Thursday, Jun. 28, 2018

Monday, July 9 -

  • The Senate will next convene for legislative business at 3:00 p.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #836, Mark Jeremy Bennett, of Hawaii, to be United States Circuit Court Judge for the Ninth Circuit.
  • At 5:30 p.m., the pending cloture motions will ripen.
  • Note: on Thursday, June 28, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #836, Mark Jeremy Bennett, of Hawaii, to be United States Circuit Court Judge for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, June 28, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #639, Brian Allen Benczkowski, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Attorney General.
  • Note: on Thursday, June 28, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #686, Paul C. Ney, of Tennessee, to be Counsel of the Department of Defense.


Senator Daines: (6:05 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "A very strong vote, 86-11. This farm bill will help provide certainty for Montana agriculture in these most difficult times. Because agriculture is Montana's number one industry. It supports tens of thousands of jobs in our state. But with more than 25,000 family farms and ranches in Montana alone, it's clear that ag is more than just an economic driver in our state. It is very much a way of life. That's why as Montana's representative on the Senate Ag Committee, I fought to ensure that this farm bill reflects the priorities that Montana farmers and Montana ranchers have shared directly with me."


Senator Schatz: (6:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the situation in Hawaii.
    • "Even the experts at the United States Geological Service don't know, and we have several difficult challenges moving forward from air quality to the need for economic relief and especially housing and transportation. Hundreds of people are currently living in shelters. Hundreds of animals from homes and ranches are in a sense volcano refugees. So we have to secure temporary housing for people who have lost their homes or have been evacuated and then get these people permanent housing and deal with private property damage. We have to make decisions about where to rebuild and start the process of fixing roads, power lines, and other infrastructure in the Puna District."

Murkowski, Sullivan, Heitkamp, Lee

The farm bill (H.R. 2)

Jun 28 2018

Senator Murkowski: (3:07 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Tara Sweeney to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
    • "It is my very strong hope that Ms. Sweeney can be confirmed to this position before we leave for the 4th of July Recess. I see no reason why this body should delay the confirmation. I want to give just a little bit of background and share with my colleague, Senator Sullivan, some of the attributes that we're talking about here. Ms. Sweeney, truly a noncontroversial nominee. She's got support across the political spectrum. She was reported out of the Committee on Indian Affairs by a voice vote. There was no dissent. She is endorsed by the National Congress of American Indians. She enjoys strong support across Indian country, not only from Alaska natives up in our state but truly across Indian country."


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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Tara Sweeney to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
    • "She is a leader. You can read her resume. You can see all the things that this young woman, relatively young woman has accomplished. Senator Murkowski mentioned some. She was, for example, the co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives. That's an elective position in Alaska. Almost 20% of our population are Alaska natives. She was one of the youngest co-chairs ever in that incredibly important organization. She was the chair of the Arctic Economic Conference. She has also served in leadership positions at her Alaska Native Regional Corporation, the National Congress of American Indians, and she is ready to lead an organization that needs to be led, needs leadership."


Senator Heitkamp: (3:28 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "I think it's critically important that we understand there are very, very few people in America who are abusers of this program. There are very, very few people in America who would take a handout unless they absolutely needed it. They need a hand up. They need job training. They need sympathy for disabilities, and they need to know that we live in a country that cares for the hungry around us. And so as we consider the farm bill, it's important to remind ourselves about those who are not as fortunate as we are, those who struggle to put food on the table for their families or who might not be able to put food on the table because we're laid off or their hours were reduced at their minimum wage jobs."


Senator Lee: (4:48 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "Mr. President, most people in America are probably familiar with the advertising slogans pork, the other white meat, and beef, it's what's for dinner, but what they might not know, what they might not be as aware of is the underbelly of slogans like these. The U.S. Department of Agriculture checkoff programs like these slogans and others like them get compulsory fees from producers of milk, eggs, beef, and other agricultural products. These funds have been used to promote and do research on those particular commodities. Unfortunately, these programs have been rife with opportunities for abuse."


The farm bill (H.R. 2)

Jun 28 2018

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

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "This is an important bill. I hear it every day from people in my state whether they are fishermen or hunters or farmers or rural community leaders, and they understand that we do not want to be a country that becomes dependent on foreign food. We don't want that to happen. In Minnesota, we produce a lot of food. Our economy is diverse from north to south and east to west, whether it's corn, soybeans, hogs, Turkeys in the western part of state, wheat and canola in the northwest or dairy and cattle in the central and southwest. As a state we are number one in Turkeys. Yes, Mr. President, that is true, Minnesota is number one in Turkey and sugar beets."

Tillis, Nelson, Graham

The farm bill (H.R. 2)

Jun 28 2018

Senator Tillis: (1:02 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "We have over 80 commodities that are raised in our state and it contributes about $84 billion to our community or to our state in revenues. So it's a very, very important sector. In fact, I would argue the most important sector. So it's absolutely important that we get the farm bill right and that we have a fair treatment for all crops. And I believe that Chairman Roberts is working on that. And I'm going to do everything I can to help him as we work with the House members in conference. Mr. President, I want to spend the remaining part of my time talking about something that's also very important. About 80% of the farm bill is dedicated to the SNAP program. We heard Senator Ernst talk about it in her comments. It's a very important program for nutritional assistance."


Senator Nelson: (1:24 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the situation in Puerto Rico.
    • "Mr. President, both of these U.C. requests are because there are a lot of people that are hurting in the aftermath of two hurricanes having hit Puerto Rico, with the island still in great distress, our fellow U.S. citizens on the island of Puerto Rico and, indeed, in great distress not only because of the slow assistance of FEMA, the lack of electricity, of which parts of Puerto Rico today going on ten months after the hurricane are without electricity; of the number of people fleeing the island and, therefore, the jobs are not available because the economy has been so crippled; and naturally a number of those people have fled to where they can have safety and shelter and put their children in school -- and, by the way, there are a number of schools in Puerto Rico that are closed; where they have a decent opportunity to get a job and not just tens of thousands but hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have fled the island to the states."


Senator Graham: (1:48 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the situation in Syria.
    • "The Russian Air Force is flying in this area, and we're doing nothing about it. The bottom line is if we allow Russia to get away with this and Assad to get away with this it's going to hurt us everywhere else in the Mideast. And when President Trump meets with President Putin July 16, I hope he will bring this up. The question is are we going to let Putin walk all over us? Had eight years of that, kind of tired of it. Six thousand civilians have fled their homes. A lot of them have been killed in this area where we reached agreement with Russia, Jordanians and the world at large, these people were assured under this agreement they would not be bombed and slaughtered anymore. Now the bombing and slaughtering has started anew."

Hirono, Rounds, Ernst

The farm bill (H.R. 2)

Jun 28 2018

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

  • Spoke on the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy.
    • "Take a look at the president's tweet. He believes the Supreme Court is an extension of his political party. Last March he reiterated, quote, we need more Republicans in 2018, he said, and must hold the Supreme Court. Any nominee from this president comes to us with this taint attached. The president is not the only one to politicize the courts. Neil Gorsuch would never have made it to the supreme court if not for the majority leader whose proudest achievement according to him is Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court."


Senator Rounds: (12:41 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "Stability and certainty for our farmers, which this farm bill helps to provide, is crucial as they do their part to feed and fuel a growing global population. I'd like to thank Chairman Pat Roberts, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow and all the other members of the Senate Ag Committee and their staff who worked tirelessly to get this market-oriented bill to the floor for consideration by the full Senate body. This bipartisan bill will provide much-needed certainty to our Ag community at a very pivotal time when the Ag economy is facing significant challenges. The Ag economy is down more than 50% over the past five years and the numbers don't look much better for 2018."


Senator Ernst: (12:51 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "And in trying times, it is essential that we provide farmers and ranchers with the certainty and the predictability they need and they deserve. These folks helped guide my priorities for this bipartisan farm bill which maintains a robust crop insurance, it makes improvements to commodity programs, and it promotes soil health and water quality. I'm thankful that several of my provisions and amendments can be found within this bill. Long overdue reforms to the conservation reserve program will refocus the program's intent on highly erodible and environmentally sensitive land and provide opportunities for the next generation of American farmers to access land to build economically viable farm operations."

Heinrich, Cantwell, Smith, Lee

The farm bill (H.R. 2)

Jun 28 2018

Senator Heinrich: (11:40 a.m.)

  • Spoke on U.S. immigration policy.
    • "There is still no clear plan for the White House to ensure that they will make sure that every child is reunited with their family. And this is simply unacceptable. This crisis was born in malice and, frankly, it was inflamed by incompetence. As an American, as a father, I will not just sit by. When we saw last Friday along the border, which was ground zero for President Trump's so-called zero tolerance policy had a profound affect on me. There were over 2,000 teenagers held in Tornillo, Texas. There was a family at a border patrol station and told me about the violence they are desperately trying to escape. Let me share the story of one of these families who was in border patrol custody."


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

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "So to say that this bill is an important economic tool is an understatement. We know in the United States of America that a trade surplus in agriculture has also existed for 50 years. So when we're talking about making investments and opening up new markets and protecting agriculture from a trade war that we're seeing, it's very important that this bill help recognize the hard work that the farmers in the United States of America have done in growing our economy and what we can do to continue to make sure that they have those economic opportunities in the future."


Senator Smith: (12:07 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "And I am very happy that this bill includes many of the provisions that I worked hard on on behalf of Minnesota. For example, the Senate bill maintains the sugar program, which is so important to Minnesota's sugar beet farmers. The sugar industry employs about 29,000 people in Minnesota and provides 142,000 jobs nationwide. Sugar is a $20 billion-a-year industry, $3.4 billion in my state alone. The United States sugar policy runs at zero cost and ensures that American farmers are on an even playing field against subsidized foreign sugar. Any amendment that threatens this safety net for farmers could put many farmers into bankruptcy and should be opposed."


Senator Lee: (12:24 p.m.)

  • Spoke on New Zealand.
    • "The Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act or KIWI Act is a bipartisan bill that legislative extends E-1 and E-2 visas to citizens of New Zealand. It does not increase the number of available visas. Granting access to these visas to New Zealand would increase both investment and trade into the United States and strengthen our relationship with New Zealand. New Zealand is, of course, a country that is critical, critical to our relationship. We have a critical strategic military and economic partner in the Arab yeah pacific region with New Zealand. This legislation will further strengthen America's presence in the Asia pacific region."

Perdue, Cornyn, Hatch

The farm bill (H.R. 2)

Jun 28 2018

Senator Perdue: (10:37 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "People sent me up here three years ago, madam president, and they said look, we need to go there and get something done. I said okay, fine. You know we have two opposing views in Washington, so that means you're going to have to compromise. I made the comment that no one gets everything they want. I reminded people, I am married. This is something that is the American way. I come from the American business community. I can tell you nobody gets 100% of everything they want in any deal. That's what we are here talking about today. This is a bill that moves this agenda forward. It provides certainty. And that's what this is about for our agricultural industry. It's not about subsidies, it's not about protection. It's about certainty. It's about protecting a strategic industry in our country."


Senator Cornyn: (11:19 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy.
    • "And as the news has pointed out, after Sandra Day O'Connor left the court, he's been the pivotal fifth vote in a lot of significant cases which is to say you can't really typecast Justice Kennedy. But I do believe he has remained committed to upholding the integrity of the legal system throughout the course of his career. And I can say as a former state supreme court justice myself, I know the work he has been doing has been painstaking, time consuming, and extraordinarily important all at the same time. So I want to express my gratitude on behalf of my constituents to Justice Kennedy for his willingness, ability, and determination to carry out that work."
  • Spoke on CFIUS.
    • "This confirms the committee on foreign investment in the united States. And our adversaries around the world have simply figured ways to gain foreign investment in the United States to get access to intellectual property and the know-how, to duplicate that property surreptitiously, taking advantage of the gaps in the committee on foreign investments jurisdiction. So we were updating that legislation. It passed unanimously out of the Banking Committee. It passed then out of the Armed Services Committee. And now is a part of the Senate-passed defense authorization bill."


Senator Hatch: (11:30 a.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
    • "From McDonald v. Chicago to Citizens United v. F.E.C. he rightly gained a reputation as the Supreme Court's swing vote. Sometimes he sided with the court's liberal wing. Other times he sided with the conservatives, but he always sided with what he believed to be the correct interpretation of the law. What more could we ask for from a judge in throughout his public service Justice Kennedy has mentioned a generation of jurists who went on to become -- he mentored a generation of jurists who went on to become luminaries in their own right. Not least among them is Justice Gorsuch, a former Kennedy clerk, and now serves as his equal on the Supreme Court."

Schumer, Roberts, Stabenow

The farm bill (H.R. 2)

Jun 28 2018

Senator Schumer: (9:57 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy.
    • "Because Justice Kennedy was frequently independent minded and a deciding vote on issues like marriage equality and a woman's right to choose, a more ideological successor could upend decades of precedent and drag America backwards to a time before Americans with preexisting conditions could affordably access health care, to a time when women could not be prosecuted as criminals for exercising their reproductive rights, to a time before gay and lesbian Americans could marry whom they love. An ideological justice, more extreme in their views than Kennedy, could eviscerate the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively for a fair wage and stretch the bounds of executive power for a president who has demonstrated little respect for them."


Senator Roberts: (10:20 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "As I speak right now in Kansas farmers are on combines and trucks are taking grain to the elevator - or in storage, more likely - with the wheat harvest. I can see in several counties probably up in northwest Kansas, we have finished that in the southern part of our state. These are the same folks that have had combines on the move from Texas to Oklahoma now and Kansas. But I can see a farmer who perhaps due to a hailstorm and had planned on harvesting his wheat in a bad situation. But luckily for him he has crop insurance. Appeared luck little for him we've been - and luckily for him we've been able to preserve crop insurance, after going through several iterations of attempts to cut it or what some people say reform it."


Senator Stabenow: (10:27 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "I'm here joining with chairman Roberts and his sense of urgency and his comments this morning. We have worked very hard, and our distinguished presiding officer, a part of the committee now, knows that we have produced a bill that is a strong, bipartisan bill and gone on to address many other interests and needs that members have brought forward in the substitute and now working with members as well. But there is a sense of urgency in the country. There are so many things right now that are up in the air for farmers and ranchers. It's a very, very difficult time. And this bill really is a bill that provides a safety net for farmers and a safety net for families."


Opening Remarks

Jun 28 2018

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 2, the farm bill.
  • Note: the following amendment is pending to H.R. 2, the farm bill: Roberts Amendment #3224.
  • Note: the following amendment is pending to Roberts Amendment #3224 to H.R. 2, the farm bill: Thune Amendment #3134.
  • Note: on Wednesday, June 27, cloture was filed on Roberts Amendment #3224 to H.R. 2, the farm bill.
  • Note: on Wednesday, June 27, cloture was filed on H.R. 2, the farm bill.


Senator McConnell: (9:34 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy.
    • "There aren't the final months of a second-term constitutionally lame duck presidency with a presidential election fast approaching. We're right in the middle of this president's very first term. To my knowledge, nobody on either side has ever suggested before yesterday that the Senate should only process Supreme Court nominations in odd-numbered years. The situation today is much like when Justice Kagan was confirmed in 2010 and when Justice Breyer was confirmed in 1994 and Justice Souter in 1990. In each case, the president was about a year and a half into his first term. So just like in numerous other occasions, the process to confirm Justice Kennedy's successor will take place this year."
  • Spoke on the farm bill.
    • "Agriculture is in the bones of our state. It's a huge part of who we are, from soybeans and corn and hay and tobacco and poultry and livestock, Kentucky agriculture encompasses a multibillion-dollar industry that supports thousands and thousands of good jobs in nearly every corner of the commonwealth. Kentuckians know as well as as anyone just how important American agriculture is. And we understand as well as anyone all the unique challenges that it faces. That's why I'm pleased to support this bill, which will bolster the safety net programs for our producers."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "Millions of worker bonuses, plans for thousands of new jobs, and billions of dollars being invested here in the United States. Individual companies announcing billions in new American investments, small business optimism is at its highest level since President Reagan's first term, but these national headlines on their own. This week I've discussed how tax reform is already transforming American families' kitchen table conversations, how lower rates and larger deductions are letting them pocket more their hard-earned money, how new corporate tax structure has already started paving the way for higher wages."