Tuesday, Jul. 31, 2018

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Jul 31 2018 10:00 AM

The Senate convened.  


Opening Remarks

Jul 31 2018 10:14 AM

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #1006, Britt Cagle Grant, of Georgia, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit, post-cloture.
  • At 12:15 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on the motion to concur in the House amendment to S. 1182, the NFIP extension.
  • Following disposition of the motion to concur, the Senate will recess until 2:15 p.m. to accommodate the weekly policy meetings.
  • At 2:15 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #1006, Britt Cagle Grant, of Georgia, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit.
  • Following disposition of the Grant nomination, the Senate will VOTE on cloture on Shelby Amendment #3399 to H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill.
  • Note: on Thursday, July 26th, cloture was filed on Shelby Amendment #3399 to H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill.
  • Note: on Thursday, July 26th, cloture was filed on H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill.
  • Note: on Thursday, July 26th, cloture was filed on the conference report to accompany H.R. 5515, the NDAA.
  • Note: the cloture motion with respect to the motion to concur in the House amendment to S. 1182, the vehicle for the NFIP extension, has been withdrawn.


Senator McConnell: (10:03 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the abolition of I.C.E.
    • "I want to take a few moments to discuss the brave men and women who serve in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I had the privilege of visiting the I.C.E. office in my hometown of Louisville this last Friday. This is a federal agency that was created following the attacks of September 11, 2001. It is responsible for several key aspects of our homeland security. Enforcing our immigration laws, combating terrorism, and preventing people and goods from moving illegally throughout our country. And its record on these vital missions is staggering. In fiscal year 2017, I.C.E. recorded more than 105,000 arrests of aliens with known criminal convictions on their records."
  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "Now, on another matter, we learned last week that second quarter real G.D.P. growth exceeded 4%. That's the best quarterly growth rate in four years and one of the strongest reports since the great recession. Earlier this month we learned that new claims for unemployment insurance recently reached it's lowest level since, listen to this, 1969. And the number of continuing claims week to week is lower than it's been at any point since 1973. So let me say that another way."

Schumer, Wyden, Cornyn, Thune

Executive Session (Grant Nomination)

Jul 31 2018 12:18 PM

Senator Schumer: (10:26 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "By the way, it was Senate Republicans who insisted on this standard during previous confirmation. Democrats, even though our nominee might be exposed, agreed because we believed in openness, and we're not hypocritical and say it's only good when we're in charge, not when you're in charge. We believe it works both ways. Ranking Member Feinstein has made it clear that we don't need or want every single scrap of paper from Judge Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary, but to review none, none of the nominee's records for most of his senior role in the White House is an act of what might be called willful opacity."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "President Trump and congressional Republicans promised working American the moon and the stars with their tax bill. President Trump said it would create, quote, a middle-class miracle and that everyone would get a $4,000 raise. Remember that? President Trump promised the American people that his tax cut to the wealthy would trickle down or torrent down and everyone would get a $4,000 raise. If we asked Americans from one end of the country to the other to raise their hands how many of them got a $4,000 raise, maybe the top 1% would, maybe the top 2%, but not most Americans."
  • Spoke on North Korea.
    • "North Korea's nuclear program remains a grave threat to the region, and the United States. President Trump can't wish it away. He can't place fantasy next to reality. North Korea will not give up its nuclear program simply because President Trump wants him to. Now we're all rooting for diplomacy to succeed, but if President Trump is going to make progress towards the complete verifiable and irreversible nuclear denuclearization of North Korea, he needs to grapple with the reality of the situation, not be in a dream world where he thinks his rhetoric is reality when it doesn't match the reality on the ground, the dangerous reality on the ground."
  • Spoke on 3-D printed guns.
    • "So starting tomorrow, all you need is a little money, a couple of hundred bucks, you can download a print from the internet to make a gun at home. No background check, no criminal history check, no certification that that the person isn't adjudicated mentally ill. Even terrorists could avail themselves of this technology to print an unlimited amount of home weapons. According to the "New York Post," more than 1,000 people have downloaded plans to make AR-style 3-D printed guns and the ban hasn't been lifted yet. The idea of these ghost guns is as scary as they sound."


Senator Wyden: (11:48 a.m.)

  • Spoke on President Trump's tax returns.
    • "This president has in effect thrown in the trash can a bipartisan 40-year pro-transparency tradition by refusing to release his tax returns in the course of the 2016 election. This was a tradition accepted by all liberals, conservatives across the political spectrum that dates back to the post-Watergate era. The president ended it for reasons as flimsy as you can get. A made up story about the president's claim that you can't release your returns in the course of an audit. But now it's not just a matter of the president destroying a four-decades good government campaign tradition. Week after week, month after month, there are more questions that swirl about with respect to financial ties that might skew the president's decision making."


Senator Cornyn: (12:03 p.m.)

  • Spoke on skills training.
    • "It was sent to the president's desk for his signature and once that happens today, it will become the law of the land. I want to take a moment to talk about part of it because it has huge implications for my state and the United States. It's called the new hope act and it builds on other steps we've taken recently to strengthen our nation's economy, and specifically it deals with this phenomenon of occupational licensing. State licensing mandates requires men and women to pay fees, complete training programs, pass exams before they can enter certain jobs and professions, but many of these licensing requirements are protectionism. They do nothing to protect consumers or ensure the public's safety."


Senator Thune: (12:07 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "Any Supreme Court nominee from a Republican president is guaranteed to destroy the Constitution, abolish our rights, and endanger the lives of the American people. I'm not exaggerating for effect. Those are actual accusations from Democrats and liberal interest groups. In the lead-up to Justice Gorsuch's confirmation, one head of a liberal organization said that there was, quote, there is substantial evidence that if Gorsuch's egregious views were to become law, Americans' lives would be put at risk in untold ways. End quote. At the end of his tenure on the Supreme Court, Americans seem to be doing okay, but that didn't stop the former Democratic governor of Virginia tweeting that, and I quote, the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come. End quote."
  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "And what does all this mean, Mr. President? It means more jobs and better wages for hardworking Americans. It means more opportunities and it means more economic security and a better life for American families. Mr. President, I'm proud of the economic progress we've made over the past year and a half, and I'm going to keep working with my colleagues in Congress to advance policy takes will expand economic opportunities for Americans even further."

Lee, Nelson, Blumenthal, Menendez

The minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 6147)

Jul 31 2018 03:29 PM

Senator Lee: (3:08 p.m.)

  • Spoke on 3-D printed guns.
    • "But I will say this. Any legislation that comes forth from this body that begins with the following words will attract my attention and should attract the attention of anyone who's concerned about our First Amendment and other constitutional rights. It begins with the words it shall be unlawful for my person to intentionally publish. That ought to be concerning to us, to each and every one of us, Democrats and Republicans alike. On that basis I object."


Senator Nelson: (3:09 p.m.)

  • Spoke on 3-D printed guns.
    • "And it's inexplicable that the administration is allowing this to go into effect at midnight tonight. It's dangerous. In fact, the president this morning tweeted that allowing these blueprints to go online, the president tweeted, quote, it doesn't seem to make sense, end of quote. I would say amen to that, Mr. President. But it's your administration that has allowed this to happen because after years of winning this issue in courts at every stage of litigation, the administration has surrendered to the crazed demands of a self-described an are anarchist who is going to put this up on the internet. He wants to sow chaos."


Senator Blumenthal: (3:15 p.m.)

  • Spoke on 3-D printed guns.
    • "We have joined together in this cause to prevent a new wave of lethal gun violence on our streets and communities, resulting from these plastic, undetectable and untraceable weapons. We're talking about assault rifles, pistols, shot guns. All of them homemade. They are ghost guns. They are the new frontier and new face of gun violence in this country. Our colleague from Utah raised a First Amendment objection. The fact is that the courts are dealing with that objective. It is the basis of a challenge brought by a group that so far has failed in the courts to stop this public health regulation. No right is absolute."


Senator Menendez: (3:19 p.m.)

  • Spoke on 3-D printed guns.
    • "To publish the ability to create a gun, a gun that is undetectable and untraceable. Why are we spending billions as we go through the airports of our country to ultimately secure ourselves? We saw it after September 11. And now we're going to undermine all of those billions and all of those securities by allowing anyone here or in the world to get access to the I.P. address that you download it and all of a sudden you can create a three-dimensional plastic gun that is as deadly as any other gun. And what draws us to the floor to ask the unusual effort of unanimous consent to ultimately bring this legislation to the floor is the failure of the administration in the first place not to allow this to happen."

Van Hollen, Murray, Alexander

The minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 6147)

Jul 31 2018 03:50 PM

Senator Van Hollen: (3:31 p.m.)

  • Spoke on 3-D printed guns.
    • "In fact, Allen Gottlieb with the Second Amendment Foundation who was part of this case said, quote, we asked for the moon and we figured the government would reject it, but they didn't want to go to trial. The government fought us all the way and then all of a sudden folded their tent. Mr. President, Secretary Pompeo, the Trump administration folded their tent, and as a consequence, Americans will be placed at much higher risk starting tomorrow. We have already seen over a thousand people sign up to begin to receive the instructions to make AR-15's using 3-D printing. Why is this going to pose a big danger? Number one, it is a total end run around criminal background checks for the purpose of a handgun or any kind of weapon."


Senator Murray: (3:36 p.m.)

  • Spoke on animal medicine.
    • "Now, we worked together because this bill has to pass by August 1 to avoid disruptions to the hardworking employees at F.D.A. who ensure that our pets and food-producing animals have safe and effective drugs. Now, last month, the House Energy and Commerce Committee took our bipartisan bill that we worked on together and added a controversial amendment that expands the conditional approval pathway for animal drugs. Now currently the F.D.A. can conditionally approve an animal drug for a minor species or for an uncommon disease in a major species. This narrow category of drugs can be improved for a limited time and sold to customers while the company collects data to determine whether or not the drug actually works."


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

  • Spoke on animal medicine.
    • "Sometimes the House accepts a Senate bill as it did with the Perkins Career Technical Education Act that the president signed today, and sometimes the Senate accepts the House bill, as I will move today, and one reason we are able to do that is because our committees work closely with the House to try to take as many of their good ideas as we can so that we can pass each other's bill if that became necessary. And the second reason that happens is Senator Murray characteristically works with me to solve problems like she is doing today, and I'm grateful to her for doing that. We don't agree on everything, but we agree on a lot."

Durbin, Cantwell, Murkowski, Grassley, Inhofe

The minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 6147)

Jul 31 2018 05:15 PM

Senator Durbin: (3:47 p.m.)

  • Spoke on U.S. immigration policy.
    • "You recall statements that he made about the construction of a wall on the southern border of the United States. He called it big glorious, 2,000 mile wall and he promised us the Mexicans would pay for it. Over and over he promised us they would pay for it. That wasn't the only recognition made during the campaign so it came as no surprise when President Trump was elected immigration was an issue in his administration. It is ironic in a way that this nation of immigrants called America would have such struggles these days with the issue of immigration. Many of us can trace our origins to recent immigrants. In my own case, my mother who was an immigrant to this country, and here her son turned out to have a full-time government job as a United States senator."
  • Spoke on the NDAA.
    • "Since I'm the ranking Democrat or vice chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I know how hard it is to take a bill of this complexity and size and work out a political compromise. But the national defense authorization act achieved that and did it with many extraordinary efforts when it came to defense and foreign policy. No compromise is perfect, but I am troubled and disappointed by several particular provisions in the bill, and I wanted to speak to them on the floor before the bill comes up for consideration later this week. This last January, Secretary of Defense Mattis, whom I respect greatly and voted for, argued that we are seeing, quote, the long-term strategic competition, especially against Russia and China."


Senator Cantwell: (4:17 p.m.)

  • Spoke on skills training.
    • "Every student in the united States should have the opportunity to learn about the internet, about algorithms and about applications. In Washington we're making progress in this area because 13% of our high schools offer coding classes but still more needs to be done. According to a great organization code.org, 90% of parents in the United States want their children to study or understand computer science. However, only 40% of their children are taught anything about computer programming. Computer jobs are the number one source of new jobs in the country. Currently, there are more than 500,000 computer job openings in the United States. And this is a skills gap that we have to close if we want to continue to develop these new products and services."


Senator Murkowski: (4:26 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to Lieutenant General Michael Shields, USA.
    • "And I wanted to thank Mike on behalf of my Senate colleagues and the people of Alaska for his outstanding service as he retired from active duty. Mike received his commission through the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps at Norwich University in 1983 and like so many of Alaska's best and finest citizens, we've just kind of adopted him. He came to Alaska to serve. He came to love our state, and we just loved him right back. I first came to know Mike as Colonel Shields when he was commanding the 172nd Striker Brigade Combat Team known as the Arctic Wolves at Fort Wainwright and he led the brigade during the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom."


Senator Grassley: (4:38 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
    • "So, as I've done several times here in recent days, I'm here to correct the record. So let me start by reiterating that the confirmation process for Judge Kavanaugh will be the most transparent in history. That's from the availability of all the documents that are out there for our colleagues to study about this nominee. Senators already have access to the most important part of Judge Kavanaugh's record, his more than 300 opinions written during his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit. In addition to the hundreds more opinions he joined and the more than 6,000 pages submitted in connection with his Senate Judiciary questionnaire, moreover the national - the Senate will receive more pages of executive branch documents than the senate received for any Supreme Court nominee ever."


Senator Inhofe: (4:55 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the NDAA.
    • "You know, I don't mean this in a partisan way, but we had eight years of the Obama administration, and I think that one thing that I have always appreciated about previously Senator Obama, then-President Obama, is that he is a real sincere, in the heart liberal. And quite often the priorities of those individuals are not the same as they are as some of us particularly in national defense. So we are really hurting. At the end of the Obama administration, in 2016, only 33% of our brigade combat teams were ready at sufficient levels to be deployed. Only a quarter of our aviation brigades were ready. And just 40% of the Marines' F-18s were flyable. The Marines use the F-18, only 40% because the first thing somebody does when he's cutting down the expense of a strong military is do away with the maintenance."

Whitehouse, Van Hollen, Wyden

The minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 6147)

Jul 31 2018 05:58 PM

Senator Whitehouse: (5:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "But is that support for pricing carbon emissions real, or is it just P.R., just screen washing by companies desperate to improve their images? Senator Schatz and I introduced a carbon price bill in 2014 to put a fee on products that produce carbon dioxide emissions, and we've reintroduced it in every Congress since. If the oil companies really supported putting a price on carbon emissions, you'd think that they might have come to see us, the authors of that price on carbon bill. You'd think if the oil companies really supported putting a price on carbon emissions, they might have supported our bill or lobbied other senators to support it. Or even come to us to say, you know, we'd like to support your bill, but you need to change this or that. Well, they've done none of that."


Senator Van Hollen: (5:30 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the NDAA.
    • "First, Mr. President, Z.T.E. Z.T.E. is a Chinese telecommunications company. It's a telecommunications company that has been exhibit a in the mix of Chinese companies that have stolen U.S. technology. In fact, when Secretary Pompeo was before the Senate a while ago talking about the relationships between the Chinese government and Chinese companies and talking about how they were stealing U.S. intellectual property secrets for their own purposes, Z.T.E. would be on the top of that list. It's one of the most notorious leaves of intellectual property anywhere in the world. In the United States alone, they've been sued for patent infringement 126 times in the last five years."


Senator Wyden: (5:44 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Medicare.
    • "Medicare and Medicaid have stood the test of time because the American people have long understood the value of a health care guarantee, particularly for seniors and the most vulnerable among us. Medicare - and my colleagues on the Finance Committee, we talk a fair amount about it - isn't a piece of paper. It isn't a voucher. It is a guarantee. And Americans have always understood that that was the case. Wasn't that long ago when there wasn't a guarantee. Getting older and falling on hardship meant health care was one of the first of life's necessities to go out of reach. It wasn't that long ago when there were really poor farms -- literally poor farms - to try to meet the needs of older people."

Cardin, Stabenow, Whitehouse

The minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 6147)

Jul 31 2018 06:20 PM

Senator Cardin: (5:57 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Medicare.
    • "That is, that these are two of the most successful programs that we have ever enacted in the Congress of the United States that guarantee - guarantee, as Senator Wyden has said -- affordable, quality health care to our seniors, to individuals with disability, to low-income families. In Medicare alone, it's almost 45 million Americans who are protected under the Medicare, our seniors and those are disabilities - and those with disabilities. In my state of Maryland, it exceeds 990,000 Marylanders who are protected under the Medicare program. What Senator Wyden alluded to, and I just want to underscore this point, before there was Medicare, over half of our seniors did not have health insurance, and without health insurance, their access to health care was greatly at risk."


Senator Stabenow: (6:02 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Medicare.
    • "Thank you very much. I want to thank our distinguished ranking member on the Finance Committee and all of my colleagues who are here to talk about and celebrate two programs that for 53 years have changed the lives of Michigan families and the families of our country for the better. The words of President Lyndon B. Johnson who signed the programs into law are a great reminder of what life was like before Medicare and Medicaid. He said no longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine."


Senator Whitehouse: (6:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Medicare.
    • "And of course, coming from a small state as I do, it's very important for us in Rhode Island to celebrate our role in this important legislation, because one of the original authors of the Medicare bill was Representative Aime Forand of Cumberland, Rhode Island. He served for 22 years. He served with great distinction. He was passionate about healthcare and about building this program. He was one of the original groups of the members of Congress who got together and designed the Medicare program. And when it came time to pass it in 1965, it was Rhode Island Congressman John Fogerty of Providence who was then the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health, Education, and Welfare."

Cortez Masto, King, Hirono, Hassan

The minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 6147)

Jul 31 2018 06:53 PM

Senator Cortez Masto: (6:18 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Medicare.
    • "53 years ago on July 30, 1965, president Lyndon B. Johnson signed landmark legislation to establish Medicare and Medicaid to essential programs that provide health care to over 120 million Americans and over 1 million Nevadans. When President Johnson signed this historic bill, he said no longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years."


Senator King: (6:18 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Medicare.
    • "Now, Medicare isn't perfect. There are things that we can do to strengthen it, to improve it. I think one of the things we need to do is to talk about high drug prices and the effect on seniors under Medicare. We also have to talk about prevention. One of the faults I believe with Medicare is that it only pays for medical procedures. It doesn't pay to prevent medical procedures. The cheapest operation is the one that you don't have to have. And I believe that's one of the areas where we can improve Medicare to provide more preventive services that will lower the costs for seniors, for the taxpayers, and for the whole economy."


Senator Hirono: (6:18 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Medicare.
    • "And the ship program provides that. And to be cutting that at this moment, again, is just inexplicable and ultimately, I feel, is cruel. Now is not the time to be making cuts in Medicare. Now is the time to be strengthening it, to be providing for the future, to be providing for those citizens that are coming up. I know people in Maine who can't wait to be 65 because they will be covered by Medicare. I suppose they would just as soon not be 65, but they genuinely are waiting for a time when the burden of health care expenses is lifted from them at least insofar as Medicare can do so. Yes, it needs improvement. Yes, we should do more about prevention."


Senator Hassan: (6:18 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Medicare.
    • "Mr. President, 53 weeks ago this week, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law, delivering health care to seniors and some of our most vulnerable citizens, and bolstering efforts to expand opportunity and help more of our people thrive. Today tens of millions of Americans are covered through Medicare and Medicaid. In communities in New Hampshire and throughout our country, seniors are able to live active, engaging, and high-quality lives, participating civically and economically because of the care that Medicare provides. And we know that Medicaid has delivered countless benefits and opportunities to people from all walks of life."

Rubio, Lankford

The minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 6147)

Jul 31 2018 07:34 PM

Senator Rubio: (6:53 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the NDAA.
    • "They still can't project power the way they used to during the Soviet Union. Yes, they're involved in Syria and other places and doing that more than ever before and have a veto vote on the United Nations Security Council. Their culture, people have much to be proud of. They contributed a tremendous amount to the world. But on a daily basis, Russia may be a nuclear and somewhat military peer competitor of the United States but not economically, not commercially. But the Russian view of America is different. The Russian government's view is different."


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

  • Spoke on the minibus appropriations bill.
    • "The bill also provides funding to ensure that local offices of in my state like in Oklahoma City will be able to have face-to-face conversations with someone from the I.R.S. and the opportunity for them to be able to call directly if they have calls to the I.R.S. Many these important centers help Oklahomans resolve tax issues, change tax account information, arrangements, and - and this includes $159 million for the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. It's at the treasury department, but it levies the sanctions against terrorist organizations, international narcotics traffickers, rogue regimes and entities involved with weapons of mass destruction."

Wrap Up (The Senate Stands Adjourned), Moran

Wrap Up

Jul 31 2018 08:19 PM

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill.
  • At 11:00 a.m., the Senate will VOTE in relation to the following amendments in relation to H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill, in the order listed: Leahy Amendment 3464, with a 60-vote threshold required for adoption; Lee Amendment #3522, with a 60-vote threshold required for adoption; Baldwin Amendment #3524, with a 60-vote threshold required for adoption; and Cruz Amendment #3402.
  • Following disposition of the Cruz Amendment, the Senate will VOTE on passage of H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill, as amended.
  • Note: on Thursday, July 26th, cloture was filed on the conference report to accompany H.R. 5515, the NDAA.
  • Note: the cloture motion with respect to H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill, has been withdrawn.


Senator Moran: (7:35 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the minibus appropriations bill.
    • "I appreciate the kind remarks and the comments about the appropriations process and bill by the ranking member, otherwise chairman of the committee. In this package of appropriation bills is the FSGG that was just talked about by the senator from Oklahoma, the chairman of that subcommittee of which I'm a member. But tonight I want to speak about an aspect of that appropriations bill. I want to speak on the evolving threats in cybersecurity that not only pose harm to individual Americans but also to federal agencies that are tasked with ensuring the economic and national security of our nation. In recent years, it has become clear that threats in cybersecurity are rapidly."