Wednesday, May. 23, 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 #670, Jelena McWilliams, of Ohio, to be Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Executive Calendar #672, Jelena McWilliams, of Ohio, to be a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
  • At 12:00 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #670, Jelena McWilliams, of Ohio, to be Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and then Executive Calendar #672, Jelena McWilliams, of Ohio, to be a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
  • Following disposition of the McWilliams nominations, the Senate will VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #618, James Randolph Evans, of Georgia, to be Ambassador to Luxembourg.
  • If cloture is invoked on the Evans nomination, at 1:45 p.m. the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #618, James Randolph Evans, of Georgia, to be Ambassador to Luxembourg.


Senator Wyden: (5:26 p.m.)

  • Spoke on women's healthcare.
    • "I just want my colleagues here in the senate to say that I think this alone makes a mockery of all the talk. I remember hearing from bodies in this body, from Republican colleagues, who said there's going to be patient-centered care in America. The developments in the last 24 hours basically say that with respect to health care it's not going to be patient-centered care. It's going to be politics-centered care. Now that patient-centered care concept was one of the most common talking points I remember hearing again and again. We heard it in the Finance Committee. I had the honor to be the ranking Democrat. We heard it again and again, we're going to have patient-centered care, and it was part of the crusade to repeal the Affordable Care Act."


Senator Durbin: (5:37 p.m.)

  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "DACA provided temporary legal status to dreamers, only if they registered with the government, paid a fee of almost $500, and passed a thorough criminal background check. This DACA program has been a success. More than 800,000 dreamers have come forward and received DACA protection, which has allowed them to become a part of the only country that they've ever called home. Many of these dreamers were brought here as infants and toddlers, raised in this country, pledging allegiance to that flag."


Senator Tillis: (5:53 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the incarceration of Pastor Andrew Brunson.
    • "He's a Presbyterian minister from Black Mountain. He's been in Turkey for about 20 years doing missionary work in a small church I'll describe briefly later. But on October 4, 2016 he was swept up and President Erdogan regime's reaction to an unlawful coup, a coup that I disagree with. I believe in a peaceful transition of power, and I do believe that people that are responsible for it should be subject to Turkish laws. But the roundup of people that President Erdogan, he cast a very wide net. It went so far beyond any reasonable expectation of people who could have been involved in the coup attempt."


Senator Cardin: (6:15 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to a Baltimore police officer killed in the line of duty.
    • "Mr. President, I rise today to honor the memory of Ms. Capro. She is the first female police officer to be killed in the line of duty in the history of the Baltimore county police and the tenth officer killed in the history of the department. As a long-time resident of the county and senator from Maryland, I want to express my profound sadness to the family and friends of Mrs. Caprio, especially her husband, Tim. She was killed on Monday after responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle and potentially a burglary in progress in the Perry Hall region."

Moran, Crapo, Murphy

Executive Session (McWilliams Nominations)

May 23 2018

Senator Moran: (4:41 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to Major General Joseph Martin, USA.
    • "Mr. President, thank you. I wanted to take a moment to recognize Major General Joseph Martin and his outstanding military career which was made evident by a recent promotion to lieutenant general. He is in Fort Riley Kansas and assumed his command in October of 2016 when he took command of the Big Red One, the Army's longest serving permanent division since 1917. Since the days of taking command of the Big Red One, he deployed 500 of his soldiers to Iraq. He assumed and supported inherent resolve. His combat leadership was remarkable in Iraq. During the nine-month deployment he led the fight alongside the government in Iraq."


Senator Crapo: (4:44 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Jelena McWilliams to be chairperson and member of the FDIC.
    • "She discussed how her personal experience has shaped her conviction in the FDIC's unique responsibility as a deposit insurer noting that one of the side effects of the civil war that broke apart the former Yugoslavia was a collapse of its financial system. Her parents who still live there had their savings disappear overnight when a local bank closed its doors. Yugoslavia had no deposit insurance and her then 68-year-old father returned to work as a day laborer. As she stated at her hearing, I can assure you that the core mission of the FDIC resonates profoundly with me and if confirmed, I will not take its mission or my duties lightly."


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

  • Spoke on healthcare reform.
    • "These were in Maryland and Virginia. The rate filings were, quite frankly, catastrophic. While these were the worst of the bunch, all of the rate filings were much higher than the rate of medical inflation. The worst requested increase was one insurance plan in Maryland, asked for a 91% increase in premiums. One insurance plan in Virginia asked for a 64% increase in premiums. In Maryland the head of the insurance plan that asked for the 91% increase said that the reason for it was the continuing actions on the part of the administration to systematically undermine the market and make it almost impossible to carry out our mission."

Portman, Crapo, Tester

Executive Session (Montgomery Nomination)

May 23 2018

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

  • Spoke on the V.A. Mission Act.
    • "They instilled in me the virtue of service and the merits of servant leadership. They believed in these values and embodied them in their lives, as so many veterans do. This weekend, as we pay thanks to the many men and women who were laid to rest under the flag that they died defending, we should all take a moment to remember and thank all veterans as well, past and present, whose service also has made our way of life possible. The men and women of our United States military represent the best in all of us, and they deserve the best from all of us. Today the senate will vote on what's called the V.A. Mission Act, which is a bipartisan bill that will reform the Veterans Choice program."


Senator Crapo: (3:01 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brian Montgomery to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
    • "Since 1934, F.H.A. has ensured mortgages for more than 40 million families. Today the F.H.A. Is the largest mortgage insurer in the World. It also is the primary facilitator of reverse mortgages and supports a nationwide network of housing counseling agencies. Yet for nearly four years it has not had a senate confirmed leader. Fortunately the time has finally come to fill this vacancy and I know that Brian Montgomery will do a terrific job. Brian Montgomery is an ideal candidate to take up the mantle because he has done it before. Mr. Montgomery provided steadfast leadership at the helm of F.H.A. between 2005 and 2009 under Presidents Bush and Obama."


Senator Tester: (3:09 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the V.A. Mission Act.
    • "And this V.A. Mission Act had a great vote yesterday. And people might say, gee, this is another one of those slam-dunk bills. It's not. We would not be here today if it wasn't for Chairman Isakson and the great work that he has done on this bill. I want to thank the entire senate veterans' affairs committee. I want to thank the leadership of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. I want to thank the 38 veterans' services organizations that offered their support for this bill. I said many times during the hearings we'll take our cues from the veterans. This is exactly what the entire senate hopefully will do in a minute or two here with this bill, is take our cues from the people who serve this country in the military. This is a big win for them."

Boozman, Lankford, Enzi, Barrasso

Executive Session (Montgomery Nomination)

May 23 2018

Senator Boozman: (2:11 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the V.A. Mission Act.
    • "This is important because veterans should have access to the best health care and services in a timely manner, regardless of where they live. Under this legislation, a veteran and his or her doctor will decide where that veteran will receive care, taking into consideration the veteran's health care needs and the availability and quality of both V.A. and community care. For largely rural states like Arkansas, this makes all the sense in the world. We have two V.A. medical centers in the natural state, Little Rock and Fayetteville, as well as facilities in neighboring states that often serve Arkansas veterans. The health care providers and staff at those facilities and our community-based outpatient clinics in Arkansas truly do an excellent job in caring for our veterans, but the V.A. medical centers are in populated areas."


Senator Lankford: (2:17 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the V.A. Mission Act.
    • "And this is very important. Things like the distance that they have to travel, the nature of the care that's required, the frequency of the care so they don't have to travel back and forth so often long distances, the timeliness of available appointments, whether the covered veteran faces an unusual or excessive burden, includes the family and includes the veteran. So in the conversation that's happening, suddenly it is not just a clinician making a decision. The veterans at the table and their family are brought into consideration. The reason this is important is not just for so many veterans that have to travel long distances. It's even for veterans that live close."


Senator Enzi: (2:22 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the V.A. Mission Act.
    • "As Americans, we honor all our veterans who have sacrificially fought for our freedoms. Certainly those who have paid with their lives but also those who have returned home determined that we not forget their fallen brothers and sisters in arms. Among the most meaningful ways congress can honor our veterans is to uphold the promises that have been made to them. One such promise and responsibility is to ensure America's veterans that they have access to the quality medical care that they earned through their service. I want to thank chairman Isakson and his staff for all the effort they have put into the bill before us. His tireless work on behalf of America's veterans has produced the compromise legislation now pending that aims to reform the V.A.'s broken community care programs."


Senator Barrasso: (2:33 p.m.)

  • Spoke on infrastructure legislation.
    • "Basically, the bill comes down to three big things. It grows the economy and creates jobs. It cuts red tape by getting more control out of Washington. And it keeps communities safe. The first way this legislation supports America's economy is by increasing water storage. That's a big concern in my home state of Wyoming and across the west. We've had a serious problem over the years where sediment builds up behind dams and the Lakes where water is stored. Sediment limits the amount of water that the Lakes can actually hold. So we're telling the army corps of engineers and other agencies to develop plans to deal with this sediment at Federal Reserve voice. That's a simple thing that Washington can do and now it's going to get done."

Nelson, Isakson, Hoeven, Blunt

Executive Session (Montgomery Nomination)

May 23 2018

Senator Nelson: (1:23 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
    • "Well, what happened in this country two years ago put a crack in that foundation and it started to sow the seeds of doubt that if gone unchecked, could undermine our entire democracy. After painstaking analyses by the intelligence community, we know complete agreement in the intelligence community, unanimous in the I.C., we know that Russia interfered in our 2016 election. And we know that Russia continues to meddle in the elections of not only our country now but in other countries around the world."


Senator Isakson: (1:41 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the V.A. Mission Act.
    • "For years there have been problems at the V.A. In terms of health care. You've - you've read the headlines, I've read them too, and our constituents have read them. We've had veterans die waiting to get appointments. We had people getting bonuses for things they falsified. We've worked hard in the veterans' affairs committee in the house and senate to address head-on these tough issues and fix them so that the V.A. Would be the best functioning health delivery system it could possibly be for the people who were willing to risk their entire life for each of us when they joined the military. I think it is appropriate we're doing it the week before Memorial Day."


Senator Hoeven: (1:50 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the V.A. Mission Act.
    • "We owe our veterans more than we could ever repay for their incredibly dedicated service. So expanding veterans' access to health care options closer to home is just one of the ways that we can show our deep appreciation for their service to our country. Providing this kind of care has proven to be particularly challenging for our veterans residing in rural areas, so I have a rural state. And to get that access to quality service in these rural areas is a challenge and a challenge that we have to address and a challenge that we address directly in this legislation, which is which is why I'm so deeply appreciative that we're working to pass this legislation."


Senator Blunt: (2:02 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the V.A. Mission Act.
    • "This is a good time also for us to discuss the things that the congress has been doing to try to honor that service as we continue to look at the challenges veterans face. I have talked before about the hire vets act which was signed into law last year, the bill established a hire vets program within the Department of Labor to provide a tiered recognition of what employers do based on their contributions for veteran employment. Some of the criteria were things like what percentage of the new hires were veterans or what percentage of the overall workforce is veterans, what types of training and leadership development opportunities are made available that veterans have unique opportunities to take advantage of, what recognition is given to skills that veterans learn while serving and what other benefits and resources are offered to veterans, things like tuition assistance."

Rubio, Brown, Klobuchar

Executive Session (Montgomery Nomination)

May 23 2018

Senator Rubio: (12:28 p.m.)

  • Spoke on China.
    • "I thought it was a good opportunity to lay out to my constituents and broadly for the American people about what's at stake here. The first thing I would encourage everyone to do is separate the issue of trade with China and the issue of Z.T.E. which is a phone company based in China. They are the fourth-largest cell phone company in America up until very recently when they struggled to stay in business. We'll talk about that in a moment. But let's talk about those two things separately. They are not necessarily interrelated. On the broader topic of trade and China, the United States has an enormous imbalance in trade, as we do with other countries, but none like we do with China."


Senator Brown: (12:54 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brian Montgomery to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
    • "So it's not limited to only a few places. Mr. Montgomery had served previously in the position for which he's been nominated. He would bring valuable experience. He would bring an appreciation for the importance of the programs he would lead if he's confirmed. He has spoken about the value of the F.H.A. has a responsible engine of homeownership and a cyclical tool to ensure mortgage credit remains available. He's supportive of the affordable housing program. That's the good news. The bad news, I'm concerned that Mr. Montgomery in the interest of making the F.H.A. a better partner to the mortgage industry, many of whom he served as a board member or advisor will lose sight of the interest that F.H.A. and consumers have."


Senator Klobuchar: (1:01 p.m.)

  • Spoke on anti-trust enforcement.
    • "Antitrust may not always make headlines these days, but antitrust enforcement is as important now as it has ever been. It remains vital to the welfare of our country and we ignore it at our own peril. People often ask me, what does antitrust law have to do with our economy? And the answer I always give is, everything. Let me repeat that. Antitrust has everything to do with our broader economy. That is becoming clearer to the American public. People intuitively understand there is too much industry consolidation in this country."

Schumer, Cornyn, Carper

Executive Session (Montgomery Nomination)

May 23 2018

Senator Schumer: (11:15 a.m.)

  • Spoke on sexual harassment in Congress.
    • "Among the other crucial reforms, the Blunt-Klobuchar legislation would do away with mandatory waiting periods that too often discourage complaints and let them languish. It would also make important changes to ensure that members of the House and Senate are held personally accountable and liable if they have committed harassment. So I want to commend Senators Klobuchar and blunt who worked with many members, including Senators Gillibrand, Murray, McCaskill, Feinstein, Harris, and Cortez Masto for putting this together."
  • Spoke on the Mueller investigation.
    • "They are hunting desperately for any scrap of information for innuendo that might help them sully the investigation or to provide them a sneak peek at any evidence the F.B.I. may have against the Trump campaign. If they have - if they have to distort and spread falsehoods about what is revealed in any meaning, they will, and for the president of the United States to pressure the Justice Department to reveal details and documents pertaining to an active investigation of the president's campaign for the purpose of denigrating it is a gross and unprecedented abusive of power, unlike any we have seen in a very long time."
  • Spoke on gas prices.
    • "When gas prices go through the roof, it eats away at a family's income, leaving less to cover the cost of anything else. Groceries, medicine, tuition, a nice summer vacation which families cherish. Recent data suggests that gas prices are about to climb even higher this summer, and experts suggest that actions and inactions on the part of the trump administration are a major piece of that story. According to energy analysts and experts, president trump's decision to pull out of the Iran deal led to higher oil prices, and OPEC has decided to cut production, also raising prices."


Senator Cornyn: (11:41 a.m.)

  • Spoke on CFIUS.
    • "The jurisdiction of this Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States hasn't been updated in more than 40 years, and bad actors, like China, continue to exploit gaps in the process to acquire sensitive national security know-how as well as military and dual-use technology from U.S. companies. Now I want to be quick to say this is not about labeling foreign investment in the United States as bad. That's not true. Foreign investment is by and large a very good thing. But when our laws are being exploited to target cutting-edge, dual-use technology that has national security applications, that is a matter of, as my words suggest, national security. Not about banning or labeling foreign investment as being bad."


Senator Carper: (11:58 a.m.)

  • Spoke on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
    • "Madam President, during the 2016 presidential campaign, our democracy was attacked by a foreign adversary. No shots were fired. No bombs were dropped. But let me be as clear as I can be. Russia attacked the United States of America using sophisticated cyberwarfare, Russia interfered in our electoral process. As they have in other western democracies, Russia borrowed from their tried and true playbook. Russian internet trolls posed as American citizens on Facebook and on Twitter. Russian shell companies funded political propaganda online, all with the intent of pitting us against one another and spreading misinformation among the American electorate. We also know that our nation's election infrastructure was targeted by the Kremlin and that Russian cyber attacks penetrated voting machines in some of our states."


Opening Remarks

May 23 2018

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 11:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #593, Brian D. Montgomery, of Texas, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, with four hours of debate equally divided in the usual form.
  • At 3:15 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #593, Brian D. Montgomery, of Texas, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Following disposition of the Montgomery nomination, all post-cloture time will be considered expired on the motion to concur and the Senate will VOTE on the motion to concur in the House Amendment to S. 2372, the V.A. Mission Act.
  • Following disposition of the motion to concur the Senate will VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #670, Jelena McWilliams, of Ohio, to be Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Executive Calendar #672, Jelena McWilliams, of Ohio, to be a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, in the order filed.
  • If cloture is invoked on the McWilliams nominations the debate time will run concurrently.
  • Note: on Thursday, Mary 17, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #618, James Randolph Evans, of Georgia, to be Ambassador to Luxembourg.


Senator McConnell: (11:03 a.m.)

  • Spoke on sexual harassment in Congress.
    • "That's exactly what will happen under the proposal that our colleague Senator Blunt and Senator Klobuchar have developed. These colleagues of ours deserve big thanks. They are a thorough, - their thorough, bipartisan collaboration has produce add proposal to reform how Congress handles federal workplace violations, particularly harassment. It will help this institute take an important step forward. It achieves many of the important goals that members of both parties have put forward in recent months. There was widespread consensus that members of Congress who commit sexual harassment should reimburse taxpayers for the cost of claims or settlements."
  • Spoke on the V.A. Mission Act.
    • "Facilities that were too far away, lines and waiting lists that were too long, options for treatment that were too limited. The shortcomings of the federal bureaucracy were apparent. Veterans awaiting months to see a physician under their V.A. Benefits let alone dying before receiving treatment meant we've fallen short of our commitment to them. Congress had to act, so in 2014 a bipartisan coalition of 91 senators and 420 members of the House took a critical first step by passing the Veterans Choice Act. For the past three years the Veterans Choice program has connected millions of American heroes with the care and resources they need and so richly deserve."
  • Spoke on the pending nominations.
    • "First comes Brian Montgomery, the president's nominee to serve as assistant secretary of housing and urban development and head of the Federal Housing Administration. His formidable background includes previous service as federal housing commissioner from 2005 to 2009 and as the acting secretary of housing and urban development. It's no wonder that our colleagues on the banking committee reported this nomination favorably with a bipartisan voice vote. I'm glad we can vote to confirm him today without any further delay. After Mr. Montgomery, we'll vote to advance the nomination of Jelena McWilliams, who the president has chosen to share the FDIC board of directors."
  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "These local institutions are vital economic contributors. That's right - their unique ability to build personal relationships and local connections are why community banks handle a majority, a majority, of all U.S. small business loans and almost 80% -- 80% - of agricultural loans. That's why research suggests that the closure of a single physical bank in a low-income neighborhood can reduce lending to niche businesses by - to nearby businesses by almost 40%. Businesses needed relief from Dodd-Frank, they needed relief from that one-size-fits-all regulatory approach. And thanks to Chairman Crapo, our Banking Committee colleagues, Chairman Hensarling and our colleagues in the House, that is exactly what this congress and this president are poised to deliver."