Tuesday, Mar. 20, 2018

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Mar 20 2018 10:00 AM

The Senate convened.  


Opening Remarks

Mar 20 2018 10:16 AM

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.
  • Subsequently, Senator Sanders or his designee will be recognized to offer a motion to discharge S.J. Res. 54, directing the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from Yemen, with four hours of debate equally divided between the opponents and proponents of the resolution.
  • Following the use or yielding back of that time, the Senate will VOTE in relation to the motion to discharge S.J. Res. 54.  
  • The Senate will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to accommodate the weekly policy lunches.


Senator McConnell: (10:04 a.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "The topic is all-too familiar to me and many of my colleagues who have fought against this exploitation for decades. This has migrated from the street corners to smart phones. My friend and colleague from Ohio, Senator Portman, has been especially committed to rooting out the cause of this crisis. He's built a broad bipartisan coalition in support of the legislation currently before the senate. It is designed to close a loophole in existing law that allows websites to avoid responsibility even as they knowingly facilitate trafficking. It would ensure any institution that's are party to this reprehensible practice are subject to strict penalties, the ones that they deserve."
  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "The first reason, Mr. President, is that my colleagues - their substantive policy aim is actually misguided. The supreme leader and the regime know what their goals are, preserving their rule and harming the United States and Israel. That's what they want to do. That's why Iran exports violence, intimidation, and coercion. That's why Iran expands its ballistic missile program. That's why Iran uses proxies such as the Houthis along with others to go into Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and beyond. During the Obama Administration they drew down the conventional force structure."
  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "In particular, building on the funding agreement passed in February, the measure will deliver the resources and certainty that the American military deserves. To be specific, this legislation will provide the largest year-on-year increase in defense funding in 15 years. After years of disproportionate cuts to our armed services, congress has begun to provide adequate resources. To put an end to the harmful decline in combat readiness, to fulfill our commitments to American families who sacrifice through service, many of them in my home state of Kentucky."

Schumer, Sanders, Lee

Directing the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from Yemen (S.J. Res. 54)

Mar 20 2018 11:05 AM

Senator Schumer: (10:15 a.m.)

  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "Hopefully we can come to an agreement and pass this this week. It has some things no one likes, and it has a lot of things not everybody likes, but most people like. It was a fair compromise, the basic structure of it, and hopefully we can get to an agreement. Our staffs are working really hard."
  • Spoke on the situation in Puerto Rico.
    • "We all know the storm was one of the most powerful and devastating ever to strike those islands, with terrible damage to schools, hospitals, water systems, roads, homes, and businesses. For months and months, people didn't have electricity, clean water, or cell service. Far too many people are still waiting for relief. There are 120,000 people without electricity. Hundreds of thousands continue to lose power on a temporary basis. Calculating hours of lost electricity service, Puerto Rico's experienced the longest blackout in the history of the U.S. Tens of thousands are still awaiting permanent shelter."


Senator Sanders: (10:30 a.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "Mr. President, I expect that congress today will be arguing about what the word "hostilities" means within the context of the 1973 war powers resolution. What does the word "hostilities" mean? And some will argue that American troops are not out there shooting and getting shot at, not exchanging fire -- gunfire with their enemies. And that we are not really engaged in the horrifically destructive Saudi-led war in Yemen. That's what some will argue on the floor today, that we're really not engaged in hostilities, we're not exchanging fire. Well, please tell that to the people of Yemen, whose homes and lives are being destroyed by weapons marked 'Made in the U.S.A.'"  


Senator Lee: (10:51 a.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "Whether you're physically present in the chamber or tuning in at home, I hope you will listen closely so we can fill you in on the unauthorized Middle East war that your government, the government of the United States of America, is supporting and actively participating in. This war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians, human beings, lest we forget. Each one of them possessing innate, immeasurable worth and dignity. This war has created refugees, orphans, widows. It has cost millions of dollars, and believe it or not at the end of the day, it has quite arguably undermined our fight against terrorist threats against ISIS."

Murphy, Cornyn, Menendez, Corker, Durbin, Merkley

Directing the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from Yemen (S.J. Res. 54)

Mar 20 2018 12:40 PM

Senator Murphy: (11:21 a.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "The administration told us that in their letter to us that we do not have the authority as the United States Congress to weigh in on military activity waged by the administration unless there are two armies firing at each other on the ground in an area of conflict. That is the administration's definition of hostilities. That is a definition that's been used by Republicans and Democrats. This is not exclusive to the Trump Administration. It would allow for the United States, through executive decision only, to wage an air campaign against a country that wipes it out without any say from the United States congress. Clearly what is happening in Yemen today meets the definition of hostilities."


Senator Cornyn: (11:30 a.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "The reason is because yesterday we voted to advance a piece of legislation called SESTA, or Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. The purpose of that legislation is crystal clear. We want to put an end to this abominable practice, and we want to stop shielding or protecting those web platforms that promote it. I'm proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation. Over the past year, like many of my colleagues, I met with law enforcement and victims' rights groups across the country which talk about this as a continuing problem."
  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "The crown prince was scheduled to meet with President Trump today. I met with him this morning along with other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Saudi Arabia is an important partner in our counterterrorism operations. And as a counter point to Iran. In Yemen, we see both terrorist operations - that's ISIS and Al Qaeda - in Iran actively deploying missiles using Yemen as a launching pad to shoot missiles into Saudi Arabia. Is I mentioned before that our support for the Saudi coalition is gnarl role circumscribed. It currently takes the form of intelligence sharing, military advice and logistical support including air-to-air refueling."


Senator Menendez: (11:52 a.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "A failure of leadership. Regarding a broader diplomatic strategy, the administration has also failed to develop a comprehensive strategy to confront Iran, including holding Iran accountable for continuing to provide missile supplies and lethal training to the Houthis. Across land and sea, we know Lebanese Hezbollah operatives are in Yemen, and yet we have seen no sanctions and no action at the Security Council for this illicit illegal activity. The administration has not made one designation for Iranian designation of arms embargoes as directed by the legislation passed here. Again, a failure of leadership."


Senator Corker: (12:04 p.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "Let me just speak to the debate we're having on the floor. This is a very entrepreneurial move. I don't say that to be pejorative. I know that one of the members is on the Judiciary Committee that is bringing this to the floor, and I can imagine some highly important judicial issue not being debated in the Judiciary Committee, but just being wafted to the floor for debate. I know that's not the way the Judiciary Committee operates. One of the other members is on the energy committee. I can imagine some complex cap and trade bill being offered. And instead of it being worked through the committee, or some ethanol bill or some other type of bill, instead of it being worked through the committee, somebody figures to bring it directly to the floor. So that's what's happening here today."


Senator Durbin: (12:16 p.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "Some eight million people are dying of famine in Yemen because of this war. Some 16 million are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance immediately. This is no skirmish. This is no just exchange of fire. This is carnage and destruction, the likes of the world has never seen, and we are part of it. If we are part of it and should be part of it, then we should make that decision as a senate and a House of Representatives as the Constitution requires. But going to the bleachers, standing by the sidelines and watching more and more military operations take place around the world without asserting our constitutional responsibility is a mistake."


Senator Merkley: (12:27 p.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "Now, the Founding Fathers' vision was reinforced by the War Powers Resolution of 1973, often referred to the War Powers Act. That act was necessary because the executive branch tends to put our forces into conflict without the permission of Congress in violation of the Constitution. And so it's important to lay out the parameters under which they were allowed to do so under emergency action and the circumstances under which they're not allowed to do so. Now, the war powers act says it's the purpose of the resolution to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and ensure that the collective judgment of both the congress and the president will apply to the introduction of the United States armed forces into hostilities."

Hatch, Reed, Boozman

Directing the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from Yemen (S.J. Res. 54)

Mar 20 2018 02:47 PM

Senator Hatch: (2:16 p.m.)

  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • "Today I want to look at the lower courts because no less than 138 positions on the federal district and appeals courts are vacant. That does not include 33 vacancies that will occur in a year or so. Everyone must understand the seriousness of this crisis. By itself 138 is just a number. It's a big number but it needs a frame of reference to know if this is normal or a serious problem that has to be addressed. I certainly don't want to be accused of partisanship so I will rely on the standards and criteria used in the past my my Democratic colleagues."


Senator Reed: (2:29 p.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "As stated in a letter sent by Secretary Mattis to congressional leadership this week, in his words, since 2015, the United States has provided limited support to Saudi-led coalition military operations to restore the U.N.-recognized government of Yemen and preserve Saudi territorial integrity from Houthi-aligned forces in Yemen. Moreover, according to Secretary Mattis, U.S. forces are not authorized to use force against the Houthis but do support the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence sharing, military advice, and logistical support, including anti-air refueling."


Senator Boozman: (2:41 p.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "According to data released by Polaris which shows a 13% jump in cases reported to the help lines that it runs. Since Polaris began operating over ten years ago, its help lines have received reports of 203 cases of human trafficking from my home state of Arkansas. Almost half of those were reported in the last two years. Fortunately, our state is fighting back. Last year, Arkansas legislators approved a law requiring state licensed truckers to be trained in spotting the red flags of human trafficking. Using their position on the road, these drivers have the tools to recognize the signs of human trafficking and alert the authorities to any suspicious activity."

Young, Feinstein, Menendez, Udall

Directing the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from Yemen (S.J. Res. 54)

Mar 20 2018 03:29 PM

Senator Young: (2:47 p.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "The USAID World Food Programme cranes have been delivered and the red seaports have been opened. According to the United Nations, since the ports were opened, we've seen more than 884,000 metric tons of food and more than 410,000 metric tons of fuel delivered to the Port of Hudaydah and loan. Why is the fuel so important? Without the fuel, you can't run the water treatment facilities and, therefore, the cholera epidemic that has broken out in Yemen will only get worse. So 884,000 metric tons of food and over 410,000 metric tons of fuel. This has resulted in the saving of countless lives in Yemen."


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

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "Now this seems like just a small step, and it certainly won't immediately end the war, but it is a deeply symbolic one. This resolution will send a clear message that we will no longer enable this proxy war. There's no reason a diplomatic solution can't be found to end this violence. And a strong push for reconciliation will save the lives of thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children in Yemen. But that peace is only achievable if we speak with one voice and pass the sanders-lee resolution. Otherwise we will continue to enable this barbaric war."


Senator Menendez: (3:05 p.m.)

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "And we ourselves must be a reliable ally and partner. We must speak with an authoritative voice. We must have our national security agents executing clear, integrated, coherent strategies. The president himself must champion the fundamental ideas that made America secure and prosperous. Democracy, human rights, free expression, values we champion not because simply they're right but also they're strategic. We stand for these values because globally governments that uphold the rule of law, that respect human rights and freedom of expression, that welcome economic competition, these are the nations who form America's most reliable allies, most prosperous economic partners, most strategic security relationships."


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

  • Spoke on President Trump's foreign policy.
    • "The United States has stood as a world leader of liberal democracy, the rule of law, and human values since the end of World War II. Our actions abroad have not always been perfect but over the decades, we have earned the world's respect because we have acted on our principles. After the fall of the Berlin wall, authoritarian regimes were in retreat. Today authoritarianism is back on the March. The president himself even cheers them on, praising Vladimir Putin, and others who fashion themselves for president for life of one party, repressive regimes. In this president's short, raucous and chaotic tenure, he has diminished our standing within the world community."

Shaheen, Cardin, Markey, Murphy

Directing the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from Yemen (S.J. Res. 54)

Mar 20 2018 04:02 PM

Senator Shaheen: (3:31 p.m.)

  • Spoke on President Trump's foreign policy.
    • "This ultimately places Americans at risk, and as Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has said, it forces his men and women to buy more bullets. Even equally critical is the opportunity this provides for the great power conflicts to continue and to fester. Now, in November I then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with the Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, to express bipartisan again over the administration's state department hiring and promotion rates. I was told that the statistics we received from the American Foreign Service Association were wrong and that the redesign of the State Department is not forcing anyone from their jobs. Unfortunately, since that time, the State Department has lost even more precious diplomatic talent."


Senator Cardin: (3:40 p.m.)

  • Spoke on President Trump's foreign policy.
    • "The president has questioned over and over again universally what America stands for when he gave space to hate in his response to Charlottesville, when he implies that people that come to our country of certain religion or races are less favored than others, when he suggests that he cannot have a conflict because he's president of the United States and doesn't have to divest his business interests, or when he says that things that we know they are not true and the president of the United States standing up for matters that are outright lies. That diminishes the value and strength of America in our global leadership. One issue I want to talk about in the time that I have is ignoring one of the greatest national security threats we have and that is what Russia is doing the United States under Mr. Putin."


Senator Markey: (3:48 p.m.)

  • Spoke on President Trump's foreign policy.
    • "North Korea's army of cyber warriors degrees more capable. And the Kim's regime's thugs make no effort to scale back rampant abuses. However, President Trump's approach to date threatens to make an already bad situation even worse. Despite his recent announcement that he would accept a meeting with Kim Jong-un, President Trump has systematically undermined the effectiveness of the U.S. Department of State that he will need to make talks successful. And by so doing, he has harmed U.S. Foreign policy right as the United States is poised to embark on a crucial diplomatic effort with North Korea."


Senator Murphy: (3:56 p.m.)

  • Spoke on President Trump's foreign policy.
    • "Mr. President, I'm just back from a trip to a major trans-Atlantic conference in Europe, and while the Europeans have spent a lot of time over the course of the last 12 months handwringing about whether the United States is committed to Europe, committed to NATO, committed to our common defense, my feeling is that they're kind of over the handwringing. They are now just making plans to move on without us. They are making plant to protect themselves without us. They are making plans to try to set the rules of the road economically, politically, and cultural around the world without the United States. Evidence of that was very clear."


Directing the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from Yemen (S.J. Res. 54)

Mar 20 2018 04:13 PM

Senator Coons: (4:01 p.m.)

  • Spoke on President Trump's foreign policy.
    • "I want to thank my colleague, Senator Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and comment first at the outset on two things that have been widely said that I just don't think are true. First that Democrats are bottling up the president's nominees for senior ambassadorial positions or senior Department of State nominations and that we're holding key nominees. Frankly nothing could be further from the truth. This afternoon in a Foreign Relations Committee, a whole series of treaties and assistant secretaries of state have been voted out. And I heard it by pundits that Democrats are wishing them ill. We are doing what we can to hold him back. I think all of us know we are strongest when we work together."

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 11:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to the consideration of H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.
  • There will be up to four hours of debate concurrently on Wyden Amendments #2212 and #2213, to H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.
  • Following the use or yielding back of that time, the Senate will VOTE in relation to Wyden Amendment #2212 and then Wyden Amendment #2213 to H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, with a 60 vote affirmative threshold required for each amendment.
  • Following disposition of the Wyden amendments, the Senate will VOTE on passage of H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, as amended, if amended.


Senator Portman: (5:06 p.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "That's why we spent a lot of time looking into Backpage, why this was happening, how we could address it. According to Shared Hope International, another advocacy group, the number is even higher than 75%. So we did, through a process that many in this body were involved with, researched this. Claire McCaskill is the ranking member, was the ranking member on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. We investigated that. I see she is on the floor now. She and I along with the subcommittee, along with you and other members of the full committee, Mr. President, looked into this issue and what we found was even more shocking than we expected. We knew that people were being trafficked online by this website."


Senator Blumenthal: (5:18 p.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "This road began for me more than ten years ago when I was the state attorney general in Connecticut. And I wanted to pursue legal remedies against the week sites -- against the websites. Back then it was Craigslist or Myspace, that promoted sex trafficking and prostitution as well as pornography. And my staff informed me that there was a provision of federal law, section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that would stop me in my tracks. And indeed it has stopped others most recently some of the survivors of sex trafficking who were told by a federal court of appeals in effect what happened to you is outrageous, there should be a remedy for you, but section 230 of the Communications Decency Act blocks your day in court. "


Senator McCaskill: (5:27 p.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "It was the investigation where Backpage thought they would be able to win again in court and deny us our opportunity to look at the documents and look at the underlying evidence that you should always look at in an investigation. Frankly, us getting the Senate resolution through this body almost unanimously - I think it was unanimously, wasn't it, Senator Portman? Unanimously and going all the way to the Supreme Court and winning, finally it was the first time that Backpage had to turn over the dirty evidence of them knowingly facilitating sex trafficking on their page."


Senator Brown: (5:27 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Wall Street.
    • "This Congress bends over backwards to help Wall Street while working families continue to struggle. Wall Street is making things worse. It is not just helping Wall Street with tax breaks, we are helping them with the rollback of legislation. Let me explain what that means. In a series over several months I'm laying out the case for how Wall Street undermines American workers and in making work in America pay off. You remember one of the points I made was that American airlines announced that they were going to give - to increase did increase workers' wages, as did Chipotle, and Wall Street basically hit them with a lower stock price as a result. In each installment of this series, we will - we've talked about these issues."


Senator Whitehouse: (5:43 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "If you took all the years in the 1980's and averaged them together and ran them through the calendar, this is like a clock this way going through the months, you would see the sea ice growing and fading away as spring came on to the arctic. That's where the ice was when you average the 1980's. This green line is the exact same thing. It's just the 1990's. So you can see how much sea ice has been lost averaged decade over decade. Then the blue line here. This is the 2000's, and once again you see another loss of sea ice - a considerable loss from the levels back as recently as the 1980's. "


Senator Thune: (6:01 p.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "Now, obviously, Mr. President, dedicated prosecutors and law enforcement around the country are working every day to combat the proliferation of sex trafficking on the internet. But some of their efforts have been stymied by a provision of a 1996 law called the Communications Decency Act. The provision in question, Section 230, was meant to protect websites from being held accountable for material that people create and post on their sites. It's thanks in part to this provision that such popular sites as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have been able to flourish. But certain websites have used this provision to defend themselves in court cases dealing with criminal activity that they have knowingly allowed or participated in; specifically, sex trafficking."