Wednesday, May. 16, 2018

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, Senator Paul or his designee be recognized to make a motion to proceed to S. Con. Res. 36, the Paul budget resolution, and there be 90 minutes of debate on the motion with 45 minutes controlled by Senator Paul or his designee and 45 minutes controlled by the minority leader and his designee.
  • Following the use or yielding back of that time, the Senate will VOTE in relation to the motion to proceed to S. Con. Res. 36, the Paul budget resolution.  

 

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

  • Spoke on National Police Week.
    • "Each year, peace officers from all over the country and from countries all over the world come to Washington, D.C., to celebrate and to honor the lives of their colleagues who have lost their lives in the line of duty. I want to first recognize several law enforcement officers that lost their lives in the line of duty last year that do not always get the recognition or the honor that they deserve, and those are our federal and tribal peace officers. They protect our homeland, they protect our borders, and in the case of tribal police, they provide safety and security in Indian country in some of the most remote and difficult places in the nation. This year, eight federal law enforcement officers' names were again attached to the wall, etched in the wall."

 

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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Gina Haspel to be C.I.A. Director.
    • " Mr. President, I just had a very productive and informative meeting with the nominee to be the next C.I.A. director, Ms. Gina Haspel, and I just wanted to come down on the floor and say a few words. I was very impressed and I'm going to certainly support her when she's voted on, I believe as early as tomorrow. There's a lot of discussions about her background, first woman to lead the C.I.A., first career member of the C.I.A. That's all important, but I think what's most important is that the American people know and this body know that she is very well-qualified, very, very impressive person who I just had the opportunity to the talk to. First of all, she's very highly decorated in her 30-plus career at the Central Intelligence Agency."

Cornyn, Toomey, Whitehouse, Grassley

Morning Business

May 16 2018

Senator Cornyn: (4:25 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Well, that's just not the case. I believe the free market's done more to help the internet grow and succeed as an engine of commerce and something that allows us to communicate with our friends and families and share pictures and the like beyond our wildest dreams. I guess Thomas Friedman's book, the world is flat, talked about one of the most important events in recent history was the development of the World Wide Web in 1995. The internet has exceeded beyond our wildest dreams which is the last thing that we should want to do is for the government to come in and inject itself with more controls. We've always supported a free and open internet."
  • Spoke on preventing sexual assault.
    • "These refer to older crimes that have languished but are reignited through D.N.A. Evidence, including evidence obtained from backlogged rape kits. By making sure that newly-tested evidence is used to investigate and prosecute unsolved crimes, the justice served act would ensure that violent criminals are brought to justice instead of remaining free and on our streets. This will give crime victims and their families closure and relief and deliver justice."
  • Spoke on Project Safe Neighborhoods.
    • "We hoped to have it hot lined this week because just like the Justice Served Act, it's a high priority for law enforcement groups across the country. Project safe neighborhoods is a nationwide partnership between state, federal, and local law enforcement and prosecutors that use data-driven evidence-based and trauma informed practices to reduce violent crime. When I was attorney general of Texas, then-Governor George W. Bush and I administered a program known as Texas Exile in which we targeted felons who were carrying firearms as part of their carrying out some crime. And we targeted those violent offenders by concentrating on the resources on the most important cases."

 

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

  • Spoke on National Police Week.
    • "This week is National Police Week, and it's really an important opportunity for us to let the folks in law enforcement know how grateful we are to them for the service they provide, for the sacrifices they make every single day to keep us safe. It's also an important occasion to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. This week the names of 129 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2017 alone were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial."
  • Spoke on government funding legislation.
    • "Let me state an unequivocal fact. Since 2011, there have been rescissions from CHIP every single year. This is not new. It's happened every single year since 2011. Now, is that because Congress decides during the course of each year that they don't really like the CHIP program or they don't like children or they don't want kids to get health insurance? No. That is not why it happens. The reason it happens each and every year, Mr. President, is because congress systemically intentionally, willfully authorizes far more money for the chip program than it's ever going to actually spend."

 

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

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "I think we all heard Donald Trump's pledge to drain the swamp and put an end to government corruption. That hasn't exactly worked out, has it? Instead, swamp creatures abound, and Pruitt - a longtime enemy of the agency he now runs and a longtime toady is absolutely wallowing in the swamp. Indeed, he is so swampy that he now faces more than a dozen federal and state probes exploring how he has been advancing his own interests and those of his polluter donors. So let's take a look. Investigation number one -- travel expenses. Between March and May of 2017, just that short period, Mr. Pruitt spent 43 out of those 92 days traveling to his home state of Oklahoma."

 

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

  • Spoke on foster care.
    • "They need stability and support. In short, all they need is a family like they often express to me, I would like to have a mom and a dad. That's why I'm pleased that congress recently passed the family first prevention services act. This legislation works to keep more families together by allowing federal reimbursement for services to families before children are put in foster care, not afterwards. These services include substance abuse treatment and in-home parenting skill programs. And when it's truly in a child's best interest to be removed from their parents, this bill ensures that more kids will be placed with supportive families instead of in group homes."
  • Spoke on the Russia investigation.
    • "An interview with Mr. Manafort was scheduled the day before he was raided by the F.B.I. Last summer. We meaning Senator Feinstein and this senator has subpoenaed Mr. Manafort for a committee hearing set for July 26, 2017. Mr. Manafort instead offered to appear voluntarily for a staff interview the day before the hearing. And the ranking member asked me to withdraw the subpoena. Then the F.B.I. Raided his home and Mr. Manafort indicated he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and then consequently declined to answer the committee's questions."

Lankford, Durbin, Merkley, Barrasso

The Net Neutrality CRA (S. J. Res. 52)

May 16 2018

Senator Lankford: (2:06 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "For 20 years the internet functioned under a very clear set of rules. The Federal Communications Commission had a set of rules for both content providers and for the fiber, the internet service providers. A clear set of rules. They couldn't violate any trade practices. They couldn't do monopolies. They couldn't violate the basic rules of commerce. It was a very clear set of rules. And then two years ago the F.C.C. - now the F.T.C. is the one, the Federal Trade Commission - the F.T.C. has been the one regulating the internet for two decades. The F.C.C. decided they wanted to regulate not the content and the internet service providers, just the internet service providers. So the F.C.C. in an unprecedented ruling that had already gone to court multiple times and failed, grabbed the regulatory control from the F.T.C."

 

Senator Durbin: (2:06 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "This is a rare day in the United States Senate. We are actually discussing an issue of substance on the floor. I welcome the visitors for this historic moment. We are waiting to vote tomorrow on whether or not the Trump administration's Federal Communications Commission which ends net neutrality is going to succeed or fail. Luckily we were joined by at least one Republican. I didn't look at the final roll call, to move us forward in this debate. All the Democrats and at least one Republican, and we prevailed. Tomorrow we hope to do the same. We hope it will be done on a bipartisan basis as well. Follow this debate because my guess is it's going to impact you and your life. "

 

Senator Merkley: (2:32 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Wouldn't it be amazing if this chamber actually believed in this constitution, this vision of distributed power among the voting citizens so we will have as Jefferson said laws that reflect the bill of the people. Well, here we are today with another issue that is a battle between the vision of our constitution and government by and for the powerful. It's called net neutrality. And what is net neutrality? Well, it's making the internet a place where we can all participate on an equal foundation, the freedom to have a full right to participate in the information world of today and tomorrow, a full opportunity to participate level-playing field and the economic battle ground of today and tomorrow. Freedom."

 

Senator Barrasso: (2:41 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Gina Haspel to be C.I.A. Director.
    • "She understands every element of the work of America's intelligence community. Since she is actually the acting head of the agency today, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to say that she's not up to the job because she is doing the job. She has the faith and the trust of the men and women in the field who keep us safe every day. Let's not forget that she's also worked very closely with Mike Pompeo. He was head of the C.I.A. Now he's secretary of state. Having two people in these important jobs who already have a solid, respectful working relationship is extremely important for making sure that the United States foreign policy is air tight."

Murray, Nelson, Schatz

The Net Neutrality CRA (S. J. Res. 52)

May 16 2018

Senator Murray: (1:26 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "And I just have to say as a former preschool teacher, I support net neutrality because it helps the next generation of innovators, our students, especially those in rural and low-income areas. Schools have worked very hard to improve access to high-speed connectivity for all students because they know from early education through higher education and through workforce training, students need high-speed internet in order to learn and get the skills that they need."

 

Senator Nelson: (1:34 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Citizens throughout my home state rely on the internet for civic and social engagement. The internet is today's social forum. It's a tool that we use to stay engaged in the lives of family, friends, and peers. The internet can also be an equalizing force, and as such has been a place where communities of color have been able to tell their own stories in a way that they have never been able to tell before, and it has given minority communities the power to organize, to share, and to support each other's causes every. -- Causes. To limit access to that net would be to help silence these voices that are just beginning to be heard. I don't think we want to do that. Congress must ensure the internet remains open to all, and thus the vote that we have coming up in just about an hour and a half."

 

Senator Schatz: (2:00 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "People are already frustrated with the limited competitive options for the providers that they have. And then once they sign up for service, they find that there are hidden fees. They have to pay for the installation. They have to wait for the installation. They have to rent the cable box. Their bill suddenly goes up within a year of service, finding out that they were only engaged in a promotional offer. In other words, many people don't like their internet service providers. They like the internet, but they don't like the lack of choice and all the hassle and expense that comes with getting on the internet."

Thune, Blumenthal, Warren

The Net Neutrality CRA (S. J. Res. 52)

May 16 2018

Senator Thune: (12:56 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "All of us value the internet. It connects us to commerce, friends, family, news, learning opportunities, and entertainment. Most Americans expect their internet experience to remain free from meddling by anyone. It doesn't matter if it's a cable company or an unelected bureaucrat. Americans appreciate online freedom. If this resolution offered these protections and simply implemented widely supported net neutrality principles, I would support it. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. The resolution offered by Senator Markey would impose partisan, onerous, and heavy-handed regulations on the internet."

 

Senator Blumenthal: (1:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "It is the animating principle that enables companies and individuals to have equal access to the internet with blocking, discriminating, price gouging, or favoring of some companies at the expense of others. In fact, in legislatures across the country like Connecticut's, there have been proposals to do there what we are seeking to do here. That is, to preserve an open internet in accordance with the open internet order which has been rolled back by the F.C.C. Strong net neutrality rules are accepted across the country on both sides of the aisle in state legislatures and state governments, in boardrooms, and in all the communities where people come together seeking to communicate and use the internet in the highest and best way that it can be used."
       

 

Senator Warren: (1:20 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "The F.C.C. received more comments on Chairman Pai's plan to kill net neutrality than any other rule in F.C.C.'s history. Millions submitted comments opposing Chairman Pai's plan to kill net neutrality but the F.C.C. said it would ignore those comments unless they were in its opinion seriously legal arguments. During the comment process, it was revealed that some of the comments had come from those who stolen American identities. Others had come from Russian addresses but Pai dismissed those concerns. He demonstrated that no matter what, he would forge ahead with his plan to hand over the internet to the biggest and most powerful internet providers. If Chairman Pai's plan is implemented, internet companies will literally get to set their own rules governing access to the internet."

Wicker

Executive Session (Zais Nomination)

May 16 2018

Senator Wicker: (11:54 a.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Does any member of the Senate advocate, as my friend from Massachusetts just suggested, that a company or two gets to set the rules for the entire internet? Absolutely not. Do all senators and all congressmen want the internet to be a source of innovation and job creation and prosperity as it has been for a quarter century? I hope so. I hope we all want this information superhighway, this technology superhighway to continue its success. I hope we all want the internet to continue being that phenomenal platform for market competition, health advancements, investment, technological progress, efficiency, and safety."

Cantwell, Hassan, Cardin, Wyden

Executive Session (Zais Nomination)

May 16 2018

Senator Cantwell: (10:43 a.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "That's why we're here. Because while it sounds like why do we want to give cable companies the opportunity to throttle or block or create paid prioritization, we also have to realize that today the internet economy is so much bigger than it has ever been, that it is a job creator and an innovator. In my state, it's 13% of our economy and thousands of jobs that continue to grow every day as new applications for the internet are created. It's so important that businesses who are even using these apps to help run their businesses more efficiently continue to get access to those tools."

 

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

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "And it would be unfair to all consumers to give internet service providers the power to discriminate against certain web pages, apps, and streaming and video services by slowing them down, blocking them, or favoring certain services while charging more for others. Protecting a free and open internet means that we are protecting the farmers who need the internet to sell their products. It means we are protecting the next great start-up which needs a level playing field to compete against larger, more established companies. And it means we are protecting the countless Americans who have used the internet as a mechanism to organize and civically engage online."

 

Senator Cardin: (11:07 a.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Let me just give you a little bit of background here so we can put this in context. Internet service providers, known as I.S.P.'s are basically utility companies that provide internet service to our constituents, to our businesses, and to America. Without the protection for net neutrality, these utilities have the ability to block or throttle content in the internet, charging what is known as being in the fast lane, charging more. So this is a debate between whether we are on the side of the big utility-type companies that provide internet service, their special interest, or the individuals and small businesses of America to guarantee them equal access to this critical service."

 

Senator Wyden: (11:25 a.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "It's not the way it works today. Everybody gets a fair shake on an open and free internet because of net neutrality. What Mr. Pai and his allies -- and he's the head of the Federal Communications Commission -- want is something very different. And under their vision of how things would work online, there would be tollbooths all over the internet, and those higher costs would in one way or another come out of your pocket, and that would sure work a hardship on millions of Americans - on millions literally, but especially small businesses and seniors and students, but everybody would be affected by that new approach that would establish tollbooths all over the internet."

Markey, Schumer, Hirono

Executive Session (Zais Nomination)

May 16 2018

Senator Markey: (10:01 a.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Net neutrality may sound complicated, but it's actually very simple. After you pay your monthly internet bill, you should be able to access all content on the web at the same speed. No slowing down certain websites, no blocking websites, and no charging you more to exercise your 21st century right to access the internet. It's as simple as that. If that sounds like common sense, you're not alone. In fact, according to a recent poll, 86% of Americans support net neutrality. And this isn't a partisan issue. 82% of Republicans support net neutrality. Every day we're told that this country is more divided than ever, that our differences outnumber our similarities. Well, the American people agree on net neutrality."

 

Senator Schumer: (10:25 a.m.)

  • Spoke on National Police Week.
    • "It's a time to honor the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep our streets safe. Every morning police officers all across the country wake up, put on their uniform praying for the kind of day the rest of us typically enjoy, a routine one. Praise God. Most days that's the case. But sometimes our police officers are asked to put their own lives at risk in defense of others. Back in my hometown New York, we're protected by the finest law enforcement organization in the world, the NYPD."
  • Spoke on North Korea.
    • "After weeks of halting progress, it's a reminder that the North Korean regime has not suddenly moderated. Remember, all that's happened so far is that North Korea has announced it's closing a nuclear test site that was defunct anyway and returned American citizens it never should have detained. We are all thankful those three Americans have returned home, but it was not some major give by Kim Jong-un. Americans should never be imprisoned unlawfully by a foreign power and treated as diplomatic bargaining chips and we as a country should not be giving huge kudos to a leader who does just that."
  • Spoke on the Mueller probe.
    • "Today they are releasing the transcripts of the testimony of just five witnesses who were interviewed about the notorious June, 2016, trump tower meeting, and one of the witnesses, an infamous kremlin-connected lawyer, was allowed to provide only written answers. No follow-up questions, no probing. Astoundingly, our Republican friends decided not to even interview two of the other key participants in that meeting, Jared Kushner and Paul manafort. To call the senate judiciary committee's trump Russia investigation halfhearted is too generous."
  • Spoke on prescription drugs.
    • "Finally, Mr. President, on prescription drugs, I head a headline in this morning's "Washington Post." Trump's drug price retreat adds to the list of abandoned populist promises. That headline is spot on. The president has repeatedly talked like a - the president has repeatedly talked like a populist but governed like a plutocrat."

 

Senator Hirono: (10:35 a.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Volcanic activity on a Hawaiian island, including fissures on the capital way a east zone, around 100 earthquakes per day, lava eruptions and significant ashfalls has already destroyed 40 structures in the Puna community. More than 2,000 residents have been evacuated as the lava continues to flow and toxic sulfur dioxide pollutes the air. Residents in the area have depended on a free and open internet to receive free and up to the minute lifesaving information from local media as well as from federal, state, and local governments. Rules on net neutrality established by the Obama administration prevented internet service providers, I.S.P.'s, from discriminating against and blocking content."

 

Tillis, McConnell

Opening Remarks

May 16 2018

Today -

  • 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 Tillis: (9:35 a.m.)

  • Spoke on Pastor Andrew Brunson.
    • "He lost 50 pounds. His health is diminished. His mental state as anyone would expect is also diminished but he's a strong man and strong man of faith that hopefully can continue to have the strength to go through this horrible process. Now, about two months ago, we've been handling this - we have what we call case work. If nobody in North Carolina needs help, whatever that may be, we encourage them to call our offices. We open up a case. We do any number of things for veterans, for military families, senior, anybody. If you need help getting through the federal government, you call our office. So we opened up a case on Pastor Brunson about a year ago. We've been trying to work through diplomatic channels to get him released."

 

Senator McConnell: (9:46 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Gina Haspel to be C.I.A. Director.
    • "This morning, our colleagues on the Intelligence Committee finished their consideration of Gina Haspel to be C.I.A. director and reported her nomination favorably with bipartisan support. Ms. Haspel's testimony and record have showcased the poise, talent, and experience that make her an excellent selection. Senators heard about her 30-plus years of C.I.A. experience spanning sensitive operations from the Cold War to the Global War on Terror. That background makes Ms. Haspel an ideal pick at this particular moment, and Secretary Mattis has explained that counterterrorism and a renewed great power competition are two of the key challenges facing our nation. So it's no wonder, Mr. President, James Clapper, President Obama's director of national intelligence, said, quote, I think the world of Gina."
  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "In 2015, President Obama's F.C.C. set out to fix what wasn't broken. It imposed regulation designed for Depression-era telephones on new technologies that fit in our pockets. So much for the light touch approach that helped the early internet grow. Last year, under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, the F.C.C. sought to rectify this mistake and destroy the results of the rules that helped the internet flourish while still protecting consumers from abuses. The resolution Democrats are putting forward today would undo that progress."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "After eight years of Democrat policies enriching big cities and leaving small businesses behind, Republican policies are helping workers and job creators thrive all across our country. From Louisville to Kansas City to Portland, our growing craft distilling industry is a perfect example. They're enjoying a pro-growth provision in the historic tax reform Republicans passed last year which lowered excise taxes on beer, wine, and spirits, and modernized the regulatory policy affecting each."