violence? is that somebody who has a history of mental health problems? and if that is the case, that person should not be buying a gun. i think serious gun safety legislation must include addressing the so-called straw man purchases. and this is a provision where people can legally go into a gun shop, buy the weapons that they want. but then they're going to sell those weapons or distribute those weapons to people who should not be owning those weapons and could not have purchased those weapons on their own. so i've indicated that it is my view that we should ban assault
3:26 pm
weapons in this country, weapons which are designed for no other purpose but to kill human beings. furthermore, i think it is clear that we are a nation which is facing a mental health crisis. i know that in my office, and i expect that in the offices of other senators, we get calls all of the time from people who say i'm worried about my husband, i'm worried about my brother. he's at his wit's end. i don't know what he's going to do to himself or what he's going to do to somebody else. and we have been searching for phepblts -- mental health treatment but we cannot find anything that is available now or that we can afford. and i believe we should be moving forward to pass legislation which says that any american who is suffering today from a mental health crisis should be able to get the mental health care they need now.
3:27 pm
not two months from now because twoing months from now may be too late. mr. president, we also need to address the fact that every year women are being killed by their husbands or their boyfriends. if somebody is a stalker, if somebody is convicted of domestic violence, if somebody is under a restraining order, we should be clear that that person should not be owning a gun. and that this is just some of what i think needs to be done. mr. president, we are at a moment when the american people have had it up to here. they do not want to turn on their tv tomorrow or next week or next months and see the horrible, horrible, unspeakable things that we have seen in schools throughout this country.
3:28 pm
so at this particular moment in history, i hope that in a bipartisan way we can come together, do what the american people want us to do, and that is to pass common sense gun safety legislation that is supported by the overwhelming majority of the american people. thank you very much. and with that, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
3:29 pm
3:30 pm
quorum call:
3:31 pm
3:32 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, today i would like to -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call.
3:33 pm
mr. markey: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, today i would like to speak on behalf of my constituents and the tens of millions of americans who rely on a free and open internet. make no mistake, we are locked in a historic battle, a historic battle to preserve the core principles of competition, innovation, and consumer choice that have made the internet the world's greatest platform for commerce and for communications, a historic battle to restore the hallmark of american innovation and democratization, a historic battle to protect the ink cue baiter and job generator, a battle for net neutrality. in december, the trump f.c.c.,
3:34 pm
federal communications commission, eliminated net neutrality. these rules prevented your internet service provider, comcast, at&t, verizon, charter, from us discriminantly charged more for internet fast lanes or slowing down or even blocking certain websites entirely. the very rules that allow inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses the lifeblood of the american economy to connect to the internet. and the reason why is simple. the trump administration sides with the rich and the powerful first, and consistently puts every day -- everyday americans last of the we have seen them wage an all-out assault on health care, on climate change, and now on net neutrality.
3:35 pm
but today the internet is fighting back, and we have a powerful tool at our disposal that will allow the average consumer to have their voices heard right here on the floor of the united states senate. today i am officially introducing a c.r.a., a congressional review act resolution that will fully restore net neutrality. the entire senate democratic caucus is now standing with the millions of americans who want to reverse the f.c.c.'s partisan actions and restore net neutrality. but net neutrality is not and should not be a partisan issue. i thank senator susan collins for supporting my c.r.a., and i encourage other republican colleagues to stand with all of us who support net neutrality.
3:36 pm
we are just one vote away in the senate from restoring neat neutrality. -- net neutrality. there will be a vote right here on the floor of the senate sometime this spring. the clock is ticking. we just need a simple majority for passage, and that's just one more vote. and when we take that vote, every one of my colleagues will have to answer the simple question, whose side are you on? do you stand with hardworking american families for whom the internet is essential, or do you stand with the big money, corporate interests, and their army of lobbyists? we should all be on the right
3:37 pm
side of history. millennials are motivated. momenmomentum is building. citizens are joining together demonstrating, writing letters, calling their members of congress, and taking this message to social media. they are joined by groups that include fight for the future, demand progress, free press, the center for digital technology, the center for media justice, color of change, common cause, consumers union, engine, the national hispanic media coalition, the open technology institute and public knowledge and many others out there across the country who are organizing right now as part of an effort that is going to bring millions of voices into the offices of every senator, every house member in our country. and this fight is not limited to
3:38 pm
the halls of congress. we are seeing an historic groundswell of activity at the state and local level. the governors in hawaii, in new jersey, vermont, montana, and new york have issued executive orders promoting net neutrality. state legislatures in more than half of the united states are currently considering net neutrality legislation. just today, 76 mayors across the nation signed a letter opposing net neutrality repeal, and 23 state attorneys general have filed suit to reinstate the rules, and we plan to stand by them throughout this entire battle, in the court and out here on the floor of congress. we cannot let net neutrality be another example of congress
3:39 pm
disregarding public opinion and putting donor interest first. net neutrality is our 21st century right and we will fight to protect it, 83% of all americans in polling say they want to protect net neutrality. 83%. and by the way, that's pretty much every millennial because for millennials, the internet is like oxygen. so if you're 35 years old and younger, it polls out pretty close to a hundred percent. i can see all the pages nodding their head as i am speaking. they know no life without a device that they're carrying around. this is the world of which we are living, and they do not want to have any discrimination. introduce itself into the relationship which they have between the internet and their ability to control their own lives. that's what the battle is all about, those nodding heads of
3:40 pm
the pages here in the well of the senate. those are the people who are going to be making a difference, the millennials, the generation z of young people who want this to be open for entrepreneurial activity and for democracy. but i'd also like to speak for a few moments about the epidemic of gun violence in our country. almost two weeks ago a 19-year-old armed with an ar-15 semiautomatic rifle entered marjory stoneman douglas high school in parkland, florida, and killed 14 students and three teachers, 14 others were jushed injured -- were injured. time and time again we have seen this tragedy play out and time and time again we have seen congress fail to act. each year we lose 33,000 american lives due to gun violence. in instances of disease,
3:41 pm
illness, natural disaster, this level of widespread death would be met with immediate and meaningful action by congress. yet we continually abdicate our moral responsibility when it comes to gun violence prevention. we don't have to accept this epidemic of gun violence in our country. it is not preor -- it is not preordained. it is preventable. so what should congress do? first, we should allow public health researchers to study the causes of gun violence so that they can find solutions to this public health crisis. but right now, zero dollars are spent at the centers for disease control and prevention on gun violence prevention research. that's because since 1996, an appropriations rider has prohibited the center for disease control from abdicating or promoting gun control.
3:42 pm
but just last week, secretary of health and human services alex azar said he would not let the rider impede the c.d.c.'s research into the causes of gun violence. so there is no reason now not to fully fund this critical research agenda. i have introduced legislation to fund research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. my bill now has 32 cosponsors in the senate, and i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to cosponsor this commonsense bill. it is long past time that we treat gun violence like the public health emergency which it is. but we must also keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. currently anyone can use a handgun in america, whether it's the gun's owner, a thief, or tragically a young child. but it doesn't have to be this way. technology exists now that can authorize handgun use only by
3:43 pm
its owner. in the 21st century, we have advances in technology to our advantage and we can save lives by using it. and that's why i've used the opportunity to introduce the smart gun legislation that will require all handguns manufactured in the united states to be personalized for operation only by the authorized user. that means unless you are authorized by fingerprint or other technology, you will not be able to fire that handgun. if we can do it for an iphone, we should be able to do it for handgun. so that if a child gets a hold of a gun, if it's not their thumb, the gun can't fire. if someone steals the gun from a home, it won't work because it won't be their thumb that's on the barrel of that gun. that's ultimately a way to reduce dramatically the amount of harm which we see in our
3:44 pm
country. we must also ban these military-style assault weapons like the ar-15 which are the guns of choice for those who seek to inflict mass casualties on civilians. these are weapons that belong in combat, not in our communities. we must also pass legislation to ensure that all gun purchases include a background check. 97% of all americans now support expanded background checks. 97% of all americans. no one should be able to purchase a gun through facebook or instagram without a background check. instagram should not mean instagun without a background check. you can go on instagram and buy a gun without a background check? that's crazy in 2018. we have the capacity to quickly do background checks, to be able to find out whether or not somebody should be able to
3:45 pm
purchase a gun. it's crazy not to have that kind of a system put in place. if you can buy a gun on instagram, you should be able to check online whether or not that person in fact should be allowed legally to purchase the gun. let's also close the gun show loophole as well as the one that allows someone on the terrorist watch list to purchase a weapon. let's close the loophole that allows domestic abusers to buy guns, that allows straw purchasers to buy guns and flood our streets with them. let's ban bump stocks, repeal the protection of lawful commerce in arms act or placa and take away the gun manufacturer's immunity from civil liability. these are simple steps. what is not sensible is hoping that thoughts and prayers will prevent the next shooting. this generation of young people recognized the truth. that's why they are leading this
3:46 pm
children's crusade. they're picking up microphones and raising their voices. they're saying enough is enough. and it is my hope that this might just be the movement that pushes republican leaders to once and for all take the action on gun violence and make the n.r.a. stand for not relevant anymore in american politics. this is the time for that to take place on the senate floor. this generation of young people is rising up, and they are demanding that we protect this country from the scourge of gun violence. like generations past, this one is making the change they want to see in our society. so to them, let me say i hear you, and i am with you. and i will fight with you to ensure that not one more student h has to endure what you did. not one more person has to be
3:47 pm
damaged because we did not put the laws on the books that should have been there to prevent, to prevent this harm from occurring. i will fight with you to ensure that this does not happen in one more school in our country. that is our challenge. that is the goal of which we should set. that is what should be the agenda here on the floor of the senate in 2018. so, mr. president, i yield back to you. the presiding officer: will the senator withhold his request. the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i rise today in support of bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring those individuals who are on the department of homeland security's no-fly list are likewise not able to have access to guns.
3:48 pm
i just met with several of the students from that shooting at the school in florida and heard the very compelling case that they make to take this issue seriously and do what we can on a commonsense basis to make it more difficult for those who shouldn't have guns to have guns. regardless of what happened in florida these past couple of weeks, this is a measure that we should have taken before. it's been brought to the floor of the senate, has received majority support here. i think it's simply common sense for someone who is not permitted to fly in this country and is considered by the federal government to be a potential threat to national security, i think that they should not be allowed to purchase a firearm as well. the no-fly list and the list that we're talking about here is comprised of those who are not
3:49 pm
allowed to fly with the select-d list, it's those who require additional screening. those are both narrowly tailored, defined, targeted lists. this restriction would affect just a small number of people, all of whom would be afforded due process under the constitution. anyone who finds hymns -- himself on either of these list, the onus would be on the government, not the individual, the onus would be on the government to prove the justification. these are strong, robust due process protections that would make sure that these restrictions are constitutionally sound. this bill also adds another layer for -- of safety for citizens from those who would do us harm, ensuring anyone who's been denied the right to fly cannot purchase a weapon without
3:50 pm
at least undergoing additional scrutiny. it simply stands to reason that if we fear that somebody may use our commercial airlines as a weapon or to harm those on board, that we should not allow that same person to purchase a weapon without additional scrutiny. i encourage my colleagues to review this bipartisan legislation and to join me and senator collins and a number of our colleagues here, bipartisan group of senators, in supporting this commonsense piece of legislation. and i hope, mr. president, that we have debate on some of these measures. i'll be talking in the coming days about some of the other measures that we ought to take to make sure that we don't put guns in the hands of those who shouldn't have them. my heart goes out to those in florida, and my vote will go here to measures that will make
3:51 pm
schools safer. with that, i yield back and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
3:52 pm
3:53 pm
3:54 pm
3:55 pm
3:56 pm
3:57 pm
3:58 pm
3:59 pm
4:00 pm
quorum call:
4:01 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection, under the previous order, all postcloture time has expired. the question occurs on the branch nomination. mr. wicker: mr. president, i ask for the yeas and nays on that. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
4:02 pm
4:03 pm
4:04 pm
4:05 pm
4:06 pm
4:07 pm
4:08 pm
4:09 pm
4:10 pm
4:11 pm
4:12 pm
4:13 pm
4:14 pm
4:15 pm
4:16 pm
4:17 pm
4:18 pm
4:19 pm
4:20 pm
4:21 pm
4:22 pm
4:23 pm
4:24 pm
4:25 pm
4:26 pm
4:27 pm
4:28 pm
4:29 pm
4:30 pm
vote: the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, on this, the yeas are 73. the nays are 23. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of russell vought to be deputy director of the office of management and budget signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived.
4:31 pm
the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of russell vought of virginia to be deputy director of the office of management and budget shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
4:32 pm
4:33 pm
4:34 pm
4:35 pm
4:36 pm
4:37 pm
4:38 pm
4:39 pm
4:40 pm
4:41 pm
4:42 pm
4:43 pm
4:44 pm
4:45 pm
4:46 pm
4:47 pm
4:48 pm
4:49 pm
4:50 pm
4:51 pm
4:52 pm
4:53 pm
4:54 pm
4:55 pm
4:56 pm
4:57 pm
4:58 pm
4:59 pm
5:00 pm
5:01 pm
5:02 pm
5:03 pm
5:04 pm
5:05 pm
5:06 pm
5:07 pm
5:08 pm
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 49, the nays are 48 and p the -- and the cloture is invoked. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: executive office of the president, russell vought of virginia to be deputy director
5:09 pm
of office of management and budget. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to introduce the terrorist firearms prevention act which would prohibit suspected or known terrorists from legally purchasing a firearm. i would like to thank my colleague, senator heitkamp, flake, heinrich, toomey, baldwin, king, nelson, mansion, and kaine for their cosponsorship of this bipartisan bill. i particularly want to recognize the leadership of senator heinrich, who has joined me on the floor this evening as we introduce the bill and explain it to our colleagues. mr. president, often referred to as no fly no buy, this bill
5:10 pm
represents one of the sensible steps that we can take to reform our nation's gun laws to better protect our people. our bill is based on a simple principle. if you are considered to be too dangerous to board an airplane, then you are too dangerous to buy a firearm. our legislation would grant the attorney general the authority to block the purchase of a gun by a person who was on either the no-fly or the selectee list. remarkably, mr. president, current law does not prohibit a person known or suspected of engaging in terrorism from walking into a gun shop and buying a firearm. the no-fly list and the selectee list are the narrowest subsets
5:11 pm
of all of the government's terrorist watch lists. these lists cliewf the name -- include the names of individuals who are the greatest threat against our homeland or u.s. interests abroad. this bill would also provide an immediate alert to the f.b.i. and to local law enforcement if an individual who has been on the government's terrorist watch list at any time during the past five years purchases a firearm. mr. president, our hearts are all broken by the horrific shootings of the students in florida. there was another horrendous shooting in florida in 2016 that
5:12 pm
demonstrates why this look-back provision in this legislation is so important. the gunman, omar matene was on the selectee list for approximately ten months, but he was no longer on the list when he purchased the two guns he used to murder 49 people and injure scores more. if our bill were enacted, the f.b.i. would have been notified immediately when omar matine purchased his first firearm in the weeks leading up to the shooting. then the f.b.i. would have been notified a second time that he was seeking to purchase additional firearms. surely, mr. president, that would have caused the f.b.i. to
5:13 pm
reopen its investigation of omar matine. if our proposal had been law at that time, perhaps that massacre might have been prevented. mr. president, i would note that our bill would provide robust due process procedures to protect the second amendment rights of law abiding americans. any american denied a purchase under this bill would have the opportunity to petition a federal district court and receive a decision within 14 days, and if the government, which would have the burden of proof, failed to prove its case, it would have to pay attorney's fees for that individual, and, of course, the purchase of the
5:14 pm
firearm would go forward. mr. president, in 2016, when the senate voted on our bill, it won both majority and bipartisan support. our bill was endorsed by a distinguished group of military and intelligence leaders, and i would note, that during the 2016 presidential debates, both candidates agreed with our principle of no-fly, no buy. surely this is a sensible, reasonable policy around which we can build consensus. mr. president, another step that we can take right now is to pass legislation i introduced with senator leahy to explicitly
5:15 pm
outlaw straw purchasing. straw purchasing is attended for one purpose only, and that is to put a gun into the hands of a criminal who cannot legally obtain one. our bill, the stop illegal trafficking and firearms act, would provide law enforcement with an effective tool to fight the violence that too often goes hand in hand with drug trafficking and gang-related crimes. today gun traffickers exploit weaknesses in our federal laws by targeting individuals who can lawfully purchase firearms. sadly, mr. president, according to briefings that i've had from federal officials, in the state of maine, gang members from
5:16 pm
other states have targeted addicts to go buy firearms for them. and then they swap firearms for drugs. right now a straw purchaser can be prosecuted only for lying on a federal form, which is treated far too often as just a paperwork violation. instead of a slap on the wrist, our bill would create news specific criminal offenses for straw purchasing and trafficking punishable by hefty prison terms, particularly for those who have reason to believe that the firearms will be used to commit violent crimes. mr. president, our bill would also outlaw firearms and ammunitions smuggling out of the united states to another
5:17 pm
country. that's vitally important for combating drug trafficking near and across our southern border, which is contributing to the heroin crisis here at home. let me again be clear that the bill that i've introduced with senator leahy protects the second amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. mr. president, these are just two commonsense reforms that we can pass while fully protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding americans. we can make it as difficult no a terrorist to obtain a gun as it is for him to board an airplane. we can outlaw straw purchasing
5:18 pm
and by increasing the penalties, make a real difference. i urge my colleagues to support both the bipartisan terrorism firearms prevention act and the straw purchasing bill as well as other commonsense reforms. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. a senator: mr. president, i want to start by thanking my colleague, senato senator collif maine, for her work in crafting this legislation and the language of this bill and more generally in her matters of leadership formally on the homeland security committee and certainly for the time that i have been on the intelligence committee, her contributions have certainly not gone unnoticed. and she has been a pleasure to work with in trying to find reasonable places where we can make a material difference in
5:19 pm
the kind of mass shootings that we have seen. mr. heinrich: i should start by just speaking a little bit to the recent tragedy in florida and as the father of two young boys, i just -- i can't begin to imagine the nightmare that families are living through as they mourn the loss of their children in the wake of yet another horrific mass shooting. frankly, no parent should have to live in fear that their child would not come home from school. it's pretty unthinkable. just last week one of my own sons went through an active shooter training at his school. and sadly, that is now the new norm in schools all across our country. 91 americans are killed each day by gun violence, and we simply cannot accept the status quo as the new normal.
5:20 pm
when there are real and concrete steps that we can take to reduce gun violence while respecting constitutional rights. and once again, americans are looking to congress to finally enact commonsense reforms to our gun laws, to protect our schoolkids, to protect our children, to protect our communities. and like so many americans, i have been deeply moved by the marjory stoneman douglas high school students. and young people all across this country who have spoken out after losing classmates, after losing friends, to demand that we as lawmakers take action to prevent future tragedies. it is no secret to my constituents or even my colleagues here that i am a passionate outdoorsman, a hunter, and owner of firearms. and i strongly believe that law-abiding americans have a right to own guns for sport and
5:21 pm
for self-defense. i am teaching my own sons how to safely, how to responsibly use those firearms. but the vast majority of americans, including gun owners like myself, know that congress must take action to close some of the loopholes and reform our laws to keep those deadly weapons out of the hands of those who would turn them against our communities. and today i'm quite proud to join my colleagues from both sides of the oil, senator collins, senator heitkamp, senator flake, and others to introduce one of those measures that should have broad bipartisan support. this is a poster child for the kind of policy that ought to get across the finish line, even in these deeply divided and partisan times. our bipartisan legislation, the
5:22 pm
terrorist firearms prevention act, would deny firearms sales to individuals who appear on the department of justice's no fly or selectee list. these are the narrowist of databases, the kind of lists that you have to work pretty hard to land on and no good reason. our legislation includes due process procedures for individuals to appeal their placement on those lists. but it seems pretty straightforward to most of my constituents that if the government and law enforcement has determined that an individual is so dangerous as to land on the terrorist watch list, i is too dangerous to flyn a commercial airplane, that person should not be able to walk into a gun shop and purchase a gun. but unless we pass this legislation, this glaring loophole will continue to allow individuals identified as terror suspects to buy firearms.
5:23 pm
it's time for those members of congress who oppose commonsense reforms like this to finally step up and tell us what they are doing to protect the public. it's time for all of us to listen, to listen to the student leaders across this country who are rejecting the unacceptable status quo of our nation's gun violence epidemic. those of us in the senate who know firearms well have a special duty to lead these efforts, to get the details right on any legislation to reshape our nation's gun laws. mr. president, inaction simply won't cut it anymore. we all need to listen to these students, to these parents, to these teachers, to our own children who are calling on us to be part of the solution here. new mexicans can count on me despite the odds to continue fighting for real solutions, to
5:24 pm
keep our children safe, to reduce gun violence, and to keep our communities safe. that's what our communities and our constituents deserve. thank you, mr. president. i would note -- actually i won't note the absence of a quorum. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, i rise today to honor the extraordinary life and work of one of or gone's finest -- oregon's finest, ursula k. la guin who after a long life passed away in my hometown of portland on january 22 at the age of 88.
5:25 pm
you would have a tough time overstating mrs. laguin's impact on manner literature, particularly on the genres of fantasy and science fiction. she didn't invent science fiction or fantasy literature, but what she did in true oregon fashion is she redefined them. millions of schoolchildren in oregon and around the world know her best as the author of the unforgettable earth, sea series but she also wrote essays, poetry, and short stories throughout her life. to the end she fiercely resented the constant attempts to pigeon hole her as a sci-fi author. she shattered ceilings and
5:26 pm
inspired generations of readers and authors. she is going to be missed, even as her legacy lives on. ursula laguin was borned on october 21, 1929, in berkley, california. her parents were both successful anthropologists who encouraged their kids to think and to question. exposed to mythology and science fiction at an early age, she soon grew tired of what she would later describe as white men and soldiers going forth and conquering the universe. a shy young woman she escaped the anxieties adolescence by reading authors in her local public library. she went on to radcliff college
5:27 pm
graduating phi beta kappa in 1951. she earned a master's degree from columbia university the following year and won a prestigious fulbright fellowship to continue her studies in paris. she met charles le guin on her way there and they were married shortly thereafter. the pair returned to the united states and ultimately settled in oregon in the late 1950's when her husband took a job at portland state university. she focused on the couple's three children and on her writing, returning to science fiction with cannon's world in 1966. two years later she published a wizard of earth, sea, the first in a series of a highly acclaimed fantasy novels that have remained in print to the delight of millions.
5:28 pm
i can't imagine it's an easy feat for any author to create a universe that sticks in the minds for generations. mrs. le guin joined the elite group of first writerses like c. s. lewis who have done just that. she used her writing to push back against injustices and social constraints. she wrote about environmental destruction, about feminism, gender inequality, about racism, and about war and peace. she wrote about women protagonists and about non-white heroes when they were even less commonly highlighted than they are today. she wrote about multidimensional characters and others who thought to better themselves and their societies rather than to
5:29 pm
bend others to their will. the more mrs. le guin wrote, the more people would read and the more the awards started to pile up. she racked up awards over the course of her career, like few authors have. multiple hugo, national book award, newberry medal. in 1997 she was short listed for the pulitzer prize. she twice won the hugo award in the same year in 1969 for the left hand of darkness and for 1974's "the dispossessed." i would be here until next week if i tried to list all of her achievements, but because we have a rule in the wyden household against filibustering friends, let me just say in 2000, the library of congress made official what all of oregon had long known.
5:30 pm
it declared ursula le guin was a living legend for her contributions to american literature.. the fact is, mr. president, we love our bookstores, and i very often kid michael powell and my wife nancy as the lebron james and damien lillard of bookstores. the fact is mrs. le guin had been in demand in bookstores and libraries for decades, and she's always been sharing that wisdom in her books for visitors near and far. thanks to her example and her influence, generations of writers have blazed new trails and defied old doggedness.
5:31 pm
as a dad who knows full well the importance of reading in a child's life. this is really a special honor today to be able to stand before this distinguished body and remember ursula kay le guin, her life and her legacy. her pioneering writing is going to continue to make readers challenge their conceptions and contemplate their role in this enormously vast universe for decades to come. her long careers worth of great works will be treasured far into the future. and with that and especially appreciating the opportunity to recognize the extraordinary work of a woman who did so much to
5:32 pm
promote writing and attract young readers at home in oregon, i yield the floor and appreciate the chance to have been able to recognize ursula le guin today before the united states senate. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
5:33 pm
5:34 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, may i ask unanimous consent that any pending quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for up to 20 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. i am here for my time to wake up
5:35 pm
speech. my last two speeches focused on the, shall we say peculiar role. two of this country's largest trade associations play on climate change. they got dozens and dozens of member companies that support action on climate change, renewable energy now provides more jobs than fossil fuels and lots, lots of american manufacturing. yet, the u.s. chamber of commerce and the national association of manufacturers spend millions and millions of dollars lobbying congress against climate action, against renewables, and in favor of the fossil fuel industry.
5:36 pm
go figure. in 2016, senator warren and i surveyed the 108 companies on the chamber of commerce's board, and we couldn't find a single one that would endorse the chamber's anticlimate lobbying. not one. many of these companies had very public proclimate positions. none, none said they had even been consulted by the chamber about the chamber's anticlimate crusade. and the u.s. chamber of commerce's war on climate action isn't just in lobbying congress. it also spends tens of millions of dollars in elections, using political attack ads to sink
5:37 pm
proclimate candidates. so i asked in my last speeches, why. why the chamber advanced the special interests of the fossil fuel action opposing climate action, ignoring their own proclimate members and turning their backs on the whole renewable energy and green technology economy. why indeed? well, today i'd like to talk about a fossil fuel trade association, the american petroleum institute, a.p.i. a.p.i. is a slightly different beast than the chamber and n.a.m. it represents the oil and gas industry. you wouldn't expect it to care about renewable energy or green technology.
5:38 pm
a.p.i.'s policy positions should align with the big oil companies that it represents, but it gets complicated. it gets complicated because the big oil companies all claim to support action on climate change. here's what exxonmobil claims. the risk of climate change is clear, and the risk warrants action. in 2009, then exxon's c.e.o. rex tillerson said the company supported a price on carbon. that's supposedly exxonmobil's position today. and here's shell on carbon pricing. the transition to low carbon solution is best underpinned by meaningful government-led carbon pricing mechanisms.
5:39 pm
on the paris agreement, exxon publicly supported the paris agreement, as did chevron, as did shell, as did b.p. in addition, b.p. and shell signed on to an initiative to eliminate methane flaring. so summing up, all of the major oil companies supported the paris agreement. three out of four including exxonmobil, the big kahuna publicly support putting a price on carbon emissions and two of them even support eliminating methane flaring. so where is the american petroleum institute on these policies? let's start with the paris agreement. a.p.i. funds a group called the american council on capital formation, which, along with the chamber of commerce, funded the
5:40 pm
debunked study claiming that the paris agreement would cause massive job losses and huge costs. this debunked report was cited by president trump as justification for withdrawing from the paris accord. so a.p.i. funded the report used as a basis for withdrawal. but wait, it gets better. the authors of this a.p.i.-funded study are the same two characters that a.p.i. hired way back in 1997 and 1998 to write similar reports critical of the kyoto protocol. the kyoto protocol of course was violently opposed here in the united states senate by the fossil fuel industry and a.p.i. so here we are 20 years after
5:41 pm
kyoto, and a.p.i. used almost exactly the same playbook, even the same personnel, against the paris agreement that they had used against the kyoto accord, except that this time a.p.i. paid for the report through a front group to hide a.p.i.'s hand in torpedoing the paris agreement. how you relate that to the stated position of the four oil majors for the paris agreement, you'd have to ask a.p.i. to explain. so now let's look at a.p.i.'s position on carbon pricing, which three out of those four oil majors say they support. a.p.i.'s president has claimed that his organization doesn't have an official position on carbon pricing. but if you take a look at a.p.i.'s website, it is loaded
5:42 pm
with comments critical of putting a price on carbon. and a.p.i. also funded yet another study claiming that a price on carbon emissions would be bad for the economy. on the issue of methane flaring, a.p.i. out front led the charge against department of interior and environmental protection agency rules. its lobbying campaign has paid off as two of trump's fossil fuel stooges, interior secretary ryan zinke and e.p.a. administrator scott pruitt are busily trying to dismantle these raoults. luckily they're not very bright about it and courts keep upending their schemes. let's look at the lobbying. big oil money provides much of a.p.i.'s power here in the halls of congress. a.p.i. has spent over $100
5:43 pm
million, over $100 million lobbying the federal government. and apparently it's lobbying those against the wishes as stated by its biggest client, the four oil majors. and if you look, there's a big bump-up in 2009 and here through 2016. the obama years, when they wanted to go in and stop all kinds of progress on climate change. we all know in this building, we all know perfectly well that a.p.i. is not here lobbying for a price on carbon. we know perfectly well that if a republican were to say i'm for a price on carbon or sign on to a bill, they'd probably get a visit from a.p.i. saying, whoa,
5:44 pm
not so fast there, partner. we know perfectly well that they're not here in this building lobbying for the paris accord. so why the discrepancy? is it possible that all this money, $100 million, is being thrown around without the approval of the big oil companies, that the american petroleum institute has sort of gone off on its own, off the leash, free range, running away from the oil companies? it is a puzzlement, this vast gulf between the proclimate policies, the oil majors say they support, and the anticlimate policies the a.p.i. lobbyists support. i said one possibility is that big oil doesn't know how its lobbying money is being spent. maybe those c.e.o.'s have lost control of their own trade
5:45 pm
association and don't even know it. i mean, after all, around here who pays attention to their own lobbying operation anyway? or maybe the $100 million is such chump change to the big oil companies that they just lost track of it, like we might lose some change in our couch cushions. or maybe, cover your ears young pages because i may say something shocking here, or maybe it's a scam. i know, totally shocking, a big corporation that would say one thing and do another, what a concept. but it's a concept that works out great for big oil. the big oil c.e.o.'s get toll go to cocktail parties on fifth avenue, they get to go to international conferences, and with all their sophisticated
5:46 pm
friends, they get to say we're not a bunch of head in the sand science deniers, we have sensible science policies, we've got sensible science policies. and at the same time they can send their lobbying goons out to make sure that no one in congress takes that sensible climate policy nonsense seriously. it's great. have your front group do your dirty work for you. fill your websites with happy assurances while you let a.p.i. loose on washington to crush any pro-climate policies that might actually reduce carbon emissions and threaten your bottom line. hypocrisy, yes, but then hypocrisy is famously the tribute vice pays to virtue, and
5:47 pm
i suppose it's at least a start, a sign that we've reached the point where big oil recognizes the need to try to at least look virtuous. that's a start, but it still leaves us with this huge disconnect between the pro-climate policies the big oil companies claim to support and their american petroleum institute's relentless anti-climate lobbying. remember -- remember, throughout the oil industry's decade-long campaign against climate action, they knew -- all along they knew -- exxon knew decades ago about the effects of carbon pollution, but they worked through an elaborate web of front groups to propagate doubt and denial about the science
5:48 pm
that they knew. shell knew too. in 1991, shell even produced a documentary warning about the serious threat climate change posed to the future of civilization. but despite acknowledging this threat, shell, like exxon, continued to fund a.p.i. and other front groups that sought to mislead the public about climate change and that opposed climate action here in congress. exxon's trade group, this american petroleum institute, also knew -- they knew of the reality of climate change. they knew that it was caused by carbon emissions from fossil fuels, and they knew of the danger it poses.
5:49 pm
way back in 1959, almost 60 years ago, a.p.i. was warned by an imminent scientist that if we kept burning fossil fuels, we would increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. back here in 1959 they were warned. that was the prediction that they received, that it would warm the atmosphere, melt the ice caps, and submerge coastal cities and towns, as we're beginning to see along the florida coastline right now. that was the prediction in 1959, and in 1959, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 316 parts per million.
5:50 pm
then in 1968, here, a group of science tests a.p.i. itself had commissioned warned a.p.i. that significant temperature changes could occur by the year 2000 and that ultimately potential damage to the environment could be severe. 1968. by 1968, the atmosphere concentration of co2 was up to 322 parts per million. in 1980, scientists hired by a.p.i. again warned a.p.i. that burning fuels from fossil fuels would have a dangerous effect. by 1989, the concentration of
5:51 pm
co2 was 339 -- by 1980. in 1983, a.p.i. disbanded -- disbanded the scientific working group it created to study global warming. apparently a.p.i. didn't like what they were hearing so in 1983, they shut it off. there's a legal term for that when you're on notice but then just turn away. it's called willful ignorance. by 1983, the atmosphere concentration of co2 was 343 parts per million. then came 1989 when james hanson's senate testimony, his famous senate testimony, threatened a. pimplet's willful -- a.p.i.'s willful
5:52 pm
ignorance scheme. so a.p.i. and its big oil members founded a front group. what is it with these front groups and these people anyway? why is it always these front groups? anyway, with the misleading name, global climate coalition. global climate coalition began to spread falsehood and disinformation about climate science even though in 1989 third-degree knew -- in 1989 they knew. in 1989 they knew for 40 years since the first report in 1959. and by 1989, the atmospheric concentration was 353 parts per million. in 1993, a.p.i. hired one of the same men who wrote those paris reports that i mentioned to write a report attacking
5:53 pm
president clinton's p.t.u. attacks on fuel sources. 1993, co2 concentration in the atmosphere is up to 357 parts per million. 1998 was when a.p.i. did that report attacking the kyoto protocol, and it also commissioned what it called its global climate science communications plan, a plan designed to mislead americans about climate science. by 1998, the atmospheric concentration of co2 was 367 parts per million. in 2009, a.p.i. fought and killed the waxman-markey law, cap and trade legislation that would have controlled carbon emissions. by 2009, the atmosphere
5:54 pm
concentration of co2 was 387 parts per million. and now here we are in 2018, a.p.i. is still fighting climate action. the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 407 parts per million -- 407 parts per million. almost 30% higher than it was when a.p.i. first learned -- first proveably learned what climate science meant. and as we've kept dumping carbon pollution into the atmosphere, temperatures and sea levels have, indeed, steadily risen just as a.p.i. was told they
5:55 pm
would. they knew. but they lied. for decades they lied on a massive industrial scale. they lied through phony science, they lied through phony front groups and bogus studies, they lied through talk shows, they lied through right-wing media, they lied through astroturf and well-wade p.r. -- well-paid p.r. firms. they lied for decades. now the american people are -- people have to pay for the price of climate change to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. so from their point of view, what the heck, after decades of lying about climate change, what's a little discrepancy now between what big oil c.e.o.'s say and what big oil lobbyists
5:56 pm
do? the industry's sophisticated and expensive disinformation and lobbying campaign has blockaded climate action in this country for more than half a century. when you've been lying that long, maybe it's a hard habit to break. looking back at this whole scam, i guess a.p.i. and its members actually see it as a win. nearly 60 years of industry profits they protected behind that barricade of lies. but at what price to our country? at what price to americans whose lives have already, in many cases, been upended by climate change? at what price to people around the world who will suffer the effects of climate change and
5:57 pm
one day want an answer about why america, through all this period, let this take place, why america let them down. mr. president, the time for deception, the time for front groups, for misinformation, for inaction is over. a. p.i. and it's fossil fuel allies at the chamber of commerce and the association of manufacturers have blocked climate action here in congress long enough. look at the price we paid. look at the price we paid to allow the fossil fuel lobby to dictate climate policy in this great body. 407 parts per million.
5:58 pm
407 parts per million is a measurement. it is a measurement and it is a measurement unprecedented in the full span of human history on this planet. mr. president, i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
5:59 pm
quorum call:
6:00 pm
6:01 pm
6:02 pm
6:03 pm
6:04 pm
6:05 pm
6:06 pm
6:07 pm
6:08 pm
6:09 pm
6:10 pm
6:11 pm
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. thank you, mr. president. i rise today to tall on president trump to nominate a director for the indian health service. there are many critical issues facing indian country, economic development, infrastructure, protection of native lands, respect for tribal governments. and after years and years and
6:12 pm
years of broken promises, discrimination, and neglect, washington owes tribes a fighting chance to build stronger communities and a brighter future. the federal indian trust responsibility means that washington has a basic legal obligation to the tribes. washington also has a fundamental moral obligation, and that starts with basic health care. american indians have treaty rights to health care from the federal government, but the u.s. government cannot fulfill our treaty obligations if key posts like the director of i.h.s. laid vacant for years. the i.h.s. is a big deal. it is the primary federal health care provider for american indians and alaska natives. it serves 2.2 million people spread across 36 states. it has a budget of nearly $5 billion annually. the i.h.s. provides care for
6:13 pm
more than -- through more than 660 clinics, hospitals, and health stations on or near reservations, many of them in remote rural locations located hours away from other health facilities. it serves more than 13 million outpatient visitors a year. the doctors and nurses and other health care providers in i.h.s. hospitals and clinics do everything from delivering babies to providing dental services to fighting the opioid crisis, but right now, more than a year into president trump's term, there is still no permanent leader at the indian health service. two weeks ago, the nomination for i.h.s. director was withdrawn, and there hasn't been a senate-confirmed director for years. this leadership vacuum creates a serious problem. the i.h.s. cannot engage in long-term planning without a permanent director at the helm. it cannot efficiently fix
6:14 pm
problems at hospitals that failed inspections and where medicare and medicaid funding is in jeopardy. it cannot move as decisively to ensure that i.h.s. facilities stay open. it cannot implement agencywide standards for quality of care as the government accountability office has recommended. the i.h.s. cannot prioritize competing issues or solve serious long-standing problems or work through how to meet multiple goals more effectively. its relationship with other federal agencies are weakened without a stable leader. critical relationships with the centers for medicare and medicaid services, the office of management and budget, the substance abuse and mental health services administration, and the rest of the department of health and human services. it cannot ensure that programs like the special diabetes program for indians, which has created real positive outcomes,
6:15 pm
is implemented as well as possible. the i.h.s. cannot work out a direction for the service and hold a single stable leader accountable for doing a good job. the i.h.s. faces serious challenges that require the attention of a permanent, dedicated director. the agency is underfunded and has been underfunded for a long time. as a result, its facilities often lack medical equipment that many americans take for granted when they visit a clinic or a hospital, like an m.r.i. machine or a functioning operating room. a 2016 report by the inspector general of the united states department of health and human services found that i.h.s. hospital administrators have had difficulty recruiting and retaining critical staff. aging hospital buildings and outdated equipment also raise concerns about patients' safety. the inspector general cites concerns about corroded pipes
6:16 pm
leaking sewage into the o.r. and not being able to find replacement parts to fix old equipment the hospitals are relyinrelying on. doctors and nurses should be able to focus on helping their patients get well, not on whether the building is habitable and basic facilities are available. there are also serious staffing shortages. at its great plains facilities, for example, i.h.s. vacancy rates have reached 37%. compare that to my home state of massachusetts where only 6% of nursing jobs were vacant in 2015. tribal leaders are understandably concerned about the direction of an agency that plays such a vital role in their communities. here's what i heard from chairwoman cheryl andrews moltase of the tribe of gahed in massachusetts. quote. this vacancy has created significant instability and negatively affects the already
6:17 pm
burdened i.h.s. system, and she added, quote, not only is it a failure on the part of the federal government to not adequately fund health care for indians, the failure to appoint someone to lead this critical service area is considered by many tribes as gross negligence. the chairwoman says that the united states is failing to keep its word and failing to fulfill its solemn responsibility to the tribes. i agree with the chairwoman. health care is a basic human right and everyone in this country deserves access to quality, affordable health care, but the stakes are particularly high for native people. an american indian or alaskan native baby born today has a life expectancy that is almost four and a half years shorter than the u.s. average. these little babies are also more likely to die before they ever reach their first birthday. native infant mortality is about 25% higher than for the u.s. as
6:18 pm
a whole. chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease hit native americans harder, too. american indians and alaskan natives die of diabetes at a rate that's three times higher than that of the entire american population. mental health and addiction issues are also a very big concern. the opioid epidemic is devastating communities all over our country, but it is a particularly virulent problem for native americans who have the high etion per capita rate -- highest per capita rate of opioid overdoses in the country. similarly, alcohol-related death rate for native americans is about 500 percent higher than for the rest of the population. suicide rates are about 70% higher, too. everyone struggling with addiction deserves access to high quality treatment no matter who they are or where they live. that's the only way we're going to make progress in tackling
6:19 pm
this crisis. but right now in a place where the need is great, the federal government is failing to provide adequate care. with so much need investing and improving the i.h.s. should be a top priority for washington. i'm glad that the trump administration's latest budget for the i.h.s. includes a funding increase. still, this government needs to do more, much more. a senate confirmed director can serve as the advocate that the i.h.s. needs in order to get the resources that it deserves. in fact, federal law explicitly says that advocating good indian health policy is one of the director's job responsibilities. we should be doing that job. we need a good person in this job which means the nominee must be thoroughly vetted, but that's not an excuse for more delay or for the white house to drag its feet. it needs to work with the tribes to find the right person for the
6:20 pm
job and then submit the nomination quickly. the person who heads up the i.h.s. should be knowledgeable and should have a vision for how to deliver better health care to native americans. the person should have the determination and commitment to push congress to meet its treaty obligations and providing health care to native communities. the trump administration doesn't have a stellar record when it comes to him no naturing the right people -- to nominating the right people for important jobs. i often disagree with the president's picks, but leaving hundreds of critical posts across our government vacant, including the i.h.s. director, has a devastating effect all its own. it wasn't until just two weeks ago that president trump finally named a nominee to commissioner of administration for native americans and several offices in the federal bureaucracy have an important role in running important programs for tribes and the president hasn't nominated heads for some of those offices. for instance, the director of
6:21 pm
the department's -- department of justice's office on violence against women which administers key grant programs for tribal programs to combat domestic violence and sexual assault and the assistant secretary of employment and training administration in the department of labor which provides workforce innovation and opportunity grants to tribes and tribal organizations. these vacancies hit native communities hard and they represent one more broken promise to native people. there is no excuse for delay. i urge president trump to move quickly to consult with tribes and to submit a nomination for i.h.s. director. the native community should not have to wait any longer. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor.
6:22 pm
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate resume legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: you i understand appointments were made during the adjournment of the senate. i ask they be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the appointment at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the
6:23 pm
chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i understand there's a bill at the desk and i ask for its first reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the first time. the clerk: s. 2464, a bill to improve border security and to provide conditional provision residents to certain long-term residents who enter the united states as children. mr. mcconnell: i now ask for a second reading and in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provision of rule 14, i reject to my own request. the presiding officer: the objection having been heard, the bill will be read a second time on the next legislative day. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 415, submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 415 designating march 2, 2018 as national speech and debate education day. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be
6:24 pm
considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. res. 416 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 416 supporting the goals and ideals of career and technical education month. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. con. res. 35 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate concurrent resolution 35 authorizing the use of emancipation hall and the capital visitors center for a ceremony to present the congressional gold medal collectively to the members of the office of strategic
6:25 pm
services. the presiding officer: without objection the senate will proceed to consider the measure. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22, all postcloture time on the vote nomination expired 4:30 tomorrow afternoon, february 28 and the senate vote on confirmation of the nomination with no intervening action or debate. finally, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 12:45 wednesday, february 28. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the
6:26 pm
journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. i further ask that following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of vote nomination, final -- vought nomination. finally during recess, adjournment count postcloture on the vought nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will stand adjourned until 12:45 p.m., wednesday, february 28. .ednesday, february 28. >> the senate today confirming elizabeth branch to a be judge on the 11th circuit court and voted to limit debate on the nomination for deputy director of office of management and budget. confirm vote on that nomination expected tomorrow. more judicial and executive nominations in the senate through the rest of the week. live coverage here on c-span2.
6:27 pm
>> on capitol hill today admiral mike rogers, commander of the u.s. cyber command, said he has not been directed by the white house to take any additional steps outside of his current authority to respond to russia cyber attacks. here he is in an exchange with senate armed services committee ranking member jack reed. >> i have a series of questions require yes or no answers. the mission of the national, mission teams under dod cyber strategy is the blunt cyber attacks against the united states of quote, significant consequences, that accurate? >> yes. >> the russia -- >> if i could, i would phrase it, that is an accurate mission for cyber command. we actually defined it down to the team level. i understand the point you're treich to make sir. >> russia's on going campaign to
6:28 pm
steal and leak confidential information from candidates to amplify misinformation into social media, break into state election board networks, significance to our national security? >> certainly if successful, yes. >> do you agree with the dni coats testifying that they will continue to conduct sigher operations to achieve strategic objectives unless they face clear repercussion. >> yes, sir. that was my testimony as well in the hearing. >> is russia attempting to a achieve a with russia -- elections. >> i believe they're attempting to under mine our institutions? >> aside from intelligence agencies operating under presidential finding are there any other organizations under cyber command, cyber mission forces that have the authority, capability to disrupt russian election hacking operations where they originate? does the fbi, dhs, or the states or private sectors have such authorities or capabilities? >> you could argue problem only
6:29 pm
again there is legal aspect i'm not the most qualified but probably argue some combination of dod, doj have standing authority in that regard. >> but the mission teams, particularly at the origin of these attacks have the authority to do so? >> if granted the authority. i don't have the day-to-day authority to do that. if granted the authority. >> so you would need basically to be directed by the president through the secretary of defense? >> yes, sir. in fact i mentioned that in my statement. >> have you been directed to do so given the strategic threat that faces the united states and the significant consequences you recognized already? >> no i have not. if i could flesh this out, say something open, unclassified be open to go into more detail classified. >> yes, sir. >> based on authority as commander i have directed the national mission force to begin specific work. i would not publicly go into that. using authorities i retain as commander in mission space. >> inherent commander --
6:30 pm
>> yes, sir. >> and structure but you need to direct authority of the president through the secretary of defense. >> to do some specific things. >> some specific authorities. >> some specific authority i am acting within that authority. >> essentially we have not taken on the russians yet? we're watching them intrude in our elections, spread misinformation, become more sophisticateds try to achieve strategic objectives and recognize, we're essentially sitting back and waiting? >> i don't know if i would characterize it as we're sitting back and waiting but i will say, it is probably, again i apologize, i don't want to get into classified here. >> right. >> it is probably fair to say, that, that we have not opted to engage in many solve the same behaviors, that we are seeing. if i can just keep it. >> now, one searches for sort of historical analogies but we in the past seen threats building but as some point, particularly
6:31 pm
when it manifests itself which they already have in 2016 we've taken action? we have not just continued to watch? >> we are doing something. . . i work a lot with my partner on women's rights in the state of mississippi. we are pushing a women's economic security agenda so we can bring women's voices to the
6:32 pm
state capitol so laws and policies can be made in the best interests of them. this legislative session we will introduce with their legislative partners legislation around childcare, raising wages for women. we know that women in this state are majority of the breadwinners in mississippi so we want to be able to close the gap so low-income working women are able to make ends meet with their families. >> i think we should step in to help mississippi with the health care program. i think it would help women to give back on their feet here. i think the most important issue that we have in the state of mississippi as we deal with criminal justice reform. as of today we have over 19,000
6:33 pm
people in and our state penitentiary and over 34,000 people on parole and almost 9000 veteran private prisons. the astonishing -- with we have to deal with is there's almost 500,000 individuals that can't find employment. so as we progress at the capitol i hope you get legislation passed for the criminal justice reforms that are so needed in the state. right now education funding and how that works and the quality and funding measures that our legislature chooses to enact and also infrastructure and ensuring that we are able to bring businesses and allow people to travel throughout our state and that the structure that is not crumbling and allowing them to produce safely. whether they are mississippians
6:34 pm
or not. >> voices from the state unseat c-span. >> that again the senate today confirmed elizabeth branch as a judge in the 11th circuit court. also today democratic senator dick durbin and republican senator john cornyn came to the floor to speak about gun policy. >> mr. president a few years ago malcolm gladwell wrote a book calledpe the tipping point and e really spelled out in the course of history the course of history with changes people's thinking actions and it's a precipitous moment where it stops and is reevaluated. the clear question we have in america today is whether we have we have reached a tipping point when it comes to gun violences. it's only been 13 days, 13 days since the tragedy of hard when


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on