Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Feb 06 2018 10:00 AM

The Senate convened.  


Opening Remarks

Feb 06 2018 10:22 AM

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each until noon, with the time equally divided between the two leaders or their designees.
  • The Senate will recess from 12:30 p.m until 2:15 p.m to accommodate the weekly policy lunches.


Senator McConnell: (10:13 a.m)

  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "We can vote to remove the uncertainty that is hanging over our armed forces and secure the current--year funding that our service members deserve. Funding cuts have fallen disproportionately on our men and women in uniform. Current funding levels are not adequate to support Secretary Mattis' new national defense strategy. And our military leaders have made clear that short-term continuing resolutions are hardly the optimal way for Congress to fund our war fighters. Senators on both sides of the aisle say they agree that our war fighters deserve sufficient, stable funding to fulfill the missions and tasks their country assigns them. Today each of us will have a chance to back that up with our vote."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "And this is just the beginning. Soon, millions and millions more Americans will see the impact of tax reform in their paychecks. I.R.S withholding is going down. Take-home pay is going up. Families everywhere will be keeping more of their hard-earned money. And this is great news for middle-class Americans, so why are our democratic friends afraid to acknowledge it? The reason is simple. Every single one of them voted against tax reform. Every Democrat in the House and in the Senate voted against these new benefits for American workers." 

Schumer, Durbin, Cornyn

Morning Business

Feb 06 2018 11:29 AM

Senator Schumer: (10:22 a.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "They don't have an honest debate on this because they're afraid to say it, so they act like they aim most of this at the middle class. Well, the only way this is aimed at the middle class is trickle down, give the money disproportionately to the wealthy, the big corporations, and the middle class will benefit. We don't believe that. We would rather give the money directly to the middle class and be sure that they are getting the benefit."
  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "Democrats have made our position in these negotiations very clear. We support an increase in funding for our military and our middle class. The two are not mutually exclusive. We don't want to do just one and leave the other behind. The sequester caps have arbitrarily imposed austerity on both sides of the ledger. Defense and the nondefense programs that benefit middle-class people like education, infrastructure, medical research. The caps have hamstrung the Pentagon's ability to make reliable investments, no doubt, but they have also cut support harshly and unintelligently from middle-class programs."
  • Spoke on the Nunes Memo.
    • "It will illustrate what a sham the Nunes Memo is, and then we can all move on and let, as some of my good Republican colleagues have had the courage to say -- not enough of them, but some -- let Mueller do his investigation unimpeded, and let's see where the results end up. We need to move on. The Nunes memo is only the latest in a long line of distractions manufactured by the most extreme elements of the Republican Party and the conservative media to distract from the Security Council's investigation. It started with conspiracies about deep state leaks and unmasking requests, phone taps at trump tower, uranium one. Now it's this memo."


Senator Durbin: (10:31 a.m)

  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "Then four weeks ago I was invited to a meeting on January 9 at the White House to sit next to President Trump and about two dozen members of Congress. The president said at that meeting, broadcast on live television, he wanted to protect DACA recipients. And he would sign any bipartisan bill that congress sent to him. The president said send me a bill, and I will sign it and I'll take the political heat. I heard it. So did America. He also said that Congress should first pass DACA legislation and that other immigration issues should wait for, quote, phase 2, which would be comprehensive, close quote. Good news for me. Good news for Senator Lindsey graham, Republican from south Carolina."


Senator Cornyn: (10:55 a.m)

  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "Or are we going to shut down the government again over an unrelated issue? Now, I listened to my friend, the senator from Illinois, talk at some length about DACA, and I do want to respond to that. But there is no reason why we have to do DACA first because we are engaged in good-faith negotiations and, indeed, the majority leader has promised he would take up a bill on the floor of the senate failing an agreement. But the fact of the matter is our friends across the aisle have basically shut down the government and now threatening to hold hostage a number of very important measures that I'll talk about momentarily over this issue that's unrelated to the funding of the government or these other matters."

Manchin, Rounds, Coons

Morning Business

Feb 06 2018 12:30 PM

Senator Manchin: (11:23 a.m)

  • Spoke on bipartisanship.
    • "Civility and trust. And I rise to discuss them because they have been lost in Washington. And I look around and we're all friends, but for some reason we lost the trust of each other, and we don't seem to spend enough time with each other. I can remember Senator Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving senator, I think, in the history of the United States Senate. And he always told me what a place this was. He said the Senate is something special. He even wrote a book about it, about how the Senate is to operate, the founding fathers, what the intent was for the bipartisan, bicameral body that George Washington explained so eloquently, and what our role was as the most deliberative body in the world and the whole world kind of depends on us cooling things off and making things work."


Senator Rounds: (11:36 a.m)

  • Spoke on defense appropriations.
    • "I would like to address a few readiness issues addressing our force. The first are the issues plaguing our Navy. And the need to not only fund our Navy, but all branches of our armed forces. The first issue concerns the F- 18 Hornet aircraft. This is the one people see on a regular basis on film clips showing them taking off for the carriers. This is the primary Navy attack aircraft. This is the one we use for air-to-air combat, we also use this to do the attacks in Iraq and Syria as well. The first issue is plaguing our Navy, and what they do is demonstrate the need to adequately fund not only our Navy, but as I said once again, all of the different branches."


Senator Coons: (12:20 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "My colleagues here know that I make an effort to promote pragmatic and bipartisan ideas. It's one of my top priorities day in and day out to work across the aisle and do what's right for our constituents and for the United States, so let me be clear. My view is not based in an anti-oil or natural gas message. I support an all of the above energy strategy, and advance legislation that would embrace an all of the above energy strategy, and I acknowledge there are many places in the United States where we can and do safely produce these resources, both on shore and offshore."

Grassley, Sanders, Flake

Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 695)

Feb 06 2018 03:08 PM

Senator Grassley: (2:15 p.m)

  • Spoke on veterans' 2nd Amendment rights.
    • "And this bill is being introduced to solve a problem denying these rights to veterans. The legislation is about the fidelity of the Constitution and about the fidelity of the Bill of Rights. It is also about due process and fairness for veterans. What this is not, I want to make clear - what this is not about is allowing anyone to purchase a firearm who is prohibited under current law or regulations. I want that to be very clear. I want it to be very clear right after the bat so that no one misinterprets this as some effort to let people own firearms who would normally be prohibited. This legislation is needed because a very disturbing trend has occurred in the past decade."


Senator Sanders: (2:34 p.m)

  • Spoke on community health centers.
    • "In my own state of Vermont, one out of four Vermonters gets their primary health care through a community health center. But these centers do more than provide primary health care. They also provide dental care, an issue that is too often ignored when we talk about the health care crisis. They provide mental health counseling, which is more important now than perhaps it has ever been because of the opioid and heroin epidemic our country is experiencing. And equally important, they provide low-cost prescription drugs at a time when so many Americans cannot afford the medicine that they need. That is what community health centers do. And they do it well, and they do it cost-effectively."
  • Spoke on the opioid epidemic.
    • "There's been a lot of discussion, appropriately so, about the opioid epidemic that is sweeping the United States. We are losing some 63 - we have lost some 63,000 Americans as a result of opioid overdoses in 2016 alone."


Senator Flake: (3:00 p.m)

  • Spoke on the recent comments of President Trump.
    • "We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. We will get through this period. And when we do, we will look back at the destruction of our discourse and the attacks on our democratic values as nothing but a tragedy. May we also be able to say that they were an aberration, but that, my colleagues, is up to us. We must recognize that this is aberrant, destructive behavior, whatever rationale its defenders may offer. And we must never shrink from opposing it for it is in the opposing this behavior that we defend our norms, our ideals, and our values."

Thune, Cantwell, Carper, Wyden

Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 695)

Feb 06 2018 04:34 PM

Senator Thune: (3:34 p.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "But we want more for American workers than just a tax cut as valuable as those are. We also want American workers to have access to the kinds of jobs and opportunities that will set them up for security and prosperity for the long term. Good jobs, good wages, and good opportunities were in short supply during the last presidency, and we are determined to improve things for American workers. So we took action to improve the situation for American businesses since the only way that individual Americans thrive is if American businesses and the American economy thrive. Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, American businesses large and small were weighed down."
  • Spoke on defense spending.
    • "Democrats have blocked a defense appropriation bill six times over the past almost three years now and they look set to block that bill once again. Mr. President, that's not acceptable. Funding the government by continuing resolution rather than by appropriations bills is never ideal but it's particularly problematic for the military."


Senator Cantwell: (3:59 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "We must incorporate lessons we learned from the disasters like Deepwater Horizon, which is part of this picture, or the Exxon Valdez to improve oil prevention, response and safety. There are still fish from Prince William Sound that have not fully recovered after the Exxon Valdez, so telling our fishermen that this is a great idea when Washington fisheries, whether it's crab or other fisheries, should be susceptible to these kinds of spills is just not something our fishermen want to hear. So despite these efforts which have been repeatedly blocked in the past to drill off our coast, President Trump wants to roll back important safety regulations that we put in place for Deepwater Horizon, like blowout preventers, well control and production safety and nor Secretary Zinke wants to open these coastal areas."


Senator Carper: (4:19 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "My view, though, of the administration's recent proposal to expand drilling off of our coasts into new areas is not necessary at this time -- unnecessary at this time. Just eight years ago, we saw very clearly with the Deepwater Horizon disaster that oil spills do not stay to state boundaries. And the cost of oil spills sometimes lasts not just for years, but for generations. A spill along the east coast could affect not just the pristine beaches of Delaware and the tourism that they rely on to drive their local economies, each year Delaware's coast, the Maryland line to just north of Lewis, Delaware, but each year Delaware's coasts generate $7 billion."


Senator Wyden: (4:28 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "Mr. President, my views on this issue can be summed up in a tweet that I sent on Saturday. I was home having town meetings - I go to every county every year - and I had just wrapped up in Astoria and we stopped at rockaway beach on the spectacular Oregon coast, and I decided I would send a tweet and start it off with a question: Drilling on the Oregon coast? And the answer was: You've got to be kidding me. And on my watch, that's going to be the policy we're going to have for protecting the Oregon coast."

Nelson, King, Menendez

Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 695)

Feb 06 2018 04:58 PM

Senator Nelson: (4:35 p.m)

  • Spoke on the SpaceX launch.
    • "The test launch of the Falcon Heavy is a spectacular demonstration of the come-back of Florida's space coast and of the U.S commercial launch sector, which is succeeding in a big way. Last year we tried - we tied the all-time record for the number of U.S commercial launches. That's good news for the civil space program. It's good news for national security. It's good news for employment in the U.S and it's great news for jobs and the economy."
  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "I just want to make a few comments since I have been at the center of this firestorm. I'm here again to talk about the mess that has been created by the five-year drilling plan. One of the reasons that I talked about it so much beyond the fact that it is so disastrous and dangerous, especially not only for all the coastal states, but our state of Florida that has more beaches than any other state, that is surrounded by test range."


Senator King: (4:37 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "And the benefits are speculative at best, limited at best. And the costs are immediate and enormous challenge for us. The cost of a single incident along our coast which affected our lobster industry or affected our visitor industry in the summertime and in the spring and the fall would be catastrophic for our state. So I hope that the Interior Department will back off and enter into a process by which they make this decision by talking to the people that are most directly involved. I think this is a very important issue for all of the coastal states, and some may say this could be advantageous to us. But let's get the facts. Let's get the data. Let's understand the up side and the down side."


Senator Menendez: (4:48 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "This issue goes from Florida across the entire Atlantic and of course Pacific as well. I rise in strong opposition to the Trump Administration's offshore drilling plan. I'm here to speak on behalf of New Jersey's shore businesses, the restaurants, the tackle shops, and bed and breakfasts that depend on this. Their voices deserve to be heard, their livelihoods are on the line. Yet this administration remains solely focused on big oil's bottom line."

Whitehouse, Merkley, Markey, Murray

Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 695)

Feb 06 2018 05:40 PM

Senator Whitehouse: (4:57 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "Ultimately, the Obama Administration got smart and in the final approval, there was no drilling in the Atlantic, no drilling in the pacific. They gave reasons for their choice. Strong local opposition was one. Conflicts with other ocean uses was another. Market dynamics was a third. And comments received from governors was a fourth. So in the wake of that, here comes the trump administration and they have seriously gone from dumb to dumber to go right back into this fight where it blew up in the Obama Administration's face among the red state communities of the Atlantic coast. Good luck finding support for this up in New England. In new England our ocean economy was valued just a few years ago at over $17 billion."


Senator Merkley: (5:05 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "This, the interior secretary tells us, is part of President Trump's directive to rebuild off shore oil and gas program. But he also conveyed that it was the president's directive to, quote, take into consideration the local and state voices. Well, certainly the draft plan, if you can call it a draft, didn't take into account local or state voices. Had the interior secretary bothered to actually consult, this is what he would have heard from people in Oregon. Our governor Kate Brown denounced the plan saying in what universe would this be okay?"


Senator Markey: (5:13 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "We need to drill off of our beaches, notwithstanding what that will do to our tourism industry, to our fishing industry, to any industry that does business along the coastlines of our country. And ultimately, what would be the purpose to which this oil would be put? Export the oil. So how does that formula really work? The oil companies come to the beaches of Massachusetts or any other state. They set up rigs that start to drill for oil. They find the oil. And then they sell that oil somewhere else around the world. Meanwhile, the people who live off of those beaches in Massachusetts or any other state, they run all the risk if there is an accident, as there was in the gulf of Mexico in 2010 in the B.P oil spill."


Senator Murray: (5:22 p.m)

  • Spoke on offshore drilling.
    • "They support a $50 billion maritime economy and nearly 200,000 maritime-related jobs, not to mention countless families and travelers who are seeking outdoor recreation and flock to our shores throughout the year. To experience the natural beauty and sport of our iconic shorelines. To put it simply, Washingtonians don't take our healthy coasts for granted. We know keeping our shores pristine isn't just about leisure and scenic views. Preserving our coastal waters is a critical factor in promoting a healthy regional ecosystem and an economy that supports vital jobs and industries, fish and wildlife, and public health opportunities that many of us, our families and our friends and neighbors rely on."

Fischer, Cardin, Shaheen

Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 695)

Feb 06 2018 06:11 PM

Senator Fischer: (5:28 p.m)

  • Spoke on defense appropriations.
    • "We have an opportunity before us today to fund key priorities that we all agree are important. The American people elected all of us to do a job, and that job is to provide for the most important functions of our government. For far too long, politics has prevented us from committing the resources necessary to sustain the most critical part of our government, the military that keeps us safe. This is a chance to cast aside partisan differences and give the department of defense the stable and consistent funding it needs so it can rebuild readiness and execute its mission."


Senator Cardin: (5:39 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russia sanctions.
    • "I appreciate Senator Whitehouse referencing a report that I authored on January - and released on January 10 of this year. It was the result of a full year operation by the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to Mr. Putin's reckless assault against democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law. The asymmetric arsenal that he uses to accomplish that attack against democratic institutions, which includes cyber attacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups, weaponnization of energy resources, organized crime, corruption, and, yes, military aggression."


Senator Shaheen: (5:57 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russia sanctions.
    • "In a report issued January 2017, the United States intelligence community found that Russia interfered in our elections. This was the unanimous conclusion of all 17 U.S intelligence agencies. Indeed, that Russian interference continues to this day, not only in the domestic affairs of the United States but in the affairs of our western allies. We have seen the Kremlin's hand in Great Britain, in Spain, in France, and in Mexico, all in an effort to determine the outcome and disrupt elections in those countries. Just last week, C.I.A Director Mike Pompeo confirmed Russia's ongoing interference in an interview with the BBC."

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 11:30 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the House message to accompany H.R. 695, the Defense Appropriations Bill.


Senator Hirono: (6:12 p.m)

  • Spoke on the Nunes Memo.
    • "Mr. President, I rise today to denounce - this is a strong word but an appropriate word - to denounce the ongoing Republican effort to undermine the public's faith in important institutions all to protect Donald Trump from the Russia investigation. This effort is self-evident to any neutral observer watching "Fox and friends" reading the judge report or following the president on Twitter. And it has profound consequences for our country. Defending our critical institutions such as the F.B.I."


Senator Blumenthal: (6:28 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russia sanctions.
    • "I intend in a subsequent speech to go into great detail on that obstruction case. From what we know now through the public record, there is a lot more that the special counsel knows in his investigation, and he will be making use of it, both classified and unclassified sources. But we know now irrefutably and undeniably that there is a credible case of obstruction of justice against the president of the United States. It is credible and in many ways powerful and compelling. President Trump in fact has endeavored mightily to stop all of these investigations into Russian meddling into the 2016 election and his connections to it."