Monday, Sep. 17, 2018

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Sep 17 2018 02:00 PM

The Senate convened.  


Opening Remarks

Sep 17 2018 02:16 PM

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 2:00 p.m.
  • Following leader remarks and notwithstanding the orders of September 6, the Senate will proceed to the consideration of H.R. 6, the opioids bill, with the debate time on that bill running concurrently with the debate time on S. 2554, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act.
  • The debate time on both bills will expire at 5:30 p.m. with all other provisions of the orders of September 6 remaining in effect.
  • Note: at 5:30 p.m. the Senate will VOTE on the following:
    • Adoption of Lee Amendment #4011 to S. 2554, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act.
    • Passage of S. 2554, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, as amended, if amended.
    • Passage of H.R. 6, the opioids bill, as amended.


Senator Hatch: (2:03 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Constitution Day.
    • "The framers of the Constitution recognized that the government derives its power from the people themselves. The government overturned the prevailing wisdom, or should I say the Constitution overturned the prevailing wisdom that men are made for governments declaring instead that governments are made for men. These principles and our nation's dedication to them are core to our American ethics. Today they set our country apart as a symbol of freedom and prosperity across the globe. The constitution is the culmination of centuries of human progress."
  • Spoke on tariffs.
    • "A miscellaneous tariff bill has not been enacted since 2010, and our businesses and manufacturers have been forced to wait too long for congress to act. I am pleased that we were finally able to end that wait. I am also pleased to report that this is the first miscellaneous tariff bill, to have been enacted under the new process set out in the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016. This new process was crafted to provide a robust consultation with both house and senate rules that would be transparent and open to all."
  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "This isn't the first time that I've been talking about the opioid epidemic, and, unfortunately, it likely won't be my last, but I am happy to say that today's remarks will highlight some very good news. As part of a coordinated effort with four other committees, the Senate Finance Committee's package will be voted on tonight as part of the Opioid Crisis Response Act. But before I get to what is in that bill, I want to give some details of the unfortunate reality our country is facing. Last year more than 72,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. The majority of these overdoses involved prescription opioids, or illicit opioids like heroin or fentanyl."

Boozman, Peters, Markey, King

The opioid bill (H.R. 6)

Sep 17 2018 03:25 PM

Senator Boozman: (2:19 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "Together with other measures in this bill, we can make a real difference and change the conversations we have around opioid abuse and addiction to focus not on the lives taken but on the lives that are being saved. The comprehensive response to this crisis shows - the comprehensive response to the crisis shows how committed we are as a nation to combating opioid addiction. I applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture with this week's announcement of its partnership with communities across the country to fight the opioid epidemic in rural America, including Newport, Arkansas. Newport USDA is investing more than $150,000 to convert the former Jackson county jail into the White River Women's Shelter."


Senator Peters: (2:45 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "116 lives that ended decades too soon, lost every day. Substance abuse disorders do not discriminate. We feel this pain in every region in our country, urban and rural areas in red and blue states. We know there's no silver bullet that will end this crisis overnight, but we do know how to fight it together, and that is what we are doing today. Tonight the Senate will pass the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act, and this body will show a unity of purpose that, frankly, I wish we could show more often. As this important bipartisan legislation came together, I worked closely with my colleague, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia, to make sure that our nation's youth were not left behind."


Senator Markey: (3:00 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "I rise today to speak about the pending legislation to address the opioid epidemic, a crisis the likes of which we have never seen in America. All of us know that this crisis is a nightmare. It is a scourge. The prescription drug, heroin, and fentanyl epidemic is a human tragedy happening in nearly every city and town of our country. Preliminary estimates indicate that opioid overdoses claimed an estimated 49,000 lives just last year, including nearly 2,000 people in Massachusetts. That's more than gun violence. That's more than car accidents. The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug overdose crisis in American history. A crisis of this proportion demands action at all levels, and I am pleased that the Senate is taking a step in that direction today."


Senator King: (3:16 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "Let's do it now. And I believe we can do it as part of this discussion, as part of the final resolution of the bill that's going to be before us this afternoon, which I entirely support. But I think this is an important addition that will strengthen it and that will particularly strengthen the ability to deliver this care, this treatment that so important to so many people and families and communities, particularly in the smaller towns and rural areas of America and in my state of Maine."

Hassan, McConnell, Daines, Cardin

The opioid bill (H.R. 6)

Sep 17 2018 04:01 PM

Senator Hassan: (3:20 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "I spoke this morning with this group of grandparents, two of whom have been raising their grandson for nearly nine years now, one of whom has seen her grandchild returned - two grandchildren returned to their parents after their parents recovered from their addiction but in one case the grandparent who's grandchildren have gone back to his parents at age 57 starting life completely anew. She had given up her job, gone through her entire retirement savings to keep her children safe while their parents battled their addiction. Another set of grandparents who, again, have given up everything to keep their grandson safe are scared of going to court to get permanent custody and adopt their grandchild because they are concerned that the child's father will reappear and contest the custody and the cost of that custody battle will mean that they have no money left to care for their grandchild."


Senator McConnell: (3:32 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Hurricane Florence.
    • "We stand ready to ensure that communities in the storm's path have the resources they need to recover and rebuild. Once that time comes. For now, we stand in solidarity with the Americans who are battling this storm and with first responders who bravely risk their own safety to care for their communities."
  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "That's exactly what this landmark legislation is. It combines work from five committees and input from more than 70 senators. First, this legislation will help cut off the opioid crisis at its roots. It will stop more drugs at the border, improve interstate monitoring, and encourage reform of prescription dosing. It will encourage recovery through more resources for state and local responders, better access to care for patients, and more support for the families and caregivers of those affected, and this legislation looks to the future by surrounding long-term medical research and economic solutions to get our country past this vicious cycle."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "In the Senate, and around the country, almost everyone who went into this process with an open mind who was prepared to give Judge Kavanaugh a fair hearing has come away impressed, but now, now an accusation of 36-year-old misconduct dating back to high school has been brought forward at the last minute in an irregular manner. It is an accusation which Judge Kavanaugh has completely and unequivocally denied. This is what he said. This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes to her or to anyone. It is an accusation which the ranking member of the committee of jurisdiction has known about for at least six weeks."


Senator Daines: (3:45 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "In Montana, opioid overdoses have claimed the lives of 700 people since 2000. And from 2013 to 2014, 42% of all drug-related deaths were caused by opioids, with easier access and a larger supply on the street, we are finding opioids in the hands of more and more people. It's tearing families apart. It's devastating our communities. We must focus on combating the opioid crisis, we must also continue to address a related but separate epidemic that is wreaking havoc in Montana and many other states, and that is the methamphetamine epidemic."


Senator Cardin: (3:49 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "Mr. President, shortly we're going to have an opportunity to vote on the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 which I strongly support, but I want to share with my colleagues a roundtable discussion I held in Baltimore just a few hours ago. I met in the area of Cherry Hill, I met with leading experts in regards to the opioid crisis. We had the leadership from Baltimore city, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, representatives from the state, and a lot of different other organizations. It started with Dr. Jason Lotter who is president of bay mark giving us a tour of the new facility that he opened up in Cherry Hill. This is a wonderful new facility for opioid addiction."

Schumer, Portman, Cassidy, Collins

The opioid bill (H.R. 6)

Sep 17 2018 04:49 PM

Senator Schumer: (4:00 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "Many, many, many Americans believe her. Many, many women in America who have been taken advantage of certainly believe her. For too long women have made serious allegations of abuse and have been ignored or dragged through the mud. It would be a disgrace if this body and our fellow Republicans let that happen. Chairman Grassley must postpone the vote on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated. The F.B.I. conducted a background check on Judge Kavanaugh before these allegations were known. The F.B.I. when they did their background check had no knowledge of what went on here."
  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "This bill recognizes that fact. So I want to thank members on my side whose legislation is included in this bill, Senators Baldwin, Donnelly, Manchin, McCaskill, Nelson, Casey, Heitkamp, and Klobuchar, and many more Democratic senators contributed to this bill, as have many Republicans, and I thank them for their hard work. Addiction, Madam President, has held too many Americans in its grip for too long. We cannot let up our efforts to fight this scourge. In the coming days and weeks, the Senate will work on merging the Senate bill with the House bill and it is my hope that we will have a new opioid law signed in the future."
  • Spoke on Hurricane Florence.
    • "To see the pictures of houses being flooded breaks your heart. You see the devastation and it's something that minded me of what happened in my state a few years ago with sandy. Our hearts go out to these people and the federal government always pulls together when a part of the nation has a problem."


Senator Portman: (4:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "I'd like to thank Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer for agreeing to bring this legislation to the floor tonight. It doesn't include everything all of us want to see but it has important new initiatives and it's a step in the right direction. I know at least one issue we couldn't include in this broader package is the arbitrary cap that's in place in so many treatment centers. They're capped at 16 beds for Medicaid reimbursement which is really a vestige of a previous policy to get people out of institutional care mostly mental health focused but it's having an effect now in this opioid crisis we talked about, because people who are ready to get into treatment are told there is no room."


Senator Cassidy: (4:32 p.m.)

  • Spoke on drug prices.
    • "I'm here to support the Patients' Right to Know Drug Crisis Act put together by Senators Collins and McCaskill of which I'm privileged to cosponsor. Let me just say right now our health care system is designed just if you will to shake as much money out of the patient and taxpayer, all to the benefit of the others, but not to the patient and not to the taxpayer. And one of the most egregious examples are the pharmacy gag clause. In a pharmacy gag clause, if you go to the pharmacy and it would be cheaper for you to pay cash for the drug as opposed to your insurance deductible, the pharmacist may be restricted by a contract from telling you that."


Senator Collins: (4:36 p.m.)

  • Spoke on drug prices.
    • "Madam President, I rise today in support of the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, legislation that I've introduced with Senators McCaskill, Barrasso, Stabenow, and Cassidy. Our bill is also cosponsored by Chairman Lamar Alexander and 19 other senators from both sides of the aisle. So, Madam President, this is one of those rare occasions when we're taking up a bill with widespread bipartisan support that is going to really make a difference. This commonsense bill would ban the use of pharmacy gag clauses, an egregious practice that prevents pharmacists from telling their consumers when they could purchase their prescriptions for less money by paying out of pocket remember than using their insurance."

McCaskill, Barrasso, Cantwell, Alexander, Blumenthal, Manchin, Lee

The opioid bill (H.R. 6)

Sep 17 2018 05:43 PM

Senator McCaskill: (4:47 p.m.)

  • Spoke on drug prices.
    • "That's a big deal for me. I'm thrilled that the president of the United States tweeted this afternoon that he supports this legislation. It shows you that not all is lost in this town. Every once in a while, we can get together - I see my friend, Senator Barrasso over there, he's a cosponsor on this bill. Senator Kennedy. It is really exciting to me when we have one of these moments where the administration agrees, Secretary Azar agrees, Republicans agree, Democrats agree. If we could do this more often, maybe the people in this country would renew their faith in us as a body. So I am thrilled that we're going to have a chance to get this done."


Senator Barrasso: (4:56 p.m.)

  • Spoke on drug prices.
    • "I just visited with Senator Collins who knows, as so many members of this body that I practiced medicine for a long time before coming to the United States Senate. Took care of a lot of Wyoming families as a practicing physician. As a doctor, I often prescribed medication to help my patients fight their disease, improve their equal of life. I know the importance of prescription medication. I also know the importance pharmacists play in the lives of their patients as well, because the same patient that I'm taking care of, the pharmacist is also caring for and in so many ways, the pharmacist has to be able to speak freely to their patients about information about the medication. "


Senator Cantwell: (5:03 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "It reauthorizes the high intensity drug trafficking area program which uses federal resources to help local law enforcement crack down on illicit drug rings. We need to help our law enforcement who are dealing with this problem every single day have the tools to do this job and the fact that it reauthorizes this program on a high intensity drug trafficking areas is just the kind of tool that they need. It also makes permanent the ability for doctors to treat up to 275,000 patients with the kind of treatment that is necessary for them which also helps us get to people faster and get them into a recovery situation faster."


Senator Alexander: (5:14 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "Because within a few minutes, we are about to vote in the senate on legislation that Senator McConnell, the majority leader, has called landmark legislation. This legislation that 72 of the 100 members of this body have made a contribution to. They're not just cosponsoring it. They have a piece of this bill. This legislation has come through five different committees of the Senate, and we've been working ton for several - on it for several months. The reason it's on the front page of the newspapers in Tennessee and the newspapers in Kansas and the newspapers in Wyoming and the newspapers in Maine is because opioids is our most serious public health epidemic, and the opioid crisis response act that we'll be voting on in a few minutes is the senate's response to that."


Senator Blumenthal: (5:25 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "This provision is a step in the right direction. I'm very proud of a bill that I've led with Senators Grassley and Brown to enhance transparency and opioid prescribing. This bill requires drug companies to allow prescribers to ensure that they are not no being inappropriately influenced by these manufacturers. It is already required for doctors. It ought to be required for everyone who may be involved in prescribing these powerful medicines. The bill will also fight back against deadly drug trafficking when it involves use of the postal system. Just a few weeks ago in new Haven, there was a mass overdose caused by trafficked synthetic drugs, more than 100 people overdosed on K-2, brought into this country from China and Mexico through the mails."


Senator Manchin: (5:30 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "First of all, I want to thank my good friend from Tennessee, Senator Lamar Alexander, for shepherding this through and washing working in a bipartisan way. It is the most important piece of legislation. Also to all the colleagues. This is a way - this is the way legislation should work. It is something that was worked on for a long time. Senator Blumenthal from Connecticut, everyone who worked so hard on behalf of the American people are drowning under the weight of prescription drug epidemic. My state of West Virginia has been hit the hardest. More than 1,000 died of drug overdoses in 2017. This is a record number of oil spill related deaths - opioid related deaths in 2016 which was a record that year as well."


Senator Lee: (5:36 p.m.)

  • Spoke on drug prices.
    • "I applaud them and we ought to leave space for them to do that very thing. Some have suggested that this state action and increased attention to the cost of prescription drugs has more or less solved this problem and greatly limited the use of gag clauses already. Bear in mind the study that I previously referenced looked at practices from five years ago. The states were more directly involved because they had more directly witnessed this problem and they were able to nimbly and quite capably address it. However, even if gag clauses are still in use, where they are, we must recognize that it's not always the role of the federal government to regulate everything."

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will next meet for legislative business at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the conference report accompanying H.R. 6157, the DoD/Labor-HHS minibus appropriations bill.
  • The Senate will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to accommodate the weekly policy lunches.
  • Note: on Monday, September 17, cloture was filed on the conference report accompanying H.R. 6157, the DoD/Labor-HHS minibus appropriations bill.


Senator Murray: (7:03 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "A generation of women watched what happened to her and were then less likely to share their own stories and more likely to let their attackers and harassers off the hook because they saw what happened to Anita Hill at the hands of the United States Senate, and they didn't want anything like that to happen to them. That cannot happen again. An all-male Judiciary Committee dropped the ball in 1991. We cannot allow an all-male Republican side of the Judiciary Committee do the same in 2018. Over the past year, we have made together some tremendous strides with the me too movement and the understanding that more and more sexual harassment and assault is not okay and cannot be tolerated no matter how powerful the perpetrator."
  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "This bipartisan package of proposals is an important step forward to help our families and communities who are on the front lines of the opioid crisis, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to see it signed into law, but while this bill is an important step, it is by no means a final one. We have a lot more to do to end the tragedy and address the ongoing issue. So even as we work to get this agreement across the finish line, I'm going to keep fighting for more support and resources and solutions for the families in my home state of Washington and across the country who are facing the heartbreak of this epidemic."


Senator Rounds: (7:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to a South Dakota firefighter.
    • "According to reports, Dave was attempting to move one of the fire department's command vehicles just north of the home when a propane tank exploded, a piece of which struck him and his vehicle, killing him instantly. Both he and the owner of the home, Raymond Bachmeyer, perished on that tragic day. We send our sympathies to all of the friends and family members they leave behind. Dave's death is a tremendous loss for the state of south Dakota, especially the Sturgis area and the surrounding communities where he lived almost his entire life."


Senator Cantwell: (7:17 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "So I hope that my colleagues are not just trying to think that we'll have a hearing and move forward as quickly as possible but treat this as the serious investigation that people in the state of Washington and around the country want to see. I so appreciate the fact that this is a very challenging time, but information must be received in a true investigation - and a true investigation must also occur."