Tuesday, May. 15, 2018

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #607, Mitchell Zais, of South Carolina, to be Deputy Secretary of Education.
  • At 12:00 p.m., Senator Schumer or his designee will be recognized to offer a motion to proceed to S. J. Res. 52, the net neutrality CRA.
  • Following disposition of S. J. Res. 52, all time will be yielded back on the Zais nomination at the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #607, Mitchell Zais, of South Carolina, to be Deputy Secretary of Education.


Senator Grassley: (5:42 p.m.)

  • Spoke on National Police Week.
    • "There is no more noble sacrifice than laying down your life in the service of others. Every year more than a million law enforcement officers work to keep our country safe and to serve the needs of our communities. Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line as they fight crime. And each year law enforcement officers die in the line of duty. Many of these deaths occur while these officers are investigating crimes and enforcing our laws. Some are even the result of targeted violence against police officers."

Thune, Rubio

Executive Session (Zais Nomination)

May 15 2018

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

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "We cut tax rates across the board, nearly doubled the standard deduction and doubled the child tax credit. And Americans are already seeing this relief in their paychecks. But we knew that tax cuts, as helpful as they are, weren't enough. We needed to make sure that Americans had access to good jobs, good wages, and good opportunities, the kinds of jobs and opportunities that would set them up for security and prosperity for the long term. And since jobs and opportunities are created by businesses, that meant reforming our tax code to improve the playing field for businesses so they could improve the playing field for their workers. And that's what we did."
  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Mr. President, I also want to take a moment to discuss the partisan net neutrality resolution we'll be taking up this week. There are senators from both parties for passing it and Democrats know it. Instead of moving forward with bipartisan discussions on a net neutrality bill, certain Democrats decided that they wanted to play politics. So instead of bipartisan legislation this week, we're taking up a partisan resolution that will do nothing, nothing to provide a permanent solution on the issue of net neutrality."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Gina Haspel to be C.I.A. Director.
    • "I am also looking forward to confirming another important nomination in the near future and that is Gina Haspel's nomination to be director of the C.I.A. Acting director Haspel is one of the most qualified candidates for the C.I.A. that we've ever had. She spent 33 years in the agency. She served overseas and here at home and during both the Cold War and Global War on Terrorism many she served in the trenches and she's held important leadership positions in the agency. And, Mr. President, she's won several awards for her work, including the Intelligence Medal of Merit, the George H.W. Bush Award and Donovan award. "


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

  • Spoke on China.
    • "Every single one of them says no. Which is why I was pleased a couple of weeks ago when the commerce department brought sanctions against Z.T.E. It was because on top of the spying and everything else, Z.T.E. helped China, Iran, and North Korea evade international sanctions, and so the penalty was that American companies could no longer sell component pieces to Z.T.E., which has led them to being on the brink of being out of business. No one should feel sorry for Z.T.E. This is a company heavily subsidized by the Chinese government, protects them in China, subsidizes them in China, but exports them abroad with the hopes that they can help them steal secrets and monitor and be an arm in the tool of intelligence for them."

Manchin, Klobuchar, Casey

Executive Session (Zais Nomination)

May 15 2018

Senator Manchin: (4:49 p.m.)

  • Spoke on pensions.
    • "The agreement was a sacred promise between the workers and the country and it captured the best of America and who we are, but the multiemployer pension system in the United States is in crisis, as many as 114 pension plans, including mine workers of America, 1974 pension fund is expected to become insolvent. We're the first ones on the block. This critical plan which covers 87,000 retired miners, 27,000 in my state and 20,000 full vested full workers expect to become insolvent by 2022 or sooner. If Congress allows this, the results will be devastating for retirees."


Senator Klobuchar: (4:53 p.m.)

  • Spoke on pensions.
    • "Over ten million Americans participate in a multiemployer pension plan for a safe and secure retirement. The central state's pension plan established in 1955 to help truckers save for retirement. And as Senator Donnelly knows, coming from Indiana, a state with a lot of proud truckers. Today the central state's pension plan includes from the car haul, tank haul, construction, clerical, food processing, dairy and trucking industries. I heard from people all over my state. Fred from Hibbing worked for 33 years as a bread man and serves as a caregiver for his wife. "


Senator Casey: (4:56 p.m.)

  • Spoke on pensions.
    • "I rise, first of all, to thank Senator Donnelly for his leadership and my colleagues. I'm speaking today on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people in Pennsylvania who currently or will rely upon a pension. Multiemployer pension programs protect about ten million workers and retirees across about 1,400 pension plans across the country. In Pennsylvania that number is 230 multiemployer pension plan with 109,000 recipients. Many are at risk. In 2017, the pension benefit guaranty corporation paid $462 million to Pennsylvanians whose pension plans have failed."

Baldwin, Heitkamp, Peters

Executive Session (Zais Nomination)

May 15 2018

Senator Baldwin: (4:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke on pensions.
    • "I have been proud to work side by side with Wisconsin workers and retirees and with Senator Brown to introduce the Butch Lewis Act. And I've been proud to work with Senator Donnelly and others to organize this afternoon's opportunity to share the stories of the hardworking people and retirees that we represent. The bill, the Butch Lewis Act, will put failing multiemployer pension plans, including central states, back on solid ground. And it does so without cutting a single cent from the pension retirees have earned."


Senator Heitkamp: (4:20 p.m.)

  • Spoke on pensions.
    • "They're struggling to understand how a government and how a society could be leaving them in this level of uncertainty regarding their economic future. And so I want to tell a couple stories of some of the people that I've met, but I want you to know that I just recently as Saturday had a meeting with over 140 workers in Fargo. They came from all over and their stories were heartbreaking. They couldn't understand how if they did everything right in the United States of America they would have their financial viability at risk. I had one man stand up, 80 years old who told me that he went back to work when he knew that there was going to be a problem and worked in the oilfields."


Senator Peters: (4:30 p.m.)

  • Spoke on pensions.
    • "This is basic fairness. A deal is a deal. Mr. President, workers deserve the same fairness. Workers who have banded together to negotiate for pensions during their retirement in exchange for lower upfront pay deserve the pensions that they have earned. Generations of Americans have built their lives around the idea if you work hard and you play by the rules, you will have a fair shot at success. The certainty that hard work will be rewarded empowers Americans to achieve economic security, provide for loved ones, and retire with dignity. But for many Americans who have spent decades working hard, their retirement is now at risk."

Hoeven, Murkowski, Collins, Donnelly)

Executive Session (Zais Nomination)

May 15 2018

Senator Hoeven: (3:23 p.m.)

  • Spoke on National Police Week.
    • "Today on peace officer day, I would like to pay memorial to a member of the force who was killed in the line of duty in 2017. Deputy Allery was 21 years old. His loved ones said he was happiest when he was doing for others, which is why he chose law enforcement for his career. In his life and surface, Deputy Allery exemplified courage and a willingness to do whatever had to be done no matter the circumstances. Deputy Allery's name was inscribed on the memorial last week, a lasting tribute to his bravery and dedication to serving his community."


Senator Murkowski: (3:42 p.m.)

  • Spoke on National Police Week.
    • "This year it was our colleague Mr. Blunt, the senator from Missouri, and the leader of our Senate Law Enforcement Caucus who's arranged an opportunity for us to speak here on the floor. I thank him for that. I also wish to commend my colleagues, Senators Grassley and Feinstein, for putting together the National Police Week resolution. As of yesterday afternoon, there were 75 cosponsors to this resolution which is more than we have had previously. In 2017, the law enforcement community lost 199 of its bravest in the line of duty incidents. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports that 53 officers have given their lives in 2018."


Senator Collins: (3:51 p.m.)

  • Spoke on prescription drugs.
    • "Mr. President, Americans have the right to know which payment method - whether it's using your insurance or paying with cash out of pocket - would provide the most savings when they are purchasing prescription drugs. The two bills that we've introduced would establish some clarity in this incredibly opaque drug pricing system. Nearly 60% of Americans, including roughly 90% of seniors, take at least one prescription drug. In 2016, Americans spent more than $330 billion, including a staggering $45 billion out of pocket, on retail prescription drugs. The federal government picked up another $139 billion through Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs. Prescription drugs amount to nearly 18% of all health care expenditures and are the second fastest-growing expenditure within health care."


Senator Donnelly: (4:04 p.m.)

  • Spoke on pensions.
    • "I met with Hoosier pension beneficiaries countless times to hear their stories, including hundreds of Teamsters at Local 135 in Indianapolis and dozens of mine workers in Oakland City. Additionally, I've hosted bipartisan meetings and spoken with the current and previous administrations to push for action now. Though I wish legislation had already been enacted, Congress did create a joint select committee earlier this year to hopefully craft a legislative solution by the end of the year. That's why I'm here, to continue shining a light on this important issue and to push for a solution."

Murray, King, Blunt

Executive Session (Zais Nomination)

May 15 2018

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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mitchell Zais to be Deputy Secretary of Education.
    • "And time and time again, she has failed to protect students' civil rights. She tried to shrink the office of civil rights. She rolled back protections for transgender students, and she rescinded guidance for schools on how to investigate claims of campus sexual assault. So, Mr. President, with Secretary Devos' ideological agenda steering this ship, it's clear to me that the Department of Education needs a strong and independent deputy secretary of education to once again start putting students first. Unfortunately, General Zais made it clear he would be proud to be Secretary Devos' right hand man and shares her position on the number of concerning issues."


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

  • Spoke on National Police Week.
    • "Mr. President, every morning across America, millions of people get up, get dressed, and go to work. They all have similar experiences. They are getting ready for a new day. They are getting ready for a new set of challenges. They are getting ready to serve their company and the place where they work to the best of their ability, but there is one group of Americans who get up every morning to go to work and it's a slightly different experience. Because when those people report for work, they are knowingly and willingly putting their lives on the line. I'm referring to our police officers and law enforcement personnel across the country. I think it's an important distinction."


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

  • Spoke on National Police Week.
    • "Mr. President, across the country this week and very evident here in the nation's capital, people are honoring men and women who serve in law enforcement. If you're visiting the Capitol this week, you'll see more law enforcement officers in more different uniforms than you would have expected to see unless you're here for law enforcement week. You know, when you and I came to the Senate, Mr. President, Senator Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, came at the same time. We started the bipartisan Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, and on law enforcement week, it's a privilege for me to speak as we honor those in law enforcement and speak on behalf of senator coons and I both at a time when we think it's particularly important to recognize what law enforcement officers do, and in my case I want to talk a little bit about the law enforcement officers who lost their lives this year in the line of duty."

Schumer, Leahy

Executive Session (Carson Nomination)

May 15 2018

Senator Schumer: (10:22 a.m.)

  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • "Madam President, last night, the Judiciary Committee announced that it would be voting on a slate of judicial nominees, including Andrew Oldham, a nominee from the fifth circuit, and Wendy Vitter, a nominee for the eastern district of Louisiana. We prize the quality of moderation in all our judges. At the district level, the circuit level, and of course at the Supreme Court level. Mr. Oldham and Miss Vitter, unfortunately, have expressed a number of sentiments that would put him on the political extreme, including troubling statements about women's health care rights. Asked separately by my colleague Senator Blumenthal if they agreed with the decision on Brown v. Board of Ed, both of them demurred. Can you believe that?"
  • Spoke on the Trump administration.
    • "No president, at least in my career, has done as much to fill up the swamp as president trump. If the American people look at his actions, not his rhetoric, the swamp has gotten much worse and a lot of it because of what president trump did. Mr. President, you can't say you're draining the swamp and then have an administration abounding with conflicts of interest, abounding with people who favor the wealthy and hurt the middle class. And, of course, there's been no bill of love for dreamers. The president said he's going to stand up to the N.R.A. Told a couple of senators that you shouldn't be afraid of them. And we haven't seen a check from Mexico on the border wall. It is a plain fact that this president talks the talk but fails time and time and time again to walk the walk."


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

  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "They should be the norm. President Trump's proposal would claw back $7 billion from the children's - the Children's Health Insurance Program, CHIP. $7 billion. If you can't keep a child healthy, what are they going to be like as an adult? CHIP currently provides health insurance for 8.7 million vulnerable children from low-income families. Millions of families from red states, blue states, urban and rural, depend on chip to keep their children healthy and happy, to make them the healthy and happy future generation. And I don't know how pulling $7 billion out of this program aligned to claw back policies that allow children to thrive and say that should be the norm."


Opening Remarks

May 15 2018

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 #729, Joel M. Carson, of New Mexico, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit.
  • At 12:00 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #729, Joel M. Carson, of New Mexico, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit and then Executive Calendar #777, John B. Nalbandian, of Kentucky, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit in the order listed.
  • Following disposition of the Nalbandian nomination, the Senate will recess until 2:15 p.m. to accommodate the weekly conference meetings.


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

  • Spoke on National Police Week.
    • "During police week, thousands of officers from across the nation and the world travel here to Washington to remember their fallen comrades and rededicate themselves to protecting our communities. I welcome them, particularly peace officers from the state of Kentucky. I look forward to visiting later today with members of the Louisville Metro Police Department. We owe them and departments across the commonwealth our heartfelt thanks for keeping the bluegrass state safe and secure."
  • Spoke on the pending judicial nominations.
    • "That's why the Senate confirmed these highly qualified nominees to serve on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals with a bipartisan majority. Today our progress will continue. We'll vote to confirm John Nalbandian of Kentucky to serve on the sixth circuit and Joel Carson to serve on the tenth circuit. Joel Carson has a distinguished tenure. His peers say his integrity, fairness and respect for the dignity of others are topnotch. A bipartisan group of New Mexico lawyers have expressed confidence that he'll be an excellent addition to the tenth circuit they and the Judiciary Committee agreed, reporting Judge Carson's nomination to the full Senate in a bipartisan fashion. We'll also vote on John Nalbandian from my home state of Kentucky nominated to serve on the sixth circuit."
  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "If we want middle-class families to thrive, we need the American businesses that compete to employ them and pay them to thrive as well. And sure enough, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the amount employers spent on worker pay and benefits grew more in 2017 than it did in any calendar year under President Obama. More prosperity, more opportunity, more raises and bonuses for working families. This is just the start of what the American people can accomplish when Republicans get Washington out of the way."