Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Feb 07 2018 11:30 AM

The Senate convened.  


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

Feb 07 2018 11:55 AM

Today -

  • 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 Udall: (11:41 a.m)

  • Spoke on the Nunes Memo.
    • "After he declassified the Nunes Memo, President Trump said, and I quote here, a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves. It's a disgrace what's happened in our country. End quote. This is one of the rare times I've agreed with President Trump. It is a disgrace what's happened in our country, but not for the reasons the president gives. Russia's cyber attacks and other potential operations during the 2016 election represented a direct strike at our democracy. I cannot think of a time when our national interest has been so threatened and the president of the United States has ignored the threat." 

Warren, Barrasso, Klobuchar, McConnell

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

Feb 07 2018 12:50 PM

Senator Warren: (12:14 p.m)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General.
    • "It helped sink the nomination of Jeff Sessions for the federal judgeship for which he'd been nominated back in the 1980's, and I hoped by reminding the Senate of its bipartisan rejection of Sessions in the 1980's, that letter might help us once again come together in a bipartisan way to say that this kind of bigotry shouldn't be allowed in our criminal justice system. That was my plan. But for reading those words, the words of an icon of the civil rights movement, I was booted off the Senate floor. Every one of my Republican colleagues present that night voted to shut me up for reading Mrs. King's words. And the next day every single Republican voted to confirm Jeff Sessions, a man deemed too racist to hold a federal court judgeship in 1986."


Senator Barrasso: (12:19 p.m)

  • Spoke on infrastructure investment.
    • "Five years. That's just one type of review that the construction projects have to go through before workers can put a shovel in the ground. Regulations and red tape have become unreasonable. They have become excessive. There was a study recently that looked at all of these regulatory delays and the cost of the delays. It found that the cost of delaying the start of all of these public infrastructure projects in this country by doing it by six-year delay is over $3 trillion. Not millions. Not billions. $3.7 trillion. So think of how much we could actually accomplish, how much we could save if we could cut out these delays just a little bit. That's what's possible. In 2011, the Obama Administration picked 14 infrastructure "


Senator Klobuchar: (12:38 p.m)

  • Spoke on interference in the 2016 elections.
    • "That's why senators Lankford, Harris, graham, and I have introduced legislation that will bring state and local election officials, cybersecurity experts, and national security personnel together to provide resources and guidance on how states can best protect themselves from cyber attacks. Second, we need reliable backup measures in place when something goes wrong. Each state administers its own elections. Our decentralized election process is both a strength and a weakness. It's a strength to have multiple states using multiple systems. Then there can never be one centralized place to hack. We saw this in 2016. Russian hackers attempted to breach the systems in many states but were only successful in one."


Senator McConnell: (12:43 p.m)

  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "The compromise we have reached will ensure that for the first time in years, our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep America safe. It will help us serve the veterans who bravely served us. And it will ensure funding for important efforts such as disaster relief, infrastructure, and building on our work to fight opioid abuse and drug addiction. This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the white house. No one would suggest it is perfect, but we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the American people. First and foremost, this bipartisan agreement will unwind the sequestration cuts that have hamstrung our armed forces and jeopardized our national security."
  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "Now on one final matter, as I said publicly many times, our upcoming debate on DACA, border security, and other issues will be a process that is fair to all sides. The bill I move to, which will not have underlying immigration text, will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset. The amendment process will be fair to all sides, allowing the sides to alternate proposals for consideration and for votes."

Schumer, Scott, Gillibrand, Duckworth

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

Feb 07 2018 01:38 PM

Senator Schumer: (12:49 p.m)

  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "We had serious disagreements, but instead of just going to our own separate corners, we came together with an agreement that is very good for the American people and recognizes needs that both sides of the aisle proffered. I'm pleased to announce that we have reached a two-year budget deal to lift the spending caps for defense and urgent domestic priorities far above current spending levels. There are one or two final details to work out, but all the principles of the agreement are in place. The budget deal doesn't have everything Democrats want. It doesn't have everything Republicans want. But it has a great deal of what the American people want. After months of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough. "


Senator Scott: (1:08 p.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "And this year they are going to hand out $1,000 bonuses to their 340 employees. They hope this is the year they will take their employees from 340 to 350 and exceed 400 employees. And he says we're confident this help, the tax reform package, will further stimulate our own company morale as well as being a tried and true career opportunity for employees. We believe by giving back to our employees we are doing exactly what you and other originally intended what happened with tax reform."


Senator Gillibrand: (1:23 p.m)

  • Spoke on paid family leave.
    • "And let's not forget social security already pays women less than men so this proposal would make that problem even worse. So if you're watching this debate right now and you are wondering whether Congress is finally going to pass a paid leave law that actually helps working Americans, don't be fooled by this Republican proposal. If your son is diagnosed with cancer and you need time to bring him to his chemotherapy appointments, their plan will do nothing for you. If your elderly mother has dementia and you need time to be by her side, this plan will do nothing for you. If your husband has a heart attack and he needs you there while he recovers, this plan does nothing for you."


Senator Duckworth: (1:29 p.m)

  • Spoke on paid family leave.
    • "This is people helping themselves so they can have the leave that they need when their families need it. Senator Patty Murray's Child Care for Working Families Act would ensure that every family has access to affordable child care. And my act would mean the Parents in Schools Reauthorization Act would increase access to on-campus care for student parents who make up one-quarter of all college students in America. These bills are a great place to start and we should take them up in the senate as soon as possible. After all the FMLA passed in 1993. While it was an important step forward for our country, it is not comprehensive and it is nowhere near enough. Many workers across the country are ineligible for it and don't qualify to receive unpaid time off and can't afford it."

Heitkamp, Blunt, Capito

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

Feb 07 2018 02:13 PM

Senator Heitkamp: (1:34 p.m)

  • Spoke on paid family leave.
    • "Guess what happens to a state that only has 700,000 people in population, think about the percentages that we would need to run a state-based program. We need a national solution to this problem. I know a lot of people are talking about, the states are doing it, the laboratories of experimentation in this great democracy. But for states that don't enjoy the economy of scale, this won't be a reality in my state who want to have children. Day care is the second issue that makes this so, so difficult. We need to make sure that people know that they are going to have a guaranteed income for those first three months of child raising."


Senator Blunt: (1:49 p.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "We heard from President Obama's treasury secretary that 10,000 people would die every year if the tax bill was signed into law. We heard that the average family would only get crumbs and scraps from the tax bill. It's turning out that that's not what appears to be happening at all. Not only have companies stepped up to show that in a growing economy, an economy they believe is going to grow, that they value the people they work with and they value the employees of their company in a way that we wouldn't have anticipated. I thought this would happen as we saw the economy take off from the tax bill. It didn't occur to most of us that companies would step up on day one and say we're going to value and show our value to the people that work for us."


Senator Capito: (2:00 p.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "Vice President Pence - the vice president came to my state to talk about this. Worldwide Equipment, which employs 1,100 people across the country and we learned from owner Terry Dodson how he feels about tax reform and the effect it has had on his business, his employees, his ability to grow his business. And what we learned is that Mr. Dodson is going to invest $8 million more in his operations and in his workforce, whether it's through bonus, expanding the facility, buying new equipment, but particularly for the men and women working for worldwide equipment, it is the bonus that will see the effect and he attributed this to the tax reform." 

Young, Kennedy, Tester

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

Feb 07 2018 02:36 PM

Senator Young: (2:13 p.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "Hoosiers like Chelsea Hatfield who accompanied me at the state of the union are seeing the benefits. Chelsea is a young mother of three. She is a teller at a rural branch of First Farmers Bank in Tipton, Indiana. She learned that she will receive a raise and a bonus as a result of tax reform. This additional income will help Chelsea go back to school and earn her associates degree. It will enable her to put money away for her children's college education. First Farmers Bank and Trust is also investing $250,000 per year in community development in these small, rural communities where they serve businesses and individuals. Moreover, first farmers is going to invest $150,000 per year in employee development."


Senator Kennedy: (2:20 p.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "Mr. President, I would respectfully suggest that those three million Americans who received bonuses and higher wages and more generous benefits, once again in just 47 days, would not agree with the experts. In those 47 short days, over 330 companies had passed along their tax savings to their employees. One of my states - I'm from Louisiana - one of my state's largest employers, J.P. Morgan chase, has increased minimum wages and expanded benefits for its hourly workers. Real money, higher take-home pay. J.P. Morgan chase has also planned a $20 billion five-year domestic investment that will benefit those Americans who own homes, who own small businesses, or those who would like to someday as part of the American dream."


Senator Tester: (2:28 p.m)

  • Spoke on the budget agreement.
    • "Funding for community health centers has been a top priority for me, and it became that because of my visits to the health care, the community health centers around the state, from Bohuck to partnership health care in Missoula and the list goes on and on. These health care facilities provide incredibly affordable and efficient health care to people across Montana. So I am incredibly pleased to work with the leadership in this body and get a deal for health care, community health care centers across this country, including Montana's 17 community health centers."

Merkley, Murkowski, Cornyn, Toomey

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

Feb 07 2018 04:18 PM

Senator Merkley: (3:04 p.m)

  • Spoke on paid family leave.
    • "And that certainly is the case when we take a look at the issue of the family and medical leave act, the FMLA. This is an act passed 25 years ago. And it was a major step forward at striking the better balance for good working conditions. And let's revisit a little bit the debate that occurred 25 years ago in preparation for the consideration of that act. Well, many folks today don't realize that the opportunity to to take unpaid time off, to be with a child or be with a loved one who is very sick or family member who's dying, it's something that came out of the FMLA 25 years ago. "


Senator Murkowski: (3:28 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to the Lucky Wishbone.
    • "I think every community has one, the iconic American diner. Its definition, as has been officially outlined, is, quote, a friendly place, usually mom and pop with a sole proprietor that serves basic home-cooked fresh food for good value. This is sort of an official definition. It was coined by a gentleman named Richard Gutman who is regarded as the curator and expert on all things diner. In 1955, four years before Alaska won statehood, our very own iconic American diner opened in Anchorage. It was called the Lucky Wishbone. It was a friendly place. It featured pan-fried chicken, real cheeseburgers, great milkshakes, by the way, and French fries that had been cut from potatoes just that morning. Fitting squarely within Gutman's definition, it was a mom and pop."


Senator Cornyn: (3:54 p.m)

  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "And I appreciate Governor Abbott of Texas as well as the Senate Appropriations Committee for working with us to help us strengthen the house bill. My fellow Texans who were hit by hurricane Harvey last August have been waiting patiently along with all the folks that face the fury of Mother Nature in Florida and California and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And it's simply been unacceptable to see the delay in getting the relief that they need to them. But now we have the chance to stand up finally in a bipartisan fashion and to show them not only that we remember what they've been through, but that more help is on the way."


Senator Toomey: (4:03 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to the Philadelphia Eagles.
    • "For the season and the fact that Nick Foles was able to step in and guide the team not just into the playoffs, not just through the playoffs, but all the way to the super bowl and to a super bowl victory against the New England Patriots, it's the stuff legends are made of. Mr. President, the Philadelphia Eagles are an historic franchise. Some of the best players in the history of the game have worn the green and white. Names like Van Brocklin and White and Dawkins come to mind. Well, this super bowl is also for all of these great players who put on the eagles Jersey over the years. I'll conclude with this. If you listen to sports radio in Philadelphia, most of eastern Pennsylvania, you learn the passion of the fan base is really extraordinary."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "They, like other small businesses, get to discount by 20% their net income and only pay tax on the other 80%. That frees up cash flow for this business and businesses all across America to go out and purchase new equipment, to invest in their employees, to grow their business, to hire more workers, to raise wages. And that's exactly what's happening. It's happening there at Jed pools, but it's also happening really across the country."

Nelson, Rubio, Cruz, Stabenow

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

Feb 07 2018 05:08 PM

Senator Nelson: (4:17 p.m)

  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "People have been waiting and they've been suffering and over one-third of the people in Puerto Rico are as of right now closing in on five months after the hurricane without electricity. Potable water is still a problem in Puerto Rico. Now, can you imagine any other mainland state if nearly five months after a hurricane and one-third of the people didn't have electricity restored, I mean, there would be such outrage and demonstrations. Well, this is what's going on in Puerto Rico. And finally I think we are able to see in this disaster bill some assistance to the island as well as to the Virgin Islands, and especially to our state of Florida that was hit so hard."


Senator Rubio: (4:28 p.m)

  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "The House added a few things to it. But over the last two months, it's been the ability to work here in the Senate, not in front of the cameras, not, obviously, through a series of press conferences, but the way legislation is put together and the way we were able to work together and our offices worked together that we were able to come out with a concise, unified position on the needs of both Florida and Puerto Rico, working the leadership of the Democratic party on his side and the Republican on ours. And I've got to tell you, in a place where it's very hard to get 60% of what you want and that's a win, when you start to go through some of the items that are going to be in this relief package, it would be hard to complain."


Senator Cruz: (4:44 p.m)

  • Spoke on the nomination of William Northey to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
    • "Mr. President, I'm sorry to tell you 48 days have passed and that meeting still hasn't taken place, because unfortunately a handful of lobbyists representing the ethanol industry have taken the position that they are unwilling to meet, they are unwilling to speak, they are unwilling to discuss anything with anybody, and apparently if thousands of people lose their jobs in refineries, that's not their problem. Mr. President, quite frankly, that's not a reasonable position. That is not a reasonable or rational position. Mr. Northey would have been confirmed long ago had the lobbyists for the ethanol industry been willing to come to the table and reach a commonsense solution that would have resulted in more money for their industry, more ethanol, more corn."


Senator Stabenow: (5:01 p.m)

  • Spoke on the nomination of William Northey to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
    • "You know, despite historic delays in receiving nominations from the administration, our committee has worked swiftly on a bipartisan basis to put qualified leaders into place at the USDA. When we get qualified nominees, we move them. And under secretary nominee Bill Northey is no exception. In fact, I believe that he is a bright star in terms of the nominees and those that will be serving in the USDA. He was nominated in September, Mr. President, of last year, and our committee quickly held a hearing and reported his nomination with a unanimous bipartisan support to the floor on October 19. Mr. Northey is a highly qualified nominee."

Ernst, Klobuchar, Grassley, Carper

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

Feb 07 2018 05:56 PM

Senator Ernst: (5:06 p.m)

  • Spoke on the nomination of William Northey to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
    • "We actually work for the good of our Agricultural Committee, our ranchers and our farmers, regardless of the state that they come from. We truly do work together to feed and fuel a nation. So thank you very much for joining us today, ranking member. I want to thank my senior senator from Iowa as well. I'm rising today to join my colleague, Senator Chuck Grassley, and others that have joined us on the floor to support the nomination of Bill Northey as under secretary for farm production and foreign conservation at the United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA. I have known Bill Northey for nearly a decade."


Senator Klobuchar: (5:13 p.m)

  • Spoke on the nomination of William Northey to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
    • "I supported Secretary Purdue when President Trump nominated, and I believe that he needs a team to be able to do the complicated work of agriculture at a time when we've seen difficulty in everything from the dairy industry to cotton to issues with prices for so many of our commodities to just only a few years ago the avian flu, which was such a threat to the poultry industry in Minnesota and Iowa and the thought that we wouldn't have an under secretary in place for farm producing and conservation, so an important part of the work of the USDA right now is unbelievable to me."


Senator Grassley: (5:20 p.m)

  • Spoke on the nomination of William Northey to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
    • "I thank my colleagues who have spoken very highly of the qualifications of Mr. Northey to be under secretary at the department of agriculture. I may say just a little bit about his qualifications, but I want to spend most of my time expressing to my colleagues in the senate and to senator Cruz primarily why I think that the argument over R.L.N's being an impediment to some refineries operating efficiently and not having - or going into bankruptcy or other problems they have."


Senator Carper: (5:42 p.m)

  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "One of his companies, discover bank, they have operations in my state as well. They said to me - sent to me a letter from a lot of their leaders and employees. It basically says - I will just read this. It says one of the basic tenets of our culture - I think discover bank - is to do the right thing, and we urge congress to do the same. Without delay. We are proud to count dreamers as part of the discover community and believe they should have the ability to continue pursuing their American dreams. Thank you. Every now and then when we have the opportunity to do something that is right and beneficial."

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:30 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the House message to accompany H.R. 695, the defense appropriations bill, with the time until the cloture vote equally divided between the two leaders or their designees.
  • Note: on Wednesday, February 7, cloture was filed on the motion to concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment, with a further amendment, to H.R. 1892, the vehicle for the CR.


Senator Durbin: (5:54 p.m)

  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "Somehow or another she found that train station, got on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and somehow or another made it to east St. Louis, Illinois, her idea of a land of opportunity in 1911. There she was united with her husband, and there she made a life, a hard, challenging life, but one that led to good things. The two-year-old girl she was carrying was my mother, and my mother was an immigrant to this country. In my office upstairs behind my desk is my mother's naturalization certificate. I keep it there to remind myself and everyone visiting who I am, my family story and America's story."


Senator Blumenthal: (6:24 p.m)

  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "Now, with the complicity of this body, that promise is about to be broken. I say complicity because the president in September is the one who committed the act of breaking that promise by saying he was going to end the DACA program, and he gave Congress six months to remedy that broken promise. He threw to Congress a ticking time bomb that literally would rip apart the lives of 800,000, 1.8 million, the numbers vary, the principle is the same. Ripping apart their lives would be the consequence. I've said before, and I'm going to say it again, great countries do not break their promises. The United States is the greatest country in the history of the world. We should not be breaking our promises."