Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of Executive Calendar #640, Jeffrey Bossert Clark, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Attorney General.
  • At 12:10 p.m., the post-cloture time will expire and the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #640, Jeffrey Bossert Clark, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Attorney General.
  • Note: on Saturday, October 6, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #641, Eric S. Dreiband, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Attorney General.
  • Note: on Saturday, October 6, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #866, James M. Stewart, of North Carolina, to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense.

 

Senator Sullivan: (5:40 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to the Alaskan of the Week.
    • "Mr. President, as you know I have been coming down here nearly every week, usual Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, to talk about somebody who has made a difference in my state and I call this person the Alaskan of the Week. Most of the people who visit Alaska do so in the summer, and I was honored that the presiding officer and his family came up to visit this summer, and we know that's understandable to come up when the sun is high in the sky. But this time of the year is truly magnificent in my great state. To borrow a phrase that is no doubt familiar to many, including some of the pages, winter is coming. Winter is coming. Every day the sun comes up later and sets earlier."

 

Senator Brown: (5:49 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the short-term insurance CRA.
    • "We all have good health insurance. We just don't mind apparently -- we don't mind denying it to millions of others. So some senators think it's fine letting insurance companies sell junk to our constituents back home. These insurance policies are just that, they're junk. They're insurance until you need the insurance. Allowing insurance companies to sell these plans, drive up health care for everyone, they weaken protection for anyone with a preexisting condition. Under their new rules, insurance companies could force Americans with preexisting conditions into these junk plans and junk is the right word that barely cover anything, or they can charge them exorbitant, unaffordable rates for a decent plan."
  • Spoke on the First Amendment.
    • "I remind my colleagues that the media are not the enemy of the people as the White House likes to say, but they serve our communities. They live in our communities. They're part of our communities. They fight for our communities."

 

Senator Reed: (5:56 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Russia.
    • "Russian hybrid warfare occurs below the level of direct military conflict, yet it is no less a threat to our national security and the integrity of our democracy and our society. We must refrain our thinking to understand these are attacks from a foreign adversary on our democratic institutions, our free markets, and our open society. We recently honored our fallen and observed the attacks of September 11, 2001. The 9/11 commission report which looked into what happened after the attacks assessed that one of our government's failures in preventing those attacks was a failure of imagination."

Cortez Masto, Thune, Whitehouse, Shaheen

Executive Session (Clark Nomination)

Oct 10 2018

Senator Cortez Masto: (4:43 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the short-term insurance CRA.
    • "Donald Trump has not yet been able to get the support in Congress he needs to repeal protections for people with preexisting conditions, but he has taken steps to circumvent the will of Congress and hack away at these protections bit by bit. In August he signed an executive order expanding access to what are called junk plans. These are health insurance plans that don't cover essential services like preexisting drugs, emergency room visits, or maternity care. These plans are designed for short-term use only and don't include protections for people with preexisting conditions."

 

Senator Thune: (4:50 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "And the tax code helps determine whether large businesses hire, grow, and invest in the United States. A large business is going to find it pretty hard to create jobs or improve benefits for employees if it's struggling to stay competitive against foreign businesses paying much less in taxes. And large business sun likely to keep jobs and investment in the United States, if the tax code makes it vastly more expensive to hire American workers. Prior to the passage of the tax cuts and jobs act last December, our tax code was not helping our economy or American families. It was doing just the opposite. And so we took action. We cut tax rates for American families, doubled the child tax credit, and nearly doubled the standard deduction."
  • Spoke in tribute to Sen. Grassley.
    • "He had to contend with Democrat colleagues who did everything they could to delay and disrupt the process and to tank Justice Kavanaugh's confirmation. But no matter what tactics the Democrats resorted to, from interrupting the confirmation hearing to withholding critical information, Chairman Grassley stayed above the fray. He carried on with what needed to be done, whether that was compiling information from Justice Kavanaugh's time in the White House or interviewing witnesses."

 

Senator Whitehouse: (5:04 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "The Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency legislation would help move us toward that target. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says the bill would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 650 million metric tons over a 15-year period. The cumulative net savings from the bill would reach nearly $100 billion. My state of Rhode Island is a national leader in promoting energy efficiency, so we know how good programs like the Shaheen-Portman reforms are for consumers, for businesses, and for the environment. Rhode Island has consistently ranked among the top states for energy efficiency."

 

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

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "You know, moose has been one of New Hampshire's iconic wildlife representatives, to put it the easiest way. The moose are something that we're very proud of in New Hampshire. We have seen them in the wildest parts of our state, some even as far south as where I live in southern New Hampshire. What we're seeing as the result of climate change is a 40% reduction in the moose in New Hampshire, and that's happening because, as I said, increases in insect-borne diseases. If you look very closely, this picture, which looks like there are these little round balls on this moose, those are ticks. Those are ticks that have been able to attach to the moose and in so many cases kill moose, and they are there because it's not getting cold enough in our winters to kill off those ticks."

Cantwell, Stabenow, Peters

Executive Session (Clark Nomination)

Oct 10 2018

Senator Cantwell: (4:07 p.m.)

  • Spoke on AWIA.
    • "I rise with respect to the water infrastructure act of 2018 and the importance of it to the state of Washington. This legislation is going now to the president's desk, and it's very needed to help make our ports more competitive, protect thousands of jobs, and help protect our salmon habitat in the state of Washington. This legislation means that the ports of Seattle and Tacoma will be able to deepen their harbors and meet the much larger cargo demands that we have to if we're going to compete with other ports on the west coast, specifically in Canada."

 

Senator Stabenow: (4:19 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the short-term insurance CRA.
    • "I want specifically at the moment to speak about my deep regret that a very important resolution did not get the bipartisan votes necessary to pass a little while ago on the Senate floor, and that resolution which failed would have stopped the administration's short-term planned rule which is gutting comprehensive health care and undermining people with preexisting conditions from getting the health care that they need and deserve. About half the families in Michigan have someone in their family with a preexisting condition. It could be anything from high blood pressure to diabetes to something like cancer or whatever other illness that it might be, and they are in a situation now with these junk plans, as we call them, where they are going to be undermined, and they won't be able to get either any health insurance or it will cost much, much more."

 

Senator Peters: (4:34 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the short-term insurance CRA.
    • "The topic of health care affordability should unite us as a common cause. We all need health care, whether you are young or old or male or female, rich or poor. Not one of us will go through life without experiencing a major health concern. Even if you have a clean bill of health today, we all face the prospect of accidents, illnesses, and the inherent universal health challenge of aging. The affordable care act is not perfect, but it has moved us towards a shared goal of making health care more affordable for everyone. Most significantly, the affordable care act prevents insurers from denying coverage or increasing premiums because of a preexisting condition."

Murkowski, Durbin, Cardin

Executive Session (Clark Nomination)

Oct 10 2018

Senator Murkowski: (3:02 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the short term insurance CRA.
    • "And I had hoped to actually have an opportunity to speak to this prior to the vote, wasn't able to. But I wanted to take just a couple minutes this afternoon to - to weigh in on this issue from an Alaskan perspective. Because I - I think there have been some suggestions that -- that with this - with this rule in place that those of us that care about protecting those with preexisting conditions somehow or other, we're taking these protections away. I - I have weighed this carefully and - and, in fairness, I think some of the arguments that have been made are perhaps not as quite clear cut as would be suggested, and perhaps certainly in a state like mine where we still have the highest health care costs in the country, and certainly some of the highest costs for in the country."
  • Spoke on the importance of civility.
    • "To be protested at her home every weekend, to know that she cannot travel without a police escort, I made comments as I prepared for the final vote last week, and I said we are better than this. We have to set the example here. And I am - I'm really touched that after I have taken a hard vote within my caucus that there are some who are notably angry at me but we are working together on the next issue of the day, and we're moving forward. We need to set that example in this body because if we don't set it here, I don't know how we can expect anyone on the outside to follow us with that. There is a need for civility, and it is a hard time for us."

 

Senator Durbin: (3:29 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Jeffrey Clark to be an Assistant Attorney General.
    • "If we don't accept responsibility in our generation to make this a better world, shame on us. We want to leave our kids a better world, well, for goodness sakes, do we have the political courage to do it? Will you be able to say to the president you're just wrong, Mr. President? We have to work together with nations around the world. The United States should be a leader, not an apologist. The president has said he wants to make America first. Well, how about America first when it comes to cleaning up the environment? There is nothing wrong with that leadership. It's something that we should be proud of. This man, Jeffrey Clark, who is to be the assistant attorney general, just doesn't buy into what I just said."
  • Spoke on AWIA.
    • "These are critical projects in every state. I just went down a few weeks ago with Senator McConnell on the Ohio River, the Olmstead Lock and Dam that has been under construction for decades was finally completed. It's an amazing investment. It's the most expensive single infrastructure project in our nation's history, civil project in our nation's history. It's an indication of the kind of investment that's necessary if we are going to try to tame rivers like the Ohio River. There are critical projects like that in every state. They improve our inland waterways to help deliver $600 million in goods and 60% of our grain exports each year."

 

Senator Cardin: (4:02 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to the late Sen. Joe Tidings.
    • "He came from great privilege but was known in Maryland as a senator of the people. His first elected office was president of the Young Dames of Maryland. From there he became a member of the House of Delegates where he fought the establishment, took on the network in Annapolis and investigated the savings and loan situation in our state and really shed a lot of light on what was happening in abuses in that industry. He was chosen by then-Senator Kennedy to head up his campaign for president. Joe Yidings handled his campaign in Maryland for President Kennedy and helped in other primaries around the nation, leading to President Kennedy's election as president of the United States."

Alexander, Inhofe, Murray

The short-term insurance CRA (S. J. Res. 63)

Oct 10 2018

Senator Alexander: (10:57 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the short-term insurance CRA.
    • "A rule can't change a law. It couldn't if it tried. That's one thing. The second thing is the rule which the senator from Wisconsin seeks to overturn is the same rule that was in effect during all of President Obama's term. President Obama's administration allowed one year of short-term plans for people who couldn't afford insurance, couldn't find it anywhere else, who might be between jobs. Even after the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, President Obama and the Democratic Congress thought it was a good enough idea to allow these short-term plans to continue that they kept them in the law."

 

Senator Inhofe: (11:08 a.m.)

  • Spoke on AWIA.
    • "We started this and we made a commitment at that time that we would actually have a WRDA bill every two years, and we didn't do that. Up until 2014 - 2014, we had gone since 2007 - since when we had one, and this needs to be done to keep our water infrastructure going, the things that we're supposed to be doing in this - so we did it in 2014, 2016, and now we'll do the 2018 bill, and that's what we're supposed to be doing. The great way to keep up the productive momentum that we've sooner in congress leading up to the mid-term elections, delivering on President Trump's promises, the WRDA bill is another great example of what can happen when we work with our friends across the aisle on issues that affect every state of our nation."

 

Senator Murray: (11:20 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the short-term insurance CRA.
    • "His decision to expand junk insurance plans actually gives insurance companies more power to sell plans that ignore protections for people with preexisting conditions. It gives insurance companies more power to discriminate based on age or on sex. It gives insurance companies even more power to avoid covering important medical needs like emergency care or mental health care, prescription drugs, or even maternity care. And this rule lets insurance companies spend less money on patients directly and more money on excessive administrative costs and executive bonuses. This new rule shows how empty President Trump's promises are when it comes to preexisting conditions."

Cornyn, Schumer, Baldwin

The short-term insurance CRA (S. J. Res. 63)

Oct 10 2018

Senator Cornyn: (10:19 a.m.)

  • Spoke on AWIA.
    • "Mr. President, as you know this week we are considering an important piece of legislation known as America's Water Infrastructure Act, the most sweeping act to be considered by Congress this year. It will literally reauthorize billions of dollars of spending for our nation's ports, harbors, and waterways, and it will end wasteful spending on water projects that are no longer necessary. I want to thank Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper for spearheading had this legislation through the committee. Drinking water, wastewater systems, dams, levees, ports and reservoirs matter to every single community in America."

 

Senator Schumer: (10:40 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the short-term insurance CRA.
    • "Congressional Republicans repealed the coverage requirement causing an unnecessary and completely avoidable increase to premiums this year. And Republican attorneys general across the country, many now running for a seat in this chamber, filed a lawsuit that would repeal protections for Americans with preexisting conditions. Today on the floor, the Senate has the opportunity to put a stop to the relentless sabotage of our health care system. My friend and one of the great leaders in health care in this chamber, Senator Baldwin, has put forward a motion to repeal the Trump administration's rule to expand short-term insurance plans."

 

Senator Baldwin: (10:47 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the short-term insurance CRA.
    • "The Trump administration has been trying to do what congressional Republicans couldn't. They have been sabotaging our health care system and rewriting the rules on guaranteed health protections and access to affordable care that millions of Americans have today. This sabotage has created instability in the health care market, contributing to widespread premium spikes in 2018. This administration ended the critical cost-sharing reduction payments that made health care more affordable for almost 90,000 Wisconsinites. The Trump administration again slashed funding for outreach efforts to help people sign up for health care."

McConnell

Opening Remarks

Oct 10 2018

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, Sen. Schumer or his designee will be recognized to offer a motion to proceed to S.J. Res. 63, the short-term insurance plan CRA, with the time until 11:30 a.m. equally between the leaders or their designees for use on the joint resolution and the House message accompanying S. 3021, the vehicle for America's Water Infrastructure Act.
  • At 11:30 a.m., all post-cloture time will expire and the Senate will VOTE on the motion to concur in the House amendments to S. 3021, the vehicle for America's Water Infrastructure Act.
  • Following disposition of the motion to concur, the Senate will VOTE on adoption of S. J. Res. 63, the short-term insurance plan CRA.
  • The Senate will then recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to accommodate the weekly policy lunches.

 

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

  • Spoke on AWIA.
    • "Yesterday I spoke about President Trump's challenge to improve our nation's infrastructure, and I laid out how America's Water Infrastructure Act will represent a major step toward meeting that challenge nationwide. This comprehensive legislation meets all sorts of pressing needs unique to different corners of our country, from dams, levees, and flood control to safer drinking water and sewage systems. There are national issues at stake like the ability of American producers and manufacturers to access markets around the world. But the questions at stake are also very local. By way of example, I'd like to highlight just a few of the ways this legislation will have a direct impact on communities in my home state of Kentucky."
  • Spoke on the short-term insurance CRA.
    • "Others looked for lower costs, short-term plans that could be held up - could be held for up to a year. We all know that big government doesn't like it when citizens try to avoid the micromanagement and run their own lives as they see fit, so in the waning months of the Obama administration Democrats issued a new regulation that cut these plans from 12 months down to 3 months and made them nonrenewable. I guess the goal was to force even more Americans into Obamacare. The real effect was just to punish these people twice for Democrats' bad policy."
  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "According to the latest Department of Labor report, unemployment in the United States of America has now fallen to 3.7%. That's the lowest unemployment rate since 1969. 3.7%, the lowest unemployment rate since 1969. The share of Americans who are seeking work but cannot find it is as low as it's been in just shy of 50 years. There was other good news as well. Unlike what happened too often in the previous decade, this drop in unemployment did not come from discouraged workers giving up their search altogether. To the contrary, 150,000 more Americans - more Americans -- joined the labor force last month and the unemployment rate still went down."