Tuesday, Mar. 13, 2018

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.
  • At 3:45 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on adoption of McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.
  • Following disposition of the McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment, the Senate will VOTE on cloture on S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.
  • Note: if cloture is invoked on S. 2155, the post-cloture time will count as if it was invoked at 12:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14.
  • Note: on Thursday, March 8, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #598, Kevin K. McAleenan, of Hawaii, to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Whitehouse, Hirono, Klobuchar, Merkley

McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 13 2018

Senator Whitehouse: (6:58 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "The fact that stands out for me at number 200 is the persistent failure of Congress to even take up the issue of climate change. One party won't even talk about it. One party in the executive branch is even gagging America's scientists and civil servants and striking the term climate change off of government websites. In the real world, in actual reality, we are long past any question as to the reality of climate change. The fact of that forces us to confront the question, what stymies Congress from legislating or even having hearings - no, I intend to give my remarks. I appreciate the senator's intervention. About climate change. What impels certain executive agencies to forbid even the words?"

 

Senator Hirono: (7:22 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Climate change will impact every state in our country and every country in the world. And in island and coastal communities like Hawaii, they impact - the impact will be particularly severe. Climate scientists agree that without decisive action, seas will likely rise by at least 3.2 feet by the end of the century. To put this in context, a child born today will likely experience these effects in their lifetime. I will focus my remarks today on the foreseeable impact on Hawaii. The state of Hawaii investigated and issued a chilling report about what a 3.2-foot sea level rise would mean for our state. 3.2 feet of sea level rise, the report concluded, would inundate more than 25,000 acres of land across Hawaii."

 

Senator Klobuchar: (7:31 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "When President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the climate change agreement this summer, the worldwide international climate change agreement, I heard an outpouring of concern. 195 countries made a pledge to come together to combat climate change, and in withdrawing, the U.S. was first one of only three countries that wouldn't be in the agreement. The other two were Syria and Nicaragua. Then, guess what? Syria and Nicaragua signed the accord. Now the United States is the only country not to sign the accord. It is a big step backwards. It's the wrong decision for our economy, and it's the wrong decision for the environment."

 

Senator Merkley: (7:37 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "We have a significant challenge, the sort of challenge that you may not notice from one day to the next. We may wake up tomorrow and not realize that the damage being done to our planet is greater than the day before. We may not be able to wake up a week from now and realize the damage is more. But nonetheless, it is if looked at over any significant span of time a huge, huge force wreaking havoc on our planet, and it will just get worse with time if we do not take on this pollution of the atmosphere by carbon dioxide. Back in 1959, an eminent scientist was asked to speak to the 100th anniversary of the petroleum industry. That - that scientist was Edward Teller."

Menendez, Udall, Reed, Baldwin

McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 13 2018

Senator Menendez: (6:22 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "We know that experts at NOAA have concluded that since the industrial revolution, our oceans have become 30% more acidic, the greatest increase in 300 million years. Likewise, we know the arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world and that as ice caps melt, our sea levels rise, endangering the coastal communities. In New Jersey we know the real threat posed by climate change and we know that threat is real. My constituents bore the brunt of Superstorm Sandy when it devastated the Jersey shore. We know that rising sea levels and the powerful storms that accompanied them jeopardize our coastal communities."

 

Senator Udall: (6:31 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "But I come to the floor today, first of all, to thank Sheldon Whitehouse for his remarkable leadership on the issue of climate change. His weekly wake-up call speeches, I think, have inspired a lot of us. The articles he's covered -- this time called the climate wake-up for the 200th time. He's been down here religiously taking on this issue. This article, one of the major leaders in the environmental movement said about Sheldon's speeches, his speeches have been critically important in drawing attention to the need for climate action. She also said demand for climate action is only growing. And certainly we give him credit for his leadership in that effort. Very, very true."

 

Senator Reed: (6:44 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "And when it comes to our national security, decisions are made through a careful risk and we must be sure to include risk caused by climate change. So it is particularly troubling to me to see that the current administration is choosing to ignore the reality of the scientific consensus by removing all references to climate change in documents like the national security strategy and the national defense strategy. The department of defense must be able to execute its missions effectively and efficiently, so it is disconcerting that climate-related events have already cost the Pentagon significant resources, measured in both monetary recourse as well as negative impacts on military readiness."

 

Senator Baldwin: (6:51 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Mr. President, I rise to join and thank Senator Whitehouse for his ongoing commitment to giving a voice to the issue of climate change and the threat it poses to our country and frankly our world. Senator Whitehouse has provided real moral leadership on this issue, and I want to express my gratitude for his unrelenting focus. Mr. President, let there be no doubt - climate change is real. The question is not whether it's happening but how we will address it. Are we going to do all that we can to leave the next generation a safer and healthier world? As my friend from Rhode Island has impressed upon us with due urgency week in and week out, climate change will be tremendously costly to our economy and to our very way of life, and the longer we wait to act, the more costly these impacts will be."

Schatz, Warren, Brown, King

McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 13 2018

Senator Schatz: (5:39 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Cities are running out of water. Drought has distressed entire regions pushing people out of their homes and fueling conflict. Meanwhile here in the Trump Administration is actively undermining our ability to address climate change and at the E.P.A. in particular, Scott Pruitt is allowing polluters to violate the clean air act and the clean water act. He plans to eliminate limits on methane emissions and protections that keep toxic chemicals from polluting our waterways. He's rolling back the clean power plan and fuel efficient standards that keep too much carbon from polluting the air. He's cut the number of fines for polluters by more than half. And he's reduced E.P.A. staff so that it's down to the same level that it was in 1984. "

 

Senator Warren: (5:45 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "President Trump may say that his drilling plan is about jobs, but the truth is that this offshore drilling proposal is a slap in the face to every hardworking coastal family. President Trump is willing to put corporate profits for his big oil buddies ahead of shipping crews in Boston, ahead of the fishermen from Gloucester to New Bedford, ahead of the mom and pop diners all along the Cape, ahead of every tourism industry worker, and ahead of the families of all of these workers."

 

Senator Brown: (5:55 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Climate change makes these algae blooms off the coast of Toledo in the western basin of Lake Erie, climate change makes those blooms worse. It contaminates our Lakes. It threatens the Ohio businesses and communities that rely on lake Erie, and I believe three summers ago Lake Erie, we had to get drinking water, bottled water to the citizens of Toledo and the surrounding areas in northwest Ohio because the water was not potable at that time. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we know one effect of climate change in the great Lakes region has been a 37% increase in the gully washers, the heavy rain events that contribute to algae blooms."

 

Senator King: (6:06 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Senator Whitehouse has talked about climate change in terms of ocean acidification, temperature changes, sea level rise, drought, famine, the effects throughout the world, and often this chamber is empty, but his warnings are important and should be heeded nonetheless. So the first thing I want to do is to thank him and compliment him for the work that he has done over these many years and continues to do, and I can see his sign as I see it on C-SPAN and here on the floor that says wake up, and wake up is what we need to do."

Durbin, Nelson, Schumer, Coons, Carper

McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 13 2018

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

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "That's the reality of the decisions that we reach. I can remember the debate right after 9/11 on the floor. It was one of the most important of my career. And it was a question about whether or not we would authorize the president of the United States, president bush at the time, to use military force to respond to 9/11. If you remember the debate, there were two real options on the floor. One was use military force against those responsible for the attack on the United States and to send that force into Afghanistan. The other was to go after the so-called weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, two parallel debates but two debates that I saw very differently. I was skeptical from the start about this Iraqi invasion."
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Here in our country, my constituents in Illinois have experienced adverse effects of climate change. Climate models suggest if current global warming trends continue, Illinois will have a climate similar to the coast of Texas. For Illinois farmers, these changes in the environment have a direct effect on their livelihood and for all of us a direct effect on our food supply. Wetter springs and more frequent flooding will keep farmers from planting. It will stunt the growth and hurt crop yields. It will make it harder for families to put food on the table. In historic years Illinois has seen historic storms and droughts that has cost millions of dollars in damage."

 

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

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Mr. President, we have a series of senators that are going to be speaking about what is happening as the result of climate change, sea level rise, which is particularly having its effects in my state of Florida. Few states are as vulnerable to climate change than what we find particularly in south Florida, Miami beach being ground zero. Because what's happening, as the sea level is rising - and this is not projections, it's not forecasts. This is actual measurements, measurements by NASA and NOAA over the last 40 years, that the sea has risen in south Florida five to eight inches."

 

Senator Schumer: (5:12 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Republicans in Congress have undone the environmental protections that hold corporations accountable for polluting our streams. Through an unrelated tax bill, congressional Republicans opened up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Over in the executive branch, E.P.A. Administrator Pruitt has implemented an extreme deregulatory agenda, unwinding the rules that keep our air and water clean. Worst of all president trump announced that he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord which would make America the only country in the world that isn't part of that agreement."

 

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

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Let's change our ways and work together to lower greenhouse gases and slow the impact of climate change. As someone who represents the state of Delaware, I'm passionate about this because we are the lowest mean elevation state in America. I've heard from folks up and down the first state, from my colleague senator colleague, from our governor, from our community leaders, from concerned leaders that they are concerned about sea-level rise and its likely impact on our statement we need to do more because in my small state sea-level rise is happening at twice the rate."

 

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

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Our friend from Rhode Island is a well-known climate champion, but what some may not know is that Sheldon spent over 500 hours on the Senate floor reminding all of us that it is long past - here it is - long past time to wake up. Time to wake up and to get serious about addressing this ever growing threat. There's something to be said early on here in the senate that to get anything done we have to be per tis tent - persistent and stay on message. The theme is always time to wake up. Time to wake up. For nearly six years now, Sheldon Whitehouse has reiterated what the constituents in the ocean state and constituents in our state see every day. Climate change is real."

Sanders, Lee, Murphy

McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 13 2018

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

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "The Founding Fathers gave the power to declare war to Congress, the branch most accountable to the people. For far too long Congress, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, has, in my view, abdicated its constitutional role in authorizing war, and we are moving down a very, very slippery slope where congress is now becoming increasingly irrelevant in terms of that vitally important issue. And in my view, the time is long overdue for Congress to reassert its constitutional authority. And that is why Senators Lee, Senator Murphy, and I, that is what we are doing with Senate Joint Resolution 54. And I'm proud to have as cosponsors on that resolution Senator Durbin, Senator Booker, Senator Warren, Senator Leahy, Senator Markey, Senator Feinstein, and Senator Wyden."

 

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

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "And believe it or not, at the end of the day, according to at least one U.S. Government report, it is arguably undermined our fight against terrorist threats such as ISIS rather than advancing those efforts. I'll expand on those facts in a few minutes but for now let's focus on this, our military involvement in Yemen has not been authorized by the United States Congress. Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution is pretty clear on this point. It says that Congress shall have the power to declare war. Congress, not the president, not the Pentagon. But congress. This is the branch of government most accountable to the people at the most regular intervals. And it makes sense that this power would only be granted to that branch of government."

 

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

  • Spoke on war powers.
    • "I have brought this chart down to the floor before, and I picture up to the floor before, and I hesitate to keep it up for more than a few moments. It's very, very disturbing to look at, but this is the reality of Yemen today. This is the reality of a country in which thousands and thousands of civilians have been killed by a bombing campaign that the United States is facilitating, facilitating with intelligence sharing, facilitating with targeting assistance, facilitating with midair refueling, facilitating with the sale of munitions that end up being dropped on the homes of families like this. This is, as has been stated, perhaps the worst cholera outbreak in modern history. And let's talk about why that happens."

Portman, Flake, Perdue

McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 13 2018

Senator Portman: (3:06 p.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "They said that it is involved with 75% of the online trafficking reports it receives from the public. Shared Hope International says it's more than that. I chair a group called the permanent subcommittee on investigations, and learning about what was going on online, we decided to do an in-depth investigation to find out what was really happening and how to address it. We spent 18 months studying this and quickly online trafficking study led us to backpage.com. What we found was really shocking. Not only was Backpage, as other websites have in the past, selling women and children online, but this organization, and others, are actually explicit in these - complicit in these crimes. In other words, they knew more than we previously thought. Weep found that Backpage was knowingly selling people online."

 

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

  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "Mr. President, today I rise once again to urge this body to address the critical issue of securing the border and protecting those young immigrants impacted by an uncertain future of the DACA program. Last week I offered legislation to extend the DACA protection for three years and provide three years of increased funding for border security. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues chose to block that measure. Let me first say I understand and sympathize with my colleagues' concerns. I, too, believe that DACA recipients deserve a permanent solution, and I repeatedly stated my strong preference for such a measure. But we've tried to find this permanent solution through republican-led bills, democratic-led bills and bipartisan bills. Yet, somehow, each time we're incapable of finding a compromise that can garner 60 votes here."

 

Senator Perdue: (3:50 p.m.)

  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "And I'm happy to report, frankly, that people on both sides want this DACA situation solved permanently. I think the senator from Arizona and I have the same desire there. Further, as a result of recent decisions by federal district courts, DACA recipients are free to continue renewing their status unless and until the Supreme Court overturns those lower court decisions. It will likely be over a year, frankly, before the Supreme Court would even hear such a case. It's my opinion that we should take that time right now and continue to work on the permanent DACA solution as well as the other legal immigration issues that we know are within reach rather than settling for a temporary solution that doesn't address the problem."

Heller, Heitkamp, Warren

McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 13 2018

Senator Heller: (2:15 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "Overall, these tax cuts accomplished my three major goals: Creating more jobs, increasing wages, and making America more competitive around the world. I'm proud to have worked on these tax cuts because congress can do more, and, Mr. President, that is why we are here today. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act we are debating is the next major step we must take to shift our economy into another gear. It tailors financial regulations to protect consumers and help Nevadans who have more access to financial resources, more access to economic opportunities. It will give Nevadans more choices when it comes to finding a loan for a house, perhaps to buy a car to get to work, to start a business, and for that matter, even to grow their business."

 

Senator Heitkamp: (2:28 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "And so it is absolutely essential that we set the record straight that this bill is to give our relationship institutions, whether they are credit unions or banks or our regional institutions that are not doing anything more sophisticated than the work that's being done in our small community banks, to get them the regulatory relief that they need to effectively compete against the biggest banks in this country. And to tailor our regulations, to set our regulations in a way that reflects the common sense of the American citizens. So I want to just take a minute because I think a lot of things that have been said about this bill have been incredibly reckless, and these inaccurate claims, if left unchallenged and undiscussed, will create the legislative history of this bill which could, in fact, then be used by many of the same institutions that we believe are not affected by this bill to argue that they were entitled to some sort of protection."

 

Senator Warren: (2:49 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "I've talked about how it rolls back important consumer protections and how, if it passes, 25 of the 40 largest banks in this country, banks that suck down collectively almost $50 billion of bailout money during the crisis -- nobody went to jail - could be regulated like tiny, little community banks. I also talked about how the bill will roll back the rules on the very biggest banks in this country. J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and the rest of them, banks that broke our economy in 2008, banks where no one went to jail, banks where the taxpayers coughed up $180 billion to bail them out. And I talked about how Washington is poised to make the same mistakes it has made many times before. Deregulating giant banks while the economy is cruising only to set the stage for another financial crisis."

Feinstein, Cornyn

McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 13 2018

Senator Feinstein: (11:49 a.m.)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "I simply cannot. I remember sitting in caucuses, hearing from our top financial officials about the potential for a total collapse of our economy. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testified to the House Financial Services Committee, and I quote, our financial system failed to do its job and came precariously close to failing altogether. End quote. That is not an exaggeration, Mr. President, for those of us that were here, who listened to the economists, who heard what was happening, we feared a total collapse. And personal conversations I had with these economists carried the most dire warnings. We should never get close to that point again."

 

Senator Cornyn: (12:01 p.m.)

  • Spoke on gun control.
    • "The president strongly supports a bill introduced by the senior senator of Utah that would authorize funding for school safety improvements. You wouldn't think that would be controversial. But that school safety improvements include training efforts and school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams. This bill is called the Stop School Violence Act. We ought to pass it and we ought to pass it today. As Senator Hatch said last week, there's been little disagreement but a lot of discussion and debate and not much legislative process. To break the impasse, we must unite on the issues where we can't agree. I couldn't agree with Senator Hatch more. We must unite on the issues where we can agree."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "That's the formal name of the comprehensive overhaul of our nation's tax code. The tax change we made, the change in the law doubled the standard deduction, meaning people earning - a married couple, the first $24,000 they earn they pay zero income tax on. It doubled the child tax credit. It lowered tax rates across the board. And for the first time in a long time, it made the United States more competitive when it comes to attracting investment and businesses around the globe."

Durbin, Schumer, Brown

McConnell (for Crapo) Amendment #2151, as modified, to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 13 2018

Senator Durbin: (10:13 a.m.)

  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "At some point in their lives their parents pulled them aside and told them the bitter truth that they were not legally in America. They were undocumented and they were vulnerable. At any minute, a knock on the door, a stop on the highway could result in not only their deportation but the deportation of every member of their family. It's tough enough to grow up as an adolescent. I can't imagine growing up with this shadow over me, wondering at any moment whether a misstep, being in the wrong place might mean that I would be sent from this country and that my parents would be sent with me. But they grew up with that reality, with that danger. They did some extraordinary things."

 

Senator Schumer: (10:28 a.m.)

  • Spoke on gun control.
    • "Tomorrow, thousands of students across the country, awakened students, will participate in a nationwide walkout to demand action. At 10:00 a.m., in high schools from one end of America to the other, students will walk out for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 who gave their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in solidarity. But they're not going to stop there. They're going to keep working and working and working until we get something done. When the students walk out, what will this Senate, what will this Congress, what will our Republican friends be able to say?"
  • Spoke on the Qualcomm merger.
    • "Qualcomm has done a great job and they are leading the world in developing the 5-g system. We need to preserve that as America because it has security concern, both check and national security. As China seeks our dominance in the semiconductor and wireless industries, the United States must be wary of attempts to acquire leaders in these industries. A foreign-controlled Qualcomm, I don't know the links between Broadcom and Qualcomm, but China could move to take it over and poof, the dominance we would seek in 5G, technology developed here, would go away. It's a national security concern and an economic security concern."
  • Spoke on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
    • "It says that Russia has no preference for Donald Trump in the 2016 elections. It is not just the intelligence community that said that, an independent grand jury, and a special investigation's counsel came up with the same thing after an investigation inquired by the special counsel by saying they disagree with the intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump, Speaker Ryan, and Chairman Nunes are closer to Putin's view than those in the administration."

 

Senator Brown: (10:52 a.m.)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "But these mortgages, these mortgage products were targeted to communities of color. Those communities in particular, even those who qualified for a no-frills, no-surprises prime mortgages were often instead steered into subprime loans. Why? Because the lender could make more money on a subprime loan than a straightforward loan, and most members of the senate generally signed up for. Even African American and Hispanic borrowers with higher incomes than other borrowers found themselves, because the banks put them there, in subprime mortgages."

McConnell

Opening Remarks

Mar 13 2018

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.
  • The Senate will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to accommodate the weekly policy lunches.
  • Note: on Thursday, March 8, cloture was filed on S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.
  • Note: on Thursday, March 8, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #598, Kevin K. McAleenan, of Hawaii, to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

 

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

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "In less than three months since historic tax reform became law, less than three months since we cut taxes significantly for middle-class families by lowering rates and increasing the standard decades. Since we created deductions to help small businesses keep more of what they earn and purchase equipment more easily, by leveling the playing field by making corporate tax rates more competitive, which will boost future wages for workers, it's a common theme here. Each part of this bill was built on the simple idea that American workers, job creators and middle-class families know best what to do with their own hard-earned money. Our Democratic friends don't seem to share that notion."