Wednesday, Sep. 12, 2018

Monday, September 17 -

  • The Senate will next convene for legislative business 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 Alexander: (7:12 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "And ten, more early intervention with vulnerable children who have experienced trauma. Those are the 70 provisions -- ten of the 70 provisions that changed the authorizing law. But in addition to that, we placed unprecedented amounts of federal dollars toward the opioid crisis. In March in the omnibus bill, Congress and the president directed $4.7 billion toward the opioids crisis. Tomorrow the conference report of the Labor, Health, and Human Services Committee will meet. And if that is approved as we expect and hope it will be by the end of the month, that's another $3.7 billion. So $8.4 billion in the last few months would have been directed toward the opioids crisis."


Senator Flake: (7:34 p.m.)

  • Spoke on President Trump's recent tweets.
    • "Mr. President, in the annals of the presidents say the darnedest things, last week's Twitter outbursts will stand out - at least for me. Because the president attacked the attorney general of the United States for simply doing the job that he swore an oath to do. Of course it wasn't the first time the president has so diminished himself. But this particular slander was leveled at the attorney general for having the temerity to prosecute public corruption by members of Congress who also happen to belong in the president's political party. That's right. The president attacked Mr. Sessions by name for refusing to cover up allegations of Republican misconduct."

Portman, Whitehouse, Smith, Bennet, Wyden

Executive Session (Rettig Nomination)

Sep 12 2018

Senator Portman: (5:00 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioid legislation.
    • "Because of the dangerous hurricanes that are approaching our coast, it looks like the vote we had expected tomorrow and the debate we expected tomorrow on the opioid package may be postponed based on what I just heard from the majority leader. But the next several days, the senate is expected to take up comprehensive legislation that comes from four or five different committees in congress to fight the addiction crisis, to help our communities combat some of the deadliest aspects of the crisis nationally. And this help is urgently needed. Let's start with talking about how congress got here. First, just a couple of years ago we passed two bills in this congress that were historic and making a difference. One is called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act or CARA."


Senator Whitehouse: (5:16 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Here's the same chart for solar power. Utility-scale solar costs have dropped 86% over that same time period. In some scenarios, rights Lazard, the full life cycle costs of building and operating renewables-based projects have dropped below the operating costs alone of conventional generation technologies such as coal or nuclear. And when you look at the drop in solar costs compared to other resources, you see how dramatic the change has been. This is from the world economic forum. The renewable energy industry in America has grown to 3.3 million jobs, more than all fossil fuel jobs."


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

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Climate change is a dire threat to our environment and to our children's future. And yet if we rise to the challenge of responding to climate change, it will offer us major economic opportunity. The clean energy transition is already creating jobs, reducing the costs of generating electricity, clearing the air, and improving our health. The old idea that responding to climate change comes at the expense of the American economy is outdated and inaccurate. The clean energy economy is the economy of the 21st century. We see this every day in Minnesota, which is a national leader in the clean energy transition. The climate is rapidly changing, and these changes are caused by human activities that release greenhouse gases."


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

  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "The numbers do tell us that the economy is strong and getting stronger, and that's a good thing. But they also tell us that the economy has been strengthening since it 2010 after President Obama acted to save us from another great depression and when some members of Congress wouldn't lift a finger to help him. And during President Obama's term, even as the economic data showed, more and more investment and more growth, the other side talked down the recovery because even though it was good for America, it didn't help them win elections. As a candidate, this was Donald Trump's specialty."


Senator Wyden: (5:46 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Charles Rettig to be Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
    • "And let's be clear, this is not a typical I.R.S. commissioner debate. Over the last several months, the Trump administration has weaponized the tax code to punish its political adversaries and benefit shadowy, far-right groups that seek to buy American elections. Two months ago, just hours after Maria Buttina was outed as an alleged Russian spy who sought to influence our elections, the Trump administration announced a new rule opening the floodgate to more dark money and foreign money in American politics. Dark money groups used to be required to disclose their donors to the I.R.S. With this new Trump rule, they won't be required to disclose at all."

Menendez, Wicker

Executive Session (Wicker Nomination)

Sep 12 2018

Senator Menendez: (4:27 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Charles Rettig to be Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
    • "At a time when we need independence and impartiality of the I.R.S., that's absolutely unacceptable. As we speak, the Treasury Department and I.R.S. Are trying to make sense of the deficit exploding corporate tax cuts rushed through congress by the Republican majority last December. Tax cuts that according to the Congressional Budget Office will drive us towards $1 trillion annual deficits by 2020, and by undermining the Affordable Care Act eventually strip 13 million Americans of their health care coverage. As the I.R.S. attempts to implement these misguided policies, corporations are pulling every string to rig the tax code in their favor."


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

  • Spoke on Bosnia.
    • "In total well over 300,000 people in a country of only 3.5 million fall into these categories despite what is likely their strong commitment to the country and to its -- commitment to the country and to its future as a multiethnic state. This is wrong and it needs to end. In addition, youth unemployment in Bosnia is the highest in the world. Many who can do so are - many who can leave are doing so. This denies Bosnia much of its needed talent and energy. Civil society is kept on the sidelines. Decisions in Bosnia are being made by political party leaders who are not accountable to the people."

Casey, Cornyn, Schumer, Boozman

Executive Session (Rettig Nomination)

Sep 12 2018

Senator Casey: (3:43 p.m.)

  • Spoke on freedom of the press.
    • "This resolution is in honor of the 46 journalists killed in 2017 for their reporting, for the 262 journalists imprisoned around the world last year, and as part of that 262, the 21 journalists jailed just in 2017 for, quote, false news, unquote, more than doubling the 2016 record. These journalists, of course, are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters who are putting their lives and, indeed, their freedom on the line to shed a light on some of the world's toughest stories. I'd like to tell the story of one of the journalists who lost his life last year, bravely reporting from a conflict area. Chris Allen. I want to acknowledge Chris' parents Joyce Kragen and John Allen who are here with us today."


Senator Cornyn: (3:43 p.m.)

  • Spoke on opioids legislation.
    • "But he was by no means alone in doing so. This bill as he will tell you represents the contribution of more than 70 different senators and five different standing committees of the United States Senate. That takes a lot of careful work and a lot of determination. The bill is bipartisan, as you would expect, and that of course would not have happened without intense collaboration. So for those who like to say that bipartisanship is dead in the United States Senate, this bill and other bipartisan work that we have done and will do is evidence that that is simply false. In 2017 president trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. Since then we've seen 116 Americans die from an opioid-related overdose daily."


Senator Schumer: (4:11 p.m.)

  • Spoke about September 11.
    • "Hundreds of people lined up, have you seen my father, Joe? Have you seen my daughter, Marie? Because the towers had crashed but no one knew how many people have survived. It was all of. 3,000 souls lost in one day, one of the bloodiest days on American soil since the civil war. And people I knew - a guy I played basketball with in high school, a businessman who helped me on my way up, a firefighter who I went around the city with to ask people to donate blood. So we all know people who are gone. So 17 years ago today, September 12, 2001, I called Americans to wear the flag in remembrance of those who were lost."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "Over the course of two days of questioning, Brett Kavanaugh managed to avoid definitively answering nearly every question of substance, making a mockery of his participation in the hearings. He refused to say that he believed Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. He refused to say that he would affirmatively uphold the existing health care law, including protections for over 100 million Americans with preexisting conditions. He even refused to visit what many consider his extreme views on executive power. And would not even say if he believed the president was obligated to comply with a duly issued subpoena. It didn't matters if members of the judiciary committee phrased the questions about already decided cases or hypothetical situations."


Senator Boozman: (4:21 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the minibus conference report.
    • "This bill is the result of a bipartisan commitment to return to regular order, and I thank Chairman Shelby and Vice Chairman Leahy for leading the Senate in this process and providing all members a voice in determining how taxpayer dollars were - are spent. We worked hard with our House colleagues over the past two months to develop a thoughtful and responsible conference report that took into account the input of members on both sides of the aisle. The conference committee made thoughtful decisions about how to provide maximum readiness for the war fighter and prioritize investments to the department of Veterans' Affairs so it can take care of our veterans. This bill provides $97.1 billion in discretionary spending which is $5.1 billion over last year's level."

Barrasso, Daines, Murphy

Executive Session (Rettig Nomination)

Sep 12 2018

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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "They could tell us a lot about how a nominee thinks about how he or she might approach the job of being a justice. It's especially important when that person under consideration has never served as a judge before, and sometimes that's all we have to look at, but that's not the case here with Judge Kavanaugh. Judge Kavanaugh has served on the circuit court for 12 years, and he has written opinions in over 300 cases. If anyone wants to know what he will act like as a judge, then they can just look at how he has already acted as a judge for the past dozen years. These documents, these opinions that he wrote in the 300 cases in the court in which he is serving, these are documents that matter."


Senator Daines: (3:26 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the minibus conference report.
    • "The legislative branch portion of the conference report allocates funding in an appropriate manner. It promotes government transparency as well as increasing security here at the Capitol complex. And this is very important. In support of good government, this agreement includes a provision known as e-file, which requires U.S. Senate candidates to file campaign finance reports electronically directly with the federal election commission, as every other federal candidate must do. Not only does this provision increase transparency, it will reduce bureaucratic inefficiency, and it's going to save about a million dollars in taxpayer funds."           


Senator Murphy: (3:30 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the minibus conference report.
    • "I give him great are credit for adding so much and be a great partner in all of this. I don't really need to go through all of the important initiatives that Senator Daines already did, maybe I will spend a minute doing so. But I will note that we made progress on some issues that have been stalled in the legislative appropriations committee for a long time, such as intern pay or the requirement to file campaign finance reports online. I think because we were able to do this budget on its own with a real process, with a real committee debate, and with a real conference committee."


Opening Remarks

Sep 12 2018

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 3:00 p.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #1013, Charles P. Rettig, of California, to be Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
  • At 5:30 p.m., the pending cloture motion will ripen.
  • Note: on Thursday, September 6, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #1013, Charles P. Rettig, of California, to be Commissioner of Internal Revenue.


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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "Judge Kavanaugh was candid and forthcoming within the ethical constraints that exist for judicial nominees. He demonstrated the intellectual brilliance and the thoughtful temperament for which he is so widely known. He has showed exactly why he is universal acknowledged as the leading legal mind and exactly why he will make a phenomenal associate justice of the Supreme Court. Not everyone performed as admirably or as professionally last week. Some of our democratic colleagues repeatedly interrupted Chairman Grassley, based rudely toward the nominee and hauled out one dishonest partisan attack after another to try to distort his record and smear Judge Kavanaugh."
  • Spoke on the upcoming Senate business.
    • "His nomination comes as a crucial time as the federal government continues to implement once in a generation tax reform. Recent memory reminds us just how important it is that all Americans get a fair shake from the agency that oversees the tax code. This historic new law makes it all the more important that the I.R.S. continue to modernize and improve its technological infrastructure. I look forward to this nominee getting to work on behalf of the American taxpayers and we'll turn back to appropriations. This week we'll vote to approve the conference report that will fund energy and water, military construction, and the V.A. and the legislative branch."
  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "The economy is literally flying through all-time records faster than I can come here to the floor to discuss them. Many of these numbers are unprecedented. They are exactly the opposite of what some gloom and doom Democrats insisted would happen if this unified Republican government put our opportunity agenda into effect. Fortunately, my Republican colleagues and I know that getting Washington out of the way helps make good things happen for the American people, and that is exactly what we will continue to do."