tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN April 18, 2018 5:29pm-7:37pm EDT
strike the vida language. we have offered our colleagues the opportunity to vote on this amendment all week, and if the senate needs to speak on the question of whether to include the vida language in the coast guard bill, i would welcome that debate in a fair up-or-down vote. there are many supporters of this language from both sides of the aisle, and i'm confident the amendment would be defeated. i would ask the senator to revise his request that the senate resume consideration of the coast guard legislation, that the amendment to strike the vida provision be made pending, and the senate vote on the amendment prior to the vote on the motion to concur with further amendment. so would the senator be willing to modify? mr. schumer: i will not. the presiding officer: is there objection to the original request? mr. mcconnell: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: today senate democrats have filibustered legislation to reauthorize funding for our coast guard. in a dangerous world, the brave men and women of the coast guard are always ready for the call, whether it be to interdict drugs, secure our ports, or conduct daring maritime rescues. they citizen our support. they don't deserve a filibuster for the sake of political posturing. so let's have a little plain talk about why the bill failed. democrats filibustered this legislation because it contains an eminently sensible bipartisan provision to streamline regulations for the mariners and vessel on thers who drive america's maritime economy. it would cut back on duplicative rules and overlapping enforcement and provide a
uniform standard that protects the environment and commerce alike. if this sound like commonsense bipartisan -- like a commonsense bipartisan measure, that's because that's exactly what it is. this legislation has been favorably reported by the commerce committee six times -- six time, mr. president, during the last three congresses, including when our democratic friends controlled the committee. you might think that would be enough around here to get a bill passed. but earlier today a number of the very same democrats who cosponsored this very legislation in this very congress flip-flopped under partisan pressure and voted against it. in fact, if all of the senate democrats who are currently cosponsors of this provision had voted for the bill, the cloture motion would have passed. so let me say that again.
if the cosponsors of this measure in this congress had voted for the bill, the cloture motion would have passed. if only those democrats who put their name on this provision would have actually followed through and voted for it, the filibuster would be over. look, our constituents sent us here to stand for their interests. in land-lock states like kentucky and missouri, thousands and thousands of jobs depend on our inland waterways. in coastal states like delaware, washington, and florida, major ports enable hundreds of billions of dollars of u.s. commerce. and of course the people of hawaii relying on shipping for everything from groceries to gasoline. in all of these states and elsewhere, i know workers and job creators were excited about the prospective of reform -- the prospect of reform in this area. how do i know that?
because in several cases, they successfully persuaded their own democratic senators to support it -- or so it had seemed until today. you know, americans might be forei have goin' for thinking that persuading their senator to go out of their way and cosponsor a bill might be the same thing as persuading them to actually vote for it. apparently, where several of my democratic colleagues are concerned, that's simply not the case. because when party leaders came calling and asked my colleagues to put party-line obstruction politics ahead of their constituents' best interests, they folded. this is what people don't like about this town. well, my democratic friends' political priorities may have shifted away from the people they're elected to fight for and toward left-wing pressure groups, but the merits of the issue have not changed. so the senate will consider this
issue further and will vote on this legislation again. a senator: mr.
president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i come to speak tonight because i did not support the coast guard bill as it came out of committee because we did want to see changes to it. the legislation that was brought up, the final language on monday night, gave our colleagues very little time to consider it. washington state is very proud of the rich maritime heritage that the coast guard provides and our fishermen, our tribes, our shipbuilders, our sea trade, our thriving coastal tourism all count on us working together for our maritime economy. thousands of northwest fishermen call washington state home and over 35,000 washington state jobs are supported by the alaska fishery and the ports of tacoma and seattle are combined to be the fourth largest container
gateway in the united states. so the coast guard plays a pivotal role in all of this in its national security, in its fishing, in overseeing, and in many ways to keep our waterways safe. so that is why we would love to see a coast guard bill that moves forward without the controversial pieces of language that are included. now, i know many of my colleagues have thought this is a way to get our colleagues from the midwest and other places to just swallow wholesale huge changes that could cost our economy billions of dollars, such as the zebra muscle, which alone would cost $6.34 billion a year and an ecosystem full of rampant and sometimes toxic algae growth which would collapse native fisheries and destroy -- i'm reading from a letter regarding the coast guard authorization act. what i would like to see is us to move forward tonight on the
things that we can agree to. why? because i know these things are important as well and continue to work on a resolution for some of the thornier issues that still remain. i would like to see us move forward because i'd like to see a recapitalization of the coast guard icebreaker and polar star. the polar tar is home ported in seattle and is operational for our heavy icebreaker capabilitiesment. this bill also includes language to improve the coast guard oversight of ships that pose an oil spill risk and this is a constant threat to us in puget sound and throughout the west. given the large amount of oil traffic that comes through puget sound and out our strait. the bill also includes language to strengthen paid family leave policies at the coast guard. we just had the commandant nominee before the commerce committee, and one of the reasons why i questioned him on
the paid family leave strategies and moving forward is i want to give him every tool to continue to keep the workforce of women that they have in the coast guard. his commitment to me is that they would love to see this strengthened paid family leave policy that's in the underlying coast guard bill. why not give that to them tonight? our coast guard family should not be forced to choose between serving their country and supporting their families, and this bill would be a good step forward. and lastly, it includes bipartisan language that would help us protecting our shipyard jobs by making sure that we fixed a problem related to tacota creek and also making sure that our fishing vessels, permanent fishing exemption would be allowed in this legislation. so i no he that we face challenges -- so i know that we face challenges on continued definition of best technology but that's better than having a
definition in the underlying bill that i think we should separate i think good policy from that would really make no indication for an economic analysis that would leave us with the great lakes and many areas without the kind of clean water that will allow us to continue to do good science and good fishery policy in that area of the united states. so i hope that we could move forward on the policies that my colleagues know we can get agreement on. i just heard the debate between the majority leader and senator schumer, and so i understand that there is an objection to moving the coast guard bill. but i have at the desk to improve regulation of certain vessels and ask unanimous consent that if in the legislative session the senate proceed to its immediate consideration understand that that bill be considered and read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no
intervening action. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. thune: mr. president? reserving the right to object, let me just make one correction for the record, too, that my friend the democratic leader brought up earlier and which has been alluded to by the senator from washington. but the issue was a matter under the jurisdiction of this committee, the commerce committee, and for the information of the senate, this part of the bill has been introduced has a stand-alone bill, senate bill 168. it was referred to the commerce committee, not the e.p.w. committee. the chairman of the environment and public works committee agrees with that. so i don't know this argument that somehow this is not under the committee's jurisdiction is probably, you know, one issue i guess i would raise just an objection -- i guess just in objection to the senator from washington's request. busecondly, we've worked
tirelessly every member of our committee on our side of the aisle and members off the committee. and furthermore we have accommodated, i think, every request that the senator from washington has made. on this bill. and we have involved here in all these discussions and my understanding was, as a result of tha that consultation and the discussions on the bill, that she was going to be a vote in favor of the bill. and so now what she wants to do is take out those pieces of a very carefully negotiated bill that she doesn't like and pass just the provisions that she likes. now, it would be great if here in the united states senate we could all do that. but that doesn't happen around here. we carefully negotiated this with great input from the senator from washington, and it was my understanding that the senator from washington was going to vote for this package. so i object to picking out the
pieces that we like and not working with the collaborative process that's involved, both republicans and democrats, both on the committee and off the committee, to bring a bill to the floor that enjoyed 65 votes in support until this afternoon. because politics is playing -- is being played here, pure and simple, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. so i object to the senator's request. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i thank my colleague, who i know considers the efforts of the commerce committee as great hard work and i appreciate his hard work. as i mentioned, i did not support the bill as it came out of committee. and i know that there are things that we're trying to work on to keep this process moving. but i would say to my colleague, the small vessel discharge bill has been something that has been part of an exemption process as related to this for a long time. it has been considered many
times over, and our fishermen need the certainty of this. so i have a bill at the desk related to the application of the federal water pollution control act and ask unanimous consent that if in legislative session the snoot proceed to that and -- the senate proceed to that and the bill be considered read a third time passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: officer objection? mr. thune: i would just same think say, this is peeling out pieces of the bill that one senator in this chamber likes and telling every other senator on both sides of the aisle, republicans and democrats who negotiated this to go pound sand. we don't like this -- you know, we don't like the provisions that have been negotiated on both sides very carefully over months, and i might add this bill has been introduced and dealt with at the committee level during five different congresses. five different congresses. this year it's passed not once but twice out of the senate
commerce committee by a voice vote. and it seems to me at least that even after it came out of the committee, the fact that we negotiated this with the senator from washington, multiple senators on the other side of the aisle, both on and off the committee to come up with a balanced package that enjoyed broad, bipartisan support, 65 votes until this afternoon suggests to me that this is purely politics that's being played with this legislation. this is an important bill. this is the coast guard. this is vida. vida was referred to the commerce committee by the parliamentarian. we have worked -- we've worked with the commerce committee. we have worked with the e.p.w. committee, the e.p.a., the e.p.a. is supporting the solution, and this is not the political level of the e.p.a. this is the career folks at the e.p.a. who support the solution that we've come up with, and yet we run into these objections that are all of a sudden -- all of a sudden -- coming up out of
thin air. so, mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is noted. can't cams mr. president, i see my colleague -- ms. cantwell: mr. president, i see nigh colleague from the midwest is on the floor. i'm sure he has something to say about this. but i would just say to the chairman of the commerce committee that you're right. years and years of discussion about ballast water has been a challenge. so the question tonight is whether we're going to hold up other legislation just to get that language or to push through a proposal that really doesn't give the security for our waters to be not polluted or to be greatly impacted or to threaten the sea life and the opportunities for a vibrant waterway in many parts of the country. so all i'm trying to do, as i've always tried to do, is be constructive in the process, both in the commerce committee
with this issue and for the very issues that affect the coast guard in the pacific northwest. so i know that this won't be the last time that you hear about the fishing vessel issue. i'm sure you'll hear many times because it's been on the calendar. so we'll continue this discussion, but i thank him for at least coming here tonight to discuss this issue, but there are other issues that are basically getting held up as hostage in this legislation, and they shouldn't be held hostage. so i thank the president, and i yield the floor. mr. brown: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i thank both senator thune and senator cantwell for their exchange back and forth. i appreciate especially the work of senator cantwell. i grew up an hour and a half from lake erie. i saw in the 1960's what that lake looked like. i lived for ten years in a home near lake erie, and i saw the improvements we made.
this bill unfortunately with that amendment sets us back. we need to keep invasive species out of lake erie, and we need to pass the coast guard bill. there is no reason we can't do both. i want to speak to that in a moment. first how vital lake erie is to my state. lake erie, 50% of the fish in all the great lakes consider lake erie their habitat. its waters are critical to farming and clean energy development and industry and regional economic competitiveness, from tourism in kataba and p. uten bay, to family reunions, lake erie benefits our communities, it creates jobs in ohio. but for more than half a century, that half a century going back to when i was a kid in the 1960's and saw what lake erie looked like, keeping our lake healthy has been a constant struggle. where i lived on lake erie, the lake was about 50 to 60-feet deep. moving west towards toledo, the
lake is about 30-feet deep. contrast that with lake superior which is 600 feet deep, and you can see the challenge of keeping lake erie clean, you can see the vulnerability of that lake. that's the reason for the algae blooms. that's the reason that lake erie has had the most difficult issues facing its aquatic life. runoff that causes harmful algae blooms and invasive species are threats we battle every year. that's why senator portman and i came to this floor and fought back against the president's budget, two years in a row when the president was going to cut close to $400 million from the great lakes initiative. some $300 million from the great lakes restoration initiative. two years in a row, senator portman and i fought back against it, because we know that cleaning up lake erie is something we did in the 1960's, but to keep lake erie clean is something we do in the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, into this century and into this millennium.
the lakes, the great lakes are home to more than 185 nonnative species. by some estimates, invasive species have cost $5 billion in damages to the great lakes every single year. a provision that would make our fight against invasive species harder has been added to the bill to reauthorize our coast guard. that's why i voted no earlier today. this provision, as much as i want coast guard reauthorization, my first -- my first responsibility other than looking out for working families in ohio every day is to keep the greatest natural resource in the country, my part of the great lakes, lake erie, the part that borders on ohio to keep it clean. this provision added would make it easier for invasive species to enter our lakes, harm our drinking water, threaten our local jobs that depend on boating and fishing. i meet every year with the lake erie sea captains, boat captains. they talk about the beauty of the lake and the porps of the lake to their business and to
all of us in northern ohio. this provision doesn't belong in the coast guard bill. the senate did the right thing by blocking it. again, i say i strongly support the coast guard reauthorization. i want to see it passed. i agree with senator thune. i want it to be law. that's why it's critical this provision be removed from the bill so congress can move forward with supporting our coast guard without threatening the great lakes. members of the coast guard surely think the same thing. this provision would eliminate the ability of the great lakes states like ohio to set tougher water quality standards to keep invasive species out. tankers and cargo ships carry something called ballast water with them to help with stability and smooth sailing. when they load more cargo, they let out some of the water. it flows into whatever body of water they happen to be in at the time. think about these ships. in some sense, they are luxury liners for invasive species. they might be picked up off the coast of japan. they might be picked up in the indian ocean. they might be picked up in the
south atlantic ocean -- the south atlantic. they end up coming down the st. lawrence seaway, carrying this water with these invasive species from around the world, and they release them into lake erie or lake ontario or lake michigan or lake superior or lake huron. it may not sound like a big deal if a ship takes on water and zebra mussels in the caspian sea off the coast of russia and lets them out in lake erie, but those little mussels do major damage to our lake and our economy. it's local governments and taxpayers who end up paying the price. this just doesn't affect the beauty of lake erie. the cleanliness of its water. that's so important, it affects the economy because it costs local taxpayers money to clean up from these -- these invasive species. they clog up water intake pipes. they spike costs for local ratepayers. they make toxic algae blooms worse. when drinking water gets contaminated, the local water
utility has to clean it up. they pass the costs on. fishing and tourism industries that rely on lake erie feel that pain. as i said, i remember how polluted lake erie looked when i was growing up. the great lakes restoration initiative has made a real difference. we have made real progress cleaning up this lake's tributaries from the black river to the cuyahoga river to the ashtabula river, to the grand river, to the maumee river, the largest tributary feeding into any of the great lakes, draining four million acres west and south of toledo. it's been a bipartisan success story. the great lakes region contains 84% of north america's service of freshwater. it provides drinking water to tens of millions of americans. it generates billions in economic activity. why would we risk that, mr. president? why would we risk that by voting for this bill? that's why senator cantwell was right. we need to pass a coast guard bill. we need to keep invasive species out of lake erie. we can do both by stripping this provision from the bill right
the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, if the senate is in a quorum call, may i ask unanimous consent that it be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. when we think, mr. president, about climate change, something we don't do much of in this body, we often think about rising global temperatures and heat waves. we think about changing weather
patterns, stronger storms or sea level rise threatening coastal communities. we actually see these effects unfold across the u.s. and around the world, as heat records fall, winters shrink, and waters creep ever higher along our coastlines. we also see the economic consequences of climate change. just last year, the united states suffered a record 16, 1-6, 16 separate billion-dollar weather disasters, adding up to well over $300 billion in damages. acidifying seawater had devastated shellfish harvests in the pacific northwest. rhode island fishermen struggle
as their traditional catches move farther north and offshore, insurers and bond rating agencies warn that coastal regions are becoming too risky to build homes and infrastructure. among those various hazards, there is another hazard. the effects of climate change on public health. hour rhode island department of health has produced this guide for rhode islanders to help them understand the health risks they face from climate change, and to better learn how to protect themselves from what are often new risks. perhaps the most obvious effect of climate change on public health is increased heat-related illness and mortality. this link has been well studied
across the country, often cross-referencing temperature records and death certificates. work has been done by a lot of places, but one of them is rhode island's own brown university. so here is the rhode island health department report. over the last century, rhode island's average temperature has already increased by more than three degrees fahrenheit, and temperatures are expected to keep on climbing due to climate change. currently, rhode island sees on average only about ten days of 90-plus-degree temperatures, but starting in the next decade and running through the end of the century, the number of days when the heat index hits at least 90 degrees will rise to between 13 and 44 days each summer.
that's as much as six weeks in a summer of heat in the 90's. that increase of hot summer days caused by climate change would put many rhode islanders at risk, particularly those who don't have air conditioning, either because they can't afford it or because right now they don't need it. heat waves are the leading cause of extreme weather-related deaths in the united states, causing an average of more than 600 deaths a year and thousands more hospitalizations. rhode island, even though we're in the northeast, is not spared. and with climate change, it will only get worse. hot days pose a health risk to many different groups of people, as shown here in rhode island's health department report. children, the elderly, people
who work outdoors, athletes, the disabled, pregnant women, and folks who are on medications that reduce their body's ability to dissipate heat are just some of the many people especially at risk from heat waves. emergency responders, because of the nature of their responsibilities, are particularly vulnerable. when i visited phoenix, arizona, i was told by their emergency response leadership that they're having to restructure the duty schedules to protect firefighters from being overcome if they're out fighting fires or responding to an emergency in daytime temperatures because they overheat. so you've got to rotate them through much faster and add cooling and hydration teams to support the fire crews as they speed through their heightened rotations. an e.r. doc from the life span
health system visited my office in rhode island and told another story about an older woman who was treated for heat-related illness. she had just been sitting outside on a hot day in the sun, enjoying herself. perhaps she didn't feel the need to hydrate herself. perhaps some routine medication that she was on made her more susceptible, but she was not aware of how quickly she was overheating. when her husband returned home from work he found her lethargic and unable to move with a body temperature of 107 degrees. hotter temperatures are bad on their own because of the effects they have on people's bodies and because of the added deaths that they cause, but they also work to create more ozone. ozone is dangerous. ozone is dangerous for children. it's dangerous for the elderly, it's dangerous for anyone with asthma or other breathe-related difficulties. again from rhode island's health
report, rhode island asthma rates are 33% higher than national averages for adults and 40% higher for children. so asthma is pretty serious for us, and people go to the hospital for this. this isn't just an inconvenience. in rhode island, we have heard air quality alerts on morning drive time radio. you're coming into work, you're listening to the radio, and the announcer is saying, kids, seniors, people with breathing difficulties, you need to stay indoors today. it's a sunny, perfect summer day, it seems. ozone is not visible. but because it's there and because of what it does to lungs and to asthma, people in rhode island are told they can't go outdoors that day. and that kind of bad day, bad air day alert, because it's for ozone, it's going to become more
frequent as climate change warms up our climate and produces more ozone. it works this way. our air in rhode island is polluted by midwestern power plants primarily. out in the midwest they run the emissions up super tall smoke stacks, and the pollution is then injected up into the atmosphere and carried away on prevailing winds, and guess what? it bakes in the sun, turns to ozone, and then it comes and it lands on us. not them. on us. their pollution, our lungs. thanks a bunch, guys. our air is also worsened by smoke from forest fires even from as far away as canada and the warming climate, as the presiding officer knows, has created an extraordinary fire situation out west. changing precipation patterns have produced more fires, and that means more smoke in
downwind states, and we are a downwind state. the result of all this, rhode island's air quality only receives a c from the american lung association. this poor grade is largely because of ozone, most of which comes from out of state. we end up with grade-c air because of primarily out-of-state pollutants. this is not just some minor inconvenience. across the country, air pollution, much of it made worse by climate change, is responsible for a staggering 200,000 premature deaths each year. pollen is another problem. shifting seasons produce a longer pollen season. increased pollen levels, particularly with increased air pollution, kick in allergies which takes us into other risks.
the warmth of earlier springs and later falls also means that tick and mosquito seasons in rhode island last far longer than they used to. and that moves us to yet more health risks and diseases. rhode island already has the fourth-highest rate of lyme disease in the country. we have over 900 cases a year. and as temperatures increase, we're likely to see the number of ticks in rhode island increase, which would be expected to lead to even more cases of lyme disease. in states not too far north of us, the tick situation has gotten so out of control that they're actually seeing moose calves die off because they are so swarmed with ticks. i'm sorry, i know this is a little bit gross, but calves are dying when their body can't
support both their own metabolism and feeding the ticks that have crawled up on to them in the thousands. in some case, over 10,000 ticks. so we have got to be concerned about this not just for ourselves but for the wildlife around us. warmer temperatures also provide a longer breeding season for mosquitoes and more down pours, yet another result of climate change, result in more standing water. habitat for mosquito all right. rhode island is up 76% in extreme down pours since 1950. that's the largest increase in extreme precipation events out of all 50 states. and of course these little critters, the mosquitoes, carry west nile virus, encephalitis and other illnesses we didn't
see in our state. as if this isn't bad enough climate change is also worsening another natural hazard. harmful algae blooms. algae naturally occur in lakes and oceans, but in certain conditions algae populations can explode. these blooms, they call it, blooms of algae can slime waterways and overwhelm ecosystems, eating up knew -- nutrients and they can deplete oxygen in the ocean and in the water so completely that no other life can exist, that other creatures, fish actually suffocate in the water. algae are often, therefore, the reason behind massive fish kills. some kinds of algae even produce toxins. people can become sick from exposure to the contaminated
toxin-filled water, and even if the air. if you get enough surface turbulence and churning of waves that it aerates the toxins and inhaled. the toxins get in our food chain, end up in shellfish and seafood on our dinner plates. depending on which toxin it is, the consequences for people and pets and wildlife can range from rashes and skin irritation to respiratory arrest and even death. in 2016, new england was hit for the first time, for the first time by a pseudo nichia bloom, a kind of algae that produces a toxin demic acid that causes large swaths at narrangansett bay to be closed to shell fishing. the providence journal reported in the more than 15 years official have tested for this
acid, rhode island never had a bloom reaching dangerous levels. in march of 2017, rhode island was forced once again to institute emergency shellfish closures in narrangansett bay, stuff that did not used to happen for this. when algae produced dangerous levels of demoic acid. this may seem funny to my western colleagues, but people make their livings doing this stuff so it's not funny to us in rhode island when climate change is warming our oceans and creating these risks. harmful algae blooms have been advised for ponds in portsmouth, cranston and timberton. in all these ways from heat related illness to respiratory disease to tick and mosquito-borne illnesses to toxic algae blooms, climate change has serious and wide-ranging effects on public health. rhode island's department of health has done an excellent
service with this report helping rhode islanders learn how to be aware and to protect themselves. it was supported, by the way, by a grant from the c.d.c., the centers for disease control, the climate and health project of c.d.c. it was a small $10 million program, but it helped this program, this project report come to fruition in rhode island. we appreciate it. it is a wise investment to help prepare americans from, for unfamiliar diseases that are being driven into our neighborhoods by a change in climate. now i know, mr. president, as i conclude that there are colleagues here who do not care to listen to environmental groups, but they might want to listen to the american medical association. the american medical association says that, and i quote them here, scientific surveys have shown clear evidence, clear evidence that our patients are
facing adverse health effects associated with climate change. colleagues might listen to the american lung association, which says, and i quote them, climate change seriously threatens our wellness, especially our lung health. end quote. or perhaps colleagues might consider the opinion of the american academy of pediatrics, which writes, and i quote them here, tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century, and they say that because here's the problem. i quote them again, climate change poses threats to human health safety and security. and children are at particularly high risk. we may disagree about a lot around here, but when the american academy of pediatrics
is telling us that climate change poses serious threats to human health, safety, and security, and children are at particularly high risk, it is a very callous thing to pay no attention. it is time to wake up. our constituents' health and well-being actually does hang in the balance, and this rhode island report shows it for our state at least. i yield the floor. i defer to my colleague from ohio. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i thank the senator from rhode island for his leadership and his outspokenness and how he has shown the importance of this senate actually doing its job on both climate change and campaign finance, how much they are related to each other because of the stranglehold the oil industry has on the republican party and the hundreds of millions of dollars they spend. and senator whitehouse has been to this floor well over 100 times talking about that. and eventually this body, the
country certainly listens and the country is certainly in the same place where he is and a lot of us are unfortunately, that special interest groups in this town continue to control this senate. mr. president, right now american manufacturers, american workers aren't competing upon a level playing field with foreign competitors. the export import bank is a vital tool for manufacturers in ohio, in other states it's helping them export ohio products around the world. it's helping them compete in the global marketplace. but for an unbelievable three years, the export-import bank has been forced to stop most of its work. i'm joined on the floor today by senator heitkamp from north dakota, who will make the case as i do that it makes no sense, no sense that some special interest groups have stopped and some ideology in right field has stopped the senate from doing its job with the export-import bank. over these three years, 95
export credit agencies around the globe including china's massive export agency having aggressive -- have been aggressively helping foreign competitors win sales and the jobs that come with them, jobs that would be in the united states but jobs that don't exist in this country, if the administration 6 and the republicans in congress would do their job. chinas provides more credit every two years than the export-import bank has in its 80 years history. if congress is serious about ensuring american businesses stay competitive, we have to have an export credit agency. it starved the banks, it crippled the support of american jobs. right now the export-import bank, under law, can't finance any transaction worth more than
$10 million, because if it doesn't have a quorum, it can't do that. the banks have spent years blocking votes on board nominees because they want to kill the bank. it's a small minority of members of this senate and the house, but they've had their way with their parliamentary tricks. every additional day of delay means lost contracts in ohio, north dakota, north carolina, pennsylvania, and oklahoma, and lost jobs costs taxpayers. without transactions, the banks won't be able to finance its operations. if the bank is fully reopened, it expects to return more than $600 million to the treasury. more jobs, more businesses, more tax revenues, but we're not doing it. tomorrow the banks will -- wilbur ross, and peter nurvol will be in attendance many they
have played no role in keeping the banks functioning. this is to learn how they will keep these businesses open. there are some large businesses like g.e. and boeing, both do a lot of business in my state, but it's the smaller companies that most people in this chamber, i heard of them because i worked with them, most haven't heard of these small companies that benefit. the banks instead will have to warn that they are prohibited from doing its work. there won't be a single member of the board of directors to represent the bank at its own conference. why? because we haven't confirmed any of them. to business in ohio that makes no sense. they don't understand why president trump won't do something about it. he refused. they don't understand why senator mcconnell won't do anything.
he refused. billions of dollars worth of american goods are not manufactured and sold because the bank is crippled. american companies sit on the sidelines. ohio is home to g.b. aviation. senator portman and i have seen the work they do. senator portman, my republican colleague in ohio, supports the export-import bank. they build the best aircraft enincident in the world. g.e. aviation employs 24,000 workers, alabama, kentucky, new hampshire, north carolina, mississippi. it doesn't clued the -- include thousands of workers employed by the supplier partners. they risk losing business because the foreign competitors have a tool they don't. g.e. can get the best technology, but without the
export-import bank they can't match what an airline grets from the ewe -- gets from the united kingdom. g.e. is far from alone. when export-import bank was operational, it supported nearly 165,000 jobs. and these rb generally good-paid union manufacturing jobs. maybe that's the problems. i know the opponents of export-import banks aren't wild about union jobs. this past fiscal year, that financing was cut by more than two-thirds. the bank supported 40,000 jobs. that's why the demand for reopening the bank is overwhelming. the national association of manufacturers, the chamber of commerce, aerospace industry association, one after dmoar, the -- after another. president trump last year said he wanted the bank to get back to work but he nominated
somebody who was determined to kill the bank. we voted down that nomination on a bipartisan vote because -- and we supported four others who wanted to -- who believed in the export bank and wanted to make it work. let's deliver for american businesses and american workers. let's reopen the bank. let's make sure the bank supports another 125,000 jobs. we can't wait any longer. the senate waited four months. senator mcconnell doesn't seem to want to move on this. president trump doesn't seem to want to do anything about this. there are $dz 3 -- $340,000. all of these opportunities for american growing business could be lost. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the en bloc consideration of the following nominations, executive calendar numbers 579 and 580, 581, 582, 5le 83, -- 583, and
585, that the senate vote on the nominations en bloc. if confirmed, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. that no further motions be in order to the nominations and any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record and the president be notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. toomey: mr. president, reserving the right to object. i long advocated for profound reforms of the export-import bank. my preference has been that a u.s. administration, this was an obligation of the previous administration which it chose to ignore, but that we negotiate an eventual phaseout of the export entities. my objection to this is the embedded taxpayer subsidy and
risk, and every transaction that the export-import bank does, and i'm defending the american taxpayer. i'm pretty sure i'm not going to change anyone's mind on the floor tonight. let me make clear where we are with these nominees. during the banking committee hearings, i made it clear i would support the nominees to fill the vacancies on the board, provided that a former, such as scott gary, was included upon them. i would have supported restoring the quorum with the confidence that there would have been a good faith effort to begin the kind of reforms that we need. unfortunately the committee chose not to advance scott garrett who would have done a good job of bridging the gap of the proponents and opponents of export-import bank. now they are asking to confirm the remaining nominees but not including scott garrett who has
taken himself out of the running at this point, but nor would consider any other person as president. what will be the consequences be if this unanimous consent agreement would be agreed to, the export-import bank would have a quorum and resume doing multimillion dollar deals all of which would put the taxpayers further at risk and there would be no prospect of any reform. i will reiterate i will be for looking for a new candidate to implement the kind of reforms that are needed, but that is not on the table at this moment and until that comes i cannot support the additional board members which would reconstitute the quorum. so i object. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio has the floor. mr. brown: i'm disappointed we're unable to confirm the export-import bank nominees. i will continue to bush to --
push to reopen the bank. we were willing, a majority of the senate, a majority of the banking committee was willing to put mr. garrett as one of the four members and make mr. baucus, another former house member and supporter of the export-import bank and make him on the board. but we didn't want garrett as the president. senator garrett would not commit to the committee that he was not out to destroy the bank and undermine the bank. we were willing to put mr. garrett there just not in the chairman's position. it is clear that mr. garrett, on behalf of the vice president, and a small number in this body want to destroy the export-import bank. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: i would like to point out that included in the list of nominees that my colleague from ohio asked for
unanimous consent for confirmation, included would be an inspector general for the export-import bank and that is a different function. that is a function i supported in committee and i would support today, and as far as i'm aware, there's no objection whatsoever on this side of the aisle, no objection to confirming the inspector general to this post. therefore, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of executive calendar 585, the senate vote on the nomination with no intervening action or debate, if confirmed the motion to consider be considered made and laid upon the table, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, no further motions be in order and any statements related to the nomination be printed in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senator from ohio. mr. brown: mr. president, how does it make sense to confirm an inspector general for an agency that really isn't of an agency that is actually in operation doing its best? so we're going to not appoint
the members of the board so they'll have zero board members, they won't be able to conduct nearly the quality or quantity of business that they used to and that they could if we had no objection to the motion earlier, and then we're going to have an inspector general to watch over them. that doesn't make sense. i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. heitkamp: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. ms. heitkamp: thank you, mr. president. i'm here representing special interest too. it's called the workers of america. mr. inhofe: would you yield for a unanimous consent request? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: i ask unanimous consent that at the conclusion of these remarks, -- of remarks by senator mcconnell, i reserve the right to talk. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i would like to speak for five minutes after senator mcconnell and yield to
the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: no objection. the presiding officer: your requests as modified are agreed to. the senator from north dakota. ms. heitkamp: thank you, mr. president. i'm here representing a are special interest group too. it's the workers of this country. the workers who have lost jobs because we do not have a functioning export-import bank, the workers whose opportunity to earn a living has been compromised because we don't have an export-import bank that is functioning. the workers who are now handed a big 50-pound weight against as chinese worker when the chinese are pumping money into their export agency and competing unfairly because we don't have an export-import bank. can we just for a minute be for the workers? the export-import bank does not cost the taxpayer, and has not cost the taxpayers, a dime.
in fact, it returns money to the treasury. it is a win-win, but yet here we are, based on strictly ideological grounds, arguing the value of the export-import bank. you know, my colleague from pennsylvania said he wants reforms. let me tell you, we passed a -- in an effort that i led, we authorized the export-import bank. that was not a little deal. we had to hold p up votes on -- up votes on t.p.a. because you can't authorize trade agreements and take away an integral part and a necessary part of the trade structure, and that's the export-import bank. so let me tell you all of these reforms that we agreed to that were to critical, appointment of chief ethics officer, appointment of chief risk officer, forming the risk
management committee, pretty important to carry out responsibility. guess why they aren't being done. because we don't have a functioning export-import bank. we do not have what we need to get these actions approved. and so when we go through this whole process and we begin to talk about this and we say this is about -- this is about reform. no it's not. this is about saving the taxpayers money. no it's not. this is about an ideology. this is about third-party interest groups making this their chief whipping boy inappropriately and stopping american jobs. so let me tell you, we're in some pretty tough times right now with china. potential of a trade war, potential to really, i think, hurt our country moving forward for decades to come. think about that.
at a time when we are -- are trying to drive this economy into the 21st century to provide an opportunity for us to actually win in trade. now, i like to tell young people who come into my office, if you don't remember nothing else about what i talked about, remember the number 5 -- five. 95% of t -- 95% of the people do not live in this country. if we're not aggressively using every tool in the toolbox to reach out and trade with them, we're going to lose. we're not going to lose in the next two, three, four years. we're going to lose a whole generation of opportunity and get left behind. and so it is time for us to step up and get a fully functioning exembank -- ex-im bank. how do we do that? we approve the four nominees that ranking member brown has
advanced and who have been stopped. the four nominees incredibly well qualified. they had a great hearing. mr. president, you sit on that committee with me. you know how incredibly qualified they are. but yet because of a minority opinion, we're held off again. we don't have a bank that's working and people who work for that bank, who have developed relationships, developed expertise, they've waited too long. we are losing every day. we're losing this piece of trade infrastructure that is absolutely critical to the competition for american businesses. and so let's talk about what we're up against. the lack of the ex-im board quorum has left $44 billion, $44 billion of exports on the table. can't get approved because we don't have a quorum. okay. so big number, big number. you know what's a bigger number? when you take that and you
translate it to american jobs, it's a quarter of a million american jobs that are going to be lost, that are going to be diverted to other countries because we are in this petty squabble right here with a minority group of people. and so when we look at this, i want to just add some other pieces here. you know, i think every day that passes without a quorum, congress is risking these deals. and so let me tell you some of these deals. mack trucks, they can't export pennsylvania manufactured vehicles to cameroon. a u.s. engineering company can't build a highway in moaz am beak. a chemical project in egypt is on hold and an energy project cannot be finalized. hoffman international, a small business in new jersey can't finalize a deal with the government of cameroon. if we're not trading, we're losing in this country.
if we don't have an ex-im bank, we don't have a fully functioning trade apparatus. that's the truth. and so it is time we put aside this petty squabble. i want to remark briefly that when we started this, i was told when we started the reauthorization effort, i was told there's no way, you can't get the majority opinion. the ex-im bank got almost 70 votes here, almost 70 votes for reauthorization. when it went over to the house where we were told once again we could never get the political support for reauthorization, it's too toxic, it's too high profile, guess what? 70% of the house of representatives voted for the ex-im bank. we are being held captive. 250,000 american workers are being held captive by an ideology that is going to fail us and doom our export effort to
-- failure not just for the next couple of years, for a generation to come. and the whole while, you know what china's doing? when china's growth took a little dip, they pumped even more billions of dollars into their ex-im bank, into their ex-im credit agency. do you think they did that because they thought it was a worthless gesture? no, they did it because they knew they could compete against us. let's not fail these 250,000 workers. let's not fail to be smart in our competition with china. let's get this done. and the only way to get it done is to get a quorum on the ex-im bank. and the only way to get a quorum call is to break the deadlock that is here and stop leading with ideology. start leading with common sense. start leading with the opportunity to respond to one of the most significant special interest groups in this country and that's the american worker. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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 for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar 361, s. res. 426. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 361, senate resolution 426 supporting the goals of international women's day. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i know of no further debate on the resolution. the presiding officer: is there further debate on the resolution? hearing none, all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it.
the resolution is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the committee-reported amendment to the preamble be agreed to, the preamble as amended be agreed to, and that the motions 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 committee on rules and administration be discharged from further consideration of s. res. 463 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 463 authorizing a senator to bring a young son or daughter of the senator on to the floor of the senate during votes. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged. the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i further ask consent the resolution be considered read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate now proceed
to the en bloc consideration of the fooling senate resolutions submitted earlier today, s. res. 474, 475, and 476. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measures en bloc? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolutions be agreed to, the preambles be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. thursday, april 19. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the 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 the bridenstine nomination. i further ask that all postcloture time on the
bridenstine nomination expire at 1:45 p.m. tomorrow and the senate vote on confirmation of the bridenstine nomination with no intervening action or debate. finally, if confirmed the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand jumped under the provisions of s. res. 474 and do so as a further mark of respect for the late john melcher, former senator from montana. following the remarks of senators inhofe, portman, and durbin. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, on monday, april 9, 2018, at 7:07 a.m., a tiny, little message to the senate arrived. milmiley pearl became the very
first baby born to a senator bringing joy to her father brian and to her amazing mother, my colleague, illinois senator tammy duckworth. with this blessed arrival, this chamber faced the reality of senate parenthood and tonight just moments ago, we made the decision to allow miley to help us make senate history. tonight we changed the standing rules of the united states senate so that senator duckworth and any other senator who's a parent of an infact could bring their -- of an infant could bring their child to the floor of the senate during a vote. so senator duckworth can keep her responsibility under our constitution and vote as a senator without giving up her responsibility as a mom at that moment. i think it will do us good in
the united states senate. every once in a while to see a pacifier next to the antique ink wells on our desk or a diaper bag next to one of these brass babatoons which sits on the flor thank goodness never used. perhaps the cry of a baby will shock the senate at times into speaking out and even crying out on the issues that confront our nation and the world. we certainly revere history in the united states senate but part of our history is recognizing change, the change that brought the first woman to the senate, the change which brought disabled people to the floor of the senate, and changes that will come to the future. these adaptations have made us a better senate and more reflective of the people we serve. i just can't say enough about my colleague, senator tammy duckworth, an amazing, amazing woman who served her country,
activated in the illinois national guard as a helicopter pilot in iraq. when a grenade was shot into the cockpit and blew up and caused her grievous injuries, many people wondered if she would survive. she not only survived, she prospered. she is determined and brave. she now is the mother of two little girls, something just short of a miracle, and that motherhood is something that is a source of great joy to all of us who count tammy as a friend and a colleague and a great leader in the united states senate. let me also give a special recognition to two of my colleagues who made this resolution possible. senator amy klobuchar who worked closely with tammy duckworth on this issue and is our ranking democrat on the senate rules committee. amy put in a lot of hours and good humor and i thank her from the bottom of my heart for helping our colleague.
and special thanks to senator roy blunt, the republican chairman of the senate rules committee. roy blunt told me from the start i support this resolution. it will come right from the rules committee to the floor so we can move on it quickly. and when tammy duckworth returns from maternity leave, we'll be able to accommodate her little girl if it becomes necessary to bring her to the floor during the course of a vote. let me close by saying today we officially say to maile pearl bowlsbe, welcome to the world and the united states senate. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: let me first join my friend from illinois in this tribute that he's making to tammy and the baby. i do have to correct him on one thing, however. he talked about diaper bags. they don't use diaper bags anymore. they're disposable diapers. i know because i've got 20 kids
and grandkids. but i agree with your remarks wholeheartedly. mr. president, i know there's a lot of competition for the time right now. i feel badly that i finally got to the point where in order to get the message out. i regret it's a message that many people will think is not significant but i assure you this is of grave importance to not just a country but to an entire continent, the continent of africa. mr. president, the house of representatives recently just last week passed a house resolution 128 to chastise one of our closest allies on the african continent and that's ethiopia. although the legislation claims to support ethiopia, the reality is that the resolution is outdated, written years ago, and blindly passed without consideration for the current situation in ethiopia. it was also passed under a voice
vote so that no one member of congress would have to carry the stigma of being on record voting for it. i know that the house passed it because most of them have never been to ethiopia and don't really know the miracle we've seen in that country but i know the transformation ethiopia has made in economic and social development along with their ongoing commitment to establishing security in the horn of africa. since 2005 i've visited ethiopia 18 different times engaging and developing relationships with prime ministers, with cabinet minister, legislator, businessmen, aide workers, and everyone else in between. there isn't another member of congress that has traveled in ethiopia and engaged with the ethiopian government and the ethiopian people more than i have. i say this for a reason and that is to show that i know something
about ethiopia. and i know we've been there before. what what happened last week -- what happened last week happened before and people don't even know it. they passed a negative resolution on ethiopia by voice vote. what their resolution fails to understand is the history of ethiopia, so i want to talk about that. now, ethiopia is the oldest independent country in all of africa. the oldest independent country, but one that is newly democratic. it's all new to them. there is also a christian history to the nation that nobody else has in the continent of ethiopia -- of africa. ethiopia is featured in both the old testament and the new testament. in the new testament, we hear about phillip. this is in acts 8. phillip running into the -- meeting the ethiopian union i can, actually on the road to damascus. the eunuch we find out later was
the treasurer of the country of ethiopia at that time. phillip told the eunuch about jesus. and he talked about the old testament where the queen of sheba and soloman -- there are over 50 of these mentions in the bible, and they had a long conversation. it was all about jesus. this was phillip who was making these comments. before the conversation was over, he baptizeed the eunuch, and he went off to ethiopia. the eunuch took the first word of jesus to ethiopia. that's very significant. now, the second thing that happened was that the queen of sheba -- coincidentally, while addis is the capital of ethiopia. there was a time when aksum was
the capital, that was many, many years ago. at the time of the queen of sheba, that was the capital of ethiopia. i happened to be in ethiopia when a farmer in the field ran into some old relics. they started excavating. they found out that was the palace of the queen of sheba. there has been discussion as to whether or not the queen of sheba was actually from yemen or ethiopia. but that was the concrete proof. they had discovered that that was the case. now, the story goes on and on. we all know about the queen of sheba. here you have soloman. soloman had all the wealth of the world. she wanted to meet soloman. down to the red sea she went and went to see soloman. well, he got -- she got to israel and she met soloman. they were engaged very closely together.
i think we all know that they ended up having a son who came back to this country. by the way, part of the old testament that i'm quoting right now is in 1 kings 10:1, and that's about the trip between israel and ethiopia. they had a boy. the boy was menelik. he was -- he was one who was a very smart person, and he was the one who as he was growing up in years before returning to their home country in ethiopia, he actually took the arc of the covenant back to ethiopia where it is today in aksum. a lot of people don't know that. if anyone questions what i am saying right now, there was a book that was written. it was called "the sign and the seal" by graham hancock. it's very well documented. when you read that, you come to the conclusion that that's where the arc of the covenant is, and i know that because i have been to the arc of the covenant with
many members of the senate here. certainly senator boozman from arkansas, senator mike enzi from wyoming and many others. we have been together. senator mike rounds from south dakota. we have been up there and we have actually seen this -- where this has taken place. so i say this because there is that very rich history that's all documented in both the old testament and the new testament. well, the current controversy and why we're here today started back in the 1970's with a man named mengistu. from 1974 to 1991, mengistu was the leader of the communist derg. now, this is the controlling party, at that time it was the communist party. they ran ethiopia. it was a terrible time for ethiopia. that is during one of the worst famines that they have had. that killed over a million
people. perhaps the most significant famine in history in terms of deaths. many ethopians fled during that time and relocated in the united states. well, that's understandable because the communists were booted out, and of course a lot of the people during the time they were still in came to the united states. it's interesting because the ethopians are very outstanding people. they're the kind, they get things done when other people don't, and that's what makes them different from all the other countries in africa. so a lot of these ethopians came to america, and they have made great, really remarkable contributions to america building organizations, getting involved. they, rightfully so, were outspoken against the brutal regime, but they haven't changed their outspokenness to reflect the changing conditions in ethiopia. because the time that this took
place, when the one person who was responsible to a large extent to getting rid of the -- of the communists and the communist derg in ethiopia was a guy named meles. he ran -- he came from the bush and he won, and he ended up a prime minister. this is really the election that a lot of the people don't like, and they forget about the fact that he was the prime minister who actually got rid of the communists in ethiopia. so he became a prime minister. he started to build democracy. he died in 2012. i got to know him quite well during that time frame. i saw the progress that he made and the advances that they made. but he was replaced then by another prime minister whose name was hailemariam. now, he became prime minister and he continued to push for democracy. hailemiriam worked diligently to improve things. under his tenure, ethiopia established the independent
ethiopian human rights committee to report on violence and human rights problems and abuses. but they didn't just establish it, they acted on it, and they came out with a report and acted on it to hold perpetrators accountable and make improvements, improvements were being made. our relationship wasn't just government to government. it was brother to brother. you know, in february, 2017, prime minister hailemiriam suggested that they are all fighting at that time. there are nine provinces in ethiopia. each province has a governor. so he suggested, we suggested on the phone with the members of the senate here and of the house prayer breakfast, you know what we ought to do. we ought to follow the recommendation of eisenhower who said back -- this is right after world war ii. he said, you know, the problems of this world are so great that we will never resolve the problems until we learn to sit down and pray together, so we
decided let's get all the governors, let's get the prime minister, let's get the members of the house, the senate and the prime minister and the rest together, and we will pray for them. well, the problem was we did this. in fact, several -- i had five senators with me at that time, and we went over. the problem was only two governors showed up. so eight months later, we came back and put together the same thing and talked to them to let them know what this is all about. it happened eight months later. we were just talking about it just recently. we had nine governors who had been fighting, hailemariam all together, and we prayed all together. at the same time, there was a congressman randy hultgren over in the house who happens to be the chairman of the house prayer breakfast. so he got -- and the time change worked perfectly. at the time we were praying there, then you take the seven hours differential, they were meeting the house prayer breakfast here in washington.
so he joined in. now, i'm not smart enough to figure out how they do this. it's some kind of a thing called skype where you can get on tv and communicate. so they were praying over there with all these house members at the same time that we were praying, and on top of that, we had a bunch of the great pages, like the pages sitting right in front of me today, all praying at the same time. this was going on all over america. and so they all got together and worked -- this same group of people who had just hated each other, who had never been in the same room before and the prime minister and all of us, the members of the senate and others who were there were -- were all rejoicing and were embracing each other. so the majority of the people didn't -- because it's different in ethiopia, most of the people don't live in cities. that made this that much more difficult, because that's the reverse of the rest of the
world. the vast majority of people who live there in rural communities making widespread change and development a longer and more difficult path. in ethiopia, the tribal factions also play a greater role. anyone who has been there understands this. if you go from providence to providence, that used to be from tribe to tribe. they have historicically not gotten along until this time. so it made it more difficult because of the factions and all of that, but it worked. we unified them together, and that was unlike anything that's ever happened there. so earlier this month, ethiopia took another step to showing their commitment to a free and fair democracy by selecting a new prime minister. and who was this? his name was abiy ahmed, a doctor, a medical doctor. in fact, it's kind of interesting. if you think about his credentials, just listen to this, mr. president. abiy received his first degree,
a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from the microlink information technology college in addis. that was in 2001. in 2005, abiy earned a post graduate certificate in cryptography in south africa. he holds a master of arts in transformational leadership and change with merit, earned at the business school in greenwich university in london, and in collaboration with the international leadership institute in addis in 2011. he holds a master of business administration from the leadstar college of management and leadership in addis in partnership with the ashland university in ohio. in 2017, abiy was awarded a ph.d. from the institute for peace and security studies from addis university. now, we haven't studied it all
the way through, but we did, we took a cursory look at that, and we believe he is the most highly educated prime minister in the history of the continent. now, so there we are with this dr. abiy who has been specially selected for this committee to democracy, to good governance and the rule of law. i met abiy for the first time in february of 2016 at a leaders' breakfast where he told the story of his journey in faith in jesus. very, very articulate, something that no one would forget about. we met again a year later where we prayed and talked about how to unify the country in peace, not conflict. it is from these meetings that i know abiy is committed to democracy and committed to the future of ethiopia. he's showing that with his actions as well. last week, he specifically sought to engage the opposition party and its leaders.
he said -- this is a quote. he said we want to work hand in hand with you. what we say and do must match. and since his inauguration, he has also restored the internet service all across the country and he's released 11 high-profile dissidents. and this is what we need to be encouraging, not delegitimizeing as his authority with a heavy-handed resolution after his first week in office. this giant, his first week in office, they passed this resolution, this hateful resolution over in the house. he is also the youngest head of state in all of africa. abiy is just 41 years old. he shows an optimistic and engaged future for ethiopia, a country where 70% of the population is less than 35 years old. he deserves a chance to enact the democratic reforms he called for during his inaugural address before getting slapped with a condemnation of his government
by the house of representatives resolution. and they have quite an opportunity. ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the region and has made great strides in lowering the poverty rate. but the resolution passed last week, that wasn't what this is about. they didn't -- they didn't do it. everything that i just articulated. ethiopia is also an important partner for us in promoting regional peace and security. they have been our partner. we have all seen recently how islamic terrorists are pushing from the middle east, are regrouping and establishing themselves across africa. this is the thing that he inherited. the mess that he's in right now. ethiopia has been an important partner for the united states in combating the spread of terrorism from somalia and al qaeda. he is our close err partner in this effort. as terrorism goes through djibouti and the horn of africa into northeastern africa, this is a threat to global security.
and ethiopia has been a critical partner for the united states in combating that spread of terrorism. ethiopia is the top african contributor to u.n. peacekeeping troops and supplies about 8% of the global peacekeeping force. not the second among the first. he was number one, the first one to be a contributor to the u.n. peacekeeping effort. that's the contributions that they've made. other countries have not done that, but they have. more than that, ethiopia's professional and capable military has also been a positive force in regional stability. you know, when we had problems in parts of africa, somalia comes to mind right now, it's when we call upon them to send troops. they are the first ones to respond and they are the ones who send the most of their capable troops. ethiopia has a regional stabilizer during a crisis with
sudan and south sudan. i think we all remember when sudan was one unified country and they had not gotten along with south sudan. south sudan has been trying to get their independence for years and finally they're successful. south sudan, right after that it looked like it wasn't going to work. but the resolution last week didn't consider any of the progress ethiopia has made and the leadership they provided. beyond just the government, more good things are happening in ethiopia that i've ever seen. the people are not just like other people. it's -- there's not time today. i could give so many examples. i want to single out one family that is typical of what's going on in ethiopia. we have long time friends there, their names are marta gabre-tsa-dick, and her husband, demeke tekle-wold. i'll refer to them as marte and
deme. they founded a thing called project mercy. this wasn't government. what they have done and what they are trying to do in their country, and by the way, it's kind of interesting because marta is a very young girl, went to work for haille salassi. we all know haille salassi and what hero he was before they came in in 1974, the communists came in and murdered him and took over the country. marta actually worked for him at one time. they received political asylum in the united states in the early 19 70's after the communist takeover in ethiopia only to return to their country to take care of the least of these. marta wrote a book. it should be required reading so people know the sacrifices people make to escape communism.
the name of her book was "sheltered by the king." if you want a copy of it, i'll give it to you. it tells the story about the communist takeover when haille salassi was murdered. it's about their escape from communism. throughout the years i've partnered with marta and deme. in 2008 i worked with the usaid. at that time wide a guy whrofs head of the usaid. they prioritized the shipment at that time of 34 containers. this was during a time of starvation and this is a nutritional supplement that was sent to those in the most severe stages of starvation to young children. ethiopia was especially hit hard in the global economic crisis and these containers contained 600 tons of food to feed 27,000 severely malnourished children. the story of marta and deme is
kind of interesting because they started out in addis, that's the capital. they started out with a small house, getting three or four young men, boys, uneducated, and taught them the scriptures, taught them how to read and write, taught them all these things and then how to put together an economy and get these people so they can go out on their own. so they were successful. that group and three people to six people to 100 people. then they went down to a part of, a part of africa, a part of ethiopia that's interesting. it's called yet upon. it was in the -- it was called yetabon. it was in the bush on the side of the mountain. i went down to yetabon and was thrilled with the administrator of the usaid. he accepted my insr*eu ation to
go -- invitation to go with us to yetabon and see what they had done there. when you stopped and looked in that remote area, the two of them alone, it is not a matter of 10 or 12 or 100 kids. 1,700 kids were lined up k through 12, their lives had been changed. that took place down there. i remember there was a, a terrible storm down there as we were living, and it was, it was all muddy. i told raj anyone under age 70 get out and push. i was the only one exempted of course. he saw the significance of the resources of the ethiopian people and the progress the country has made in furthering democracy and stabilizing the region. usaid is headed up with another person who loves africa, it is mark green. he used to be the ambassador to tanzania, a close friend of mine, i actually served with him at one time back in the house. and he recognized the genius of
the ethiopian people. we were privileged to deliver a bunch of, another program we put together, they put together where they would crossbreed cows and put them, start dairy farms in an area close to addis. anyway, it has been very successful, the programs. keep in mind this is all the result of one family. i could give examples of this all over the country in ethiopia. assistance and training to improve the products were done all by one family. and all that was marta and deme. there's another person who sets them aside from other countries in africa. that's the, it was the doctor named hamlin. she started the fistula hospital. fistula is a disease that people who are pregnant have, and it's
fatal in many cases. it's very unique to that part of africa. they have an organization working alongside the ethiopian government to provide sustainable solutions to the hamlin fistula hospital. it's been a haven for women. one person started this. this is the character of the people. they started treating women in ethiopia's busy capital city of addis since 1959. it has now grown to an additional five regional hospitals, a midwifery college, rehabilitation center, longtime patients. my wife kay visited the hospital along with senator enzi's wife diane and senator boozman's wife kathy and saw the miracle taking place there all because of one woman. that is typical of the people you find in ethiopia. so they saw the impact of the hospital is making on the lives of women throughout the country and are able to deliver their
babies safely and be treated with dignity for childbirth injuries. much of the development in progress is due to the emergence of past and present african leaders like recently sworn in prime minister dr. ahmed who are investing in lives of the people and the realization of the united states as a strategic importance to africa. they are important to us. they joined us in every effort, every military effort that we've had more than any other country. none of that was considered by the house last week when they passed this shortsighted resolution. i tried to work with the key sponsors of the resolution to make needed changes to reflect the facts in ethiopia's progress but my efforts were unsuccessful. they wouldn't listen to me. we still can't figure out why it is that a handful of people who probably never ever been to ethiopia were doing this to that country. the resolution made a lot of blanket claims.
they said democratic space in ethiopia has steadily diminished since the general elections of 2005 and that the ruling party claimed 100% of the parliamentary seats in the 2015 elections. continued insults to our close friends in africa. but the democratic space in ethiopia has never been more vibrant. as the numbers speak for themselves, there are more opposition candidates in the 2015 election than there have ever been in any election in the history of ethiopia. in 2015 the african union observers, they are the ones observing the election. they concluded that the elections had been free, peaceful and credible and had provided an opportunity for the ethiopian people to express their choices at the poll. overall the a.u. observers offered conclusions and
recommendations to the government, the electoral board, the political parties and to the media to strengthen that process, and that's been successful. the resolution inaccurately stated that the ruling party claimed to have won 100% of the parliamentary seats. not true at all. in fact, that is not a ruling party. the eprdf is not one party. it is a coalition of four major political parties with proportional representation from four regions. namely oromia, amhara and the other southern nations. the resolution also claimed that peaceful protests were often hijacked by violent events. last year there were protests and demonstrations in parts of oromia and amhara region, and it did grow violent. ethiopia has the duty to ensure
law and order like any other country, and that's exactly what they did. the government of ethiopia openly acknowledged that people have legitimate grievances and expressed its willingness to address those. they are making strides. the second national human rights action plan, the current ruling party, has embarked on a dialogue with 22 opposition parties. the u.s. should allow this dialogue to continue free of interference. this resolution wasn't new. the house of representatives did this in 2007 also. by the way, they also did this by voice vote there because no one wanted to be tied to something that they had to vote on without really knowing what it was all about. and so they did it in 2007. and i don't think the outcome of that was ever discussed, so i'm going to tell the story now. in 2007, in that resolution, they claimed that its purpose was to, quote, encourage and facilitate the consolidation of
peace and security in ethiopia, but in reality it focused only on the shortcomings while blatantly ignoring the unprecedented progress that the country had made. i went to ethiopia three weeks after the house voted in 2007. the resolution was reported widely for weeks in ethiopian press as the united states sharply criticized at that time ethiopians, the same as they did last week. it caused great confusion and anger with the ethiopian people who were emerging from communist rule. you can argue that at the time that this happened, the people who were protesting, the current administration under prime minister meles, probably they're saying that they prefer the communists in there. this is simply because he was responsible for changing all that. so they had that resolution. it was reported, it hurt them, it hurt their reputation around the world. it caused great confusion and
anger with the ethiopian people who were emerging from a communist rule and working with democracy. i met with prime minister meles on that trip, and he said that the house vote really hurt our relationship with ethiopia. i remember exactly what he said to me. he said our survival depends on democratization. he also opened -- was open and honest about the problems that they had in the 2005 election. he acknowledged the riots and better training could have prevented the deaths of some seven policemen. it's not the story that you hear. you hear about hundreds of people dying. that's simply not the case. so prime minister meles also noted that they were being singled out for criticism and sanctions when eritrea an autocratic government faced no such condemnation. he stated that he felt insulted by the bill, as well he should have.
when i was visiting with azeb, meles' wife. by the way, azeb and meles fought together in the coup that took over from the country from communism in the bush. when she asked me how the united states could attack our friends in this way, i didn't have an answer for that. remember, we are friends. ethiopia has been a partner in the global war on terror and has contributed troops to peacekeeping missions and supported regional security efforts. we met with a group of american ethiopian citizens in addis who returned to ethiopia to invest and rebuild the nation. they returned in the mid2000's because it was the first time that they had confidence in the government to return. and it did. they were very frustrated and disappointed by the resolution. today i'm sure that prime minister abiy and the ethiopian people are confused and frustrated by this resolution. i want to speak now to our
friends in ethiopia who may be feeling abandoned by the united states and questioning our partnership and friendship in such a critical part of the world. this resolution, while offensive to you does not change your friendship with the united states. i want to repeat that. i want to make sure the people know that, that the resolution, while it is offensive to you, doesn't change our friendship in the united nations. we have a long history of economic and military cooperation and ethiopia is only gaining momentum as a nation. this apaint when you -- apparent when you look at ethiopia's economy, their u.s.-ethiopia trade relationship. ethiopia ranks among the fastest growing economies in the world. despite the recent drought, the i.m.f. estimates that ethiopia will have an average gross domestic product growth rate of
2.4% from 2017 to 2020. this is what i would have said yesterday -- something happened yesterday i didn't know was going to happen. yesterday at the latest world economic outlook, the i.m.f. announced that ghana lost its position as the fastest growing economy in africa. ethiopia is now the fastest growth of 8.5%. we would love to have an 8.5% economic growth. total u.s. direct investment, including the partnership, stands at more than $567 million, with more than $65 million originating solely from the united states. the united states has a positive trade balance with ethiopia, particularly in manufacturing, energy, and agricultural processing. over the past 70 years, ethiopian airlines purchased
over more than 100 u.s.-origin aircraft. in 2016 alone, ethiopia utilized over $149 million worth of u.s. agricultural products, including wheat, coffee, and oil seeds. through the usda, the three-year $13 million food for progress program, known as feed project, helps to improve yields of meat, milk, eggs, and other products by increasing the vaibility and quality of livestock feed. the u.s.' international military education program, and that is called imet. it was put together many years ago so when our troops go into other areas, they mingle with the troops there and then we invite the troops from various countries to come into the united states and get your training here and we found out once the training takes place in this country, we have their
allegiance for the rest of time they are there. they have been working to train future leaders here in the united states and create a rapport between the united states and the ethiopian military. they had 200 members from 2010 to 2015. along with their own successes ethiopia has established itself as a world player. they belong to a number of the same international organizations including the united nations, international monetary fund, and the world bank. the nation is an observer to the world trade organization, is currently serving on the united nations security council as a nonpermanent member. i say to my colleagues in the senate, i would like to remind you that with the passing of the resolution 128, we are repeating the past. that's what they did a few years ago. that the doesn't mean that we
have to do it in the future. ethiopia is a key friend and prime minister abiy -- keep in mind here's a guy to an educated prime minister we think in the entire history of the entire continent of africa. he deserves a chance for a strong start. i urge the united states to give them a chance -- the chance that they rightfully earned. clearly the resolution 128 does not reflect america's relationship with ethiopia, one of our most valued allies in all of africa. are you listening, i ask my brother, prime minister abiy, america is with you. america is with you. i yield the floor. and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: tonight i want to talk about the passing of an extraordinary woman, a woman who apt iewrd the -- captured the hearts of americans across every spectrum. barbara bush was one of the most popular people in america and for good reason, one of the only two women to be not only the first lady of the united states
and mother to the president, she consistently used those platforms that she would say god graced her with for good cause. shortly after president bush's election, she went to an aids whose hospice here in washington, d.c., and this is when it was a huge crisis, and, frankly, there was stigma attached to it and a lot of nervousness about the disease. barbara bush picked up a baby with aids and cradled that baby. she hugged and kissed kids with aids. the message was very clear. there should be no stigma. we have nothing to fear. it's time for us to embrace these people. and her quote that day was ever lasting. her quote was very simple. she said, there is a need for compassion.
she spoke to the heart. she also used that platform to empower people through literacy. she believed the world would be a better place if everyone could read, write, and comprehend, and the barbara bush for literacy continues to do amazing work. she has touched the lives of so many young people and adults. she accomplished a lot more in her distinguished life. she was dignified, straightforward, witty, well intentioned. she had a habit of speaking her mind freely, and sometimes that got her into a little bit of trouble. but, frankly when she did that, almost all of us nodded our head in agreement. interestingly, her secret service code name was tranquility. for anyone who knew her personally, that might have seemed to be an odd code name. probably she chose that code
name herself, by the way. she wasn't always tranquil. in fact she was sometimes feisty, famously so. one story that i think shows some of her feistiness was when she was having dinner one night when she had dinner with the president of the united states 43, her son, and she commented critically on his table manners, which, of course, she loved, and so did he. the night before she left us that feistiness was on display when barbara bush, instead of asking for pain medication, asked for a glass of bourbon, and with a smile, took a sip. i think that name tranquility was also fitting for her because she was a calming influence. she made things more tranquil. i saw that firsthand at the white house where she made life
easier for everybody. i had the pleasure of first getting to know her when i was doing volunteer advance work for her husband, then vice president bush. i traveled overseas with them, traveled around the country some with them, and got to see the calming influence she had on everyone around her. later when i was in the counsel's office at the white house, i got to see how she made everybody feel more comfortable, including me as a young white house staffer, encouraging me, knowing people, saying hello to them, talking to them, ensuring that the morale was good -- tranquility, it was helpful then, it was helpful through her life that she was there as the rock, as the adult. my wife jane and i had recently become married. we had a child when i worked at the white house and barbara bush couldn't have been more gracious. she's been a dear friend ever since. in fact, a few years later when
i first ran for public office, i ran for the united states house of representatives in cincinati, ohio, second congressional district of ohio, she came to campaign for me. this was early in 1993. i recalled that in 1992, george h.w. bush 41 had hoes his reelection. we did a political event in cincinnati. we took her to skyline chili which is a famous place in my hometown and all around southwest ohio. it is an acquired taste, she acted like she enjoyed it. she wore the bib and people loved it. maybe most importantly for me while she was there, they cut a radio ad. she said, i always enjoy having could iline chili with rob portman when in cincinnati. as i look back on that race,
there were ten people in the primary. my name identification was about 6%, half of whom thought i was somebody else who had a similar name. i think that radio ad played a huge role in my first election and my ability to be here today and to be able to serve the people of ohio. barbara bush was an important reason i won. in that election, by the way, i stuck with george h. w. bush who just lost his reelection when others were being critical because i had so much respect for him and so much respect for her and, frankly, her popularity, i think, was an important reason that i was able to win. in recent years, i've made a habit of making a pilgrimage to maine every summer to see them. sometimes houston during the winter as well. but going to maine has been a wonderful way to connect with them. i've gone with my daughter, gone with jane, my wife, a few times.
i sit with them. president bush loves to give advice and i love to get it. barbara bush loved the political gossip and we loved to talk about people and things and what was going on in washington. she was curious, engaged, sharp, up to speed. she loved george h. w. bush so deeply. she called him sometimes flfw, former leader of the free world. again, her wit was on display everywhere she was. i remember being with them last summer on the porch. she always insisted on eating lunch outside and the waves were coming in. the maine coast, the sun reflecting on the waves. the family was always around.
that's when she was happiest. i will certainly miss those moments we shared and the encouragement and very candid advice that she was never hesitant to offer. but as we mourn the loss of this authentic and admired american, we should all find comfort in remembering the way she lived and the incredible legacy she leaves. she never ran for political office herself. but in a way she represented all of us. and i think she represented the best in all of us. i think that's one reason she was so popular. and she showed us how to handle the spotlight and responsibility with grace, with dignity, with the incredible way that she again was able to bring tranquility wherever she was. no wife, no mother, no grandmother was more devoted to her family and her unconditional
love for her children, including the 43rd president of the united states with whom she had a great relationship. her true partnership with george h.w. bush in service to the country all the way through to the time he was an 18-year-old navy pilot through his career as president and after. it's an inspiration, that unconditional love and that partner sh. an inpir -- partnership. an inspiration to me and jane but an inspiration to all of us as americans. i know i speak for all of my colleagues here in the united states senate as we pay tribute to her and also send our condolences to the entire bush family. barbara bush is now in a better place. and i can imagine her smiling surrounded by family, including her beloved daughter robin who she lost as a child. she's on a coast somewhere dignified, witty, and feisty all
at once. and she's earning that code name, tranquility. i yield back. the presiding officer: under the previous order and pursuant to the provisions of senate res. 474, the senate stands adjourned til 10:00 a.m. thursday, april 19. as a further mark of respect for the late john melcher, the the late john melcher, the >> the senate is gobbled up. work will continue on the nomination of oklahoma congressman, jim brian stein to be nasa administrator. earlier the chamber failed to advance a bill that would reauthorize coast guard programs through 2019. senators pass to disapproval resolution to repeal a rule
dealing with auto financing. lawmakers confirmed -- to be general counsel in the education department. >> "washington journal", live everyday with a some policy issues that impact you. thursday morning south dakota senator mike will be with us to discuss the role the mueller investigation. then jordan will talk to us about divisions of the trump administration over russia sanctions for jessica of the competitive enterprise institute will deal with online merchants. the washington democratic congressman will discuss the us-led strikes syria and the debate over congresses role in that conflict. watch live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on thursday morning.
>> next, retiring tennessee senator, bob corker gives his thoughts about his time in washington. the trump administration inform policy changes facing the u.s. the senate panel looks to improve the immigration court system. house republicans on the agriculture committee push for stricter work requirements. it's part of the farm bill. >> the senate judiciary committee will meet to discuss a bill that requires cause before special prosecutor can be fired. with only a senior justice official to d t