Skip to main content

We're fighting for the future of our library in court. Show your support now!

tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  June 13, 2018 11:30am-1:30pm EDT

11:30 am
quorum call:
11:31 am
11:32 am
11:33 am
11:34 am
11:35 am
11:36 am
11:37 am
mr. wicker: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: thank you, sir. and also, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that frank dedeski and steven fowler, defense fellows in senator rounds' office, be granted privileges for the remainder of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: thank you. and i rise this morning to speak in favor of the national defense authorization act. we are currently negotiating with members of the republican and democrat parties about how to consider amendments, but we'll eventually get there as we
11:38 am
do every year, mr. president, because the ndaa bill has passed congress -- senate and house, has been signed by the president for 57 years in a row on a wonderfully bipartisan basis, and i expect when it's all said and done that will happen again this year. i was just speaking, as a matter of fact, to a group of hawaiians gathered together under the leadership of senator mazie hirono, who happens to be the ranking member of the subcommittee which i chair, the sea power subcommittee, and we were able to make the point -- and have been able to make the point at several forums, about what a bipartisan issue this is
11:39 am
to protect our country through a strong navy and through the provisions that we will enact in the sea power title. and of course this bipartisan exercise is a very important fulfillment of our constitutional responsibility. it's right there in the preamble -- to provide for the common defense. and that is what our subcommittee has done. the bill this year authorizes $716 billion for national defense. this is an increase from last year when we finally got rid of this notion that we could somehow be a safe and secure nation and have this defense sequestration that had come upon us through our inability to deal
11:40 am
with the budget. so last year we authorized and appropriated $700 billion for national defense. this bill would up that a little to $716 billion, and my position is that we need every penny of that. the top line matches the figures which we have set in the two-year budget that was passed by the house and senate on a bipartisan basis, signed into law by the president of the united states, president trump. secretary mattis says this defense spending is essential at these levels to keep america safe and to support our men and women in uniform. you know, secretary mattis authored the new national defense strategy, and it
11:41 am
prioritizes preparing the armed forces for long-term strategic competition with china and long-term strategic competition with russia. we'd like to be on a friendlier basis with china and russia, but sadly is at this point we are not. we are in a long-term strategic competition. i believe secretary mattis when he said we need to do this. and the ndaa, which is the subject matter before us on the floor right now, recognizes that. strategy is driving the budget this year. not the other way around. as i noted, i'm chairman of the sea power subcommittee. senator hirono is my ranking democrat member. and we both recognize that upholding our maritime interests is becoming more and more critical. we are a maritime nation, mr. president.
11:42 am
and americans needs to understand this. the sea power title recognizes this. and it positions the navy and marine corps to retain superiority over rapidly modernizing chinese and russian maritime forces. i am had a especially to say that it accelerates the naval buildup toward the statutory 350-ship navy which was signed into law as a result of the ndaa last year. the ships act, which senator hirono and i both persuaded every member of our subcommittee to cosponsor -- every republican, every democrat on the sea power subcommittee sponsored this -- we were able to add the ships act to the ndaa last yeared and have it signed by the president of the united states. the bill this year builds on what we hoped would be the result of the ships act.
11:43 am
it authorizes $23 billion for building 11 new ships that we didn't intend to build otherwise, an increase of $1 .2 billion above the d.o.d. budget request. so the statutory language signed by the president is actually getting us there. it adds over $1 billion in advanced procurement funding for attack submarines, destroyers, and amphibious ships that will stablize the industrial base, encourage new suppliers to enter the marketplace and save taxpayers money in the long run through this mechanism of advanced procurement funding for our attack submarines. it autho
11:44 am
provisions that were contained in a bill that senator mccain and i authored in response to the tragedies of the u.s.s. john mccain and the u.s.s. fitzgerald collisions. there were other mishaps, frankly, in the pacific also, mr. president, but in the mccain and the fitzgerald, 17 soldiers tragically died because
11:45 am
of accidents involving our ships. based on studies that we commissioned in this congress, we came back -- senator mccain and i -- and introduced provisions, some five of them i'll mention today. they're included in the base ndaa bill. number one, we direct a comprehensive review of the navy's cumbersome and confusing chains of command. this has been a problem in the pacific. a confusing chain of command. we limit the duration of ships home ported overseas to no more than ten years. after ten years of being home ported overseas, forward deployed ships must now rotate back to the united states more frequently to avoid being overtaxed from constant
11:46 am
operations. that is in this bill. we give forward deployed ships more sailors. we've had a shortage there, regrettably, inflicted, i think somewhat because of our defense sequestration. we require the navy to develop more realistic standard workweek assessments. and i know, mr. president, you understand this from the testimony that we've received, but the old system had led to sailors routinely working 100-hour work weeks. is it any wonder that our sailors were fatigued and burned out, with 100-plus-hour work weeks. this ndaa bill which must pass would end that. and it would also allow the secretary of the navy more
11:47 am
flexibility in the personnel proces to keep talented officers in th navy and keep talented officers in the marine corps. one other thing i will mention is that the title of cfius reform. cfius stands for committee on foreign investment in the united states. cfius. about what this provision is, it's designed to protect our interests with regard to the designs of china. and it came to us actually out of the banking bill. we need to stop china from gaining access to military technology and gaining access to strategically imported industries in the united states through buying our companies, china buying american companies and then getting access to want
11:48 am
intellectual property owned by those companies. this is what cfius reform does. and so it includes the foreign investment risk review modernization act adopted unanimously by the senate banking committee, and would give the committee on foreign investment in the united states, cfius, more authority to prevent foreign acquisitions of our sensitive technologies. mr. president, this is a good bill. it's a wildly popular bill out in the military. it provides increased resources for those men and women who strapped on the boots, who put on the uniform and stepped forward voluntarily. not a single person in the military has been forced to do this. stepped forward voluntarily to do the hard thing so that we could live in peace and
11:49 am
prosperity and comfort in the united states. this is a popular bill in the other body. we're taking their bill and making some adjustments, but we will get that ironed out in conference, and we will once again fulfill our constitutional duty to provide for the common defense and show that when it comes to national defense and providing security for the people of this great nation, this is indeed a bipartisan determination and a bipartisan exercise. so i urge us to get moving on this and certainly believe and am convinced that before the end of the week we will have an affirmative vote and move this bill toward the president's desk. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor, and seeing no
11:50 am
other persons seeking recognition, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:51 am
11:52 am
mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the minority whip. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: phr-bs, on -- mr. president, on monday in my office in chicago i met a woman and her daughter. the story they had to tell me was heartbreaking. this woman was from the democratic republic of congo, kinshasa. something occurred at her home while she was gone where a child of hers left an iron on. another child came in, grabbed the wire of that iron, was
11:53 am
electrocuted and died. it was a horrible accident that claimed the life of a child. that child that died was the nephew of a general in the army of the democratic republic of congo. when he heard about his nephew dying in this accident, he said he would take care of this situation and that that family would pay a price for the life of his nephew. this woman, mother of three, went into a panic that her daughter was going to be killed by this general. such a panic that she fled the country. her journey is almost indescribable. from africa to south america, up through central america, finally arriving on a bus at the border, port of entry in southern california. she came there and asked for asylum. she was in fear of not only her life but the life of her
11:54 am
daughter. what happened next is what i want to speak to, because what happened next is something that i didn't think would ever happen in america. what happened next was a decision by the federal government to take her six-year-old daughter away from her in california. they said initially that her request for assistance was a valid enough request to go forward to a hearing. but even having said that, they snatched this girl from her mother's arms and removed her screaming to another room. and then they deported her daughter from southern california to the city of chicago. our government. was this mother abusing this child? of course not. was there any evidence of trafficking involved here? of course not. was this woman a terrorist? of course not. why did they do it? when i heard about it, i called the head of the department of
11:55 am
homeland security, secretary nielson, and said why would you remove that child from that mother's arms and transport her 2,000 miles away? oh, i'll look into that. that's not our policy. you know, we don't do that. well, historically, our government didn't do it. but you know, mr. president, it turned out secretary nielson was wrong. it is our policy, a policy that's been announced by the attorney general, jeff sessions. he says, you know, it's basically going to be a hard approach to those who try to come to this country and ask for asylum, ask for refuge. so in the first two weeks of the month of may, with this new jeff sessions policy, attorney general jeff session's policy, ov 638 children were removed from their mothers, taken to separate places. can you imagine the trauma on that child, let alone the mother. the american academy of
11:56 am
pediatrics tells us you don't do that to children without leaving some scar, some problem. but we're doing it as official government policy. official government policy of this administration. i met with the mother and her child. what happened to the mother after the child was removed is just a succession of horror stories. the mother was called in for a hearing while the child was sitting in chicago. the mother has no attorney. she's not represented. she speaks limited english. she went through a hearing where they denied her request for refuge and asylum. they then said she can appeal the ruling if she wished. she said how long would that take, and they said three to six months. she said i could not stand to be separated from my daughter for three to six months. i waive all of my rights. i'm finished. i'm finished with this effort.
11:57 am
well, she was released, the mother was, on another appeal, i might add, by the aclu. she was reunited with her daughter, and i happened to see them both in my office in chicago. when i walked in the room, this woman who had traveled this great distance to protect her little girl, clearly tensed up as she saw this white man in a suit and tie walk in. then it was explained through an interpreter that i was not there to hurt her or separate her from her daughter. her daughter was running around the office while we were talking but never lost sight of her mom the whole time. this is not an isolated instance. this is not just a little accident that happened on the border near southern california. this is now the policy of the united states of america, the policy of the trump administration, the policy of attorney general jeff sessions, to remove children from their
11:58 am
mothers. and of course it's not cheap. transporting a child 2,000 miles and putting them in some care facility, even a good one, is not cheap. when my colleague, senator jeff merkley of oregon recently went down to arizona to see the children who had been separated from their parents, he was denied access. they wouldn't let him see them. he's going back. others will go back too. it is unthinkable that we have, we are holding these children in some situation where we don't want anyone to see them once they have been taken away. in the northeastern part of the united states, some mothers were told we're going to give your child a bath. oh, we're going to give your child a meal, and then the child was snatched away. that is the official government policy of attorney general sessions and the trump administration. it is hard to imagine we have reached this point in the history of this country that this is acceptable conduct by
11:59 am
our government. it is hard to believe that the rest of the world will look at this and say, well, that's how americans treat people that come asking for help. they take their kids away from them. family separation is now the policy of this administration. not family unity. i'm hoping, just hoping, and perhaps some of my republican colleagues will think this is an outrage as well. maybe they'll step up and speak out. i hope they do. on a bipartisan basis, we should all be standing up for these children who are being separated from their parents. they say, well, it's a new approach, a hard approach on dealing with those who come to our border. we've used hard approaches in the past in the united states. let me tell you two examples. there was a hard approach that was used in this chamber in the united states senate in the 1940's during world war ii. senator bob wagner of new york came to the floor and said i want to give permission for
12:00 pm
10,000 jewish children who are currently in england, safe away from in nazism and hitler in europe, i want toive them permission to come to the united states. he called for a vote in the chamber and he lost. it was defeated, the notion of allowing jewish children to come here for safety was defeated on the floor of the senate. the same thing happened when a boat, the s.s. st. louis came from germany who wanted refuge in the united states and they were turned away -- turned away and forced to return to europe where several hundred died in the holocaust. those are specific examples of things that happened in -- happened here in this town by this government in one of the most embarrassing chapters of this nation's history. that was the time when we were
12:01 pm
also taking japanese americans and interning them in camps despite no evidence of sabotage, treason, or wrongdoing. after that war, america reflected on those incidents i just described to you and said we're going to be a different nation from this point forward. after world war ii, the united states said we're going to set an example where we are a caring, compassionate nation that is there to help when people are in desperate circumstances. mr. president, we did it over and over again. look at the cuban-american population in the united states. look at three of my senate colleagues who are cuban americans and tell me this was with a bad idea for the united states. of course it wasn't a bad idea. it was for those who wanted to escape the castro regime. look at those who came over after the vietnam war, many of
12:02 pm
those who fought on our side and asked for refuge in the united states, and we gave it to them. tell me that was a mistake. we know it wasn't. tell me that our decision to open up the united states of america to jews living in the soviet union who faced oppression was a mistake. i don't think so. i think it was the right thing to do. the things i have just described to you, the diewbians, -- cubans, the vietnamese, and the soviet jews define what we are. it defines itself by its policies. now look at this policy of family separation, look at this policy of removing children from the arms of a mother with no suspicion that there's any wrongdoing whatsoever and tell me that's consistent with who we are in america. that's what we face, this family separation policy. i'm joining with senator feinstein and several of my colleagues to prohibit this new
12:03 pm
policy. we don't have a single republican cosponsor yet. i hope we do. i hope there's one republican senator who will step up and say this shwrong. we can -- this is wrong. we can enforce our laws, but let's not do them by tearing children out of the arms of their parents and mothers. that's what is happening now. this family separation policy of this administration, sadly, is not only not right, it's not american. mr. president, i ask consent that the next statement i make be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, i've had roundtable discussions across the state of illinois, they've gone from chicago to downstate from urban to su bur ban -- suburban towns to chicago. no matter how rich the suburbr
12:04 pm
how small the town, you will find an opioid crisis. we are losing every day 115 american lives to opioid overdose. in the past three years, there has been a 53% increase in drug overdose deaths in my state. more than 2,400 of my neighbors and the people i represent in illinois have died because of this opioid crisis. when you look back on the history of it, it's hard to understand how we reached this point. we know when we go far enough back that the pharmaceutical companies that produced these ill pill -- these pills, these opioid pills lied to nurses, dentists and the medical people about the addictive nature of opioids. we know that happened. we also know it became a big cash cow industry for pharmaceutical companies when more and more americans became
12:05 pm
addicted to opioid pills. think of this. two years ago pharmaceutical produced 14 billion tablets in the united states, enough for every adult in america to have a three-week prescription to opioid pills. that was the reality. they were churning had these pills out as fast as they could make them because they knew there was money to be made, and what we learned was when the pills got too expensive on the black market, those who were addicted moved to heroin, another form of that narcotic, which was cheaper, also addictive, and then when laced with fentanyl or taken in overdose, killed the person who was using it -- 14 billion pills. i introduced legislation to introduce severalaccess to this
12:06 pm
treatment. once a family member identifies in need of treatment, sadly there aren't many opportunities to stop this addiction and to save their lives. i also want to respond to the childhood trauma that can drive people to opioid use. we see that, and i want to improve the oversight of the volume and types of opioids being approved by our government for sale in this country. we need to do more to prevent addiction and to address this crisis. what are we finally going to do to get serious about this? first we have to have the pharmaceutical industry to stop making profit on the production of opioids. next, we have to be realistic about where the opioid pills are going. downstate in my state of illinois, in harden county, a small rural county, fewer than
12:07 pm
ten doctors can describe controlled substances -- ten doctors in this county. it has a total population of 4,300 people in harden county with ten doctors with the legal authority to prescribe. it's the smallest county in my state. in the year 2010, pharma sent six million codine pills to harden illinois. seven million pills to a county with a population of 4,300 people. it was enough opioids for every resident of that tiny rural county to have a three-month prescription to opioids. last year in madison county, illinois, a larger population, 17 million opioid pills sent.
12:08 pm
maybe you heard of perdue pharma, the manufacturer of oxycontin, i urge my colleagues to pick up the l.a. times or "the new yorker", then you will learn about the family who made money off of this drug. they have donated to art galleries and universities across the country and helped to fuel our nation's opioid epidemic. the sacra family owns perdue pharma and is responsible for the lion's share of the opioid epidemic. perdue waged a comprehensive campaign to addict america to oxycontin. they falsely claimed that it was less addictive and harmful and just two pills you needed for
12:09 pm
full-time relief. they went on to say oxycontin should be prescribed for common aches and pains even though they had internal information that these pills were dangerous. they promoted this. ever turn on the television lately and see the drug ads? how do we keep up with these? they come at us in every direction. they went on with consumer advertising with opioids. they had representatives to swarm doctors offices. and as my colleague senator claire miscass skill said, they had millions in funding to fabricate a patient perspective demanding more opioids. in 2007 this company, perdue pleaded guilty to prescribing
12:10 pm
this. what did they have to pay for creating the opioid crisis in 2007 -- $600 million. does it sound like a lot of money? it shouldn't because their sales revenues were $35 billion. $600 million was the cost of doing their deadly business. no jail time for any member of the saclar family, no saclar family responsibility, but hundreds of thousands of americans continued to be killed because of their crisis. as senator specter once said, it's just an expensive license for criminal misconduct. perdue, the saclar family and others like janzen, endo had a complex web to deceive the american people and promote this
12:11 pm
drug. it is unjust and it is well past time for the congress to do something about it. i will soon introduce legislation to crack down on this corporate misconduct by penalizing and prevent opioids and require more information to the food and drug administration on the risk of use. i'm examining the influence they have over our medical community by hiring former officials with incentive payments. in the meantime, here's what we need to do. first perdue pharma must testify before the senate to explain their role in the epidemic. we need to do the same. we need to fix the 2016 law that weaken the drug enforcement administration strongest enforcement tool against this
12:12 pm
distribution practice. i support efforts by senators mccaskill and manchin. opioid promoters have profited off of this and should pay for the treatment -- the need for treatment these products have created. i introduced legislation to impose a penny per milligram tax on opioids. big pharma has to be financially liable for the mess and epidemic they created. while we sit on our hands, sadly in the united states and watch this opioid epidemic grow, an arm of the perdue company, munda pharma international is shamefully taking this overseas. munda pharma is targeting doctors and the public with misinformation. they were found guilty of using in the united states.
12:13 pm
meanwhile, the wave of addiction created by the drug administration has a new and deadlier crisis with fentanyl, which is being shipped through the mail in staggering quantities fromhi this ripplffect isausing further death in america, strange our resource -- straining our resources and exposing further gaps. i'm glad the judiciary committee is moving one of my pieces of legislation forward, but we must do more. our communities are facing the suffering caused by this crisis. we need to do more to hold pharma responsible for this deadly irresponsible and many times criminal conduct. let's start by bringing them to testify under oath before the united states senate. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i would say amen to the comment of the senator from illinois.
12:14 pm
our democratic whip, he has said on two subjects very eloquently the subject of opioids and the subject of ripping families apart in immigration, both of which require immediate action. now, i want to speak on something that requires immediate action because there are 130 million americans in this country that have a preexisting condition of which the affordable care act that we passed seven or eight years ago guarantees insurance coverage if you have a preexisting condition. lo and behold, the trump
12:15 pm
administration is trying to rip that out of the affordable care act, the law, 130 million americans. almost eight million just in my state of florida. they want to repeal and kill the affordable care act. well, this is one way to do it. because the trump administration and congressional republicans and their allies have repeatedly tried and failed to kill the affordable care act, but now are trying to dismantle it piece by piece by pulling out economic undersupports of the law, and as a result they successfully did that, attached it to the tax
12:16 pm
bill that went through, and we're seeing the results of that. the premiums are going up. now they want to basically kill the bill by saying that insurance companies, it's not a requirement in the law that they cover a preexisting condition. let me give you some examples of preexisting conditions. alzheimer's, cancer, acne. how about simply being a woman? let me repeat -- being a woman was a preexisting condition before these protections were put in law, that an insurance
12:17 pm
company could not have to cover you and that your rate had to be fair. so having faced multiple times the republicans trying to dismantle this law, the trump administration is now trying administratively and through the courts to take away the health coverage away. in my state of florida, it's almost eight million people. so here's what they did. in february, the attorneys general in 20 states, including my state of florida, filed a lawsuit to attack our nation's health law and all of the key protections that go with it, and that's without any plan to
12:18 pm
replace it. just last week, the department of insurance -- the department of justice -- that's the u.s. department of justice -- sided with these states. our u.s. department of justice sided with that state lawsuit and went into court and told the court to do away with the law that bans insurers from charging people more or denying them coverage based on a preexisting condition. this just seems absolutely inexcusable to me. these attorneys general and the administration now supporting them, if they prevail, health insurers across the country will once again be able to charge unlimited premiums for older
12:19 pm
adults by discriminating against all people with preexisting conditions. that discrimination by the insurance companies refusing to offer them coverage or charging them exorbitant premiums simply because of what they call a previous preexisting condition in their medical history. now, as people age, they have abnormalities, and most everybody has a preexisting condition. the law says that you are guaranteed that you could get insurance coverage even in an individual single policy if you have a previous preexisting
12:20 pm
condition. and i gave you some examples. let me repeat them. the answer -- alzheimer's, maybe just an operation, maybe something like acne. this senator has even seen, as the former insurance commissioner of frida elected years ago, an insurance company saying a rash is a preexisting condition and therefore would not insure a person. and then the fact that just being a woman is a preexisting condition that they would not guarantee coverage, just by the fact of being a woman.
12:21 pm
well, our constituents deserve better. they deserve the access to health care. they deserve to know that they can go to the doctor without being placed at risk of medical debt or bankruptcy, without putting even more pressure on our communities, hospitals, and those of us with insurance by then if you don't have that guarantee, what's going to happen? rates are going to go up. more people that go to the hospital, it's going to be uncompensated care. that's going to cause all the more of our rates to go up. so this lawsuit by these attorneys general is nothing more than another political attack on our nation's health care law. in my state of florida,
12:22 pm
florida's governor, and the other 19 states that joined that lawsuit, they are the ones that are behind this, and they need to be held to account that they're trying to get rid of the protections for health insurance if you have a preexisting condition. it's not enough to say that the trump administration is taking deliberate steps to make health care more expensive. now they're trying to take away one of the most important and popular provisions, the ban that prevents insurance companies from scrimg against people with preexisting conditions. why don't we stop these games? why don't we instead work together? let's get together in bipartisan
12:23 pm
agreement and help our constituents to be able to have the health care they need, the insurance protection that they need at an affordable price. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
12:24 pm
12:25 pm
12:26 pm
12:27 pm
12:28 pm
12:29 pm
quorum call:
12:30 pm
12:31 pm
mr. lankford: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i ask for unanimous consent for the quorum call to be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: thank you. madam president, there are 12 requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. lankford: i talk to a lot of oklahomans who say we like to hear good news for a while. let me pause and read a couple of headlines and give good news. one came out of the oklahoma legislature and out of our research branch dealing with our finances. oklahoma revenues are up to the state 20% higher than what was expected. now, for folks in this chamber that don't know what's happening in oklahoma, our economy has been down for a couple of years. we're struggling serious issues
12:32 pm
as a budget. for our revenue to be up 20% higher than what was expected was a surprise but a welcome surprise. and it's a real sign in the turnaround in the oklahoma economy, and it's very good news for a lot of people. but i'm grateful to also say it's not isolated news. this is happening nationwide with a real turnaround in the nation's economy. i don't often come to this floor and quote "the new york times" but let me do that today. "the new york times" just a couple of days ago ran the headline "we ran out of words to describe how good the job numbers are." this is just the first couple of paragraph of their story. they said the real question analyzing the may job numbers -- excuse me -- the may job numbers released that week was whether there are enough sin nisms for good to describe them adequately. so, for example, splendid and excellent fit the bill. these are the kinds of terms that are appropriate when the
12:33 pm
united states economy adds $223 -- 223,000 jobs in a month. despite having been nine years into an expansion. and when the unemployment rate falls to 3.8%, a new 18-year low. that's from the "new york times." they've run out of words to describe how good the economy is nationwide. this from cnn. there are now more job openings than workers to fill them. want more evidence of the american economy -- that the american economy needs more workers. for the first time in 20 years there are more job openings than there are people looking for work. and that came from cnn. the strong economy that we're facing shows that we have a 44-year low right now of people pursuing unemployment insurance. people out there looking for a job that have lost a job. 44-year low nationwide. three million new jobs have been created since november of 2016.
12:34 pm
there is a job opening for every jobless person in america right now. during the height of the recession just a few years ago, there were six people looking for work for every one job open. now there is at least one job, at least one job open for every single person in america. unemployment fell to 3.8%, the lowest in 17 years. consumer confidence hitting an 18-year high. there have been remarkable trnarounds that have -- turnarounds that have happened. this is a nice, strong, steady increase in our economy. what the federal reserve is always afraid of, an overheating economy moving too fast has not occurred. it's just been steady growth, new individuals in the labor force participation and on top of all that even for those individuals that are currently employed right now, the average wages have increased in america
12:35 pm
2.7%. so for the individuals that are employed, wages are going up. for individuals that are looking for jobs, there are job openings for every single american that wants to be able to have a job. and unemployment rate continues to drop to a 44-year low. that's good news. that's the ability for the american economy to be able to run again as it was designed to unare. quite frankly, when the tax reform bill was debated at the end of last year, there were a lot of people saying is this going to work, will it really encourage the economy to grow. will it be a sugar high is what i heard on this floor. individuals just rushing to be able to spend money and then it all falls away and collapses. what it has shown is month after month since the tax reform passed and been implemented, businesses are hiring. people are finding work. wages are going up in a steady amount. there's been the opportunity to be able to start new businesses. we've seen real growth, whether that be in state revenues like in my state, whether it be for individuals around my state.
12:36 pm
we're seeing real progress. that's a benefit. now i encourage people to keep going. there are a lot of things still be able to do in our economy and i'm grateful that recently the national survey that's done every year on the best places in america to be able to start a new business listed oklahoma city number one of all places in the country to be able to start a new business, a place where it's business friendly. that's true for my entire state where people are welcome to be able to come and start new businesses, to be able to engage and to be able to find a job and to open up and find new opportunities. speaking of opportunities, might state along with many other states have started rolling out from the tax reform bill what's called the opportunities zones, looking for areas of the state that is not growing as fast as other areas and providing incentives that was built into the tax bill to be able to say let's designate areas working with the state leaders to be able to identify what area there
12:37 pm
can be greater investment. and in those particular areas for people to be able to find job, start new business, open new businesses. there's additional incentives to do that and we've seen that and continue to be able to roll out. 46 states so far have designated opportunities zones, and they're already rolling out even today. i'm grateful for what's happening in our economy because it's not about numbers and statistics. it's about individual families that have the opportunity to be able to find work. a friend of mine at church recently lost his job. what's interesting about that is, eight years ago i had a friend of mine at church that also lost his job. but it's so different now versus then. eight years ago a different friend that lost his job came and caught me and he talked about the desperation of looking and there's nothing out there.
12:38 pm
now a different friend that's lost his job that's in transition right now is talking about the opportunities and that he's not in a hurry because he's got so many options in front of him. he may start something or he may join somebody else. that's a good thing. that when those moments of crisis come, you have opportunities and hope to be able to transition to another place to be able to take care of your family. i would encourage us to continue the work on our economy. one of my favorite stories has come out in the last couple of weeks out of the newspapers. it was one in "the wall street journal" where they were talking about this economy and talking about hiring and they mentioned specifically that many companies were having a difficult time finding new workers and so they're pursuing a group that they would not have considered a few years ago. they're looking to hire and train felons. these are individuals that have served their dues to society that have been in prison and finished their term and they're out and they just want another
12:39 pm
shot. this economy is growing so fast that many of those individuals are getting their next shot to start life all over because companies are reaching out training and hiring people that even have a felony record. these are individuals and families that don't need a handout. they need an opportunity. and thankfully they're getting it in this economy. so whether it is companies in guyman or companies in hugo, companies all across my great state, people are finding opportunities to be able to work and i'm grateful for that and a growing economy. madam president, can i ask consent to have a second statement made separate in the record? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: i want to thank senator inhofe and senator reed for their work on this year's national defense authorization act. it's a big piece of work. it's something that we do every single year to walk through the
12:40 pm
ndaa, all of our defense policies. it's what weapons systems we buy, how we support our men and women in uniform, how we ensure the national security of the united states. it's working its way across the floor, and i am proud of the role that my state plays in what's happening to achieve the goals for national security. the defense bill authorizes $2 -- 2.6% pay increase for our troops marking the largest increase in troop pay since 2010. the bill also increases procurement and funding of the kc46 tanker which will be stationed in southwest oklahoma and maintained at tinker air force base near oklahoma city. the air force currently operates an air fueling tanker fleet with an average age of more than 50 years. since the air refueling tanker plays key component to our nation's overall military strategy and our worldwide reach including our readiness and operational capability, kc46a is a very welcome and long-awaited asset for the air force air refueling capability.
12:41 pm
they're scheduled to arrive later this year in just a few months at the air force base. so our men and women of the air force can step up and be ready to be trained. the air ability wing is responsible for that formal training fors kc46 aircraft for the active duty, guard, and reserve air crew while maintaining that global reach. the air force base currently supports the depot maintenance on that. many of the pilots in that training first started out in enid, being trained in enid, oak owning, -- even nid, oklahoma on some of our small etion aircraft. they learned how to do it and transfer later. the bill continues the modernization efforts to be -- for the flying b-52 bomber, sustainment of which is completed at tinker air force base. the bill includes the funding for the system upgrade which is
12:42 pm
a sim blol in el gin, oklahoma and used right down the street. the fire center of excellence organizes, trains, and equips the units. quite frankly, just about every time i go home or fly out, i'm sitting next to or nearby some young woman or man who is sluching a folder in their hand -- clutching a folder in their hand heading to oklahoma city to get on to a bus and head down to fort sill so they can do their basic. i can always recognize their faces. i don't have to say anything else to them but thank you for signing up because they're always clutching that folder they've been followed not to lose so they hang on to it tightly and they're getting ready to head to basic at fort sill. it's incredibly important facility for us as a nation. earlier this year, it was announced that fort sill will maintain the long-range precision fires in the air and defense cross functional teams and welcome to new brigadier
12:43 pm
generals to lead the organizations. all around the world people are asking for the assets that are coming out of fort sill because people want missile defense and the capability to be able to protect themselves from incoming threats. this bill we're working on also includes funding for the diesel replacement at the ammunition plant. almost every time you see guided missile somewhere that you get a chance to see on tv, in all likelihood it was assembled and prepared in mccallister, oklahoma. the bill provides funding for the aircraft storage building for the army national guard in lexington, oklahoma. since september 11, 2001, the oklahoma national guard is de-- has deployed more than 30,000 soldiers to more than 16 countries right out of oklahoma and we're proud to be able to do our part. finally, the committee recognized the spaceport in oklahoma which some folks have missed but the committee did not. it's home to one of the nation's largest and widest runways, 13, 13,503 feet long by 300-foot
12:44 pm
wide concrete runway and it's ready and prepared for our nation. committee noted that the oklahoma air and spaceport near burns platt flat, oklahoma is the only in the united states to have a civilian aviation administration approved space flight corridor in the space system. it's unique because it's not within military operating areas or within restricted air space which provides an operational capability for space launch operations and associated industries specializing in space-relateddability i.s -- space related activities. this is a good bill, a long bill. there are amendments still pend pending as we work through the process and we continue to focus on one of the primary responsibilities of this congress and of our legislative branch. standing up for the national defense. making sure we take care of that. because there are a lot of things happening in our economy and in our nation because we are secure and if at any moment we let down our guard from our own
12:45 pm
security, a lot of other things disconnect. it's a good thing for us to be able to work through the process on this. and i look forward to being able to support this bill and continue to support our national security. with that, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. a senator: madam president, i rise today to talk about an issue of deep importance to our country and fellow alabamians and it follows on my colleague, senator lankford, to eloquently spoke of our national security. this week we're debating the national defense authorization act, which funds our nation's defense programs for the coming year. mr. jones: like senator lankford, i want to thank chairman mccain and ranking member reed for their work on this important legislation as well as senator inhofe, who has done such yeoman's work in senator mccain's absence.
12:46 pm
this bill has tremendous implications for our country both abroad and here at home. in alabama, we know all too well about the need for national security and good economy. from redstone arsenal, from maximum we will air force base and for all of our reserve and national guards men and women in the state of alabama, they are on the front lines. in addition to the tens of thousands of civilians that support their work, alabama is home to a first-class workforce that supports our national security mission every single day. so it only makes sense that this legislation continues to support the work of alabamians to include a well-deserved 2.6% pay raise for our troops, and just as important, it also includes funds for the missile defense agency at redstone arsenal in
12:47 pm
huntsville. it increase space defense funding which is so important to our air force. it authorizes 75 f f-35 joint strike fighter aircraft. it provides, as senator lankford talked about a moment ago, 14 kc-46 refueling aircraft, which i hope the air force will put a few of those in birmingham with our fantastic alabama air national guard. -- that supports so many missions around the world. and there are a lot more resources that we could go on and on. so i'm pleased that this legislation takes care of so many of the priorities of our military, of our defense, and for alabama, and i certainly plan to vote for this bill, and i commend all of those that have worked so hard to make it a but that doesn't mean there aren't still ways we can improve this bill. as some of you may know, alabama is also home to thousands of talented welders, mechanics, and
12:48 pm
other tradesmen and women who build the helicopters and ships that carry our troops around the world to defend the united states and our interests. not only are these vehicles important for an effective and responsive military, but they also support good american jobs. one of those ships is the latoral combat ship, many of which are built in alabama in mobile, including the u.s.s. manchester which was delivered to the navy just last week. the l.c.s. continues to improve our value to our nation's defense and military, which is why i am a little disappointed that the bill we're debating this week includes only a single l.c.s., which i picture here behind me. those are made -- many of them are made in mobile, alabama. not only did the president reiterate just last week at the naval academy his goal of growing our navy to 355 ships,
12:49 pm
this program also puts to work about 1,000 different suppliers across 41 states. that translates into countless american jobs. i've seen these ships being built first is this hand, and it is a -- firsthand, and it is a tremendous production, state-of-the-art art. during my first recess period -- state work period in february, i went aboard theman chester and saw firsthand how these ships are being made and the incredible opportunities down there. to build ships like the manchester, it takes 4,000 skilled workers to support the effort each day. that's 4,000 american jobs. right now back home in mobile they are hard at work on the production lines to build the litoral combat ships and the expeditionary fast-combat trips like the u.s.s. trenten which
12:50 pm
rendered service to mariners in the mediterranean. by not recognizing the importance of the l.c.s. to our nation's security, we hurt the long-term viability of the workforce in alabama and all of the suppliers across 41 other states. and to some extent we don't recognize their importance in our national security and we're not doing all that we can as a congress to support our national security efforts. the nation's future frigate, which alabama stands ready to support, won't come online for a few more years. so those 4,000 workers in south alabama need to keep working, not just sit tight and wait to be employed again in 2021. they need to work now. they need to continue the lines, to make sure that we have seamless transitions. alabama, american jobs, national security -- these are just a few of the reasons why i've sponsored an amendment to add a single l.c.s. ship to this
12:51 pm
extremely important piece of legislation. i would strongly urge my colleagues who will be in conference on this bill to increase the resources for the l.c.s. program in the final package that will come before this body. the house version actually contains three l.c.s. ships, so as i've said so many times on this floor and in other places throughout this city and in these offices, i hope we can find common ground to build at least one, maybe two, more of the ships that are so important to our security and the navy. let me be clear. this just isn't about ships. this needs to be considered in terms of long-term goals for our military. we need to build the ships that the navy needs to do its job. we need to keep our production lines ready to go for future products. and we need to maintain the american jobs that make these
12:52 pm
efforts possible. our national security strategy and the economic stability of our country go hand in hand. alabamians are proof-positive of that, given our long history in supplying military personnel and other aspects of our national security to help our military throughout the years. i urge my colleagues to support my amendment and maintain a robust l.c.s. production posture that supports our national security and economic interests. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. barrasso: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. madam president, as you well know, last december republicans voted to cut the taxes that american families pay. we simplified the tax system, we made it fairer, we cut the rates, and every single democrat in the senate voted against
12:53 pm
giving americans this tax relief that they needed -- every single one of them. democrats claim that only rich people would benefit and that businesses would never share their savings with the workers. well, the democrat leader, senator schumer, actually said that tax cuts like these, he said, benefit the wealthy and the powerful. he actually said to the exclusion of the middle class. so what happened? what have we seen all across america? well, the american people know that the democrats were wrong. the very day -- the very day the tax bill passed the congress, at&t came out and said that they were giving their workers a bonus. the company said that 200,000 hardworking employees were going to get an extra $1,000 each directly because of the tax relief law. over the next few weeks, more than four million americans got
12:54 pm
similar good news. they were going to get bonus, too. they learned that they would be getting a bonus or a tax increase -- i'm sorry, a pay increase because of the tax law. more than 500 companies have said that because their taxes went down that they were sharing the savings with their workers. in my home state of wyoming, these are people who work at places like home depot, lowes, walmart, starbucks. it's also people who work at small businesses like taco john's in casper and wyoming. it's people who work at the bachman group in sheridan, wyoming. it is a local business that specializes in fencing and excavation. i had to chance to meet with all of those people. they said the employer -- the employees would be getting raises for one reason and it's because of the tax law. the owner actually said that with this tax cut he would now
12:55 pm
move ahead with starting two new businesses this year, employing more people. that means more jobs, more economic opportunities for people in northeast wyoming. now, another thing, madam president, that we had a chance to talk about when the tax law was passed was how this would affect people's utility bills. well, it started happening right away. americans noted their utility bills started going down. now, there are more than 100 utility companies across the country that have cut their rates, cut the rates they charge for electricity as a direct result of the tax law. and it's not just electricity. it's gas bills, water bills, all of the above. look at the number. 102 utilities cut their rates. 102 across the country. well, how much money does that add up to? how much money did people
12:56 pm
actually save? because the bills are going down for families all across the country because of the republican tax cuts. the tax rate cuts amount to a savings for american families with less money needed to be paid for utility rates of $3 billion -- billion, with a "b." that's an incredible savings for american families. democrats said the companies would keep their tax savings. instead, the savings are being passed along to consumers. it's the way it's supposed to work. it's the way it did work. and the benefit for families across the country -- $3 billion in lower utility rates. $3 billion. americans are starting to use more energy right now to keep their homes cool this summer. it's the time of the year. so these rate cuts are really good news for families all across the country. when the monthly bills get cut, they have more money to save, to
12:57 pm
spend, to invest, but it's their money so they get to make those decisions on how they want to use it. that's what happens when we change the tax law, so washington gets less, taxpayers get to keep more. the republicans cut taxes. working americans are seeing more money in their own pockets as a result. i hear about it every weekend in wyoming. people saying this tax law has made a specific difference in their lives, their personal life, for them, their family, their children. they see it with their neighbors as well. they get more money from their jobs, they pay less in taxes, and they pay less for things like their utility bills. and people are winning three different ways because of the republican tax relief law. another thing that people are seeing is that a lot more of them have good jobs now than before. new numbers came out last week. the number of americans --
12:58 pm
people collecting unemployment insurance sat a 4 -- is at a 44-year low. they don't need the unemployment benefits because they're working. we haven't seen numbers this low since 1973. it's a sign that we have a very strong, very healthy, and a growing economy. people are keeping their jobs, are getting new and better jobs, and people get laid off and want to change jobs, they get a new one right away. they don't need to go on unemployment. they don't need to collect unemployment insurance because we have a strong, healthy, and growing american economy right now. in fact, the labor department said there are now 6.7 million job openings across the country. it is an all-time high. for the first time ever, there are actually more job openings than there are unemployed people who are looking for work. 6.7 million openings, 6.3 million job hunters. so when you look at some of
12:59 pm
these measures, the american economy isn't just stronger than it was before the recession, it's stronger than it's been in decades. the federal reserve bank of atlanta says that we're on a pace for the economy to grow more than 4% in the second quarter of this year. they actually say as high as 4.6%. it is astonishing. the american people don't need an economist to tell them what they see with their own two eyes in their home communities. they see the economy as strong, the economy in their community is healthy and the economy is growing. all they need to do is look around their own hometown, talk to their neighbors, talk to their friends, seeing how people who might have been out of work now have jobs, have job opportunities, getting bonuses, paying less in taxes, keeping more of their hard-earned money, seeing it in their paychecks. the proof is in the paycheck. i expect to see it at home again in wyoming this weekend. businesses are hiring.
1:00 pm
workers are getting bonuses. they're getting raises. more money in their pockets, more money in their paychecks. people all across america are feeling better about their opportunities. the opportunities are there. they are real. they are being grasped by people all around. there is confidence. there is an optimism that we haven't had previously. there is a positiveness in people's lives, and it's happening because of the policies that republicans are implementing here in congress and in the white house in this partnership between a president and a congress committed to cutting taxes, to slashing regulations, to letting people keep more of their hard-earned money. and we have no intention of stopping now. democrats are continuing to look for ways to slow things down, to block the progress, and to change this subject. they don't want to talk about any of these things.
1:01 pm
republicans are looking for ways to keep america growing and to keep america strong. it's what republicans in congress are committed to doing. the american people expect us to keep going, to keep looking for ways to make america better, stronger, safer. it's what the american people expect from us and it's exactly what republicans are going to continue to do. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
1:02 pm
1:03 pm
1:04 pm
1:05 pm
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes. ms. warren: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. warren: i rise today to speak in favor of the reed-warren amendment. for amongst *eufb -- months i have been voicing concerns about the trump administration's plans to use more low-yield nuclear weapons. this bill authorizes the pentagon to begin developing a new low-yield warhead which the trump administration wants to put on our nation's submarine-launched ballistic missiles. i think this decision is
1:06 pm
strategically unwise for many reasons. i am concerned about discrimination and the risk of rapid escalation into a nuclear conflict. as many experts have publicly suggested, russia may not be able to distinguish between an incoming trident missile that poses an existential threat to their nation and a low-yield nuclear missile that is intended to serve more of a warning. that may be a risk that this administration is willing to take, but it is not one that i can support. i am also not convinced that additional low-yield nuclear weapons are necessary for deterrence. let's be clear, together with our allies, the united states brings overwhelming nonnuclear coercive power to the table. but beyond that, the united states already possesses a significant low-yield nuclear arsenal. and, in fact, we are in the process of spending billions of dollars to upgrade our delivery
1:07 pm
systems in order to ensure that our flexible deterrent is capable of reaching anyplace any time. i am troubled by the message that developing new nuclear weapon variance sends to the world about america's commitment to nonproliferation. our credibility to negotiate with other countries like north korea, to demand that it reduce its nuclear arsenal depends in part on the fact that we have long been committed to reducing our own. we must not do anything to jeopardize that process. but, mr. president, that is not what this amendment is all about. in fact, i offered an amendment in committee to fence the funding for low yield slbm until we could better understand the impact of this new weapon our navy and on our obligation as the steward of nonproliferation around the worbld. but my -- around the world.
1:08 pm
but my amendment was not successful. and i understand that some of our military leaders and some members of my own party genuinely believe that this new low-yield weapon is necessary. i know my colleagues approach that seriously, and i know that people with good intentions can disagree. but that is exactly the purpose of this reed-warren amendment. the point is that we should be having this debate right here in congress. that's where the debate belongs. the impact of the underlying provision currently in the defense bill is that the pentagon will not need to come to congress to ask for permission to develop a new low-yield nuclear weapon in the future. instead they can merely notify that they intend to do so and then proceed on their own. if this defense bill passes in its current form, congress will have lost our best opportunity
1:09 pm
to have a say in how they will develop it, what it will cost, and how or where it will be deployed. the argument in favor of the existing provision is that low-yield nuclear weapons should be treated, quote, just like any other weapon. but i would say this to my colleagues, that is not the case. as secretary mattis has said, there is no such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon, and that, quote, any nuclear weapon used any time is a strategic game changer. the truth is that nuclear weapons are not like other weapons, and we should not treat them that way. we should all be able to agree that nuclear weapons are in their own class, and they deserve special scrutiny by congress. in fact, we have faced this very question before. 15 years ago there was a similar
quote quote quote
1:10 pm
effort to take congress out of the debate and out of any question about the use of nuclear weapons. in that case, senators john warner and jack reed offered a bipartisan compromise proposal that said the executive branch could only go forward in the development of new nuclear weapons with explicit authorization from congress. that proposal passed unanimously 96 on -- 96-0, including votes from ten of our republican colleagues who still sit in the senate today. the provision in the underlying defense bill would gut that bipartisan agreement, an agreement that has held for more than 15 years. it was offered at the 1 # -- 11th hour behind closed doors and on a party-line vote. in contrast, the amendment
1:11 pm
offered by senator reed today is consistent with the compromise, and a vote for the reed-warren amendment is a vote to sustain that bipartisan consensus. regardless of what you think about the development and use of low-yield nuclear weapons, as a member of the united states senate, you should vote to have a voice in that process. that is what the american people sent us here to do, and that is what we owe them. i'd like to thank senator reed for his decades of bipartisan leadership in this area, and i urge my colleagues to vote in favor of the reed-warren amendment. mr. president, i yield back my time, and i suggest the absence of a quorum. mr. reed: mr. president, i
1:12 pm
believe that senator markey of massachusetts is here to speak. i would ask -- the presiding officer: does the senator from massachusetts withhold her suggestion? ms. warren: yes, i do. mr. markey: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: i come to the floor today to speak on behalf of the amendment being made by my colleague senator warren from massachusetts and ranking member jack reed from rhode island. i strongly support this amendment, and i want to explain why. a nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon, period. they are the only human-made force that could destroy all of humanity in a matter of minutes. they annihilate utterly and completely. the size of the bomb does not matter. using any nuclear weapon is a
1:13 pm
step so grave that it is in and of itself an act of war. it also invites nuclear retaliation. that's why president ronald reagan was right when he said a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. nuclear weapons are fundamentally different than any other military capability we possess. congress must have a role in determining when these weapons are developed, how they are managed, and if, heaven forbid, we must ever use them again. oversight is one of the fundamental responsibilities of this body, and on no issue is it more important than nuclear weapons. that's why i support what senator warren and senator reed are doing. it rightly protects the role of congress which it must play in determining if and when we as a nation decide to develop more of the most lethal weapons on the planet. what senator warren and senator reed are doing is ensuring that congress must authorize
1:14 pm
developing new or modified nuclear weapons, because that is all important. this authority was written into law years ago. it was a bipartisan compromise that passed 96-0, so congressional oversight of nuclear weapons development and deployment has long enjoyed bipartisan support, and it should not as well. there are many, myself included, who believe we should be going even further. that is the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons against another country, the united states has a special responsibility to lead global efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate the world's nuclear weapons. this is an important issue. i'm a realist, and i realize that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the united states must have a credible nuclear deterrent that is safe, secure, and reliable. appropriately striking this balance is one of the most consequential issues not only for our nation, but for the whole world. and it's why for decades congress has played a crucial
1:15 pm
bipartisan role in overseeing our nation's nuclear arsenal. the debates have been heated. we have not always agreed. but together we have recognized that congress must be involved, and that must continue to be the case moving forward. so i thank senator reed. i thank senator warren for their leadership in introducing this amendment. it goes right to the heart of the question of what the role of the congress is. on this most important of all issues. the authorization for the development of nuclear weapons in our country. from the beginning of the nuclear era when president roosevelt involved the united states congress in the development of the manhattan project to today, it's always been critical that the people who represent those who are most concerned about this issue, which are the american people, have their elected representatives in the room. i thank senator reed.
1:16 pm
i thank senator warren for their leadership on this issue, and i yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, let me first thank senator markey and senator warren for their comments, and just state that this amendment is very straightforward, very simple. it ensures that congress has an oversight rule and authorizes the development of new or modified weapons, nuclear weapons, including low-yield nuclear weapons. it reiterates what congress does every year in the national defense authorization act. i consider the oversight rule of this institution essential for the defense department, and in particular for nuclear weapons. there are many devastating weapons of war but nuclear weapons are different. thankfully, it has been over 70 years since the only time nuclear weapons have been used in war. but because it has been so long, i think many are not aware of
1:17 pm
the awful power of nuclear weapons. on august 6, 1945, the united states dropped a nuclear bomb on japan. tens of thousands died and others would die within weeks and the city of 150,000 people was destroyed. the second nuclear weapon killed 40,000 people immediately and approximately 40,000 more from radiation poisoning in the following weeks. a weapon that can kill more people in an instant than the united states lost in the entire vietnam conflict deserves close congressional scrutiny and constant congressional scrutiny. the bomb dropped on health hiroo
1:18 pm
was 20tons. the yield is less than fivele -- fiefl kilotons -- the moad used on an afghanistan tunnel network is 11 tons or0-point01 kilotons, about 500 times less powerful than a low-yield nuclear weapon. so we are talking about extraordinarily powerful weapons that will have many casualties if used. i spoke to a stratigic commander, we participated in a classified exercise involving nuclear weapons. the loss of life and destruction
1:19 pm
was sobering. i recommend all of my colleagues participate in such a war game because it brings home the complexity and the essential role that congress has in overseeing the development of nuclear weapons. i would like to convey one point made to me at the conclusion of the war game is that his number one job is to ensure that nuclear weapons never be used in the first place and they act as a deterrence to their use. with that, mr. president, i will make a few observations on the amendment before us. the 2018 nuclear posture review recommends that the united states undertake the deployment of a submarine low-yield nuclear weapon. at present the united states has several low-yield nuclear weapons, but they are deployed from the air. the principal reason for this is, first, to use low-yield
1:20 pm
nuclear weapons to escalate, deescalate. third, the significant expansion of the number of russian nonstrategic low-yield nuclear weapons that are not subject to arms control agreements, together with the russian deployment of an intermediate cruise missile which gostles the i.m.f. agreement and the extensive defense system over key russian areas that could deny access to our aircraft which could deploy a low-yield nuclear weapon. this escalate to deescalate, after a russian success, naval forces gain the momentum and the conventional fight turns against russia or russia has its desired limited objective and has a
1:21 pm
counterattack by nato. in either case this calls for a first strike with the use of a low-yield nuclear device to freeze nato forces. the russian logic is that we will not respond with high-yield weapons for fear initiating an all-out nuclear war, and the airline denial air defenses, their doctrine assumes that we will accept the existing status of russian forces while nonmilitary measures are pursued. this is contrary to our longstanding commitment to nato. in the words of the summit, no one should doubt nato's resolve and the security of any of its members if threatened. nato will defend against any threat to the safety and security of our populations
1:22 pm
wherever it should arise. given this threat, the nuclear review that the development of a low-yield nuclear weapon will make russia refrain from a first use of nuclear weapons. since we will be capable of responding to hold all of their critical tarts at risk. in short, it will stabilize rather than destabilize nuclear deterrence. the inherent difficulty in evaluating this is the realization is that deterrence is based on the perception of both parties and the comiewrn indication -- communication between both parties. in other words, what we're signaling with our words and actions and if the adversary is accurately interpreting those signals. i and many of my colleagues have struggled with this throughout our service in the senate and in many cases our service in our
1:23 pm
previous careers. experts in the field of nuclear deterrence disagree with respect to the submarine launch low-yield weapon. some people it's needed, others do not. i am increasingly skeptical that response to a low-yield russian attack will result in both sides refraining from future use of the weapons. in other words, i am skeptical we will avoid moving upwards on the ladder leading to a larger nuclear exchange many one important issue is the selection of targets and how that affects our interpretation of russian objectives and alternatively how it will affect russian interpretations. if the original russian target is integral to our russian operations, will we see it as escalate to deescalate or escalate to prevail? and if we respond in a way that is interpreted by the russians
1:24 pm
as something more than a quid pro quo, will the russians respond again assuming we are beginning a nuclear campaign? will we cease this while allied territories are held by congress? it contradicts our obligations under nato. if we press these conventional attacks, especially if we are gaining advantages, the temptation to use additional nuclear weapons by the russians may be irresistible. proponents may suggest that the sea-borne low-yield weapon will be enough to deter the russians, but that ignores existing airborne weapons that may be directed at critical targets that are accessible to our air attack and as such would have a limited counterresponse that seems to be behind the current proposal. in addition, much of the investments we are making in modern our triad, particularly
1:25 pm
with long-range standoff weapon to replace our aging air-launch cruise missile, the b-2 is and f-35 with the life extended gravity bomb should by, 2030, offset the anti-access, anti-denial environment russia is capable of. there are no easy answers these questions and answers will change over time as political, military, and economic factors change. that is why i believe it's essential that congress maintain a central role in the development and deployment of nuclear weapons and why i strongly urge this amendment. this is about congress -- this is about congress's role, not about a particular nuclear weapon. in this bill, the fiscal year 2019 national defense authorization act, the request for the development of the submarine launch low-yield nuclear weapon is authorized and an amendment offered in the
1:26 pm
armed services committee by the presiding officer to require certain -- excuse me. an amendment to require certain reports by the defense department before its deployment failed. it was offered by one of our colleagues on the democratic side. moreover, funds are already appropriated for this weapon in a recent energy and water appropriations bill, an amendment to eliminate the funding at the full appropriations committee failed. so we are on track for this year to go ahead with the development of this system, but the question is in the future, will congress retain the right to make critical decisions about the development and deployment of nuclear weapons? so the debate today is not about whether the low-yield submarine launch missile will proceed. it is about the congressional oversight of the steps ahead on this new nuclear weapon and any other new or modified nuclear weapon. now, back in 1993, during consideration of the fiscal year
1:27 pm
1994 defense authorization act, congress had a provision that prohibited research and development that could lead to a low-yield nuclear weapon. in 2002, president george w. bush had a review which showed that the sprat provision should be yielded because of the science and might be needed to destroy bunkerrers containing chemical or biological weapons. as a result the 2004 national defense authorization act reported out of committee by chairman john warner included section 3116 which repealed the sprat first provision. when the 2004 ndaa came to the floor for consideration in may of 2003, there was an exhaustive debate on this repeal and several amendments were offered.
1:28 pm
the first was an amendment by senators feinstein and ted kennedy that proposed to strike the repeal and it lost. i then offered the next amendment which allowed research and development to occur, but prohibited the final development and production of a low-yield nuclear he -- nuclear weapon. john warner then accepted a second degree to my amendment which allowed research and development to occur but required specific authorization for final development and producing, -- production and that is the law today. senator warner was very clear about the necessary role of congress. on the floor john warner stated, in the second-degree amendment it is clear that the congress is fully in charge working with the executive branch, the congress, and only the congress, can authorize and appropriate the funds necessary to go one step beyond what the earlier reed amendment has provided. well, now while my amendment
1:29 pm
failed, the second-degree amendment passed offered by senator john warner passed 96-0. indeed, there are members here today, colleagues in the chamber, who were there at the time and who voted for the modified amendment, the warner-reed amendment. the john warner amendment has been uncontested until this year in the fy-2019 authorization bill, and this is the amendment offered by the presiding officer, eliminates the john warner language with the deployment of the low-yield nuclear weapon. instead, now the administration simply has to submit funding in the department of energy budget for new or modified nuclear weapons, not the department of defense budget. as such, this could be done through the secretary of energy, not necessarily through the secretary of defense. indeed in a strictly legal interpretation, the secretary of defense would have no role in this budget request.
1:30 pm
in addition, once the information appears in the budget sent to congress, the executive branch can immediately begin using prior year's moneys subject to reprogramming guidelines approved by the four defense committees and not the senate to begin work on a low-yield nuclear weapon. i think it's important to note this. under the present language in the bill before us, it's the secretary of energy who could, at the request of the white house -- indeed conceivably, not likely but conceivably, even over the objections of the secretary of defense, propose that we -- in his budget, that we begin to develop a new nuclear device. simply submitting that budget would authorize them to begin reprogramming funds which would be approved at best by a handful of senators. that is not the kind of consideration that we must apply


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on